Photos by Steven SullivanFor the last few years I've entertained people on Halloween," Sedaris says, "I've rented a scary movie and turned my apartment into a discount movie theater -- vacuuming before the lights come up and all."
Halloween Tricks and Treats: Have a scary-good holiday with our guide to the best candy, cocktails, and homemade sweets
It's a simple idea that's easy to execute. Choose your film right off the, ahem, bat. That will serve as the basis for your drink and decor decisions. "The fun of the party to me is the movie I'm featuring," says Sedaris, whose favorites include the classic versions of Dracula and Frankenstein, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Trilogy of Terror, The Bad Seed, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
The next step, she says, is creating an in-home theater. To be certain all your guests have a clear view of the movie, place your television or projection screen in a central location, with the seating arranged around it. Make sure, too, that your seating is cushy enough to keep your guests comfortable for a couple of hours -- or more, if you're showing a double feature. Finally, give your guests dining trays or set out some small side tables to give them a place to put the dinner and drinks you're going to serve.
It's true that discount movie theaters aren't exactly known for their dinners, unless you count stale popcorn and dusty chocolate candies as a meal. However, no hostess worthy of her charm-school crown would ever be caught dead letting her guests go hungry.
Amy Sedaris's Spooky Movie Menu
For her discount-theater dinner parties, Sedaris usually serves meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn. "I choose this menu because you don't have to see it to eat it," she says. "This is important, because the lights are out." Nor does the menu require a knife -- the one-handed fork operation makes it easier for guests who prefer to hold their plates while eating rather than placing them on a table or tray. It also provides an extra measure of safety should there be psychotic murderers lurking about.
In homage to the season, Sedaris also makes a pumpkin pie decorated with bats and owls. She likes to use the recipe on the back of the canned pumpkin, cutting out shapes in the dough with Halloween cookie cutters to place on top. (Set these on the pie after it's been baking for 15 minutes, she instructs.) Or, use our recipe for Spirited Pumpkin Pie. You can also make Sedaris's famous cupcakes, decorating them with orange and black sprinkles or frosting (use food coloring), or seasonally appropriate sugar shapes or plastic cupcake picks, available at baking sites such as sugarcraft.com or babykakes.com.
Sedaris also likes to have her guests help carve a jack-o'-lantern at the beginning of the party. "You have to bake the seeds from the pumpkin," she says. "People have an association with that smell." Place cleaned seeds (give them a good rinse, then dry) on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and then bake them in a 350°F-oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool, then set out in a bowl for snacking.
When figuring out which beverages to serve at her party, Sedaris takes her cues from the movie she's featuring. "Last year we watched The Changeling. I served wine because there was a lot of whining going on in the movie." Bloody Marys, Sedaris says, are always good for Halloween, too. Either of these choices would be perfect with some of Sedaris's favorite movie picks, The Bad Seed, the original Dracula, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? For the latter, you could also serve the Blanche.
Beyond red wine and Bloodies, there are a variety of drinks that pair perfectly with classic screen screams. Here are some of our favorite macabre matches:
The Shining -- Berry Rum Punch
Night of the Living Dead -- Zombie
Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- Sangria
Frankenstein -- Corpse Reviver
Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- Shanghai
Creepy QuaffsAny seasoned entertainer will tell you that one of the most important aspects of throwing a party is to set the tone with music and decorations.
Amy Sedaris is a comedian, actress, writer, all-around entertainer, and cupcake baker whose credits include the Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy, as well as a movie based on the series, plus roles in Elf, Bewitched, and School of Rock. She is also the author of I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, a cookbook and entertaining guide.
Text by Jolène M. Bouchon
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