Enough Fun to Raise the Dead

How to Plan a Bewitching Halloween Block Party

Halloween is right around the corner, so why not celebrate with a spook-tacular neighborhood party? A Halloween gathering doesn’t need to be an elaborate affair. Gather the kids and order pizza, or invite the neighbors over for a glass of wine. The point is to take a break from your busy life and engage with those around you.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone knew their neighbors,” said Armand Winters, vice president of the Windermere Groves Homeowners Association in Ocoee. “I wanted people to be able to come together and socialize.”

To encourage this sense of community, Armand spearheaded a community Halloween potluck a few years ago, and it’s become an annual tradition.

“It gives everyone something to look forward to, and sharing food makes it feel like family,” he said.

When Lisa Heinecke moved away from Windermere Groves last year, she decided to carry the tradition to her new neighborhood, Sunset Lakes.

“I had wanted to get to know my neighbors and provide a platform for my children to meet new friends,” Lisa said. “We had hot dog mummies for the kids, chicken chili, cornbread, squash soup, and many delicious dips and desserts,” she said.

The party allowed adults time to socialize while the kids played, and then they all went trick-or-treating.

“Everyone loved it,” Lisa said, and the potluck dinners have become a monthly ritual.

Cross Creek hosts a Halloween parade every year, with children in costumes making their way through the neighborhood. After the parade they share in a special treat.

“Last year, they got goody bags, treats from the ice cream truck, and small pumpkins to decorate from the pumpkin patch,” said Cross Creek resident Christine Gramaglia.

It’s these annual events that turn neighbors into friends.

It’s not too late to plan a Halloween potluck in your neighborhood. Choose a safe location, preferably at the end of a cul-de-sac or on a quiet street. Driveways are perfect for food setup, and being near a power source is helpful. Use email or a social media network like Facebook or Nextdoor to advertise the event, or just print fliers and hand them out. Encourage everyone to bring lawn chairs, Frisbees or footballs, and start early enough to have time to eat before trick-or-treating.

Looking for an easy-to-plan dinner? Celebrity chef Rachel Ray suggests a “Rest-in-Peace” potluck, where everyone brings what they’d choose to eat for their last meal. See if you can match the guests with their dishes for an instant ice breaker. Add some killer drinks like blood-red sangria or bubbly witches brew with dry ice, and the party’s on.

You could make a big pot of chili, spaghetti or pulled pork for sliders, and ask everyone to bring a side dish. Or keep it simple with ghoulishly delicious finger foods like English muffin jack-o’-lantern pizzas, dips with veggie-stick skeletons, cheese-stick fingers, peeled mandarin-orange pumpkins with green pepper stems, or deviled eggs with
black-olive spiders.

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