For this year’s Halloween post, I wanted to put together a dinner party that incorporated one of my favorite games, Betrayal At House On The Hill. Since the game is focused on exploring a (most likely haunted) house, I thought I would invite people over under the premise of a will reading at an old house. I took inspiration from movies like The Haunting and House on Haunted Hill. They would enjoy a meal then spend time “exploring the house” (or playing the game). To make the party extra fun, I read through some potential scenarios in Betrayal and picked one that would allow me to theme the night. I went with the scenario titled “Voodoo” and decided to do something a bit different than your average Halloween dinner: A tea party.
You see, this tea party had dolls. Creepy, broken-faced dolls. They were on the table and became an important part of the game. Each character had a doll that represented them that they needed to find in the house before it killed them. We painted their dolls with red nail polish to make it look like they were bleeding from their eyes. As guests arrived, they were welcomed to the will reading and told that they could enjoy a favorite meal of the deceased: foods that are all small enough for a doll to eat. We all made small talk as ourselves if we were in the world where we knew eccentric doll collector Harold Winchester III. It was awkward. Delightfully awkward.
Once dinner finished, we cleared the table and started playing Betrayal, or in the party world, “Walked around the house until we found Harold’s favorite room for us to read the will in.” Once the room was “found” (or the haunt started, for those who have played the game), we produced the will and individual clues written for each player. This let them know what would happen in the story of the night, as well as what they would need to know to continue the second half of the game.
The game was very creepy and fun, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Want to plan your own creepy tea party? I recommend the following:
- Dolls. I visited Goodwill multiple times looking for all of their broken or creepy dolls. The cashier asked me if I was sure that I actually wanted to buy them. I assured him they were for a “creepy Halloween thing.” I ended up having to find pictures of dolls for a small “photo album” I created for the night, and I ended up learning I have a fear of dolls. Don’t Google “pictures of dolls.” Or do. Go ahead, it’s your nightmare. If the dolls you’re finding at thrift stores aren’t creepy enough, consider adding fake blood, rotating their head, or changing their outfit.
- Table Decor. Now is the time to find your frilliest doilies, tea cups, and platters. You can find tons of doilies on Amazon or at a local party store. I found my tea cups at Goodwill and chose to go with slightly mismatched ones to add a weirder vibe.
- Dinner. Any small finger food will do. I wanted there to be enough to make a full dinner, but to still feel like a tea party. Trader Joe’s was my saving grace. Their frozen section has tons of delicious frozen appetizers (my favorites are the Pastry Pups!). Other than pre-made food at Trader Joe’s, I also made deviled eggs, tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella tea sandwiches, and hummus and cucumber tea sandwiches. This worked out well because I could prep eggs and sandwiches while the pre-made food was in the oven.
- Dessert. You need something to go with your tea! We had shortbread cookies and cupcakes (of course). I went for a plain, pretty vanilla cupcake, but put a tart and “bloody” cherry pie filling in the center as a surprise.
- Drinks. Tea, of course. Raid your tea selection or grab a few options from a store. Don’t forget the sugar cubes! For those who wanted something more potent, I had a bottle of champagne and a couple bottles of Benefactor Cellars’ Chardonnay (available from Trader Joe’s).
- Props. Create invitations in the form of a message from a lawyer inviting them to a will reading. Write out directions and clues for the game and give them out as inheritances from the will. Take pictures of dolls and incorporate them into books or framed photos around the house and on the table.
Overall, just be as frilly and old fashioned as possible, be extra cheery to your guests, and play weird choral music, classical music, or (if you can find it) children singing.
Team Hypercube took some video footage of the party. Check it out for more on the dinner and the game:
Want to throw your own combo Dinner and Betrayal party? Many of the scenarios will work. If dolls and tea parties aren’t your thing, I would recommend crafting a theme around one of these (all found in the handbooks that accompany the game):
- “The Dance of Death”
- “An Invocation of Darkness”
- “Better with Friends”
- “The Heir”
- “Death Doth Find Us All”
- “The Feast”
Would you throw a creepy doll tea party? What would you incorporate in yours?