When we started dreaming up Halloween-inspired table settings, all the ideas that came to mind felt either cheesy or a little gross (think orange-and-black everything or a spill of blood—wine!—down a table runner).
Instead, we went for genuinely, gorgeously creepy—and here's how you can too.
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What you'll need and how to set it out.
1) A spindly branch.
For this branch, you'll want to select something skinny, with twigs akimbo, as reminiscent as possible of a strange beckoning hand. Strip away any leaves or loose bark, and set it out on the table. If it's not feeling sufficiently spooky, take measures into your own hands and spray praint it black or even white.
2) Smooth river stones and some twine.
Rather than going for overt ghoulishness, be sure to add something that just barely raises eyebrows. Smooth stones tied up in twine are intriguing in all the right ways, like little secret messages or weights to sink in dark water. The fact that they don't make total sense is all the more mysterious, and if you pile them up like totems that's sufficiently weird as well.
Find some old tarnished candlesticks, either from your attic or the local thrift store, and light some black or dark green candles in them while you wait for guests. Burn those candles all the way, so the wax melts down in rippling formations, and then set a new black candle in them to burn during dinner.
4) Red, red wine.
Pink is pretty and Chablis is delicious, but nothing says Halloween like red wine. Open a bottle a little savagely (as in, don't cut around the seal at the top, just uncork it to rip the seal) and have it out on the table when your vampires guests arrive.
5) A few dark touches.
Don't cloak the room in darkness, just add a few stormy moments to complete the look. We love black linen napkins and a peeling black-painted chair, but dark plates or a tablecloth would do the trick (or treat?), too.
We originally ran this how-to last year, and brought it back as a reminder that Halloween decor doesn't stop at cobwebs.
How do you set a slightly scary table? What do you feed your vampire friends? Let us know in the comments.