We have had a pumpkin carving party every fall for about 15 years now. One of our guests this year asked how long we've been having the party and I remember one of the first ones that I had in the courtyard of the apartment complex I was living in when I was about 21 years old. I don't think that was the first one, but may have been the second one. We've only missed one year as far as I can remember and I believe that was three years ago, when I had the H1N1 virus. (Gavin was almost one-year old and it was torture for me to have to quarantine myself in my bedroom and not see my little guy for several days!)
I wasn't sure how much energy I would have for preparing for and hosting the party this year, knowing that I'd be 34 weeks pregnant and be chasing a 3 1/2 year old around, but we always have so much fun, we decided to go for it and I'm so glad we did!
Half the fun of the party for me is the preparations... decorating the house, setting up the spooky trail, and preparing yummy fall treats!
Since our mantel is relatively narrow and has a mirror above it with an extra-thick frame, the piano on the opposite wall of our living room is the more ideal place to decorate.
We definitely have a fair amount of halloween spookiness in the house, but since I'm not super good at keeping up the decor with the day - I prefer to decorate inside the house with mostly fall / harvest decorations and keep most of the spooky halloween stuff for the spooky trail we set up in our woods.
I picked up this black glittery BEWARE sign from Target last fall for $2.50 and it looked great with my standard black candle holders and the awesome clock that we recently made from the end of an old cable-wire spool. We had claimed the spool with another project in mind, but this idea popped up on Pinterest and I just had to try it!
My good friend Carrie helped me put out the decorations in the house. I added a mini pumpkin from our garden on one side of the BEWARE sign and a little skeleton candle holder on the other side of the sign. We put one big green and orange pumpkin from my sister's garden in my white planter, and the rest of the stuff was all already up there on top of the piano. It seemed like just enough to make it Halloween-y without looking too cluttered.
These three planters sit on my kitchen window-sill all year long. They're varying hues of aqua and green and are a lovely little mismatched collection. The only thing that changes is what goes in them. In the spring and summer they have herbs in them, in the fall it's mini pumpkins, and at Christmas time they're topped with oversized silver Christmas balls. I have three styrofoam Christmas balls from the $1 store that each have a different texture. One has scalloped "scales" on it, like silver fish scales, one is just a mirrored silver finish and one is covered in sparkling glitter. I love that they're each a little different, but completely unified by the size and color. The tiny pumpkins in the tiny pots this fall are all out of our garden.
We made popcorn balls for the Pumpkin Carving party this year and they were so much fun to make (and to eat)! These are the ones that use the Rice Krispie bar recipe so they're ooey and gooey instead of hard and crunchy. We bought bags of snack popcorn rather than popping our own to save time and I don't think it made a difference in the taste at all. My grandma used to make these gooey popcorn balls and it's such a treat to bite into something slightly sweet and salty and so soft and chewy!
Gavin is an awesome kitchen helper, and was so anxious to help make the popcorn balls. No, that's not a brown popcorn ball in his hands in the picture below - he was just about to wipe the counter down where we spilled some melted marshmallow. He didn't even want to change out of his jammies before getting started, so we just washed hands and face before starting them and then got dressed afterward. He LOVES to "make sumping" in the kitchen. He actually told me yesterday that he didn't want to make macaroni and cheese yesterday because it only has four "gredients" and he wanted to make "sumping" with LOTS of "gredients". He also looked at the directions on the box of pancake mix that I had just bought (we usually make them from scratch or at least use a really basic baking mix) and he said, "Awww, not this! This only has two things and I wanna make sumping with lots of things in it!"
The popcorn balls were a lot of fun, but there were all kinds of other fun treats, thanks to some of our guests! My sister and niece sent the cutest little "witch's brooms" made of shredded string cheese tied onto a pretzel stick with a chive! So cute! Allison of LifeonLeroy brought these super cute little ghosties! They sure went quickly!
We had about 65 guests and almost everyone participated in the pumpkin carving! Since we had a lot of "new" people this year (and a lot of our usual guests were unavailable this year), we thought it would help to provide some signage to direct people to the different activities. We pulled some old boards out of the shed and just used a Sharpie marker on them. They turned out just how I imagined.
I love the picture below because it's a great display of how many different groups of people share this fun time with us. In this one picture there are friends from motorcycling, friends from old jobs, friends Cliff hunts with, cousins, friends from Gavin's preschool class, and neighbors. What a great group!
My two nieces Anna and Grace jumped in to do face painting for the kids and it was a big hit. Gavin wanted to be a cat!
We did three hayrides and every one of them was full! Thanks to our friend Colin for jumping in and driving the tractor for the hayride so Cliff could take a break and help Gavin carve a pumpkin. Our dog Drake went on every hayride and loved it. It's so much fun for us to see all the kids and families enjoying this party!
I love this picture above of Gavin and Dayton that Alli took. The boys look like they're having so much fun!
...and just because face painting was so much fun... the moment Gavin woke up the next morning, he asked me to paint his face like a clown. He didn't even want to get dressed first! What a clown! :)