The harvest season marks the beginning of an entertaining and lively series of holidays in North America, beginning with Halloween. For a spooky Halloween party that’s full of geeky, nerdy, and literary fun, check out these ideas. As your author, I can personally tell you that each suggestion is incredibly fun!
To Read: Lovecraft, Poe, and Shelley
One of the greatest holiday traditions is telling ghost stories around the fire—and if you think ghost stories are only for Halloween, you’ve forgotten the classic lyric: “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”
The tradition of ghost story-telling goes back hundreds of years. In 1816, Lord Byron challenged his guests at a party to write their own scary story. Mary Shelley, who was there that night, wrote Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, a novel that has not yet gone out of print.
This Halloween, create your own spooky evening around the fire by reading some of the great horror classics by H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. You might even read a bit from Frankenstein in honor of that great authoress and the wild summer of 1816.
To Watch: The Babadook
The Babadook (2014) is a psychological horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent. Its distinctly indie-movie feel makes your viewing experience all the more frightening because the movie seems more organic and real. You won’t find big-budget CGI or buckets of fake blood here!
Without giving away any spoilers, this is, hands-down, one of the scariest movies I’ve watched recently. It’s the story of a single mother and her young son. The specter of the Babadook, who only grows stronger if you deny his existence, haunts them. The tension builds and builds beautifully throughout the film, culminating in a truly frightening climax and a poignant resolution.
The Babadook is an incredible roller coaster of a movie that will scare you out of your pants and give you a lot to talk about at your Halloween party.
To Play: Outlast 1 & 2
Even if you’re not into playing video games, Outlast and Outlast 2 are extremely entertaining and utterly terrifying. In Outlast (2013), you play as an investigative journalist who is exploring a psychiatric hospital that has been taken over by the patients. In Outlast 2 (2017), you also play as an investigative journalist, this time exploring a remote cult of religious zealots.
Both games are played in first-person, and what makes them so frightening is that your character cannot fight back. All you can do is run and hide, which ratchets up the tension considerably.
(Full disclosure: I’ve never played either of the Outlast games. All I did was watch Let’s-Plays on YouTube, but they were still incredibly scary and fun. Check out YouTube if playing video games isn’t up your alley. Or find other people who are willing to let you watch them play at a Halloween party.)
To Make: Butterbeer
In the fall, it seems like everybody is psyched for hot chocolate, cider, and pumpkin spice lattes. These are all tasty, but why not turn to the one drink known for its deliciousness and ability to warm you up: Butterbeer?
There are dozens of Butterbeer recipes online, but my favorite has always been the one that I came up with in the middle of the night with some friends from college. And, as college recipes often are, it’s astonishingly simple. Enjoy!
- In a saucepan, heat as much milk as you’ll need to serve your guests. Keep the milk hot but not boiling, turning down the heat as necessary.
- Add in a handful of butterscotch chips and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Give it a taste. (That’s not enough butterscotch, is it?)
- Add more butterscotch chips and stir until melted. You’re looking for a deep ochre color.
- Add a few dashes of salt.
- If you want a nice buttery layer on top, add about a tablespoon of salted butter to the pan and let it melt completely. It will form a buttery yellow layer that floats on top of the drink and enhances the salty-sweet flavor.
- Serve in mugs for maximum coziness.
These are some fun Halloween party ideas, but you don’t have to stop here. Pick a different activity for every day of the week and bask in the spooky, silly Halloween spirit!
What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? Let us know in the comments!