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Southern Kitchen's definitive guide to celebrating Halloween

Halloween is the only time a year that it is perfectly acceptable to paint your face like a cat and walk around proudly in public. Whether you're taking your family trick-or-treating or having friends over for a horror movie fest, Halloween is a time to kick back, relax and let your inhibitions fly out the window — but not too much, since Halloween is on a weekday this year. 

However, as with all holidays, there can be immense pressure to pull of the best celebration of all time — until next year of course. That fact can feel incredibly overwhelming, but we've done most of the hard work for you.

From what to serve guests to which candy you should be giving out, we're here to ensure that this year's party will be one for the books. Happy Halloween!


Halloween Party Playlist
Werewolves, vampires, and ghosts, oh my. This playlist has them all — and more — with nary a Ghostbuster in sight. Scroll down to the bottom for a ready-to-play list of each of our picks below.
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Choose your candy wisely
Every state has different tastes in Halloween candy. You probably wouldn’t guess that in the lead-up to Halloween, residents of the state of Georgia are swimming in Swedish Fish, or that Texas has bought almost 2 million pounds each of two popular candy brands. That, as an analysis by CandyStore.com shows, is exactly the case, and if you think you know which Halloween candy is the biggest seller your Southern state, you might be surprised when you see the actual sales data.
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Pair wine (yes, wine) with Halloween candy
With another Halloween on the horizon, you may anticipate (based on experience) that your young trick-or-treaters will bring home enough candy to feed a small army. Perhaps you already know that you bought too much for the kids in your neighborhood (maybe on purpose?) and are sitting on a bounty of sugary surplus. If either scenario rings true (or you’re just a fan of candy), the daunting task of consuming your Halloween bounty may call for an adult beverage if you have some kid-free time. Candy comes in many different styles and flavor profiles, and we’ll highlight a few of the more common varieties to pair with some of our favorite wines. Halloween can be fun for adults, too! 
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A no mess, all fun guide to decorating pumpkins
From heirloom to white to traditional, jack-o-lantern-ready orange, there is surely no loss of options when it comes to what to bring home and decorate. Pumpkin carving can, however, be an arduous process full of cutting and scrapping until the pumpkin is decorated to your liking. Thankfully, the days of hard work are over. Pumpkins are popping up all over with paint, glitter and other decorative accents that are not only festive, but also time saving. Here are some of our favorite pumpkin decorating styles that you can try now. 
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How to throw a boo-tiful Halloween party
Beyond taking the kids trick-or-treating, throwing a Halloween party is a great way for friends or your family to gather together, enjoy a meal and fellowship — or just steal candy from your children. This is the perfect occasion to go overboard with your hosting duties. 
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16 boozy big batch cocktails for your evening
In addition to providing a delectable food spread, Halloween hosts are also generally in charge of beverages. And while it's perfectly acceptable to ask folks to B.Y.O.B., this is the South, after all, and we take pride in our manners. That being said, you don't need to slave over individual cocktails to make sure your guests are having a great time. Big batch cocktails deliver on flavor, they're incredibly easy to make ahead of time, and you won't need to be tied to the bar all night to pull them off.
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Or try these two Halloween-themed cocktails
Are you a good witch or a bad witch? This Halloween, you don’t have to choose! Not all Halloween drinks need to be orange, black or have googly gummy eyeballs in them. The names of the cocktails alone make them worthy of drinking on All Hallow’s Eve. Here are two Halloween-themed cocktails that are perfect for sipping while you wait to answer the door for trick-or-treaters.
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Scare off any vampires that come knocking with garlic-filled recipes
We've already got you covered when it comes to Halloween candy, cocktails and even music, but what about actual, well, food? Our favorite thing on which to chow down on this spookiest of holidays is vampire-repelling, garlic-filled dishes. Not only will these meals fight off whatever comes knocking on your door this evening, but they'll also keep your belly happy with bold, savory flavors. Here are our three favorite garlic-filled recipes, perfect for whipping up while you wait for trick-or-treaters.
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Photo (girl holding pumpkin): Julia Raasch/Unsplash
Photo (candy corn): Dane Deaner/Unsplash
Photo (assorted candy): Matt Schwartz/Unsplash
Photo (painted pumpkins): Drew Hays/Unsplash
Photo (happy Halloween sign): Mel Poole/Unsplash
Photo (array of punches): Danielle Atkins
Photo (Halloween themed cocktails): Ramona King
Photo (garlic): Matthew Pilachow/Unsplash


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Ryan Hughley is an associate editor at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously. 

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