What I Did:
We had a buffet rather than a sit-down dinner. My brother-in-law and his wife own a restaurant (if you're in the Colonial Beach, VA area, let me highly recommend them--Willey's, www.willeysbbq.com), and they catered the party. They outdid themselves, both with the food and the decorations. There were:
- Meatballs in sauce (in a chafing dish)
- Hot wings
- Bean dip, salsa, and guacamole with multi-colored tortilla chips
- Hot crab dip with garlic toasts
- An assortment of cold cuts, rolls, and condiments
- Cheese cubes (with plastic spiders strewn over top)
- An apple salad
- A cold shrimp arrangement which was a wonder to behold: The (huge) shrimp were arranged on a tray, at the back of which was a pineapple. There were some whole crawfish arranged beside it, and shrimp were positioned up the sides of the pineapple (on toothpicks). On the top stood: The Grim Crawfish. A large crawfish dressed in a little black hooded robe, with crawfish tails for hands (the claws were apparently too small to look right). When I came upon this in the middle of the buffet table, I stopped dead and demanded to know if anyone had gotten pictures.
- Deviled eggs. The whites had been dyed orange, and the yolk mixture was topped with a black olive.
All of the plates, cups, napkins, and flatware were red and black (our wedding colors).
The centerpiece of the buffet table were two plastic skulls, one in a black top hat and the other in a veil, surrounded by black roses.
Since the whole party was so informal, we invited guests to help themselves as they arrived rather than waiting until after the ceremony. That gave everyone something to do until the stragglers showed up, and lining up for a buffet is a good icebreaker.
- Go a step further with deviled eggs: Boil the eggs, crack the shells, and either soak them in water with black food coloring added or make Chinese "tea eggs" using a recipe such as this one. The dye will seep through the cracks and give the egg whites a veiny appearance. Then dye the yolk mixture with orange or green food coloring
- Serve fruit salad in oranges. Hollow out the flesh and carve a jack-o-lantern face in each one.
- Make pumpkins a central theme: Salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pumpkin bread with cream cheese, pumpkin soup (served in a hollowed-out pumpkin), pumpkin pickles, pumpkin-chip cookies (Recipe), even a pumpkin wedding cake (with blood-red raspberry sauce).
- Britta has a great page on Halloween recipes, with lots of pictures.
- For an interesting appetizer, place a molded "brain" on each table, along with crudites or crackers for dipping (Recipe).
- Use various sauces to suggest blood: Chili sauce for savory foods, raspberry/blackberry coulis, or maple syrup dyed with red food coloring for sweet dishes.