Friday, March 20, 2009

Scaryview Sanitarium 2009: IV's

A couple of our first props for this year's party! Always handy to have IV's on hand...

Currently on the planning table: A Corpse Buffet

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Treasure Island: Party Time!

Finally – party time! Our main activity, of course, was a treasure hunt. We hid the treasure pictured above inside of a large ottoman down in the basement TV room, and created 5 sets of 20 riddled clues that were scattered throughout the house. After the guests arrived, we divided them up into teams of at least 4, but no more than 6, and gave each team their own pirate flag, a notebook & pen for clues, and a beginning clue. The hunt was on, with Brent and I each on a different floor to help teams out when needed.
Costumes are required for our parties – and provided for those who don’t wear one. I think we only had a couple people show up without, and they were quickly assigned eye patches and bandanas.

The flashlight is for finding clues - we hid them inside and outside for more room to play.

Treasure found! The "all girls" team that surprising?
After the treasure hunt, pool and good times with friends. Our Pirate Captain host for the evening:
And yours truly, looking like a rather ragged pirate under our island-deco arch:
Everyone voted on the theme for our 2009 party, and when I tallied the votes at the end of the evening, the winner was a landslide: Haunted Hospital. Quick, someone call a doctor!

Treasure Island: Yard Display

Our yard display was much improved in 2008, with the addition of a fence (for crowd control), foam tombstones, two spotlights and flying ghosts above the cemetery. Our “fence” was made of garden stakes screwed together and pounded into the ground, then connected with creepy cloth stapled to the “posts”. Small foam skulls served as finials, with larger skulls at the entrance. It was cheap and easy – we got all the creepy cloth at the dollar store, but not really all that sturdy when the wind started blowing. Another problem we had was that the fence just wasn’t high enough – it kept kids from stepping over, but not parents…and I’d really prefer that people don’t walk through the graves due to the cords and such that are needed for the lighting and effects. We’re planning a “fencing upgrade” in 2009 that I think will really add to the atmosphere of the display as well as keeping people from wandering through the cords.When we first decided to set up a yard cemetery for Halloween, rather than spending money on tombstones, I came up with the idea for these white markers you see here. They are simply wire hangers, stretched out then bent in half, with white garbage bags stapled around the wire. We made a tombstone for each invited party guest, without names, but just a short quip that would be a clue as to who was buried there (with the date of our party, of course). They’re rough around the edges, but I’m not quite ready to retire them just yet. You can also see one of our flying ghosts in the picture there – we had two on cables running over the graveyard. $10 each at Walmart…not a bad investment. They make spooky wailing noises that are somewhat cheesy, but fun at the same time. And of course the very cool wooden tombstones that Brent made a few years ago...we're still working on a better method of keeping them upright.
The “foam” side of our graveyard was new this year, and turned out far better than I thought it would. The spotlights really made the difference – after reading a lot on the Halloween forum, we bought a few cheap floodlight fixtures at Lowes, and some outdoor spots in blue and red. Aside from the problematic garage floodlights across the street from the neighbor’s house, we have no streetlights, so once the neighbor’s light was off, the yard looked really dark and creepy. Our next goal is to get fog pumping through the graveyard…We had a bubble fogger near the front steps that was the hit of our display – and this year, I’m trying to decide how to integrate it *into* a scene, rather than just have it as a stand-alone prop. It was under our big picture window, where you can see our pirate flag, though it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped this year, but still brought an element of our party theme to the outdoor display.
And of course the basket by our front door – rather funeral-esque this year. I was pleased with how it turned out – very dark and foreboding.Next post – party pics!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Treasure Island: Décor

We had so much fun with the décor for our pirate party. I can’t decide whether the “No Quarter” hall of heads or the “Spider Stairway” was my favorite, but by far, the favorite “prop” of the evening for our guests was the “Bathtub Burial” scene (above). No, the bathtub isn't filled with dirt - it's amazing what you can do with foam board & plastic bags!
The "No Quarter" area - this was completely dark (no lamp light behind as in the photo), blocked off from the adjoining rooms with black tablecloths and our burgundy curtains. When the curtains were opened for people to enter, it set off a string of strobe lights with eerie music and laughter - the strobe lights illuminating the heads just enough to be super-freaky!Our "Spider Stairwell" - all the webs were lit by a blacklight in the stairwell...very cool effect. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture of it all glowing, but you can get the idea:
What would a pirate ship be without a captain? You may have seen this photo in your local paper - I was interviewed last year for an article on Halloween theme parties. Fun!More to come...

Treasure Island: Menu & Tables

A taste of the Caribbean was our goal for the pirate party, and we scoured the ‘net and books for recipes that would do the trick. We did pretty well, I think, aside from a few power problems with slow cookers & a warming tray that evening. What’s a party without any hitches though, right? We decorated the dining room “island style”, complete with palm trees & bright island colors, as you can see above. This picture was taken “the morning after” – as you can see, our inflatable palm tree couldn’t quite handle the excitement.

Our menu consisted of Salmagundi, a traditional pirate stew (minus the rat and pigeon meat), Jamaican Jerk pulled pork & rolls, Hula (pineapple glazed) meatballs, a tropical fruit plate, hot wings, and 2 tropical desserts (cake and cheesecake – both were delish!). The snack table downstairs was piled with chips and brownies – not traditional fare by any means, but enjoyed nonetheless.Upstairs on the non-alcoholic beverage bar, my skull punch bowl was the centerpiece as usual, with hot cider, water and pop nearby in a palm tree cooler (no picture, unfortunately). This is also where the drawing was to vote for our 2009 theme.
Downstairs at the “wicked” bar the Red Rum Punch was a huge hit, and gone before the night was over. Our rough-n-tumble bartender watched over the mixers with some help from our evil laughing pirate in the corner.

2008 – Treasure Island Pirate Invitations

How do you invite a bunch of pirates to a party? With a message in a bottle, of course! Last summer, I ordered a kit that contained parchment paper, ribbon, sand, tiny shells, swords, and of course, plastic bottles with cork stoppers. We printed out labels and sent them “afloat” through the USPS around October 1st. I think they were perfect to set the tone for our party.

The text on the scrolls read:
Get Shipwrecked
Treasure Island

at the DeBree’s 5th Annual Halloween Bash!

Ahoy, Mateys!

Put on your best (or worst) pirate garb, and sail over to our haunted island on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 7:00pm for food, fun, and buried treasure. Follow the enclosed map to find our island – “X” marks the spot!

Pirates only – all others will be captured and forced to walk the plank! Ship assignments will begin at 8:00pm, the treasure hunt starts immediately after. Beware the spirits and monsters…

Follow the Pirate’s Code of Honor – call (number) or email (email) to either reserve your spot on a ship, or to admit that you’re too scared of Jolly Ol’ Roger to go after the booty for yourself. If we don’t hear from you, you’ll be hearing from Blackbeard’s Ghost…

Costumes will be provided for those who “forget” them, as well as a hearty dinner and drinks to ward off that nasty scurvy!

Scare you there…if you dare!

Guests under 21 will be consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker.
We included a map on the back to our house, printed over a Caribbean map. Fun to make, fun to send, and everyone seemed to get a kick out of them!

2007 Photos - Academy of the Undead Awards

Unfortunately, I don't have too many pictures from our "Academy of the Undead" Awards party, though I might be able to get some from a couple participants later. For now, this is what I have. As you can see, we hung metallic door curtains *everywhere* to add to the feel of the evening, and the Cemetery arch made a great photo backdrop.
Two curtains between our living room & dining room:
The "bar" gets better every year:
Our Lemax SpookyTown Village:

The TV Room downstairs:
Our "pool room" mascot:


This blog will serve as the digital "scrapbook" for our annual Halloween party & yard display. Pictures, plans, props, and food - all will be included for posterity. Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and prepare to enjoy the scarier side of life with us!