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Tips for Your Halloween Deck Party

Pumpkins on the porchAll Hallows’ Eve. The Feast of the Dead. All Hallow Tide. They’re all names for a very special night of the year when we relish intermingling with ghosts, zombies, skeletons and other monsters that are typically kept under wraps. Most Americans know this special holiday as Halloween. For 2,000 years, humans have celebrated the dark side of life around this time of the year. Early Halloween celebrations among the Druids included attempts to make contact with the departed, who were believed to be caretakers of ancient tribal wisdom.

Today, American families celebrate the chaos that has always accompanied Halloween by carving ghoulish jack-o-lanterns, dressing up in elaborate costumes and asking neighbors for tricks or treats. Because the weather in the Pacific Northwest is typically fairly temperate during Halloween, this is a perfect holiday for having a party out on your decking materials. Portland kids don’t have to worry too much about bundling up to go trick-or-treating; why not take advantage of the devilish spirit and crisp weather of the Halloween holiday by inviting friends, family members and their munchkins to gather on your cedar decking? Below, we’ve gathered a few tips to make your Halloween deck party a smash.

1. Preparing Your Deck for the Party

Sweep leaves and debris off decking materials. Portland offers a rich growing environment. Every fall, tons of leaves fall from Portland trees, providing an enchanting show for the eyes. However, once leaves fall they can be hazardous for your cedar decking and for your guests. Fallen leaves can be quite slippery and can cause party guests to slip and fall. Furthermore, as fallen debris lingers on a cedar decking, it can cause tannin stains as well as foster mold and mildew growth.

Arrange and stock deck heater, fire pit or chimenea. There’s nothing like an open fire to make cedar decking more inviting on a crisp fall evening. Aside from the visual appeal of a fire pit or chimenea, an outdoor source of heat will naturally magnetize your Halloween guests to your decking materials. Portland locals get grumpy if a party locale is too cold or too wet, so it’s also smart to erect a temporary or permanent patio cover to provide shelter from the rain.

2. Getting into the Halloween Mood: Decorating the Area Around Your Decking Materials

Portland is a creative Mecca, so make sure not all of your Halloween decorations are store-bought. For instance, you can easily create miniature ghosts to hang from the trees around your cedar decking. Indeed, this project is a wonderful way to engage guests who arrive early. You’ll need a large sheet or tablecloth for this project. Cut the tablecloth or sheet into squares; 12-inch squares will create ghosts that are about eight inches tall. Next, ball up newspaper to serve as ghost heads. Wrap string or fishing line around the neck of each ghost, flip it over, and hang it from a tree branch. Finally, don’t forget to draw a frightening or funny face on each ghost.

For an especially posh party, consider using a certain theme to decorate your cedar deck. Portland is home to many Goths, so you might choose to throw a Gothic glam Halloween party, complete with purple and black tones, elaborate candelabras and special cocktails. Or, if lots of kids will be coming to your party, you can throw a costume party complete with a kids’ parade culminating on your decking materials. Portland parents and kids will certainly enjoy scoping out each other’s outrageous outfits! If you decide to give out awards for costumes, make sure every kid receives some sort of recognition so no one feels ostracized or left out.

3. Play a Few Outdoor Games on your Cedar Decking

An outdoor Halloween party is the perfect occasion for kids (and adults!) to have fun running around under autumn skies. Here are a couple of games your guests will enjoy playing:

X Marks the Grave. Before the party starts, transform your yard into a cemetery, complete with descriptive headstones. Use fun names like Dr. Acula, Izzy Dead, and Ben N. Balmed to keep your adult guests engaged. To play the game, give each kid a name to find. Once they find that headstone, they race back to you to get another name. The first child to find five names wins.

Skeleton Assembly Showdown. Purchase two inexpensive plastic skeletons before the party starts. Then, split players into two groups. Each team will try to correctly assemble their skeleton first. This game will draw teenagers and adults into the fun.

Overall, Halloween is the third biggest party day in the United States, falling behind only New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday in popularity. By following the tips above to create a magical Halloween environment on their decking materials, Portland residents can enjoy All Hallows’ Eve as it was intended to be experienced: as a time of revelry, chaos and fun.

[ photo by: kcdsTM ]

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