This Halloween, don’t leave Fido out in the cold — Here are some tips and treats for throwing a doggone good party that’ll have your furry pal and his four-legged buddies howling for joy.
Invitations. First impressions count, and in this case, it all starts with the invitation. A fun, creative invitation “from” your dog to his dog park pals and people is a guaranteed attention-grabber. Don’t buy a package of invitations; you can make your own easily. You can pick up stickers, unusual paper and ribbon at any craft store. Let your imagination run wild. Our party planner, Lilies and Lemondrops, created a personalized invitation using ribbon, card stock and a paw-print hole punch. When figuring out who gets an invitation, it’s best to invite dogs that you are familiar with and know can behave well in a group, so pre-approve your dog’s guest list beforehand.
Costumes. Make sure your pup is the belle of the ball. Costumes are a fun way of expressing your furry friend’s inner dog. Does Rover secretly long to be a firedog? Does Bitsy get misty-eyed when you turn on Pirates of the Caribbean? For creative, custom-made costumes you can’t pick up at the local pet store, try etsy.com. Themes are a fun way to go if you can communicate with your guests beforehand; maybe Fido and his friends can play the Wizard of Oz gang, or you could try a farm theme with various farm animals. Consider having a costume contest for the pooches as well as the humans, with a prize for the winner; “cutest costume,” “scariest costume,” and “owner-dog look-alike” are just a few of the categories. Prizes could include a dozen home-baked dog treats or a Halloween-themed toy.
Decorations. Themed decorations are a must to create a mood. Don’t just think pumpkins and gourds; get creative. Any orange or gold flowers will make for an autumn feel, but you don’t have to limit yourself to mums. Orange gerber daisies have an elegant look without a hefty price tag, plus a few flowers go a long way. Even orange carnations can jazz up a room if arranged correctly, and a Halloween cup or mug can double as a vase to add to the mood. Cattails, au natural or sprayed black, are a nice addition to an arrangement and look great on their own.
Name tags or wine charms add a lot to a table, and are functional as well. You can create name tags out of paper, or find dog or Halloween-themed charms and tie them on with ribbons. Orange and black plates, napkins and dog bowls are an easy way to add that Halloween feeling without a lot of fuss. Black candlesticks that can be used year-round take on a new look when paired with orange tableware.
Food and Treats. In addition to your edible treats for humans, you’ll want to provide plenty of snacks and treats for the canine guests. Carrot and zucchini pieces are great healthy treats to have on hand, and it’s fun to have some holiday-themed munchies as well. Pumpkin Mutt Muffins (recipe below), topped with non-fat cream cheese will tempt furry friends, but be careful…they smell and look so tasty you may have a few humans sneaking some as well!
For a doggie punch they’ll be panting for, add some unsalted chicken or beef broth to the water bowls, but be sure to offer plain water for persnickety pooches. Another option is to boil some bones in water before the party, then serve to invitees.
If you’re expecting trick-or-treaters, be prepared for the four-legged variety, too. Homemade, healthy treats are an inexpensive way to make sure everyone gets a little something; Bark o’ Lantern Treats (recipe below), made with pumpkin, are delicious wheat- and corn-free treats that even sensitive pups can eat.
Chill Time. As it gets close to the witching hour, tired pooches can relax in ghoulish style on a pumpkin dog bed from Gothic Beagle. With a hand-stitched felt jack-o-lantern face and plenty of soft stuffing, this bed is as cute as it is comfortable. You can also purchase a few yards of autumn-print fleece at a craft store to make a few inexpensive guest dog-blankets.
Wrap Up. A good host-dog always makes sure that his guests leave with a party favor; a black bone or skull print baggie holder is a great giveaway. A goodie bag with dog cookies, a ball or a small toy will have your canine begging to come back next Halloween.
Pumpkin Mutt Muffins
2 c. oat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cloves
¾ c. honey
¼ c. safflower oil
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
Directions. Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Place cupcake papers into a mini- muffin pan (or a regular muffin pan). Spoon mixture evenly into the papers close to the top (won’t rise very much). Bake 10-15 minutes if using mini muffin pan or 22-27 minutes if using a regular-sized muffin pan. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Bark O’ Lantern Treats
1 c. oat flour
1 c. brown rice flour
1 c. pumpkin
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
Directions. Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients together and mix until a dough forms. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to cut into shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (can be close together). Bake 20-25 minutes. Transfer and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Mutt