Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween in the Woods!

Using a State Park for Your Next Halloween Party

Last year I decided to host a birthday party on Halloween for a hobby group to honor a special guest. Because of some problems with my house due to a landslide, which is another horror story of its own, I had to find the perfect spot. I found it at a local state park!
Many state parks have shelters where you can have picnics, and some of those have fire places. I reserved a shelter with two picnic tables and a fireplace and brought a couple of lawn chairs as did some of the other guests, so we had ample seating for our group. We met at 6:00 PM right as darkness fell. Our shelter was a little remote, in a small meadow surrounded by woods, so it was picturesque by day but quite spooky at night, and dark, very dark!
To combat the darkness, we all brought lanterns and candles which we put around the shelter, hanging some and placing others on the tables. The fireplace also cast a warm glow on the festivities, so the effect was very pleasant. There were no electrical outlets, so we did everything by candlelight and lamplight. We did bring a battery-operated CD player so we could have music appropriate to our gethering in the background.
Since our group is a historical group, we all came in period costume, so the lamplight was perfect for the effect we were trying to create. I brought my collection of pewter serving trays, another member brought some crock and pottery serving dishes, so we tried to keep our event a "period" event without being too arbitrary about it.
The results were amazing. It was dark enough and spooky enough to feel like Halloween. The accessories and lack of electricity made us feel like we were back in "ye olden days." And the warmth of the fireplace and the friendships made us feel cozy and secure in the middle of that big, dark woods. We even had a raccoon come up to the shelter to beg for food during the party. Our party last year was so much fun we are doing it again this year!
For your next Halloween gathering, consider a state park. Check right away to find out if sites are available and what the reservation policies are. Most state parks don't allow alcoholic beverages and may have other restrictions, but with the right accessories and costumes and a little planning, you can create an entirely different world for your party.

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