Orange and black, the traditional Halloween colors for decorations and tableware, have been joined in more recent years by purple and lime green.
Halloween is second only to Christmas as the most-decorated-for holiday, so it's not surprising that dishes and dinnerware dedicated specifically for October 31 are becoming easier to find.
Some of your vintage china favorites, especially dishes in colors that work for fall or Halloween (but not specifically produced for seasonal table settings) can also be repurposed. Your white or black dinnerware is also ideal to use.
Whatever your theme, October 31 (on Saturday in 2009) is a great time for a party, for kids, adults or both.
Here are some tips you can use to create and refine your table setting:
Set your theme. You can choose a contemporary movie franchise, such as Twilight or Harry Potter, and use colors, motifs and items that support the theme visually. Vintage movies or television series can also be fodder for ideas. Did you love The Addams Family? Are your guests horror movie buffs?
Halloween parties can also feature a more generic fall theme using pumpkins, scarecrows, apples, hay bales and corn shocks as the design elements. These elements come from the agricultural history of America, and many of us Boomers grew up with these motifs.
Choose the main colors. If you mix all four of the main colors, that would likely make an unfocused setting. Make one or two of the colors your primary choice, and use other colors as accents. Certainly the four popular Halloween colors are available, but others can work as well, and white will give the eye a rest, or set off bold tones of orange or purple.
Determine the menu. Almost any fall dish can work for a Halloween party. Foods such as apples, pumpkin and corn are often associated with fall. Any foods in season are candidates, or to mix with old favorites. A casual gathering or buffet might just need snacks, and perhaps a large cauldron of stew, chili or spaghetti will keep the trick or treaters fed between their evening's wanderings. An in-house party might require more dishes for a sit-down dinner followed by games or movies at home.
Bread or dessert plates work for the Treacle Tart recipe, a possibility for a Harry Potter theme Halloween party.
Select your tableware. Your table setting should be designed to make serving and eating the food enjoyable. Once you know what food you will have, the plates, glasses, bowls, dessert cups or other piece suited to serving the food will usually be obvious. But don't be afraid to be creative, and serve food in unusual ways. A bread bowl on a plate can be used for stew and thick soups. A deep cereal bowl can be used for a gooey dessert. Colorful tumbler glasses or punch cups can be used for cider or a "witches brew" drink.
Halloween is a favorite holiday for many people, because it has so much opportunity for creativity. It can be fun right down to choosing the tableware with a little advance thought and planning.
PS. We had fun creating the photo collage, playing with possible ways to serve M&Ms using vintage glass. About the dishes in the photo collage:
- Top left: Plum sherbet dish, Madeira by Franciscan, vintage 1970s glass. Green sherbet, King's Crown or Thumbprint, vintage by Anchor Hocking.
- Top right: Hartstone Pottery ramekins in the Pumpkin Vines and Hocus Pocus patterns.
- Lower left and center: Green glass juice and fruit in Soreno by Anchor Hocking, vintage 1970s.
- Lower right: White custard cups by Federal, vintage glass.