By Leslie Kelly

You're way past trick or treating around the neighborhood, but you still want to celebrate the holiday that falls on October 31? Don't let the kiddos have all the fun. Here are a few ideas for grown-up Halloween parties, complete with menus, activities, play lists, and decorating tips.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

1) A Savory, Seasonal Dinner Party

No costumes necessary to enjoy this colorful autumn buffet. Mix a pitcher of Gin Rickey before inviting friends and family to help themselves at the beautifully decorated buffet table.

The Festive Menu

Those tart cocktails are a a perfect complement to warming Pumpkin Turkey Chili, a bowl of shredded Monterey Jack cheese nearby for topping. Serving it in the Dutch oven in which it was slowly simmered to perfection is considered way cool, and doubles as a way to keep it warm. (Don't forget to place a trivet on the table first.)

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Spiderize some snacks, and you might be surprised how many of your friends are still creeped out by those eight-legged creatures. Help them conquer that arachnophobia by inviting everyone to chomp on "spider" deviled eggs and a spider-shaped cheese ball. To make that adorable appetizer, start with your favorite cheese ball recipe, chilled thoroughly and divided into 1 large ball (about 2 cups) for the "body" and 1 small ball (about ½ cup) for the "head." Roll each ball in chia (or black sesame) seeds, pressing to adhere and coat completely. Each "leg" consists of 2 plain pretzel sticks, 1 pointing up and 1 pointing down (add as many as you like). Connect pretzels with "knees"—small balls of chia-coated cream cheese. Wait until just before serving to insert pretzel legs, so they stay crunchy. Halved black olive "eyes" can also be attached with a dab of cream cheese. Serve with crackers, toasts, pita chips, or raw veggies.

Setting the Mood

Flowers in fall colors warm up the buffet table, along with the Dutch oven in which the chili's served. That's right, it's rustic chic to bring a warm pot to the party. This is also a good time to dust off the cake stand to give that spider cheese ball a dramatic perch. Guests will be talking for weeks after munching candied apples (with black food coloring) served on sturdy twigs. Because wooden sticks are so 2015. Oh, and, check to make sure they're from nontoxic plants!

Try Spinning this Play List

Who's up for a little after-dinner dance party? Matt and Kasey Hickey from Turntable Kitchen put together this lineup of tunes that will inspire people to bust a move:

  • Bahia Prince Rama
  • Time Jungle
  • Wolf Like Me TV on the Radio
  • Howlin' for You The Black Keys
  • Shriek Wye Oak
  • Serpents Sharon Van Etten
  • Monster Kanye West (featuring JAY Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver)
  • Thriller Michael Jackson
  • Superstition Stevie Wonder
  • Kill V. Maim Grimes
  • Sunday Girl (French Version) Blondie
  • Wicked Game Widowspeak
  • Satisfaction (I Can't Get No) Otis Redding
  • (Ghost) Riders in the Sky Johnny Cash
  • Full Moon Woods
  • Paper Trails Darkside
  • Taken by the Night L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae
  • They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have
    Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!
    Sufjan Stevens
  • A Nightmare on My Street DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
  • Limit to Your Love James Blake
  • I Put a Spell on You Nina Simone

Thanks to Allrecipes Magazine for coming up with this grown-up party planner!

2) A Zombie Feast

Walking Dead fans are going to love this tribute to flesh-eaters everywhere. Slap on some DIY zombie makeup and get set to party until dawn.

A Meaty Menu

  • Let's kick off the festivities by sipping on the spooky Black Halloween Punch, a booze-free recipe that can easily be spiked with vodka or rum. Make it extra cool by adding a piece of dry ice wrapped in cheesecloth. Instant atmosphere!
  • No Zombie Bash would be complete without a Flayed Man Cheese Ball. Easier to make than you might imagine, and so delicious, this conversation-starting appetizer is a fitting opening act to the showstopping Zombie Meatloaf.
Photo by Vanessa Greaves
Bloody Broken Glass Cupcakes Photo by Soniabear

Staging Your Zombie Apocolypse

Dim the lights, because the undead do not like to party when it's bright. Decorate the entry with gardening tools stained with "blood", have the hit AMC show streaming in the background, sound turned down, and Walking Dead soundtrack cranked.

When the Zombie Nation gets tired of chasing the human beings who showed up out of costumes, try playing Walking Dead trivia. Print out memorable quotes from the show and have people guess who said what. Winner gets to gnaw on a Bloody Baked Rat!

3) The Everything Orange-and-Black Party

Halloween's signature shades get the star treatment at this bash, where guests are encourage to dress up in those contrasting, seasonal colors.

Photo by PartyCity.com

Orange and Black are the New Black

Turn your party space into a study in those striking colors, which symbolize pumpkins and spooky black cats. Dim the lights and hang orange twinkle lights at the entry. Arrange a dramatic display around a fireplace. Dress your table in an black tablecloth and set orange serving platters on top. Tuck branches with autumn leaves in a vase, and scatter Black Dot candies around it. Fortunately, there's no shortage of orange and black Halloween party supplies available when autumn arrives.

Showcase Squash on the Menu

What do pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash have in common? (Besides being the essential food of fall?) They're incredibly delicious in a wide variety of dishes. Picture an Instagram-worthy spread of some of the following:

  • Pumpkin Soup is a warming way to kick off a fall meal, an easy-to-make preparation that features fresh herbs and a touch of cream.
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine
Photo by Meredith Publishing

Just for Fun: Carving Contest

Invite guests to dive into a pumpkin carving project, providing them with the proper tools, some suggested templates, and votive candles as the essential finishing touch. Review our Guide to How to Carve a Pumpkin. You can make it easier for everyone by scooping out the seeds in advance. Have everyone cast secret ballots, choosing their favorite Jack O'Lanterns. The winner gets seconds on dessert or a round of Candy Corn Jell-O shots!

Photo by Meredith Publishing

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