Random Appetites: BYOP Basics

In September, 1999, I had just ended my brief career as a pastry chef to return to the more lucrative bookkeeping job I’d left and had recently been dumped by my boyfriend of more than a year. It was the first time in two years I found myself with loads of free time.

Not only did I start watching a lot of television around this time, I also got back into crafting. And while flipping through “Crafts” magazine, full of all sorts of Halloween projects, I saw a small inset about throwing a BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) party. That Fall was my first of a string of very successful Pumpkin Parties whose invitations are, actually, quite coveted.

This year is, unfortunately, a non-BYOP year for me as I have a couple of schedule conflicts but, hopefully, next year will see BYOP-6 (I mean, I already have a theme in mind!). But if you want to throw your own, here’s the basics:

  • Have it up to a week before Halloween itself. This prevents schedule conflicts with the actual holiday and gives people more time to show off their creation. Depending on your October weather, a week may be pushing it.
  • Start in the early afternoon and leave a few hours for people to to work on their pumpkins. Asking your guests to clean out the gourds ahead of time will lessen the clean-up for you, but have a bag or two available for guts and discards.
  • Have lots of patterns and tools available. I like to provide everything BUT the pumpkins for my guests, including carving tools, patterns, paints and brushes and sundry other items (toothpicks, candles, etc.)
  • Serve refreshments. My first couple of BYOPs were pot-luck because I was on a serious budget and this party started big! (both friends and family came as well as a church “youth” group) The last several I’ve supplied everything from appetizers to desserts and plenty in between as my budget allows.

Other things I like to do are to award prizes for Most Original, Scariest, Funniest and Best in Show and have goodie bags for when people leave, after supper and general hanging out. Anyone who doesn’t carve a pumpkin gets to acct as the judging committee or we do silent ballots–so far there’s always been a couple who haven’t carved but come for the rest of the fun.

And I’ve had all sorts of pumpkins show up! Huge ones big enough to fit a small child inside (I have picture proof…somewhere) and little baby pattypie pumpkins that were painted instead of carved. We’ve also had a spaghetti squash that was painted (so it could be washed and roasted later and therefore not wasted) and last year featured a very scary looking parsnip!!! Just roll with it!

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