Do you think Holloween How-To books were birthed by Martha Stewart? Nope. Our obsession for harvest and Halloween themed parties, gatherings, and general mischief have been alive and well in our culture for well over a century. Our consumer culture and love affair with Halloween has been portrayed with postcards, photographs, costumes, and food. Lots, and lots, of food.
If you dream of bringing a vintage Halloween party to life, here are some great free vintage party planners, idea guides, and invitations. There’s nothing finer than inviting friends and family to unite in a common goal of celebrating a holiday. But why spend the money on expensive books and party ideas when you can find some unique ideas online for free?
Please be aware the content of some of these books are not politically correct. If you are easily offended, you will definitely want to take a pass on these ideas and skip on to my Halloween Pinterest Page instead.
The Jolly Hallowe’en Book by Dorothy Shipman has some of the cutest examples of party invitations I’ve read. Whether you’re making an e-vite or firing up the printer to send out your own cards, here are some quick and whitty ways to entice your guests to a fun night of party revelry.
Shipman’s book also includes songs, recitations (poetry readings), plays, games, and other amusements. I was intreiguted by the idea of a progressive Halloween party, where children would go from house to house for activities, treats, and scary stories. Throw in a little mystery and a talking dog, and you could almost have a Scooby-Doo episode.
Hallowe’en Festivities by Stanley Schell provides one of the largest and comprehensive turn-of-the-century guides for Halloween entertaining. From decorating ideas, to short plays, poems, group activities, food, and fortune-telling, this book provides just about everything you need to be the hostess with the mostest. Check out a snipit guide to decorating your home room by room:
Moving from the decorations and the amusements, this book also has a great supper menu with corresponding entertainments to be had around the dinner table.
There’s also a great list of party games which are fun, quick, and don’t require a lot of preparation. I think some of them require a great deal of imagination. I could suggest using some inspiration from Pinterest to improve on some of these ideas. Please note the suggestion, “No game should be continued after the fun has reached its height.” From that statement, I’m pretty sure the author never had to host a party for a barrage of over-sugared kids before.
For a compact guide to a vintage Halloween experience, you can find some great articles, ads, and magazine features online from Google Books and Chronicling America. The San Francisco Call ran a full page Halloween entertainment guide on October 28, 1900. The type of amusements and descriptions are really cool!
Halloween hijinks seem like a waste of time and energy. Any sort of property damage could lead to standing up in front of a judge just a few months later. So imagine my surprise when found a ‘tell all’ of Halloween pranks circa 1910. A few renegades submitted their previous year’s exploits for print in the Los Angeles Herald. This example of destruction of property and harassment would have ignited a local media firestorm today:
If you can’t get enough of these vintage Halloween ideas, you can read a few of these honorable mentions:
Halloween Party Ideas from Ladies Home Journal (1916)
A Hallowe’en Dinner by United States. Department of Agriculture (1932)
Hallowe’en Ideas by United States. Department of Agriculture (1934)
Hints for Hallowe’en by United States. Department of Agriculture (1940)
Don’t forget! The Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission is hosting its annual Boardman Cemetery Halloween Open House on Saturday, October 31 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is a free family-friendly event, so bring your little ones for trick-or-treating, a cup of hot chocolate, and guided tours by lantern light! The cemetery is located on Paxson Road, just north of Royce Road, in Bolingbrook. Here’s a handy map. The red dot is the approximate location of the cemetery.