Your family will enjoy the six-layered elderberry cake, dried floral arrangements, and ghostly spirits served in a glass.

By Shelby Slaughter
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Halloween has the uncanny ability to bring out your inner craft. With mystery lingering in the air while being surrounded by jack-o'-lanterns and skeletons, it's no wonder your mind goes to new and creative places. But, if you're still in need of a few last-minute ideas, take note of Stefanie Makol of Witty Bash's autumnal spread.

Halloween cocktail party
Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

Originally hosted at The Wood Shed in Vista, California, Makol transformed the dark, industrial interior with spooky décor. "Our vision for this table was two spirits having a casual Halloween dinner together." And this particular venue, "with its rich and sophisticated interior, darkly painted walls, and beautiful living wall, provided the perfect setting for what we were trying to capture," Markol says of her vision.

Halloween cocktail party
Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

A Spooktacular Setting

Imagine the spirits gathering around a circle of diners—that was the vision Makol had in mind for this evening. Atop a side table provided by Witty Rentals, the charcoal-colored linens ($24 for 4, and hammered gold pieces ($32, were curated from Anthropologie. Her vision for the tableware was inspired by her grandmother's hand-me-downs to help coincide with the worn-in and weathered look. As the centerpiece, this Halloween floral arrangement was crafted by Native Poppy to include autumnal varieties such as nine bark, amaranth, lily pods, hawthorn branches, and copper-colored spider mums. To haunting effect, Ashley Renuart collected dried boughs of wild fennel, spray-painted them in a charcoal color, and bound them upside-down to be suspended from the ceiling. Candles helped to light up the room, "resembling the scenes of a séance," Makol says. Not only were they displayed on the table, but on the floor as well by securing the bottom end of each candle to a dot of poster putty.

She likened the "weird" idea to a séance. "Flickering flames among the dark and eerie setting really brought our vision of two spirits dining to life!"

Halloween cocktail party
Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

Tricks and Treats

While the tricks were left to the décor, everything edible looked picture-perfect and ready to eat. For this grazing board of sinister bites, Bleu Oak Charcuterie offered slabs of merlot cheese (its liquor marination added hints of berry and plum to the nutty flavor) and drizzled raspberry jam to the effect of fake blood. To take things to the next level, she found some baby mozzarella balls to depict as "eyeballs." The rest of the board was garnished with seasonal dark fruit like figs, pomegranate seeds, black grapes, blackberries, and plums.

But the biggest treat of them all? A six-layered barrel cake of elderberry and Madagascar vanilla bean buttercream courtesy of Sugar and Scribe. "The florals were made by hand using fondant, edible paints, and floral wire," Makol reveals about the impeccable detailing. The cake was covered in black fondant, then airbrushed to a weathered vintage appearance. For a last touch of whimsical sophistication, a single drizzle of black chocolate was added to creep down the side.

Halloween cocktail
Credit: Madeline Barr Photography

The Toast

Of course, what's a holiday dinner without its signature sip? Cocktails for the occasion—by the bartending talents at The Lincoln House—were a perfect blend of bourbon and rye whiskey, cask-aged over 150 days, with toasted barrel-aged syrup, black walnut bitters, and a splash of water. "We wanted a smoke element with the cocktails," Markol explains of the mixology, "and also something rich in color and taste."


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