I am over the moon that last Saturday night was a very successful 20th Halloween party! I know we had over 70 people including kids & babes in arms, but we might have actually broken the 80 mark, and STILL had food left over! I couldn’t keep up with all the costume photos, so I am extremely thankful to fantastic photographer Cat Rodery for all the fabulous photos she took with her professional equipment! You can view the full resolution versions in all their spectacular glory on Cat’s website, but by viewing the album on her professional Facebook page you can see all the fun comments so far. 🙂
First of all, thank you to the party guests and trick or treaters who donated to my Eerie Elegance Trick or Treat for UNICEF Fund since we raised $115 for a good cause! There is still time to donate via PayPal until November 5th if you’d like to join us!
Eleventh hour chaos with two major secret projects (to be fully covered in separate posts later) led to gingerbread assembly of the Halloween Town village not even started by late Friday night, so I decided just Spiral Hill with the glowing moon, glowing pumpkins and new Tim Burton-specific Tasty Tombstones should still be an impressive centerpiece. It still took me probably 5 hours and 3 big buckets of Duff Goldman chocolate fudge frosting to cover it all! Since the two halves of the observatory worked as bowls, I served the gingerbread pieces as Deconstructed Halloween Town. The way the gingerbread was bending through the night from ambient moisture, it might not have survived assembly anyway. Otherwise I only had minor details from my wishlist that didn’t happen, like the spiderweb snowflakes, food signs saying how long I’ve been making them (Eerie Eyeballs since 1994, etc), the Winners Wall, and carving any fruit or veggies into fun faces, which often is cut for time anyway. For so many ideas I’ve been saving for years now, plus having added those major projects and displays just this year, I am quite pleased at how much we were able to do!
Of course the only reason we could do so much were the Halloween Scream Team plus my house-elves on Saturday afternoon, Kathy and my mom, also first-time Halloween party guests! My house-elves blasted through the list I printed for them in the two hours before the party, which was all the fresh fruit, veggies, Violent Vertebrae, cheese & bat wings, even including Kathy painting the eyeballs for me! That was the first time anyone else has ever painted eyeballs for my party, but since she uses the techniques in my Enhanced Eerie Elegance book and Easier Eerie Eyeballs video, she did a great job!
My last major decor project in the afternoon was getting the stripey bows and autumn ferns arranged in the graveyard, then I was in full makeup and most of my costume by 5pm but no wig, gloves or eyes, and wearing my teal skeleton apron so I could keep working on all the final setup. Glen made all the tables and chairs look nice, batteries into lights and small jack o’lanterns, and hauled 6 big bags of ice for the big cauldron and party reserves in the garage sink, while I put final touches on all the decor. At 6pm, we got the main projection working and aimed properly, all battery lights turned on, turned on the Jack and Zero setup, I turned on the Sally projection in my bedroom, then I thoroughly sprayed Glen’s black wig into Tim Burton messy style, touched up my makeup a little, then had my wig on by 7:20pm! Jen & John helped fill the punch bowls when they arrived, and my last projects as other guests were arriving was to change the arbor bench to an impromptu food table, and finally arranging Jack’s lab to show off all his experiments…whew!
By 8:30pm the party was already full of people as I got the bat wings out of the oven, then it was party time for me! I passed out the Haunted Headstones and Ogle the Owls quizzes for everyone to do at their leisure. I got whatever photos I could, but there was so much going on that Cat was a true lifesaver with her attention to getting good photos of decor AND people! By 9:30, people were starting to talk about leaving, so I hurried to start the Spooky Music Quiz. I had planned the quiz to be run from outside, but enough people were in the living room that I stayed there mostly anyway, going out back to adjust the volume using my iPhone though the conductive thread I had added to my costume gloves. It was very nice that I had finally thought to record the number in front of the audio clip so I didn’t have to yell this time. 🙂 After we were done, I ushered everyone out to the backyard so we could grade the quizzes and vote for costume and Creepy Cuisine prizes. I really like the interactive group voting instead of the paper ballots I did for years, so this is the new tradition….and here are the winners!
We had a tie for 100% on the Spooky Music Quiz, which was various unique covers of the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack you had to put in the order you heard them played. I was very glad I made both Edible Medals and little trophies, so I had plenty of prizes! Here Jessica is awarded the Edible Medal for Spooky Music Quiz.
After the quizzes were awarded, it was onward to costume voting by crowd cheers and applause. Scariest Costume was a tie between Grumpy Cat Jen & Bob Ross John…the Edible Medal almost didn’t fit over that epic hair! 😉
Several more were voted in absentia like Robert & Maureen’s Mummy Fruitcake and Kevin C’s coffin smoked potatoes, but I couldn’t award them prizes when they had already left…darn! Glad Rozanne the Pin Cushion Queen was still around to accept a prize for her Finger Meat Pies! Not bad for a first-time attendee! 🙂
Since I had strongly encouraged costumes from anything in the Tim Burton universe, we had a lot of duplication, especially from Alice in Wonderland, but boy were they all fantastic costumes and so much creativity in interpretation, like Baby Alice Kira was wearing White Rabbit slippers while her mom Angie was the teal Cheshire Cat! The only group we didn’t get was all 3 Tim Burton’s together. 😉 Cat herded everyone together for some fabulous group photos…and I didn’t realize until someone else pointed out that the Nightmare Crew photo has THIRTEEN people…how perfect!
At least we caught two of the Tim Burtons in action “directing” the outside display (Craig & Glen)! For the other Tim Burton movies, we had a Pee-Wee Herman (Marco), Sweeney Todd & Mrs. Lovett (Nicholas & Elisabeth), a few from Dark Shadows (Nathania, Kaye & Jeff), a Corpse Bride (Mary Jo), and of course Cat’s own costume was so absolutely perfect for her since Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice also carried around a giant camera. Cat was so dedicated to her costume authenticity she brought her other big camera to hold while her best camera could take a photo of her! 😀
My mom isn’t really enthused about costumes these days, even though when I was young I remember she & my dad going to adult Halloween parties without me as a Rubik’s Cube, outhouse, and other creative things. When I heard she was coming to this party, I thought of how we look so much alike, and thought an easy costume for her would be to wear my giant Nightmare top hat with Jack scarf, duplicating this photo of me, and saying she was Britta from 25 years in the future! She found a great old photo of her at my current age and had a name tag showing the photo of me in the same outfit she was wearing. She didn’t win a prize but people got a kick out of it! 🙂
I don’t know where Jeff & Audene were for the costume voting, since I really think they should have won Most Original Costume. The concept was brilliant: Little Julianna was the Danny Elfman Music Fairy, and Jeff as Johnny Depp could change between movies by changing just a few accessories! I saw the Mad Hatter in the tea party group, Willy Wonka inside for a while, and Barnabas Collins towards the end, and I don’t know if I missed any others! His vampire cape was the one I made him in 1994 when I made my first Sally costume, so it was also a celebration of Twenty Halloweens!
As the party was winding down, we ended up in the Undead Room watching the slideshows and videos of all of my 19 past Halloween parties, having fun reminiscing and laughing. When the bleeding heart came on one video, we decided we should sever and serve this year’s! Thanks to Eileen for catching it on video! You can see the little Danny Elfman Music Fairy being indoctrinated into Halloween spirit by helping catch the blood stream in the goblet! 😉
Now let me take you on a tour of the decorations. As you approach the house, you see three Singing Scarecrows, the Pumpkin Chorus in the graveyard of 13 all Tim Burton character gravestones, Jack in the Box peeking out, Snakey chomping the presents & Christmas tree in front, and the 8-foot moon screen above it all. They all sing This Is Halloween from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie of course!
This was a huge amount of work by the entire Scream Team, not only Snakey and the lighted present boxes and new gravestones, but making larger papier-mache pumpkins than I could buy, filming our own faces made up as black & white jack o’lantern faces and lip-syncing to the song many many times, lots & lots of video editing by me, and the final evening it was still touch & go getting placement correct plus a final render that was finally party-ready at 6:30am! Full details will be forthcoming in another post of course. To give you an idea of the full experience, here is a walkthrough from the front sidewalk around the tree and up the walkway to the front door…
As you come up the walkway towards the door past more jack o’lanterns and black urns filled with gorgeous Ghostly Greenery, Jack Skellington turns and starts talking and gesturing to you and to Zero the Ghost Dog back at the gate. I made our life-size animatronic look like Jack, including body design, angles, head, functioning papier-mache jaw joints, moveable fingers & clothes, but my Halloween Scream Team was essential in making him come alive. Glen did all the research for servo work, electronics work, infrared trip sensor, and did all the movement programming, with Jack accuracy review by me. I wrote the script and barked as Zero, and our Jack voice was Jerry then digitally altered to sound more like Jack. Home-filmed footage of Zero barking & flying in loops was rear-projected at the gate on a screen with his physical carved foam gravestone in front. We were so pleased how it turned out and everyone at the party absolutely loved it! A Halloween Scream Team group effort for sure! More details of the trial & tribulations of this setup will be in a later post.
Next you see the Halloween tree through the spiderweb lace curtains, then enter to see the Undead Room in all its festive decor, with the Catoween tapestry, spooky pillows, black pine garland decking all the halls, orange lights, gargoyles covering the piano, and even colorful wrapped presents under the tree.
Continuing into the dining area, you see the edible Spiral Hill from the movie with glowing moon of fondant over glass tabletop, glowing sculpted pumpkins and shortbread Tasty Tombstones of all new designs I carved in foam this year for the pumpkin graveyard.
As you follow all the partying people, you enter Jack’s Library Laboratory, with bookcases at either end, and luscious red silk curtains framing the view out the “window” of Spiral Hill, where Jack is wandering, taking a break from performing his chalkboard calculations and Christmas experiments on his lab table, such as boiling ornaments, dissecting a teddy bear, and attempting Christmas candy that turned spooky. Even his purple tufted velvet chair is still ready to continue his experiments. The brie en croute was Jack’s face this year, and I covered a glass bowl vase with cream cheese to make a glowing Jack Skellington Cheese Ball. Yes, I saved that big moon main section of the movie theatre standee for 20 years since I was working at the theatre during the original movie release! It made a great “view” since we could see the glowing foreground pumpkin graveyard through the glass tabletop.
Through the archway door and stone columns, my outer patio was another food table with two punch bowls, skeleton hand goblets, and a projection of Sally mixing potions from the movie on my bedroom sliding glass door. Here is video of Sally’s Potions area, with Frog’s Breath Punch, Dr. Finkelstein’s Bizarre Brain Pate, the Frightful Skull Fountain, Sally’s Sewing Corner, a Halloween tree, and Sally mixing potions in the window. I saved my real trees from both past Christmases out in my yard, but all the needles still clung strongly to last year’s tree, so I thought it looked nice with orange needles and we had enough ornaments to decorate both trees. Sally’s sewing corner was an antique sewing machine on the corner table, with scrap red velveteen and white fur like she was sewing the rest of Jack’s Santa outfit, since the hat with beard was already finished on the stand.
Frog’s Breath Punch is my Bubbling Witches’ Brew recipe in a new glass cauldron with dry ice. You can also spy Dr. Finkelstein’s Bizarre Brain Pate and Sally mixing potions in the window. You probably already saw the construction of Dr. Finkelstein from the party progress posts. I considered this a minor detail but several people were very impressed how movie-accurate he looked and that the concept was so perfect for my classic brain recipe. 🙂
When I put out chairs on the back lawn in previous years no one seemed to use them, but this year Jerry suggested small tables with chairs. This worked very well and will be a new tradition too! Since I actually had my two small round tables free, plus the half-cardtable we’d been using all summer as a work table, I got out all the extra chairs and set them up with a food table under the movie screen trellis, moving all the other yard furniture and the wishing well to discourage anyone wandering into the projection area towards the fence and gate. I hadn’t planned to use my giant web or any big spiders, but when I got the food table set up, the trellis was practically screaming for it! 😉 The 4 prelit short Halloween trees I got on clearance last year decorated the food table and the cardtable, and each table got a small battery jack o’lantern, plus a Glowing Jack O’Lantern Cheese Ball. Huge thanks to Glen for getting all the chair cushions on, tablecloths on and batteries working for this to look great when guests arrived!
Halloween night I only got about 85 trick or treaters, but a few groups were so enthusiastic, videoing everything and pointing out details to each other, that gave them a guided tour of the inside decor as well. My favorite of those enthusiastic groups was a family with their little boy about 5 years old who just came back from Disneyland and has been watching the Nightmare Before Christmas on constant rotation the past few weeks. He was so amazed by talking Jack, the singing pumpkins, and everything that it was a real joy to see! He even answered Jack a couple times, and kept excitedly pointing all the details out to everyone. I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps of my new “fans” watching the front show. 😉 We took the moon screen down on Halloween night around 11:45pm, and I took the gravestones and all electrical in the night of Nov 1st so I could finally turn my yard irrigation back on. I need some time to saw apart all the scarecrow branches and spooky fence (we pin-nailed them really well!), and all the pumpkins are still up for a while until I figure out where I can store them all.
My gallery of over 200 photos is included in this post below (a few are crops from Cat’s collection), and don’t forget to look at Cat’s 200+ photos on her main website, or her professional Facebook page too! Plenty of party photos for you people to peruse while I keep working on the big how-to posts for the secret projects of Jack and Zero plus the Singing Scarecrows and Pumpkin Chorus! Hope everyone’s Halloween was as fun as mine!