In case your kids haven’t already reminded you twenty billion times, October 31--the day of All Hallows’ Eve--is fast approaching. If you have a pond, why not plan on throwing a Halloween party? What better place to host a theme party than around the most striking feature in your yard!
Think about the possibilities. Eerie lights, All-Hallows Eve spooky decorations, carved pumpkins along the pond’s perimeter, the light from the tiki torches dancing off the water’s surface, cob webs scattered among the plants, a host of colorful fish swimming near the surface to get a better look at the festivities. Not to mention the hauntingly seductive sound of running water, splashing falls, and bubbling fountains.
And out of the mist emerges the hostess--you!--dressed in your finest Vampira costume, head raised high, hands extended wide, incisors glistening in the moonlight. “Velcome,” you announce haughtily, “to the home of the Count and Countess Dracula.”
Sound like a winner? Are are a few tips to help you pull it off.
Food. Decide in advance what you’re going to serve, whether it’s chips and dip or blood-red steaks and corn-on-the-cob. If you’ll be cooking outdoors, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients for that perfect grilling: plenty of charcoal or a full tank of LP gas to fuel the flames, a portable light to help the chef see what he’s doing, all the usual grilling utensils, and oven mitts. (Nothing puts a damper on a late-night cookout faster than a presentation of Seared Hand ala Papa!) It’s also a good idea to have a separate table for the side dishes (blood-red beets are always a festive holiday favorite!).
Utensils. Whether you use paper plates or plastic, have plenty on hand. And buy some of those wicker plate holders so your guests’ paper plates don’t collapse under the weight of all those goodies. Provide lots of plastic forks, spoons, and knives--and lots of cups and napkins, too.
Lights. You can buy specialty Halloween pumpkin, skull, or other festively shaped holiday lights and string them around the yard. It’s also a good idea to have a few landscaping lights that cast a glow on the walkways between the house and grill or wherever else people are likely to congregate, just to make sure nobody trips on the way to and from the house.
Mood Music. Thanks to a wide range of portable players, you can set the scene with music to shiver by, especially made for this one night a year. An occasional creaking door, the ominous clap of thunder, and a mournful moan go a long way toward setting the ambiance.
Pond Decorations. Buy some inexpensive plastic pumpkins and other Halloween baubles to place around the pond. Don't use anything small enough to fit into a koi's mouth, though, in case it ends up in the pond. Koi are very inquisitive and love to nibble on anything they find.
Tables and chairs. Have lots of them set up where you want your guests to congregate. You’ll find smaller tables provide more intimate settings in groups of three or four than one large picnic table (although that works, too, to handle the overflow). Decorate them with party favors. And don’t forget the throwaway salt-and-pepper shakers and other condiments your guests will appreciate. One word of advice: don’t place the chairs too near the pond, for obvious reasons!
Bar. Whether or not you serve alcoholic beverages, providing a single area where your guests can get something to drink (preferably next to the grill) will make life easier for you and your spouse. Have plenty of ice on hand, as well as several different sizes and shapes of plastic glasses to entice them to join in the festivities.
With just a little forethought and just a touch of pre-planning, you and your pond can be the hit of the holiday season.
And when your guests leave, give each and every one of them a gentle going-away nibble…on the neck!
My Favorite Count and Countess Costumes