AN ENCHANTED EVENING;
A Medieval Knight
This party features drama, theatrics and humor without the macabre – a good choice for children.
Our medieval ancestors celebrated Halloween with a hybrid of All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain celebration. According to medieval expert Dr. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, the Halloween celebration was a conglomeration of the pleasures of all of the holidays of the year, rolled into one. There were rituals, superstitions, plays and traditions observed in the great halls, followed by seven masked “soulers” soliciting soul cakes or fruits. I recommend her book, Medieval Holidays and Festivals as a guide to these events if you want to plan an authentic medieval-style party. In so doing, you also may wish to honor “King Crispin” whose holiday is a few days before Halloween. He is the saint of boot and shoemakers. The Hide the Slipper game comes from his commemoration.
Double, double toil and trouble – I love this card! The plaid, the reference to Shakespeare’s iconic chant from MacBeth, and the details; the stirring stick in the cauldron is a vial of wedding bubbles. I have Scottish ancestors, a Scottish surnamed husband and am related to The Bard.
Rustic silver and wood pieces, baskets
“Stone” dishes – use “old stone” serving pieces (florist plaster containers). Line with foil so the food doesn’t contact the surface.
For messy authenticity, skip forks and spoons.
Dragon scales and dip (green tortilla chips) and guacamole
Dragon eggs (Deviled eggs tinted green)
Castle crudités, grapes, melons, apples, mushrooms, carrots and broccoli, sour cream, onion and garlic dip: think of a castle garden
Charmed crowdie: applesauce with whipped cream
Breadsticks, baguettes or fairy tale croutons
Leg of dragon (ham), or chicken drumsticks
What was under that rock? trifle
Goblin gorp made with black and orange M&Ms; candy corn and mixed nuts
Sparkling glow in the dark punch (with glow sticks and dry ice)
Think medieval, castle, knights, French or Scottish, Cinderella shoes and fairy tale accessories.
At the entrance, a black arch with flickering candle-style Christmas lights, black tulle or other fabric, gray Spanish moss, twigs, silk or dry flowers and a Happy Halloween sign. Sconces or garden torches will cast an old-world glow. A fog machine adds a misty environment.
Hang glittery stars* from the ceiling over the refreshment table using strong fishing line. $Tip Purchase stars after Christmas at discount. Wrap silvery beaded branches* around the punchbowl, black pillar candles finish off the centerpiece.
On the fireplace mantel; hang swags of shimmering orange cloth, black pine garlands with silvery, beaded swags intertwined and bronze glittered silk autumn leaves. Add orange Christmas ornaments (purchase after the holidays at a discount) and beaded fruit for additional sparkle. If you don’t have a mantel, the swags could be placed on a sideboard, piano or other surface.
Candelabra with candles, and on the tables, carved turnip or pumpkin lanterns with lights and apples with candles to invite good spirits and keep evil away
The baroque effect is enhanced by classical music or Mannheim Steamroller’s Halloween music
For an outdoor table, I dressed an antique table with an organza burnout underskirt and a tartan plaid. A large cheese board garnished with kale and collard greens held a leg of dragon (ham), braided bread with cheese, grapes and castle crudités. One trick to encourage the guests to circulate is to serve the food in different locations.
Drape a vintage wedding dress on a wire dressmaker’s form. Shine black lights underneath.
Bob For Apples
It is said the Romans introduced this game for players to try to determine the identity of a future sweetheart. With each apple assigned the name of a potential partner, apples float in a tub of water. Players have to bite an apple and pull it out without using their hands. Get the apple – get the girl (or boy)! If there are young children around, have a responsible person host this activity to keep toddlers out of the tub and remove the water when the game concludes.
Murder In The Dark
The classic; perfect for Halloween parties. The object of this game is for an unknown “killer” to secretly “murder” the guests, while the other try to guess the identity of the murderer.
Seat guests in a circle. Pass around pieces of paper, all blank except for one that contains a black spot. The guest who gets the black spot will be the murderer, but doesn’t tell anyone.
Collect all the papers for the next round. Everyone takes the hands of the people seated on either side of them so everyone in the circle is holding hands. Lower the lights in the room, so all can barely see each other’s faces. The murderer kills the other guests either by squeezing the hand he or she is holding or by winking at them. When a guest sees that he or she is being winked at, they groan and fall over dead. When a guest sees a victim being winked at or a hand squeezed, they call out “I have an accusation!” and name the suspected murderer. Don’t look at the murderer because they could wink you dead before you name them! If the accuser is right, they win! If they are wrong they become a victim and die, as the murderer continues his/her villainous spree.
The Bottle Cap Game
(May be played with a spoon if a bottle cap is not available.) The guests are seated in a circle. “It” is chosen, stands in the middle of the circle and receives a bottle cap or small spoon filled with water. He/she announces a category such as “castles” or “famous kings and queens” or “knights” or “villains,” and mentally selects an answer (such as King Richard) without telling anyone. Going around the circle, each guest names one answer that fits in the category with no repeats; King Arthur, Robert the Bruce, MacBeth… If a guest names the king (King Richard) they are splashed with the bottle cap filled with water. If someone repeats an answer previously given, they get the splash! The splashed person takes their place as It, selects a new category and the game continues.
Hunt the Slipper
Choose one player to be the customer, she steps aside. All the other players are cobblers and sit in a circle on the floor. The customer comes to the circle and says:
“Cobbler, cobbler; mend my shoe.
Get it done by half-past two.”
She hands one of the cobblers an old slipper, and goes away to count to ten. She returns to hear the slipper is not ready.
“I must have it,” says the customer.
“Then you must find it,” all the cobblers reply.
She steps into the circle and the search begins; each cobbler passes the slipper to his or her neighbor hiding it from sight as much as possible. The slipper must not stop in one place, but must keep passing around the circle, one way or the other.
The customer tries to find it, calling out the name of the person she thinks holds the slipper. If she is right, that cobbler must trade places with her and bring it to be mended again.
The Story of St. George And The Dragon
This tale returned with the crusaders and was shared through the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. It tells of a knight who rescued a princess from a dragon, converted a kingdom to Christianity, which in turn built a church with an altar imbued with healing powers. The legend can be found online and in history books.
Solve A Mystery
This would be a good evening to host a mystery game where guests are assigned roles and try to figure out the solution to the problem.
“Souling” or Trick or Treat
People in Great Hall parties actually trick or treated! Several were selected to put on masks and go around with baskets requesting treats; soul cakes and fruit from guests.
Three times around the Great Hall with candles in shiny apple candleholders, then a bow to the king or host, and the guests depart into the night. Good night and happy Halloween!
Note to friends: I had thought to do a “Scottish” Gatsby party this year, then I SAW the movie. Adultery is not one of my favorite themes, so no thanks Mr. Fitzgerald. I’ll be more careful in the future.
The delicious recipes featured in An Enchanted Evening are in
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