Last updated on December 9th, 2018
I’m a serial movie re-watcher during any season, but I’ll bet you agree with me that Christmas movies truly benefit from repeat viewing. And Home Alone is one of the best: a perfect holiday time capsule that rewards you each time you watch it.
The look of the film is so detailed—this oral history, compiled by John Hughes’ son on the 25th anniversary of the movie’s release, is testament to the thought that went into the production.
So after years of drunken viewings, taking notes on all the elements and moments that made us die laughing—and after years of talking it up to all our friends too, Dan and I finally went forward with our elaborate homage to the movie and threw ourselves a Home Alone holiday party.
Here’s how we did it—and you can too.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s easy to make or recreate a bunch of the movie’s iconic visuals for party decoration. If you’re on the crafty side and don’t mind putting in the labor, it’s even more of a low-cost affair. The devil (and the magic) is in the details!
The Booby Traps
I hope no one seriously considers tarring their basement steps or heating doorknobs to scorching temperatures, but you can allude to the famous denouement without actually injuring your guests.
- Hang paint cans—home improvement stores sell clean, empty cans that are safer to hang than filled-to-the-brim gallon cans
- Scatter spiky and round ornaments, C9 lightbulbs, and Micro Machines on tables and in bowls so no one accidentally steps on them during the party
- Tape feathers (real or paper cutouts) to the grille of an oscillating fan
- You can also buy a poster of the battle plan that Kevin sketches out—ours is framed and hung with care on the wall every year
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
This scene is rightfully one of the most memorable and I had to pay homage, but I didn’t want to spend $200 on eBay to get the exact 1987 Michael Jordan Bulls “Measure Up” life-size poster. So I painted my own version on cardboard and we attached it to my dad’s vintage Lionel train. If you want to go the extra step and find some mannequins or dress forms to stage throughout your house, go for it!
Inspired by everything Kevin digs through (and destroys) in Buzz’s room:
- the July 1989 issue of Playboy—sometimes available and affordable on eBay, but if not, here’s the cover
- Junior Mints and Sugar Babies—yes, Sugar Babies still exist!
- Crunch Tators—no, technically this Frito-Lay product no longer exists in its cartoon gator mascot form, but you can buy jalapeño and mesquite BBQ kettle chips, and you’ll basically have the same thing
- Starting Lineup figures: the four figures that Kevin steals from Buzz’s room to shoot in the laundry chute are Babe Ruth, Larry Bird, Walter Payton, and Steve Largent. The latter two were, again, way too pricey on eBay, so we snagged the first two and supplemented with some of our own Mets and Trenton Thunder figures.
- Buzz’s girlfriend. Woof!
Though you don’t need to put out cream rinse for that just-washed shine, leave a few items in the powder room to mimic Kevin’s jaw-dropping post-shower setup, like:
- Brut aftershave
- Shower 2 Shower powder
- Right Guard spray deodorant
- Edge shaving gel
- Aquafresh toothpaste
- Colgate toothbrushes (approved by the American Dental Association)
Other small details:
- Like the Michael Jordan cutout, I painted a cardboard version of the poor lawn jockey that gets T-boned twice by the delivery car. Much easier and less culturally awkward than trying to buy an actual metal jockey.
- A bucket and shovel at the front door, left there by the South Bend Shovel Slayer
- A French dictionary, opened to the page defining les incompetents (which you can highlight for extra emphasis)
- American Airlines ticket folders—16 of them, for the 11 children and four adults that were invited to go on the trip to Paris
- This amazing Angels with Filthy Souls poster is sadly no longer for sale, but I’m just putting it out here because it’s so cool. (Related: an oral history on the film-within-a-film. I told you this movie is the gift that keeps on giving!)
Let’s be clear: this is not a healthy or balanced party menu in any way—what do you expect from a kid who’s allowed free rein of his diet? Use the inspo below, and supplement with other party food that you can title according to the theme, like South Bend Shovel Slayer Salted Pretzel Bites.
For a Wet Bandits cocktail, try this adaptation of my spiced cranberries, fresh oranges, orange vodka, and seltzer. Double the cranberries, add the zest of 1 large orange in large strips, 1 750ml bottle of orange vodka, and 2 liters of orange or cranberry seltzer. Crowbars up!
And to make the experience even more memorable, print out screengrabs from the movie and add the appropriate quote.
- Cheese pizza: “A lovely cheese pizza, just for me.” Bonus: cover your pizza boxes with Little Nero’s logos like we did!
- Sausage, olives, and onion pizzas, AKA the ones Kevin didn’t want to eat
- Mac and cheese: “Bless this highly nutritious microwaveable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.”
- Chocolate glazed donuts: “Rose, hyper on two”
- Pepsi: “Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi!” Serve in red Solo cups, like they did in the movie
- Champagne: “Champagne, please. It’s free, isn’t it?”
- Shrimp cocktail: “Mes petits enfants, do you want a little shrimp?” “Frank, those are for later!”
- Tarantulas: “SCREEEEAMMMM!”—Another homemade adaptation, these are just turtles made with pretzel legs instead of pecans.
- Popcorn, for when Kevin’s jumping up and down and eating it in bed
- M&M cookies and carrots, for Santa and the reindeer
- Ice cream sundaes: “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me!” Kevin’s sundae is a messy tower of ingredients, so to make this more party-friendly, I created an ice cream cake with all the elements included in an easy-to-eat slab form. Recipe follows below.
The Parting Gifts
For a final touch, as guests leave, double-tap two spearmint Tic Tacs into their palm and tell them to “hold out your little paw.” Or give them a toy solder and say, “For the kids.”
- 8 ounces chocolate graham crackers
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 recipe homemade marshmallow fluff
- 2 1 1/2-quart containers Neapolitan ice cream
- Hershey's chocolate syrup
- 1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained, destemmed, and sliced
- Reddi Whip
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a metal 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on each of the long edges.
- Pulverize the graham crackers in the food processor until they are reduced to fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl.
- Stir the melted butter into the graham crackers until clumps form, then press the graham crackers into the bottom—not the sides—of the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is just toasted and bubbling. Cool completely.
- Make the marshmallow fluff according to recipe instructions.
- Assemble the cake: Scoop and spread the ice cream across the crust in a thick layer, making sure to mix up the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors in a random pattern.
- Top with a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup, then spread the marshmallow fluff over the chocolate. Sprinkle the maraschino cherries evenly over the fluff.
- Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- With a lasagna spatula or metal bench scraper, cut the cake into 24 squares. (Run the spatula or scraper under hot water before slicing to make things easier.)
- Top each square with Reddi Whip and serve.