Are you throwing an eerie party for friends and family in celebration of the horrifying holiday known as Halloween? Creating a themed environment for a specific occasion can be a worry-some task for many. If questioning party essentials, just turn to the professionals. When it comes to Halloween, these Delmarva locals have plenty of design tips, party dishes, and decorating ideas up their sleeves.
Start on the outside of your home and work your way in. Traditional potted fall flowers, like mums, in shades of burgundy, yellow and orange can be placed next to pumpkins and gourds to create a classic look. Add some tall corn stalks or colored ears of corn to finish the autumnal look. These items can all be purchased at local farm or produce stands or at most home improvement stores.

If a less conventional, more frightening, look is desired, go handmade.

“I’m making a whole Halloween scene using recycled materials,” said John Colley.

Colley is responsible for creating the ‘haunted cemetery’ in the courtyard behind the Atlantic Hotel next to the Globe Theater in Berlin.

“I’ve used bamboo that was cut down when the new sidewalk went in on Washington Street to make these gates. This old wooden fencing was pulled out of the trash from Fager’s Island. The tombstones are made out of broken slate stepping stones,” Colley said while looking at the scene.

Be on the lookout for items in the trash, at yard sales, or at thrift stores that you could transform into something else. An artistic vision and some craft skills are requirements if you plan on doing a recycled scene in your front yard.  Repurpose old items to make something new.

“I’ve spent about five hours working on this Halloween scene, so far,” Colley said as he painted a dark grey figure next to a black haunted house on a plywood mural.

Colley estimated about another 3 hours of work until his spooky, recycled outdoor scene would be complete. Guests will definitely take notice to the amount of effort, creativity, and originality in your exterior decorations before knocking on your front door and screaming, ‘Trick-or-treat!’

Once satisfied with the appearance of your home’s outside, move to the inside.  Creating a seasonal setting is important for making a party inviting. Just like exterior decorating there are many options and design directions to choose from.

The staff at Ta Da Home (27 N. Main Street) in historic Berlin decorates their home-furnishing and décor store with accents of black, spider webs, and stands of paper ghosts. Ta Da Home opened last April and is directly across Main Street from sister store, Ta Da, the accessory and jewelry boutique.

“We like classic black and white during this time of the year,” said Blair Parsons of Ta Da.

“Most shoppers don’t necessarily purchase their Halloween decorations here, but they like simple pieces.”

Use black and white to your advantage while decorating your home for the season. Add photos of last year’s trick-or-treat escapade, fall foliage, or a Halloween party to a black frame for a seasonal pop. Make a table-scape of black and orange using lush fabric, nice dishes, and candles then accent it with white. Add some kitschy Halloween accessories, like confetti, plastic spiders, or wispy pieces of spider web to the table for a whimsical feel. Black and white home goods can be used year round. Rotate select items out and replace them with different seasonal colors.

Ta Da Home is the place to go for one-of-a -kind creations. Parsons’ mother and previous Ta Da owner, Patti Falk, specializes in hand-painted glassware and furniture. These items are sold in the shop with home accent pieces and distressed, painted antique furniture. If you’re looking for something specific, ask Parsons or Falk, they will point you in the right direction when it comes to party decorations.

Next step – food! On the shore, Fall is known as ‘the second season’. After several warm and bountiful months of harvesting local tomatoes, green beans, and corn the local harvest takes a hardy turn. The second season brings pumpkins, parsnips, and green sprouts. The second season also allows for local chefs, like Leo D’Aleo Jr. from the Drummer’s Café, more time to prepare delicious dishes.  After a bustling summer local restaurants are eager to experiment with whatever nature brings their way.

“Nature makes a lot of decisions when it comes to what I prepare,” said D’Aleo, “It’s another approach that allows me to put extra time into a meal. I want you to be able to taste the richness and love in it.”

On the menu at Drummer’s Café, located inside of Berlin’s Atlantic Hotel (2 N. Main Street), you’ll start to see specials that include braised shanks, short ribs, and rockfish.  Seasonal vegetables that pair well with staunch meats include roasted beets, arugula, and brussel sprouts.

“When preparing for parties, you need something hip and delicious,” D’Aleo said while removing an eye-catching cheese plate from a large stainless steel refrigerator in the café’s kitchen.

“A hand-pulled mozzarella cheese ball?” the chef offers.

D’Aleo effortlessly pulls, shapes, and creates perfect mozzarella balls in the Berlin kitchen one after another.

“This cheese goes great with eggplant, tomatoes, and basil,” D’Aleo said.
Ever since Octoberfest, the fall celebration downtown, people have been looking for items to take to seasonally holiday parties. Easy to eat, quick and well prepared food are staples for any home party – like a cheese ball served with crackers and dip.

Snacks are perfect for a kid’s parties and adult parties alike. Have a nice selection of foods available for people to munch on while mingling, then, prepare a larger, fuller dish for guests to enjoy a little later in the evening. Good food is key to any seasonal party. Use your best judgment and base the menu off of your own personal preferences and what you like – it is your party after all!

Creating a themed environment for the perfect Halloween party or autumn celebration can be made easy after brainstorming ideas and putting creativity to use. Check out the gallery below for some ideas and photos of our local experts. Here’s hoping that your themed party serves up some great memories this fall!