First Flea

Yesterday was the debut of Nevermore Decor into the flea market/craft show scene, and I have to say, it was pretty damn cool.  I could get used to this.  I mean, it was hard work, don’t get me wrong – hauling tables and suitcases full of carefully-packed projects across city blocks, battling the weather (I lost 2 items to the damn wind, and my sanity to the snow/hail mix that blasted down out of NOWHERE)… but I sold about 70% of what I brought with me that day, and I got to talk to a lot of incredibly cool folks who also appreciate spooky shit.  Just getting to see people’s reactions to my macabre wares was a truly fantastic experience, and something I hadn’t really known I was missing. If you were there, and I was staring at you and smiling while you were trying to browse, I hope I didn’t creep you out.  I was super excited.


My table outside Now That’s Class, a punk bar in Lakewood, Ohio.

And now I am hooked.  My next show is going to be at The House of Blues in Cleveland on Halloween night, as part of their black-light carnival.  I saved all my glow-in-the-dark pieces for that one, where they’ll really pop.  In the next few posts, I’ll share some pictures of the ghoulish delights I’ve been churning out in a desperate attempt to keep up with these shows and the Etsy shop.  Admittedly, the Etsy storefront is currently kindof empty, because every time I ship an order to a happy customer, it creates a blank space on my table at the show, so I’ve been loathe to list new items, because I’m afraid they’ll all sell and I’ll have nothing for the HoB show in 2 weeks.  Which is an awesome problem to have, I’m incredible grateful and awed by everyone’s interest.  But I’ve been spending countless late nights in my garage, painting furiously and forgetting to eat, because I was in no way ready for the demand of the season.  I had forgotten that I didn’t open the Etsy store until November of last year, making this year my first Halloween season in business, and I greatly underestimated my potential popularity.  Which was dumb, because duh I’m totally sweet.


…I’m literally going to go take them right now.

There Will Be Blood

This week I sent My Little Bloody Mary (pictured below) off to her happy new haunt.


As you can see, she’s exceedingly pale and her eyes are spilling over with thick tears of blood.  Charming, right?  I don’t know what she has but I hope to never catch it.  As usual, I got a little carried away when I packed the box to ship.  I decided to splatter the white tissue paper I packed the box in with red paint, so it had a sort of ‘present from Dexter’ vibe to it.  It seemed appropriate.

Between that, certain current events (#LiveTweetYourPeriod, #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult, #justatampon), and not being able to get this awesome Tacocat song out of my head (also embedded below), I suddenly remembered a deliciously disgusting cocktail I put together for a Halloween party a few years past.  It was based on a recipe I found on, which they called Lava Lamps.  I called it The Bloodclot.


The Recipe

1 (one) 2.5 oz Jello shot* (MUST BE RED! Whatever red flavor you like best. Strawberry, cherry, raspberry, cranberry, whatever blows your skirt up)

6-8 oz of Pink Moscato Barefoot champagne (whatever the capacity of your champagne flute allows)

1 (one) o.b. tampon

*the perfect ratio for Jello shots is 1 cup boiling water to 1 cup vodka.  Use the cheap stuff, and unflavored.  The Jello mix has all the flavor you need, and you can’t taste the difference between top shelf and well through all that gelatinous Kool-Aid.  Sugar-free mix is best, because the extra sugar will give you a hangover headache straight from Hell itself.

Mix up your booze-laden Jello and pour into plastic shot cups; let set in the fridge.  Stir firm Jello shot into chunks, spoon into champagne flute.  Tie o.b. tampon to base of flute (your choice whether to dip in red paint ahead of time, or leave white and clean). Pour champagne over chunked-up Jello shot; stir, and consume.  Be warned: they are powerful.

So, sit back and sip your Bloodclot** as you live tweet Donald Trump and listen to this sick beat:

** I will admit, this was not a popular choice among the gentlemen present that night, but the ladies thought it was a hilariously grody good time.

Would You Kindly Look At This Thing


Attention, Interwebs: I made a thing. And it’s pretty damn cool.  Get ready to be jelly in 3, 2, 1…


Yes friends, my kitchen just got 287% cooler, as is it now sporting a Bioshock knife block.


Ready for the close-up!


It all started when I was supposed to be spring cleaning the kitchen, and doing all the insane things like cleaning the oven for the first time in my life.  It was an unfamiliar and intimidating prospect, so I decided very suddenly that my knife block was ugly and boring and needed a re-do like RIGHT MEOW.  First I painted it teal, then cut bits from the Xbox game booklet and mod-podged them on.  Then I feathered in some copper paint around the edges to give it that “my Randian Tomorrowland went horrifically awry and slowly rotted at the bottom of the sea” patina look that everyone is loving right now.  Dotted in some gears and some nautical bits, and garnished with little metal barnacles (which are actually bits from an old bracelet).  I discovered, after a runaway gloop of superglue and a string of curses, that dried excess superglue has a kind of barnacley/lichenish/encrusted with sea salt look to it, so I ran with it and dotted some more around.  Then I layered on several coats of matte finisher, so a stray spill won’t ruin my fab new knife block and consequently my day.  And ta-daa! Gamer chic kitchen stuff.


I have more stuff to show you guys, so come back soon!  I’ve got a Little Sister almost complete, that Beetlejuice shelf I promised was coming all the way back in February, and a few Bioshock Infinite inspired odds and ends.  Subscribe to the blog, and you’ll get an email notification all 3x a year I manage to post something, or like Nevermore Decor on Facebook to get that plus approximately 5 random fandom memes and 1 someecard in your newsfeed as well.

Coming Soon to a Blogpost Near You


I’ve been absent for awhile.  I started up my Etsy shop, and there was so much to learn and to figure out, that I fell down that rabbit hole for awhile and neglected this space.  I think I needed time to reassess just where I thought I was going with this blog anyway.  Three months in, and already losing the path.  Thanks, ADD!  But now I’m back and ready to attack, and I have so many thrift store makeovers to show you, I don’t even know where to begin.


An unexceptional jewelry box gets glammed up and vamped out,

A wall shelf that goes from bears and blocks to Beetlejuice,

A Barbie styling head doll into a Little Sister from Bioshock,

Some super-thrifty fun with cardboard and coffee cans,

And we may even get into a cosplay accessory project that I’ve been sitting on for awhile.  All this and more awaits!  Come back soon!!

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Decoration Clusterf*#%

Every year, I struggle to get my Christmas decorations up.  Mostly because there’s always SO MUCH Halloween stuff that has to get taken down, organized, and packed up first.  At least that’s what I tell myself, as the weeks tick by, and my Halloween decorations just sort of drift into piles upon various surfaces.  “I am not just throwing stuff into boxes this year,” I’ll say, completely convinced of my new-found organization skills.  “This year I’m going to get this stuff ORGANIZED so it’s not such a clusterfuck and I won’t have to hate myself next year for being a lazy asshole!”  Inevitably, though, as Christmas gets closer, Lazy Asshole indeed makes an appearance, and brings down alllll the boxes marked “XMAS” from the attic, tears them open in a flurry of tissue paper and excitement, and then quickly runs out of steam. Consequently, the house becomes completely overrun by half-empty boxes of both Christmas and Halloween decorations, old newspaper, and bubble wrap, until approximately New Year’s, because the mess is so overwhelming I don’t even know where to start, so I just don’t.

Even that SENTENCE was a clusterfuck.

I do this every single year, exactly the same way, and yet somehow I’m always surprised when it happens again.

Looks nice, right?

December 2014: The Holiday Spirit Awakens

But zoom out a little, and…


Oooohh, nooooo…

One year, I tell myself, I’ll finally embrace this and throw a Nightmare Before Christmas cocktail party.  But it wouldn’t be just Jack Skellington everywhere, although duh he’d be in there a little bit.  What I’m picturing is all the cheesy good times of an ugly sweater Christmas party with a healthy dose of creepy camp.  A little bit Buddy the Elf, a little Marley’s ghost.  I never seem to have the capital or the motivation to do so (which doesn’t stop me from building it a huuuuuge board on Pinterest and generally fantasizing about it), but how about I detail it out, and one of you out there in the Great Big Internet can do it, and then show me pictures and tell me about it and I’ll just live vicariously through you? Cool thanks, here’s what you’ll be doing:

A Nightmare Before Christmas Cocktail Party

Part One: The Playlist

A great party playlist should work like a great movie score: it’s just in the background, guiding your emotions in the intended direction, and only occasionally do you really notice a particular song, just enough to be like, “ha! This song is awesome. Nice.” For our Nightmare Before Xmas Cocktail Party, follow this basic recipe:

  • The soundtrack from the claymation classic of the same name is a no-brainer, but mix it up a little by using fun covers of selected tracks.
  • Dump a hearty amount of Danny Elfman in there.
  • Throw in a little cheese factor.  The theme’s juxtaposition of merry and macabre is already kinda silly, so own it.
  • Don’t skimp on the classics, but keep the Xmas ones bouncy and fun.  Just hearing timeless Christmas tunes and old Halloween standbys next to each other will be amusing.
  • Stir in a few standard-issue jams to keep the party mood going.
  • Add some old-timey songs with a subtle creepy vibe.

Here’s a few suggestions.  Click the song title to listen to it on Youtube.

  1. I Sure Hope I Don’t Have to Beat Your Ass This Christmas Master Shake of Aqua Teen Hungerforce
  2. Blue Christmas Elvis Presley
  3. The Killer Storm (The Omen sdtrk) Jerry Goldsmith
  4. Island of Misfit Toys/The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Glee Cast
  5. Birth of a Penguin (Batman Returns sdtrk) Danny Elfman
  6. I Party Far East Movement
  7. All I Want For Christmas Is You My Chemical Romance
  8. Kidnap the Sandy Claws (Nightmare Revisited) Korn
  9. A Cold, Cold Christmas Stephen Colbert
  10. A Marshmallow World Dean Martin
  11. If I Didn’t Care (Bioshock) The Ink Spots
  12. Somewhere in My Memory (Home Alone sdtrk) John Williams
  13. Gremlins Theme Danny Elfman
  14. What’s a Girl To Do? Bat For Lashes
  15. The Christmas Waltz Kristin Chenoweth
  16. Jingle Balls Deep Master Shake of Aqua Teen Hungerforce
  17. Sugar Plum Fairy Remix The Groove Gallery
  18. Halloween Aqua
  19. The Batty Bat The Count of Sesame Street
  20. My Chick Bad Ludacris featuring Nicki Minaj
  21. Someday at Christmas The Jackson Five
  22. The Ice Dance (Edward Scissorhands sdtrk) Danny Elfman
  23. Puttin’ On The Ritz Shiny Toy Guns
  24. Deatheater Dubstep John Williams/Terabyte Frenzy
  25. Baby It’s Cold Outside (Elf sdtrk) Leon Redone and Zooey Deschanel (or this more blunt version, at which I literally LOL’d)
  26. The Mooche Duke Ellington
  27. Re: Your Brains Jonathan Coulton
  28. Don’t Stop Me Now! Queen
  29. Nutmeg (A Very Colbert Christmas) John Legend (also here’s an amazing chipmunk remix)
  30. Living Dolls Nox Arcana
  31. Death of Sirius (Harry Potter sdtrk) Nicholas Hooper
  32. One Little Christmas Tree Stevie Wonder
  33. Trick or Treat Eat My Pumpkin
  34. Another Christmas Song Stephen Colbert
  35. What’s This? Danny Elfman
  36. Pennies From Heaven Louis Prima
  37. Ding Dong Mmkay (South Park) Mr. Mackey
  38. It’s An Addams! (Addams Family Values sdtrk) Marc Shaiman
  39. The Headless Horseman Thurl Ravenscroft
  40. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (The Great Gatsby sdtrk) Fergie, Q-Tip, & GoonRock
  41. I Hate Christmas Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street
  42. This Is Halloween Marilyn Manson
  43. Witchcraft Frank Sinatra
  44. In Noctem (Harry Potter sdtrk) Nicholas Hooper
  45. We Can’t Stop Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox
  46. Science Fiction Double Feature Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
  47. Funky, Funky Xmas New Kids On The Block
  48. Twisted Nerve Main Theme (Kill Bill sdtrk) Bernard Herrman
  49. Christmastime Is Here Straight No Chaser
  50. Making Christmas Rise Against
  51. Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead Ella Fitzgerald
  52. Dick in a Box The Lonely Island
  53. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Main Titles Mavis Staples
  54. The Boogie Man (Bioshock) Todd Rollins
  55. Cool Yule Louis Armstrong
  56. Ghostbusters New Found Glory
  57. Welcome Christmas (How The Grinch Stole Christmas sdtrk) Albert Hague
  58. Christmas Night of Zombies MxPx
  59. Santa’s Beard The Beach Boys
  60. Carol of the Bells Thrice
  61. Christmastime In Hell (South Park) Satan
  62. Finale/Reprise (Nightmare Revisited) Shiny Toy Guns

This list would also make a pretty decent power hour (+2 I guess), if you’re into that kind of thing.

Part Two: The Menu

Unless you’re having an actual dinner party, where each guest definitely has a chair for their butt and a table for their plate, stick to finger foods.  It’s easier on you and your guests, and it encourages mingling.  You can’t walk and talk while using silverware successfully, and it’s always awkward eating off a plate that you’re balancing on your lap.  Don’t make it awkward, make it easy.

I’ve always imagined the décor/general vibe of this party riding the coattails of Edward Scissorhands’ set design, i.e., contrasting the loud, summery pastels of the Christmas decorations of a Californian suburb circa 1960 with the darkly beautiful Edward and his neglected gothic mansion.  I firmly believe that it would be cute if the menu captured a little bit of that gelatin-mold,- weenies-on-sticks,- marshmallow-fluff magic of that era, but without actually making anyone eat that crazy nonsense.

  •  Rachel Ray is trying to bring back the cheeseball, and for this party especially, I fully support that.  Click on the pics to get the recipes.

Everything Bagel Cheese Ball


Pretty Parsley Cheese Ball …to go the extra mile, smush it into a pine tree or wreath shape, and decorate it with minced bell peppers and cherry tomatoes


Snowman Cheese Ball

  • What says ‘swanky cocktail party’ like shrimp cocktail in martini glasses? Nothing, that’s what.  Save yourself a ton of $$ and clean-up by using plastic martini glasses.  Add a little Delia Deetz flair by swirling black & white ribbon stripes up the stem, or simply serving them with black & white striped napkins.

I like how this one includes ice and also allows the sauce to be optional.

  • I make the following cocktail meatballs for like, everything and there are never, ever, ever, ever, any left over.  Ever.  No matter how many I make.  The recipe is below.  Use homemade meatballs if possible, it’ll taste better, but frozen ones will be just fine.  Just try to find frozen meatballs without fennel in them.  The fennel…doesn’t go with the other flavors, in my opinion.
    • Ingredients: 1 1/2 jars grape jelly, 3 bottles Heinz cocktail sauce, approx 20-30 meatballs, crockpot
    • Turn on crockpot to high, add jelly.  Allow to melt, stir occasionally until smooth.
    • Add cocktail sauce, stir.
    • Add meatballs, stir together until sauce coats all the balls.  Heh heh.
    • Let simmer for about hour before serving, then turn down to low.  Always check to make sure they are hot through to the center before serving.
    • Put plates and toothpicks nearby, watch them all disappear.  That’s it.  Sooooo easy.
  • It wouldn’t be the holidays without sugar!  Go the quick and dirty route by piling up your platters with Little Debbie-type desserts, like Snowballs, Cosmic Brownie Trees, Ding-Dongs, Ho-Hos, Twinkies…you get the picture.  If you throw in one cool centerpiece dessert, like this Graham Cracker Haunted House:

How awesome is this??

or these Jack Skellington Cake Pops:



everyone will be awed by that, and suddenly the Little Debbies will be seen as kitschy and cute, instead of cheap.  It’s like when an asshole surrounds themselves with less attractive individuals in order to appear more attractive by comparison, but… kind of the opposite?  Like the pretty thing makes the ugly things prettier, just by being around it…  This is not a strong metaphor.

  • Always, always, always have ginormous platters of veggies and fruits.  For some of your guests, this may be the only thing they can eat, whether due to choice or chance, so make sure you have enough to go around with that in mind.  Keep dips on the side, too; if there’s ranch dressing all over every vegetable, that might mean not getting to eat anything at all for some people, so be conscious of dietary restrictions.  If you’re a Martha-in-the-making, feel free to go crazy with your veggie displays:

3D Veggie Tray Xmas Tree (you could sub out the cheese shapes for yellow and orange bell pepper shapes, if desired)


An even fancier 3D Veggie Xmas Tree

We’ll crush Parts 3 and 4, Cocktails and DIY Decor respectively, in later posts.  I did not realize when I started this post just how long it would take to link all those songs.  Oof. What say you so far, People of the Internet?  Anyone out there already done something like this? Any tips?  Any tips you got?  Share them below!


SGT Lincoln Osiris thanks you for reading.

Be Rad Like a Dad in Plaid

My Etsy shop is now officially open for business! Why not take a quick look around?  Maybe you’ll fall in love with something, and give it a home. And you’ll feel a little swell of pride, knowing that these items are not only one-of-a-kind, handmade, and awesome, but also environmentally friendly. AND you’ll feel good knowing you participated in Small Business Saturday, which makes you a completely rad individual.  Do the right thing, be rad, and adopt a doodad today!  All your favorite creepy home decor items and props are for sale just one click away: Nevermore Decor on Etsy


Snoopy’s Awesomesauce Thanksgiving Trash

I think we can all agree that the Peanuts’ cartoon specials are hilarious and adorable (if not, you are dead to me because what is wrong with you they are great), but I think the Thanksgiving special is my favorite.  I could watch Snoopy wrestle a lawn chair all damn day, because I know his struggle and it is real… Though I be but little, I am fierce, and nothing fills me with white-hot Hulk rage like an inanimate object defying my will.  Spice packet won’t tear at the line?  Apply brute force, spill spice packet everywhere, use entirety of lung capacity to scream “GODDAMNIT!!” and throw it in the trash, kick the trash can for good measure, spill trash across kitchen, see red as the fire of a thousand suns ignites in my pupils, destroy the world.  I’ve got Snoopy’s temper, Peppermint Patty’s tendency to steamroll people and put her foot all up in her mouth, Lucy’s maniacal mean streak and relish for pranks, and under the surface bubbles a pot of Charlie Brown’s social anxieties.  So basically, I’m a delight.  ANYWAY.

For those of you who haven’t seen it since you were 3 (or ever), Peppermint Patty invites herself (and several others) to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  As usual, Charlie Brown is too socially awkward to object, even though he is going to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner in just a few hours.  Gasp!  Good grief!  Linus suggests that Charlie make a dinner real quick for his friends, then go to his grandma’s.  Given his limited cooking abilities, and the fact that his sous chef is a dog, Friendsgiving dinner ends up consisting of popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks, and jellybeans.


Not everyone is impressed.

Dafuq is this?

Dafuq is this shit?

Patty freaks out, Marcy apologizes for her, Linus makes a big speech, they all go to Grandma Brown’s house, Snoopy invites Woodstock to participate in some light cannibalism, roll credits.  To enjoy this strange little gem of a holiday special in its 25-minute entirety for yourself, click here.

That sweet, well-intentioned failure of a dinner was my inspiration for Snoopy’s Awesomesauce Thanksgiving Trash (although if I’m being honest, I saw this on Pinterest (so stinkin’ cuuuuute!), and that’s what made me think of combining all the parts of the Peanuts’ gang’s Friendsgiving dinner into an autumnal version of what is commonly known as a ‘trash’ snack mix.  Click this link if you don’t believe ‘trash snack mix’ is a thing.  It is very real.  And so good. ).

I wanted to bring a little Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special to the table this year, so here’s what I came up with:

Snoopy's Awesomesauce Thanksgiving Trash

Snoopy’s Awesomesauce Thanksgiving Trash

What’s in it:

  • kettle corn
  • pretzel sticks
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch (I wanted French Toast Crunch because the bits actually look like little pieces of toast, but I couldn’t find it anywhere…was that a limited time thing??)
  • jelly beans (specifically Buttered Popcorn, Toasted Marshmallow, and Cinnamon JellyBellys)
  • dry roasted peanuts
  • cinnamon cheesecake flavored candy melts

I tossed the freshly-popped kettle corn, pretzels, and peanuts together with the warm, gooey candy melts, then added in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the jelly beans afterward.  And that’s all there is to it.  Anyone can make this.  You could be eating this in less than 10 minutes.  20 minutes if you need supplies first.

I was hoping to add a little color to the whole thing by throwing in some kind of autumny sprinkles, but I apparently missed the boat for that, because it’s all red and green sprinkles everywhere, as far as the eye can see.  Oh well.  It tastes so damn good, no one will care.  I’ve been sampling it as I put it together and OH MY GOD.  SO GOOD.

The great thing about a solid trash mix is that you can change it up any which way you like, and it’ll be good no matter what, as long as you’re not terrible at combining flavors.  I wanted to get the popcorn, jelly beans, pretzels, and toast into the mix, and I had the cinnamon cheesecake candy melts left over from another project, so I just shot for sweet/salty/cinnamon when I was throwing this together.  But you can make a trash mix for any occasion, with just about anything.  And people go apeshit for it.

By the way, that killer print in the background was done by a very talented guy named Tom Whalen.  He makes all kinds of badass posters, and you should go check him out while you’re eating trash.

Beaujolais Nouveau: A Better History for Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  I love the food and wine and DESSERTS, and getting together with family, and I’m 100% on board with taking a day to feel grateful… But I, like any student of history, don’t particularly care for the willing ignorance behind the whole Pilgrims and Indians motif.  Call me Wednesday Addams, but even if members of these two groups enjoyed some kind of meal together, it doesn’t negate the government-sanctioned genocide and land theft.  It just feels a little disingenuous to pretend not to know any of that, just because waffle cone teepees and pilgrim hat marshmallow cookies are both delicious and adorable.



You can’t even taste the historical atrocities!

So, if you’re looking to bring some history to your Thanksgiving table that isn’t quite so soaked in blood and tears, and also brings booze along with it, may I suggest: Beaujolais Fest!  On Thursday night, Hubstep and I went to a little wine club meeting, and we learned a little bit of history while tasting many, many wines.


This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau label. Notice how the bottle is already almost empty.

Hubstep, "just tasting" the wine

Hubstep, “just tasting” the wine

Back in the day, in the Beaujolais region of France (pronounced Boe-jhe-LAY), there grew a little grape known as Gamay.  The Gamay grapes were thought to be less “elegant” than the Pinot Noir grown in the same region, and the nobility wanted nothing to do with them.  Making wine with Gamay grapes was basically social suicide.  But the workers in the fields thought the Gamay was just fine, and found that it even fermented more quickly than the other grapes.  And so, a tradition began among the fieldhands, to collect and ferment the Gamay grapes for themselves.  A few short weeks later, they’d celebrate the end of the harvest season by cracking open their bottles of freshly fermented wine, and getting schwasted.


Click here for the wiki. Because French words are hard to spell.

As time went on, the party got more and more out of hand, and eventually it became a world-wide phenomenon and the government of France had to lay down a few rules (mostly to prevent early release of the vintage).  But!  The Beaujolais Nouveau wine is still made the same way (essentially using gravity, rather than a press (or feet!), to crush the grapes), the Gamay grapes are still picked by hand, and all over the world, at midnight on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released, and there is much rejoicing.  Beaujolais Day is a celebration of the harvest, and of the laborer who makes it possible.  Those field workers used the grapes they had access to (what the nobility thought were garbage grapes), fermented them whole in barrels, and after waiting the minimum amount of time necessary for it to turn into alcohol, busted out their humble vintage, and celebrated another year of hard work, together with their friends and family.  They didn’t have the fine wines and fancy parties of the lords they worked for, but they did have food, and wine, and family.

Making do with what you have, and gratitude for it.  Hard work, and the satisfaction of a job well done.  A table laden with the fruits of the harvest, surrounded by family.  This story may be French, but all that sounds pretty damn close to what Thanksgiving, and America, are all about.

So, may I suggest bringing a little Beaujolais Nouveau to your Thanksgiving table this year.  It’s fruity and surprisingly smooth for such a young wine, and it pairs really, really well with turkey and stuffing and cranberries.  You can find it just about anywhere that sells wine, like the grocery store, and it’s usually priced right around $10/bottle, so it’s affordable for the working family.  So, here’s to working hard, being with family, eating pie and drinking wine, and being grateful.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This image was made by thelittlecanoe on Etsy.  Click the pic to visit her shop and find more beautiful creations.

This image was made by thelittlecanoe on Etsy. Click the pic to visit her shop and find more beautiful creations.

How I Learned to Stop Throwing Boring Parties and Love Games

For some reason, most of the party advice and how-to’s I’ve come across only suggest games and activities for children’s parties.  Spoiler alert: adults like games and activities too!  It seems to be a common assumption that all you need to throw a successful party for adults are the basics: food, booze, and music.  Sort of a ‘if you build it they will come’ approach – put on some tunes, put out some chips, and everyone will just magically have a great time.  If your goal is to host a largely forgettable evening, well, that’s the recipe.

Captain Picard gets it.

Patrick Stewart gets it.

While it’s not always easy to come up with games adults will enjoy (we usually end up having to more-or-less invent them), it is absolutely worth it.  The reactions are priceless.  When you have thematic, age-appropriate games, it kicks your party into a whole new level, and makes it an event; an occasion that they will still be talking about weeks, months, years later.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to strike a balance between ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ and Beer Pong.  Actually… ok, between like, Uno and Beer Pong, because even when you were five, you knew that ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ was stupid bullshit, and you were too old for it.

This is baby shit.

This is baby shit.

Your game can’t be too kid-ish, because no one will want to play and they’ll think you’re an idiot.  And drinking games exclude all but the alcoholics and the 22 year olds.  Not that you should never do drinking games; they can be a fun way to get the crowd warmed up and ready to act a little silly/make a new best friend.  Depending on your crowd, there’s nothing wrong with putting on a PowerHour playlist (plays only 60 seconds of each song, 60 songs total; take a sip of your drink every time the music changes) to give your early arrivers something to keep them busy while you finish up the food/put the ice out/other last-minute stuff.  But drinking games shouldn’t be the main focus, or your only activity, because it excludes too many people.  The ideal of the game is to get people involved, engaged; to get them talking to people they normally wouldn’t.  Without an activity, people are generally just going to eat their chips and talk to the people they already know.  Forgettable.  A game gives them a common goal (or enemy), and a reason to interact with strangers.  And one of the coolest things in the world is seeing two of your friends, from completely different spheres of your life, laughing together and just getting along famously.

To give you an example, our Knight of Fright Halloween party (medieval/fantasy theme) had several games going on.  The “Royal Proclamation” I sent out to our guests via Facebook about a week beforehand puts it in a nice fat little nutshell:

holy-grail-artA Brief Explanation of the Events of the Upcoming Evening
Issued by The Lady of the House

Your goal on November 8th will be to accumulate the most gold that you can, in order to increase your wealth, influence, and the favor of your house. There are several ways to accumulate gold:
EARN IT: Competing in the lists (playing a game called Battlegrounds, which is basically a tabletop variation of Cornhole meets Angry Birds)
BUY IT: A gold is given for every entry into the 50/50 raffle
WIN IT: You may gamble your gold for a chance to win big by playing Fortune’s Tower (a card game)
STEAL IT: All guests will be issued a satchel for their gold, to be attached to the hip area via the provided clip. You may attempt to take other guests’ satchels, but be careful of being caught by them OR by The Royal Guards, who will put you in the stocks for your trouble.
The Royal Treasurer will keep track of each guest’s wealth and allow you to make deposits and withdrawals from The Royal Treasury. THE ROYAL TREASURY DOES NOT ISSUE CREDIT. At the end of the night, the richest/most influential Houses will receive very fine gifts of hospitality from the Lord and Lady of the Castle, in the hopes of securing an alliance. The peasantry can just get the hell out.

Battlegrounds took place in the garage/catacombs.  Besides providing the thieves with an excellent environment in which to attempt to snatch a satchel or two (low lighting and distracted marks), just about everyone tried it at least once, and most kept coming back for match after match.

Tallying the score

Tallying the score

We bought a set of tabletop cornhole tables and some weird, tentacley balls (…that sounds terrible) at our local craft store, and from those items (totaling about $20), we made Battlegrounds.  There were 5-7 people to a team, and the idea was for everyone to throw all the balls simultaneously, to try to either score, or stop the opposing team from scoring.  Points were awarded the same as cornhole (1 for on, 2 for in), but you could stop an opponent’s ball in mid-air by hitting it with one of yours.

Fortune’s Tower is actually an Xbox game, it was part of a little side-thing called Pub Games that came as a pre-order bonus to Fable II.  We let guests bet their gold on the outcome of the card game, line by line.  [Click the screenshot to try it out (Xbox required), but be warned: it’s very addicting. ] This was even more popular than Battlegrounds, and there were even a couple jackpots.  For those of you who’ve never experienced such a thing, jackpots are unreasonably exciting, even when it’s fake money that means nothing.  The sun shines out of your face anyway and you feel that combination of utter elation and smug, I-completely-deserve-this satisfaction.  It’s pretty great.


Screenshot, you guys.

The stealing part was a lot of fun, too.  You really needed a light touch to release the binder clip (on the satchel) from someone’s costume without them noticing.  And if a Royal Guard caught you in the act, you would be carted off to the stocks in the garage, where we would boo you and throw lettuce at your head.

Booo! Thief!!

Booo! Thief!!

10688278_10102902249390984_979339716275637079_oThe “richest” people at the end of the night got prize baskets.  I love making prize baskets.  I got a little extra carried away with them this year, theme-wise.

The Red Woman: Ommegang Brewery Valar Morgulis beer, 2 glass mugs, sparklers, and Fireball candies.

The Red Woman: Ommegang Brewery Valar Morghulis Ale, 2 glass mugs, sparklers, and Atomic Fireballs.

Fool of a Took Foaming Pints: a pint of Guinness, 2 Baileys Irish Creme minis, 2 glass mugs, 2 shot glasses, and Nature's Valley oatmeal squares, wrapped in silk leaves to look like lembras bread

Fool of a Took Foaming Pints: a pint of Guinness, 2 Baileys Irish Cream minis, 2 glass mugs, 2 shot glasses, and Nature’s Valley oatmeal squares, wrapped in silk leaves to look like lembras bread.  Sorry the picture quality is butt. 

We had a few other baskets that I didn’t snap pictures of, but my love affair with themed gift baskets is another post for another day.

Wrap-Up Round-up:

The hastily-scribbled score sheet from a match of Battlegrounds. You can also see one of the satchels we made on the left there.

The hastily-scribbled score sheet from a match of Battlegrounds. You can also see one of the satchels we made on the left there.


Fortune’s Tower betting detail

Now that’s just the games we did this year, but this post is already too long to be piling any other examples into it. The point is, games bring your theme to life, get your guests invested in your concept, and involved with one another.  As Martha would say, it’s a good thing.

On Cheesecloth and Cobwebbin’

I have one word, one very important word for all you home haunters out there: CHEESECLOTH.  Cheesecloth is your new best friend.  If you’ve ever purchased “creepy cloth” at the Halloween store at $7 for 2 yards, or bought those bags of fibrous bullshit that you pull apart and stretch to make spiderwebs, this post is for you.  Cheesecloth is about to change your game up.

No more of this.

No more of this.

Or this.

Or this.

Oh, people of Sherwood, you’ve been had!  Hoodwinked!  Bamboozled!  Firstly, “creepy cloth” (or “freaky fabric”, or whatever they choose to call it at your particular local Halloween store) is just cheesecloth that has been roughed up a bit for you, and therefore costs approximately 3x as much.  Do your own ripping and tearing, and spend more money on candy and booze.  Now, I will admit, I don’t mind paying the extra if it’s a different color, like black, and I’m using it to create an effect other than spiderwebs, because ain’t nobody got time to be dying cheesecloth all different colors in their utility tub.  Fuck that.

And those bags of “super-stretch” spiderwebs?  Has anyone, in the history of ever, EVER had any easy time with that crap?  The effect comes off cheap and cheesy, and it’s a pain in the ass to put up AND to take down.  Cleaning that stuff up is the absolute WORST. WORST!!  The point is, it’s terrible and I hate it.

Lovely, lovely cheesecloth, however, is the bee’s knockin’ knees, you guys.

…I don’t even know what that means.  But what you should take away from this is, cheesecloth is great.

The effect is absolutely stunning, it’s super easy to clean up, and you can re-use it year after year after year.  AND you can use it for like, a hundred other cool things besides making spiderwebs.

SO.  This year, for our medieval theme, we turned our garage into… The Catacombs.  Which, I felt, required the entire ceiling to be absolutely riddled with webs.  I didn’t, in the end, actually get the whole ceiling covered, but…

More on this guy in a minute... but check the webs!

More on this guy in a minute… but check the webs!

The cheesecloth webs have a much more realistic effect than that bag of stretchy cotton will ever be able to provide.  AND they were super easy to put up, thanks to this guy:

This is Dave.

This is Dave.

And this… my cobwebbin' stick.

…is my cobwebbin’ stick.

Because I am a short li’l stack of pancakes, I have a hard time reaching the ceiling in the garage, even when standing on a chair.  And our ladder is too tall to even open up in the garage.  This presented me with a problem.  How would I cover the ceiling in cobwebs if I couldn’t reach it?  So, my big strong MacGyver bent up some metal, covered the edge in Avengers duct tape, and created the perfect cobwebbin’ stick.  It has a hole in the top that is just big enough to allow a standard push-pin to sit in it, but not fall through.  So, we would place the push-pin in its holster, drape the torn cheesecloth over it, and push it up into the ceiling.

010 011 012

Worked like a charm.

Note the awesomeness.

Note the awesomeness.

I think I’ll get into the games we had going in the garage (and the shaming photo-op) in the next post, so for now, just remember that cheesecloth is the best and that having a fantastical cobwebbin’ stick makes it even better.


HE’S MINE.  Get your own cobweb-stick-making hunk.  This one’s taken.

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