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Horror-ble Halloween party plans

Halloween is Katy's Rose favorite holiday.

Come the first of October, there's an oversized treat bowl on her coffee table. Her house is decorated roof top to yard with cobwebs, ghouls and goblins. So it seemed fitting that she wanted to throw a Halloween party in her recently purchased first home.

Because Rose, 43, has a big heart, it came as no surprise when her guest list grew from 20 to 75 adults and children in a week's time. She looked like a dear in headlights.

"I had no idea everyone would say yes," says the marine turtle specialist with DB Ecological Services in Boca Raton.

I reassured my friend that with a timeline of tasks and a budget, she could entertain like a pro, make it a memorable event and still pay her mortgage.

Rose's wanted the party to be in the yard of her new West Palm Beach house and wanted pumpkin carving to be a central theme of the daytime party. Mid afternoon meant small children could attend, while the adults knew they'd be home in time for Sunday night football. Scheduling the party in between lunch and dinner also meant finger food snacks would be just right.

While pumpkins were provided, the invitations included a note to bring your own carving tools. We purchased pumpkins in varying sizes to accommodate adults and children. Borrowed banquet tables set up in the front yard became pumpkin carving stations. Disposable tablecloths and newspaper for pumpkin innards make for easy clean up.

After brainstorming old menu favorites and checking the latest magazines for inspiration, menu planning took shape. No silverware required was the main criteria, and a well conceived variety of foods catering to all ages, palates and diets was necessary.

A mix of prepared foods and homemade recipes relieve time spent on kitchen prep and day of execution. It was a Happy Halloween!

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