Throw a party with creep chic

With a little imagination and inspiration, spooky can be sophisticated and wicked can be whimsical.

For decorating tricks, we picked the brain of Debbie Dusenberry, who works Halloween magic on a grand scale inside and outside of her Prairie Village, Kan., home furnishings boutique, Curious Sofa.

We loved last season’s dollhouse that had fallen on a witch, leaving only her striped-stocking legs showing.

For entertaining treats, we spoke to event planner Julie Blanner of Coordinately Yours in Prairie Village. She thinks Halloween is fun no matter what age you are.

We agree.

You’ll find their ideas and a lot of other goodies sure to thrill big ghouls and little goblins.


Dusenberry suggests:

• Disguising them with masks.

• Stenciling and filling in the designs with glitter puff paint.

• Rubber-stamping your address numbers.


Sure, you could make your own, but Martha Stewart’s new Halloween collection for Grandin Road includes 12 haunted wine labels to “make your Pinot really noir” with “Arsenic Cider Mix,” “Effervescing Tonic” and “Poison” decals that create a crackled effect on glass or plastic.

Martha Stewart Halloween Mad Scientist Labels (4 of each design) are available for $12 at


Fill clear glass jars of different shapes and sizes with creepy candy, says Dusenberry, including black licorice and gummy worms.

Eat the goodies after trick-or-treaters take your peanut butter cups.


Dusenberry thinks there’s something sinister yet sophisticated about:

• Feathers in silver vessels.

• Black and white pictures (perhaps Poe) in a baroque frame.

• Monogrammed black perfume bottles. (Bonus if you can find a B and two Os.)

• Gauzy scarves creatively thrown over lampshades.

• Spider silhouettes taped inside lampshades.


“Halloween Block Party” at 7 p.m. Sunday on HGTV: Three Halloween parties on one neighborhood block.

Party designer Mickey Russo will create a sophisticated Halloween fete that leaves tradition at the door and focuses on a “grown-up” gathering. Kelley Moore will pull together a creative party for children and adults to benefit the “trick or treat for UNICEF” campaign. And designer Eddie Ross will host a neighborhood party on a budget.


Event planner Julie Blanner likes using things around the house for parties.

Brown lunch sacks (75 cents for 50 at grocery stores) can be wrapped around potted mums and placed on table as centerpieces.

Then they’re ready to go home with guests at the end of the evening.


Use inexpensive thin wooden boards and iron-on transfers, both from craft stores, for Halloween invitations. The wooden patina creates an instant autumnal look and works well as décor at the party.


Give your clear-glass votives a new look by wrapping them in vellum. Bonus if it’s blood red.


A shallow slit in a mini pumpkin plus a piece of paper with a guest’s name makes for easy elegance.


2 tablespoons Sour Apple Smackers liqueur

2 tablespoons 99 Apples schnapps

2 tablespoons Van Gogh Wild Apple Vodka

Gummy “eyeballs”

1. Combine liquors with ice in a cocktail shaker.

2. Shake and strain into a martini glass.

3. Garnish with gummy “eyeballs.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake


1 (181/4 ounces) package yellow cake mix

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 16-ounce bag confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cake mix, egg and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Put the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch cake pan. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter, and beat together. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and mix well. Spread the pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake, as the center should be a little gooey.

Source: Paula Deen

Boo-Nilla Shake

Makes six 8-ounce servings

1 cup whole milk

2 pints vanilla ice cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Melted semisweet chocolate chips

Make the faces with melted chocolate painted inside of the glass. Blend milk and 1 pint ice cream in a blender until smooth. With machine running, add remaining pint ice cream, one scoop at a time; blend until smooth. Pour milkshake into six 8-ounce glasses decorated with chocolate faces, filling them 3/4 full. Put cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe spiral mounds of whipped cream on top of milkshakes. Serve immediately.

Source: Martha Stewart