Category Archives: theme party

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…

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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.
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Everything Bagel Cheese Ball

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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

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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.
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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:
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How awesome is this??

or these Jack Skellington Cake Pops:

jackskellingtonpops

HOW FREAKING CUTE ARE THESE like whaaaat

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:
Veggie-Christmas-Tree

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

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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!

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SGT Lincoln Osiris thanks you for reading.

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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…

...is 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.

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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

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


Just Starting… with Severed Heads

I built this thing months ago, and then spent week after week after week trying to decide what the first post should be about.  Every possible ‘first post’ topic was too cutesy, too old, out of season, or dull.  Excuse followed excuse, and here we are, months later, and only virtual spiderwebs adorn this blog.  I said I was going to be dedicated this time!  Shit!

So, in the name of research and advice (and totally not just further procrastination), I read article after article about blogging, and how to build your brand, and how your posts should have purpose, and all kinds of really helpful nonsense, until finally I came across some common sense (somewhere…would link if I remembered)… “Just start”, it said.  Stop trying to make everything perfect and just do the fucking thing already.  So here I am, just starting.

Today, I’d like to talk about severed heads.

We just got done with our annual Halloween party, which this year had a Medieval theme, so obviously I had to mount some severed heads on a wall.  Obviously.

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And the detail views:

004 027  029

I bought styrofoam heads (like for wigs) at my local craft supply store and proceeded to ‘horrify’ them with acrylic paint, wigs, and a few other odds and ends.  I found the wigs at a thrift store.  I didn’t feel great about touching said wigs in general, and felt even weirder when the clerk rang them up without comment.  I realized in that moment that there wasn’t a single thing I could say right then that would make buying two secondhand wigs, one male and one female, that would make the situation less awkward.  “Don’t worry, they’re not going on MY head,” …nope. “I thought those would be perfect for the severed heads I’m making” …definitely not.  I frequently spend my time in the checkout line at Goodwill trying to think of comments to help explain my purchases so that maybe I’ll seem a little less strange, and inevitably only come up with ways to make it worse.  If anyone out there works the register at a thrift store, and a woman comes through your line with things like gross wigs and Barbie heads and children’s nightgowns and ceramic clowns, cut her some slack.  She’s not a serial killer, and she’s concentrating really, really hard on not creeping you out.

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The Making Of

As you can see above, I keep a very neat and organized work space.

So it turns out that styrofoam has an excellent texture for making severed heads.  Who knew, right?  The heads come with a flared out neck and flat base, so they’ll sit nicely on a flat surface, but I needed them looking messy and mounted on spikes.  So, I clawed the neck bases apart like an animal, breaking pieces off and scratching bits here and there, leaving the rough surface see above.  I think we’re all familiar with the pebbly texture of torn styrofoam.  Turns out, when you cover that pebbly surface with red and black paint, it makes pretty decent rotting flesh.  I used a spray sealer on all of them to give it a shiny, bloody-looking finish, and added white rice for maggots on one:

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WARNING: TRYPOPHOBIA TRIGGER BELOW

Trypophobia, for those of you who don’t know, is a fear of small holes.  Usually, a cluster of irregular small holes, such as a lotus seed pod, or honeycomb.  It sounds ridiculous, but Google it, and see if the images don’t turn your stomach.  I was surprised to find out that a lot of the pictures made me feel really uneasy, like almost nauseous.  This article explains it better than I can. Have fun disappearing down that particular Internet rabbit hole.

Anyway, I figured, “So, that’s gross and horrible and strange and seemingly fairly prevalent, I should work it into a Halloween decoration!”  Because I am the worst.  So that’s exactly what I did.  I bought a sprig of autumn foliage at the craft store that included a lotus seed pod (ugh), sliced off the top of it, and set it with tacky glue (and a metric fuckton of red fabric paint) into the cheek of one of my heads:

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At Dave’s suggestion (Dave is my Hubster), I added black glass marbles into the mix:

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I think we can all agree, that’s nasty.

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I have to admit, the marbles weighed down that side of the face terrifically, so once the heads were mounted on the wall, I had a hell of a time stopping this one from tipping over and spinning around so that the marbles faced the ground.  Stupid gravity, getting in the way of all my plans.

The woman was the first head I made.  I think she is probably the least scary/gross, but for whatever reason, she is my favorite.  There’s not much to her, and I think the wig is mostly what makes her, but even so… favorite.

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When I finished her, I put her in the closet for (fairly) safe storage (always the chance of an avalanche in there), and whenever I would open the door, and her face would be there, seemingly sleeping, I would get this vision of the eyes suddenly popping open.  And that freaked me right the fuck out.

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Eventually I got smart, and turned her face to the wall.  But that is legitimately how I judge the quality of my Halloween crafts… if I don’t enjoy being alone in a room with it at night (or better yet, even during the daylight hours), I’ve done something right.

Speaking of...

Speaking of…

To close out, some photos of the heads the night of the party… apparently the camera HATES the dramatic red spotlighting on them, and they all came out blurry as shit.  Sorry.  But you get the idea.  Pin them anyway.  Pin them all!

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Me & Hubstep aka Thor, with heads in background

Me & Hubstep aka Thor, with heads in background


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