Witch way to the party?

The writer decorates her mantle each year with a spook-tacular Halloween display. — Karen Soucy photo

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by monsters, horror movies, and things that go bump in the night. As a child, I loved reading magazines and would spend my weekly allowance on issues of Tiger Beat, full of tween heartthrobs like Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond, and Fangoria, an American horror film fan magazine. A strange combination, I know.

The Tiger Beats were tossed fairly quickly but Fangoria was a different story. I devoured it from cover to cover. Sometimes, I’d peek at the next page in case it was too scary for me but it never was. I loved the thrill of being a little frightened. After I had dog-eared the issue to death, I broke out the scissors and cut out stories for a scrapbook I kept. I can still remember one of my favorite articles, “How to Spot a True Vampire.” Just ask me. I know how. Hint: they don’t sparkle (Twilight fans will know what I’m talking about).

One of the Soucy’s Halloween house guests catches up on a little reading. — Karen Soucy photo

I also kept a shoebox full of pictures of movie vampires, comic books, and horror memorabilia. My macabre pastime could have easily worried my parents but, thankfully, it never did. I’m sure they thought it was “just a phase,” In my teens, however, I read Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire and I was enthralled. I couldn’t get enough. Stephen King came next, and H.P. Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman followed. I didn’t overlook the classics either: Stoker, Shelley, and Poe.

So what happened to that little girl who alphabetized her monster lore for easy reference? She grew up with a love of all things Halloween (of course).

My husband and I have lived in our Trumbull home for 18 years. At first, we didn’t have much in way of Halloween decorations…a few foam tombstones, some spider webs, and a couple of pumpkins. I guess you could say we’ve amped it up a notch over the years. Now, when it’s time to start decorating for Halloween, we spend the better part of a Saturday bringing down some 15 to 20 full sized Rubbermaid bins. I would prefer to leave my Halloween treasures up all year long but I realize that people might start talking.

Every room in our house is decorated, even the bathrooms (Halloween toilet paper, anyone?). Plates, pillows, my one-of-a kind stuffed Dracula, my collection of light-up haunted houses, a glittery black haunted tree complete with ornaments and creepy candelabras…ah, it’s all so exhilarating!

We don’t overlook the outside of the house, either. Our front yard is transformed into a cemetery with our front steps lined with pumpkins, corn husks, and mums. And spider webs. Lots and lots of spider webs. I’ve had my eye on The Webcaster Gun (Amazon), which looks like a glue gun but which in fact shoots realistic looking (and feeling) spider webs. Simply point and shoot!

Vamping it up: Karen’s son, Chase (now almost 13), got an early introduction to his mother’s passion for Halloween. — Karen Soucy photo

One of the best things about this holiday, though, is sharing it with family and friends. We threw our first Halloween costume party the year after we moved in. We had vampires, a medieval  maiden, a witch, a pirate, the great pumpkin, and Marilyn Monroe (who doubled as our Tarot Card reader). The following year, we added a fog machine and realized what had been missing!

My advice for purchasing decorations is to buy after Halloween, when prices are lower,  and to look for items in unexpected places…major chains like Target, Pier 1 Imports, Home Depot, and Party City offer plenty of Halloween decorations, but take a walk on the wild side and explore. Check out your local gift shops and Home Goods, and websites like Etsy.com and Grandinroad.com for Halloween decorations that look like props from your favorite scary movie.

Hopefully, I’ve put you under my spell and tapped into your love of the holiday and maybe even a desire to throw your own Halloween party. Adding festive foods and drinks to your menu will complement your Halloween decor. One of my favorite adult Halloween beverages is the decadently delicious Vampire Kiss Martini. It’s anything but scary despite its dark, almost black color:

This Vampire Kiss cocktail, made with Finlandia Vodka, could put the spirit into any grown-up Halloween party. — Shannon Graham photo

Vampire Kiss Martini
(Recipe courtesy of Finlandia Vodka)


  • 1 1/2 ounces Finlandia Vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces Korbel ​Champagne
  • 3/4 ounce ​Chambord black raspberry liqueur


  • Rim the glass with red sugar (use food coloring). For extra bite, garnish with a set of plastic vampire teeth on the rim of the glass
  • Pour vodka and half of the Chambord in a martini glass. Top with champagne. Pour the remaining Chambord over the back of a spoon into the glass to mix.

If you’re throwing a party for children this Halloween, this recipe can easily be adapted for kids:  Find fun plastic cups and decorate the rim as described above. Mix 2 parts fruit punch with 1 part ginger ale and garnish!

The most important part of any holiday celebration is to have fun. If decorating is your thing, don’t hold back when it comes to Halloween. Be ‘that’ house (that’s my motto) that everyone’s talking about! Throw a party and share your spirit for the Halloween season.

More Halloween entertaining ideas: