I think Halloween is one of the most fun holidays, because there is no stress associated with it. The only expectations are costumes, candy and friends. You can’t do anything wrong, except perhaps run out of candy before you run out of trick or treaters. There are no hard and fast rules. Everyone is excited about dressing up as someone they are not and having fun with friends. We are especially blessed since the neighborhood parade ends very near our house, so we get to see almost all the costumes. It is interesting to see the trends of what the kids dress up as. Are there more princesses, or ghouls? We enjoy admiring the children and try to make our house a fun place for them to visit.
Decorating for Halloween has always been a fun thing at our house. I have the same jointed skeleton that my mother hung on our front door when I was ten, as well as a new one that I bought about five years ago. One goes on the inside of our front door and one on the outside. The older one is starting to show its age. We also have some other printed decorations that we hang in our back door and in windows. These were probably designed for use on bulletin boards, but work well in windows too. I find the newer decorations seem to be more frightening than the older ones. If you store this kind of decoration flat it will last for years. Pumpkins, witches and hoboes, all hang in our windows. The money saving tip that I have for this kind of decoration is to buy them after the holiday. Halloween will come again next year and most store owners would rather store the decorations at your house.
Our Halloween decorations that receive the most compliments are the pumpkins. Several years ago we were walking through JoAnn Fabrics after Thanksgiving and saw carvable, composition pumpkins (see picture). They had been quite pricy before the holiday and were finally down into our price range. We bought some along with a pumpkin carving kit that included a book full of patterns for how to carve spiders, bats, cats, or just about anything into a pumpkin. We carved a small pumpkin with a traditional face to see how carving that material worked and then went on to explore some patterns with the larger ones. Over the years we have added a couple more. They are not hard to carve and the patterns make the pumpkins look exceptional. Please click on the picture to see the next one and enjoy looking at our carved pumpkins.
You do need to take into consideration a plan to light the pumpkin. Ideally you can cut a place big enough to insert a small flashlight into the back. Another option is to push fairy lights (small Christmas tree lights on strings) through the openings. This provides a lit up feel to the entire pumpkin. A real candle would probably not be a good idea and small electric tea light candles don’t make enough light. Since this is a pumpkin that won’t rot and turn into a mess on your porch, you can invest more time and energy into making it creatively. After Halloween it is easy to turn the carved side to the wall and you have a ready made Thanksgiving decoration. Later they store nicely in the attic until next year. The pumpkins come in various sizes, the larger the more expensive. They are available at most craft stores or on line. JoAnn’s does call them “funkins”. They do not replace the fun of carving a pumpkin with your kids, but do provide for lots of ooohs and aaahs.
To save more money on Halloween decorations check in stores the first part of November. I got a deal on a cauldron with a real orange cloth flame which flutters in the breeze provided by a fan and is lit from below that looks like real fire. It is impressive on our porch in the dark. I could hardly stand to wait until the next year to see it. Sometimes you can find Halloween decorations at yard sales or estate sales. Both options are good for recycling and save things from ending in a land fill.
Old masks that you are not planning to use can look exciting or scary if you hang them from a railing or tree. Face paint is safer for being out and about anyhow. Costumes can be created from clothing found at the Good Will Store or from your closet. Wrap a scarf around your head and fill an apron’s pockets with cleaning supplies, grab some rubber gloves and a mop and you become a cleaning lady. Put your mind to it and you can create almost any character from things that are already in your house. It seems like the teens in our area, unwilling to give up the chance of free candy, try to pretend that carrying a pillowcase and wearing baggy clothing is a costume. I tend to think that they are lacking in imagination.
Imagination is what Halloween is about. Going out in the almost dark, or dark, with other people walking about, knocking on doors, while you are dressed as something you are not, almost defined Halloween for me when I was young. Chatting with neighbors and watching to see how the children have grown and what they have decided to dress up as, is what makes it fun for me now. I remember lots of fun adventures out after dark. One year my older brother and I were late coming home from trick or treating, so my mother started out to find us. Being no slouch, she cut holes in an old sheet and carried her flashlight underneath it. We were close to home when we saw the ghost coming towards us. It was pretty exciting for me and something that I will never forget. Today I wonder how worried she must have been to come looking for us. No one even thought of taking kids in the 1950’s. Besides taking me might have been more like O’Henry’s story about the “Ransom of Red Chief.” I hope that you and your family have as much fun as I did and plan on having soon.