Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Host a Killer Seance

Today I've invited Penny Warner, author and party planner extraordinaire, to guest post on how to Host a Killer Seance Party. Penny has been a guest on my other two blogs: Mystery Fanfare and Dying for Chocolate.  She knows of what she speaks! Her latest novel, How to Survive a Killer Seance is just out from Penguin Books (March 2011).  Follow the following tips for a Killer Seance party! Thanks, Penny!
Penny Warner:  

So you want to chat with Elvis? No problem—even though he’s been dead for decades. Just host a séance, hold hands around a crystal ball, and wait for the spirits to appear … Ideally, at the circle you’ll want a few true believers, a couple of skeptics, and one or two who are open to the possibility of the supernatural. And don’t forget the medium—real or not. It’s time for a ghost-whispering Séance Party.

Invite the skeptics and believers with “Message from the beyond…” Cut out a white circle, glue the top edge to a black card, and write “The Spirits Are About to Speak…” on the outside. Underneath, glue another white circle and include the party details. Or draw a ghost on a white card with a speech bubble providing the information. Or outline your palm, draw lifelines, and write the details along each line, indicating their “future” at the party. Include a Tarot card or a lucky rabbits foot.

What to Wear
As the hostess, you might dress up as a gypsy, or wear all black, with a lacey scarf. Tell the guests to come in costume, dressed as a character from the 20s, when the séance was at its heyday. Or suggest they come as a witch, sorcerer, or fortune-teller.

You’ll need a dark room to host the séance, one with drapes than will keep out the light from outside. Set a round table in the middle of the room, and drape it with a black lace tablecloth. Set a crystal ball (or an upside down fishbowl) in the center of the table. Light candles around the room, and play spooky Halloween music in the background. Set hanging pictures at an angle, and string fake cobwebs along the lights and furniture, or in the corners of the room. Download creepy pictures from the Internet and frame them, then set them on tables or hang them on the walls. Get an accomplice to help you with some simple séance gimmicks while you summon the spirit world. (See Games and Activities for examples.)

Games and Activities
Scare the goose bumps out of your guests with a few ghoulish games and spooky surprises!

• Summon the Spirits
Have a real séance with a hired medium. Or put on your own séance and set the scene with lots of spooky gimmicks. Have the attendees sit at the table and hold hands. While you close your eyes and mumble to the spirit world, have your accomplice do some of the following tricks. Tie fishing line to a picture on the wall and move it slightly. Do the same to the drapes. Knock softly, then louder, on the wall. Turn on a fan and blow out a candle or two. Start up a fog machine. Spray the guests with a sudden blast from a squirt gun. Have sheeted ghost pass through the room. Use a speaker or karaoke machine to create the voices.

• Channel the Spirits
After the guests are thoroughly spooked by the unseemly spirits, it’s time the channel the dead. First tell a little background to continue the spooky mood and put on a theatrical performance as you call the spirits. Then bring back someone famous from the past that everyone, such as Elvis, Queen Victoria, or Marilyn Monroe. Have the accomplice imitate the voice, and answer questions from the attendees, such as “Elvis, how did you die?” “Ah ate too many pork rinds, thank-you-verah-much.”

• Ouija Board
Get out the Ouija Board, choose a couple of guests to sit opposite each other, and ask questions. Take turns so everyone gets a chance to hear answers “from the other side.” You might even include some pre-formed questions the players must ask, such as “Who will meet the man of her dreams next?” or “Who in the room is keeping a deep dark secret?”

• It’s in the Cards
Read up on fortune-telling with Tarot cards, then predict each guest’s future using the cards.

• Predictions
Have the guests make up predictions for each guest. When everyone is finished, choose one guest to read her predictions—then guess who created it.

• Movie Madness
Rent creepy movies that feature ghosts and other strange creatures, such as “The Others,” “The Ring,” “Thirteen Ghosts,” “Ghost Ship,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Haunting,” “The Legend of Hell House,” “Poltergeist,” “The Shining,” “What Lies Beneath,” or “Ghost.” Share them with the group.

Make your own fortune cookies. Buy prepackaged sugar cookie dough. Roll out the dough to as thin as possible, cut into circles, fold the circle, curve it into a “C,” and pinch the ends, leaving a small opening. On small strips of paper, write down funny fortunes, such as “You will learn to play the violin,” “You will marry a clown,” or “You will come back as a mule.” When the cookies are lightly browned, let them cool, then insert the paper predictions. Make a devil’s food cake for a centerpiece, topped with Tarot cards or the crystal ball.

Favors, Prizes, and Gifts
Tarot decks make great prizes and favors, along with lucky charms, scary movies, a book of ghost stories, creepy soundtracks, and Astrology books.

Party Plus
Invite a “real” medium, psychic, or tarot card reader to your party to lead the séance or predict the future.

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