Happy HELL-oween or as we like to call it in the Halloween biz, 2020! This year has been a challenge and we all need a bit of a distraction so welcome to my outdoor Halloween picnic party with a tiny guest list and COVID-19 friendly treats! Take a peek into how we celebrated Halloween this year!
Halloween Recipe Quicklinks
2020 being the way it is (already a living hell for many people) we decided to lean into the theme because (hopefully) there won't be another year like it. I co-hosted with Valentina again this year - she's an artist with a great eye for detail and has an amazing house so she's a dream to host with. Once we decided on an outdoor picnic theme it helped me come up with creepy outdoor Halloween picnic ideas.
Our Halloween picnic food referenced things you might find in the woods like werewolf paws and fried "bat wings", as well as creepy crawlies like ants on donuts, maggot infested potato salad, spider cookies, as well as a life-size Gremlins Cake. I also wanted to make it mostly food that was single portion to avoid the whole nightmare buffet scenario so apart from the cake which we cut up and gave as take away gifts, there was no sharing of utensils.
Decorations wise I went to my favourite party store The Party People in Drummoynne who always have the best stock of Halloween goodies! They get new things every year and it's always so fun going up and down the aisles filling my trolley.
The night of the party arrived and the forecast was not looking great as Sydney was experiencing a late spring drenching. The forecast said that there would be clear weather from 5-9pm but well you know they get it wrong most of the time. Valentina set up the table on her covered balcony and out came the spread.
The number 1 hit savoury item were the spicy fried bat wings aka chicken wings. Cold fried chicken is a picnic classic but I was worried that people wouldn't want to eat chicken wings. Was I ever wrong. I think I could have doubled the quantity and there would be none left. Katie became the hype girl for these and urged everyone to try them.
Savouries are always a hit and I think from now on, I'll try and make around 65-70% savoury food especially as our Halloween party is at night. The ransom finger sandwiches were another very popular item that disappeared very quickly. These rolled sandwiches were filled with egg salad and are so easy to eat.
Valentina also made a tarantula cheeseball covered in poppyseeds and pretzel stick legs as well as creepy dolmades covered with bugs as a vomiting pumpkin with slime (aka guacamole).
Tarantula Cheese Ball
I also made individually served potato salad covered in maggots aka puffed rice.
The sweet selection was made up of werewolf paws or salted caramel buttercream filled brookies topped with mocha buttercream and cashews.
I also made Bloody Teeth and Bleeding Gums Cupcakes which sound sinister but are just red velvet cake cupcakes. Another sweet item were tiny ants on matcha mochi donuts.
I also loved the idea for these pumpkin patch strawberries double dipped in orange chocolate in a bed of Oreo dirt!
The candy corn kebabs were mainly eaten by Mr NQN and Peter. It turns out my friends aren't massive fruit eaters (neither am I!).
Valentina made some mummy kataifi pastry as well which were so delicious (I'll share the recipe for them soon).
Of course the Spider Cookies made an appearance!
Along with the Caterpillar Pesto buns!
Last but not least was the main cake, a Gremlin Cake which was an enormous picnic basket with a Gremlin sticking out of it. More detail on this to come!
Then we all started getting ready. Valentina and Peter came as Bondi Surf Lifesavers that had had a bad day with a shark attack.
I decided to come as Tinkerbell (which would have made more sense if we had been able to have it in the garden but oh well). I bought a wig last minute to complete the look and it was a child's wig and I have a large head so it was a challenge to keep it on all night!
Then the guests started arriving. This was a small group to keep in line with COVID-19 rules. Sammie and David arrived first and came as a Black Widow and a Zombie respectively although at first I thought David, with his lopsided glasses was more zombie that had been in a car accident.
David the Zombie loved the bat wings
Julie who we see once a year at Halloween (it's a Halloween relationship but she's always there and everyone loves her) came as a witch. "Quick take a picture of me! It took me ages to get my hair this straight!" she said.
"I'm La Muerta," intoned Queen Viv entering dramatically. She had come as La Muerta or death. "I made this today," she said referring to her skeleton bolero which everyone instantly wanted. Unfortunately Miss America was missing as he had to work and another notable absence was Girl Next Door. She is a wedding celebrant so she as she comes into contact with large groups all the time she wanted to minimise the risk of passing on COVID-19.
A few days before Halloween Monica DM'd me saying that she and Marco had the perfect outfit and she was not wrong. She and Marco came as "Karen" and "Ken" crossed with the Missouri couple that brandished guns at protestors outside their house during a Black Lives Matter rally.
It was absolutely perfect because Monica is the least Karen person that I know and her sign could not have been more en pointe. She had to work hard to muster up that b^%chface.
Then Joe, Chrissy and their daughter Ariana arrived. Joe had a costume pairing with Valentina's daughter Katie and they came as lightning bolt and lightning strike victim. Joe was the lightning and Katie with her upturned umbrella was the hapless victim.
Chrissy and her daughter Ariana came as Harley Quinn and her mini me! Sweet toothed Ariana would later confess that she was "high" but on sugar.
Laura then arrived as Cinderella. Just that afternoon she had been to her niece's birthday party where she had to come as a Disney character so she went as regular Cinderella before coming home to "ghoulify" herself with bloody make up. She also gave me half a dozen red roses and two black roses!
Ivy came as a vampiress and Ryan as a serial killer (I'm guessing Pacific North West, they have a lot of them!). Ivy had broken her foot earlier that week and fallen down that day and still came which is the mark of a good friend!
Nina and Garth also came along. They haven't left their new house in weeks having been caught up in home renos and we thought that they might turn up as dusty archaeologists. Nina bought Garth's chicken outfit for him; originally it was meant to be He-Man but things took a much less sexy but funnier turn.
3D Printing a part for his outfit
Oh and did I mention Mr NQN's costume? Having just devoured the Cobra Kai series he made an outfit referencing the original Karate Kid movie. It was from the Halloween scene where Danny Larusso arrives as a shower. He read out someone's comment to me, "Once, my brother went to a costume party dressed as Daniel Larusso in The Karate Kid, only to be trumped by a guy who went as Daniel Larusso as the shower at the Halloween party in The Karate Kid."
Teddy is just here to help
He actually had two days off from work so he 3D printed a crucial part of it which took 22 hours to print and we were crossing our fingers that it would work. Mr NQN bought some hula hoops, a tablecloth aka shower curtain, a silver bowl and some silver tape and fashioned himself a shower. And at 10:30am the 3D printer finally finished the part. Would it fit?
Yes it did!
All of his hard work paid off and he stood there quietly with his "shower curtain" closed. People asked where he was and he would open his shower curtain to surprise them.
The only worry was would anyone recognise his outfit? Nobody did until Joe walked in and straight away recognised the outfit which made his night complete. "This is the perfect outfit for an introvert and is very coronavirus friendly," said Queen Viv. Laura said, "You probably want to wear this when Lorraine and I are together" (he sometimes gets overwhelmed being with two chatty gals).
People were asked to vote for their favourite costumes and Valentina and Peter gave away prizes. There were several runners up for best costume as Queen Viv as La Muerta and Monica as Karen came up to collect their prizes. Ariana also won a prize although the bottle of wine that she picked out of the bag had to be swapped for a more kid friendly Nanoblocks set.
As for the best costume prize winner? It was a very chuffed Mr NQN who apparently garnered most of the votes with his scene stealing shower! That work paid off in the end after all.
We had a wonderful time. I had expected there to be a less jovial party with less people and the spectre of 2020 but the spirit of Halloween still shone through. I truly think I have the best friends in the world.
And if you're planning on having a COVID-19 friendly outdoor Halloween gathering, here are the recipes!
So tell me Dear Reader, whose food idea did you like the best? And which costume was your pick?
Spicy Picnic Fried Bat Wings
Bat wing hype girl Katie
Cold fried chicken is one of the best picnic foods around. It's easy to eat with one hand and somehow it tastes different but still delicious cold the next day sort of like pizza! These Halloween chicken wings aka bat wings get their colour from edible activated charcoal and are brined in buttermilk and given a spicy coating!
I saw this idea for Werewolf Paw cookies on Food.com and it was so clever! You can make these super simple by using your favourite single or sandwich cookie. Just make the hair and claws-too easy!
Bloody Teeth and Bleeding Gums Cupcakes
Once upon a time a friend gave me a vampire teeth ice cube mould and I wondered if they would make for a gruesome cupcake topper. These bloody teeth and bleeding gums cupcakes are a bit sadistic dentist, a bit serial killer and feature gold fillings and realistic, rotting teeth! Cupcakes are perfect single serving items so they're not only picnic friendly but also COVID-19 friendly.
Ants on Matcha Mochi Donuts
For these Halloween picnic donuts, I remembered back to one distinct picnic memory that I had and that was when I was a kid and we had ants all throughout our container of fried rice! These matcha mochi donuts are also gluten free if you have any GF eaters. For these matcha mochi donuts I made a creepy version of my blood orange mochi donuts because they keep fresher for longer than regular donuts and I made them 2 days ahead of time.
Pumpkin Patch Strawberries
These Pumpkin Patch Strawberries are a Pinterest idea that I saw and loved so much. They're orange chocolate dipped strawberries on a bed of Oreo crumbs aka dirt with mint for the stems! It can be a bit painful to colour white chocolate as you need oil based colourings or powders so I used a pre-coloured chocolate. You can use orange candy melts but I wanted to use a better tasting quality chocolate so I used a Callebaut orange coloured chocolate.
Maggot Infested Potato Salad
The great thing about picnics is being in the outdoors and eating delicious food. The bad things? When maggots aka get into your food! This is a simple potato salad with chives (for mold) and puffed rice for maggots!
Ransom Finger Sandwiches
Long time readers know how much I love a good sandwich, especially an egg salad sandwich. These corpse finger sandwiches are cute and creepy plus what's a picnic without a sandwich? If egg salad isn't your thing, use any sort of filling you like.
Candy Corn Kebabs
I ate my first candy corn last year and honestly, while it was cute, it just tasted like sugar. I get the nostalgia though and they're inextricably linked to Halloween in America. I decided to make a tastier version, call it the Aussie version of candy corn - fruit kebabs (another Pinterest find) using pineapple, rockmelon and banana. I wanted to use fresh pineapple but it didn't ripen in time and tinned also works.
And by the end of the night I was back to black again!