Howl at the Moon: Tips for a howlin' Halloween party
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 'em howling for joy. Written by Wendy Enden; photography by J. Nichole Smith

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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. Pick up some stickers, unusual paper and ribbon at any craft store. Our party planner, Lilies and Lemondrops, created a personalized invitation using ribbon, cardstock 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 humans, with a prize for the winner; “cutest costume”, “scariest costume”, and “owner-dog look-alike” are just a few of the possible 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 gerbera 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.

Food. In addition to your edible treats for humans, be sure to provide plenty of snacks and treats for your 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 Muttins 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 quick and easy doggie drinkable, add some unsalted chicken or beef broth to the water bowls.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’ Lanterns, 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!

For treat recipes and Halloween safety tips, click here.

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