Old fashioned Halloween party tips from 1910 & 1911

Jolly Hallowe'en antique postcard

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Ready for a unique kind of Halloween celebration? We have some old-fashioned Halloween party tips from 1910, a time when the holiday was more about gatherings than candy collection.

Whether you’re just curious about how they celebrated the holiday back in the day, or actually want to host a throwback event of your own, check out how our great-great-, etc. grandparents might have celebrated the occasion once upon a time.

Are you ready for an old-fashioned Halloween? (1910)

The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, Calif.) October 23, 1910

Down from centuries comes the feast on the eve of All Saints Day, and despite the fact that the celebration has changed considerably from the first plans, there is a clinging to custom that speaks much for tradition and what it means to us.

Humanity loves a holiday, and as the season approaches, Jack-o’-lanterns loom up at us, the vendors of nuts cry their wares and the small boys scare their little sisters awfully.

Are you ready for an old fashioned Halloween? Or haven’t you given the matter a thought? You need not have a nerve-racking party; a little family celebration will do. At any rate, do not neglect to prepare this year. It will make one day a little different from the others in the week. It is worthwhile.

Old fashioned Halloween pumpkin carving

Engage a pumpkin. It is the master of the ceremony. Scrape the filling and use for pie.

Cut off the top, and after drawing the eyes, nose and mouth on the outer surface, cut with a sharp knife. Fasten a candle inside by piercing the bottom with a fine steel nail, on which the wax candle will stand firmly.

Now decorate the center of the table with autumn leaves, chestnut burs or paper flowers. Pile your fruit at the base of Jack and give him a plume and, incidentally, a modish, rakish air.

An old fashioned Halloween card

Vintage Halloween postcards c1905

Old fashioned Halloween place settings

At each plate, you must have a place card. There are hand-painted ones that speak for themselves, so well do they give the spirit of the day. A variety is here, and great fun is the result of different ones for each guest.

These are done on watercolor paper, the rough mat surface being used. A square is cut and the lower half outlined with gilt or colored paint to form a border on the finished card. The figure, you will notice, extends beyond the diameter of the square.

Draw first, then color, and finally cut that part of the drawing above the colored line. Bend your square on the diameter at each side. The folded paper will stand alone at each plate. Names of the guests are written on the cards.

Two line drawings are given from which you can trace, by using carbon paper. Place the carbon between this page and your white paper, use a sharp pencil, and then ink in the impression left. Add the color, which, by the way, can be crayon if you prefer.

MORE: How did Halloween start? The strange history of old fashioned Halloween – including trick or treating & carving jack-o’-lanterns – goes way, way back

As for old-fashioned Halloween party games

The old-time bobbing for apples is still mirth-provoking. The peering into the future is always fascinating. Peel apples, keeping a continuous strip of skin. After twirling it about the head the mystic three times, throw it upon the floor. It should form the initial of your future mate’s name. Try it!

Three candles duly named can be lighted and put to the test of telling which one loves the most impetuously, the longest, or, alas! not at all. Nut shells with tiny candles lighted in them can be embarked on a sea in a dishpan. The same test is here again amusing.

The finding of the thimble or button in the cake means a single life; the coin promises wealth; the ring, marriage; the little metal wreath, fame; and so on.

halloween-parties-from-1910 (3)

Packing the fruit basket is another amusing game. The players being asked to help in the packing must suggest fruit, each suggestion beginning with the same letter as the first name of the talker. Of course, the players do not know this, and when two attempts have been made unsuccessfully a forfeit must be paid.

Mirror gazing, with the possibility of falling down the back stairs, is still popular, though hardly advisable. If you are very anxious to know whom you will marry, take a mouthful of water, a handful of salt and run around the house three times. You ought to meet the one who will be yours.

Old fashioned Halloween costumes

If enough of these suggestions be on hand, no celebration, big or little, should lag. As for the masquerade, who has not enjoyed the freedom of meeting incognito one’s friends? And who can withstand the attractions of the queen of night or the foolishness of the baby?

These are merely hints for the festival that contributes a bright spot in the field of memory, which we should make as rich as possible for the future years.

So let Johnny get out his horn and his Injun suit, and give little Nellie a long skirt with a real train, or make a “costume,” and all join hands and have a party!

Old Halloween parties from 1910 (3)


Place cards for the old fashioned Halloween party

More and more are place cards being used for occasions when guests, small or large, are to be seated at a table. They obviate difficulties in placing the diners, cause much merriment and give attractive souvenirs to be taken home.

You can buy place cards if you have the money; you can make them if you have a little time. Do not exclaim that you never had a talent for drawing or painting. You do not need it, for the work is done here for you. All that is necessary is a sheet of carbon paper or tracing paper, a sharp pencil, black ink and a few colors.

MORE: 4 old fashioned Halloween party table decorations & menu ideas from 100+ years ago

Halloween pumpkin - Jack o Lantern from 1910

Simple suggestions for old fashioned Halloween fun & crafts

The suggestions are quite simple, which means that in an hour enough cards can be made to supply a dinner party or a children’s feast.

On stiff paper or lightweight cardboard, the work is easily done. One sheet, costing in the neighborhood of 5 or 10 cents, will make a dozen of these at least.

The apple is perhaps the simplest. The dotted lines at one side show the folded paper. From these the curved sides are cut and the stem and leaves put in with ink.

A coat of color, yellow or red, can be washed over the upper part of the card, which is in reality a booklet. On the inside the name of each guest should be placed.

Halloween crafts

If the mystery of the night be emphasized, there is the witch’s cap and broom. Draw from the sketch upon white cardboard. Fill in the hat with black and make the broomstick yellow and the straws either yellow or dark gray. The name of the guest can be written or printed on the plain part of the oblong card. It is better to color all at once and cut out the entire lot last.

The laughing pumpkin is typical of the holiday. If you can possibly purchase yellow cardboard, do so, as this halves the work.

Draw upon it the outline of the pumpkin. You can do this by placing a piece of carbon paper over the white cardboard, and this newspaper over that; use a sharp, hard pencil and press firmly over every line in the sketch. The outline will be imprinted clearly on the cardboard, and it is easy work to ink in.

halloween-parties-from-1910 (1)

Candles and your future husband invariably are associated with the future-gazing on this eventful night. So why not have the candlestick for a place card?

Draw on white paper, color the holder yellow and let the candle remain white, suggesting by ink the burnt wick and the edge. Inscribe the guest’s name, or any suitable question, on the long, plain strip in front.

The effect of these cards is great when on the table. A small strip of cardboard, pasted at the back and bent to form a stand, will allow this card to be placed in a natural, upright position.

Suppose that you are not thinking of a formal entertainment. Well, make these cards for the family dinner — just to make it different from other meals.

ALSO SEE: DIY old fashioned Halloween decorations on a budget: Fiendishly clever ideas from the days before party supply stores (1919)

Real old fashioned Halloween craft templates



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Comments on this story

3 Responses

  1. Wow. I had no idea that Halloween was a thing when my grandparents were 7 years old. I was told that it wasn’t a thing in America until the 1920s. Gotta stop believing the old liars, then. Because the ads of the time didn’t lie. But the geezers do…

    1. Hi! That’s not a watermark – that is the image caption for that particular drawing. Also, this article/artwork is from 1910, and everything published before 1924 is considered public domain. (More info here.)

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