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A Very Scary Halloween
As a child Halloween was one of my favorite celebrations. Back then decorations were limited to a crepe and paper or a combination of the two. I remember paper skeletons and witches hanging in the window of our house. My father even created a haunted house in our garage one year. He used his theater make up background to give himself a mangled face and chased kids through a maze in our garage. At school we paraded in homemade costumes and a variety of uncomfortable plastic masks, later in the day we were treated to homemade cupcakes made by the Room Mom. Plastic masks were coveted as the “best” even though the string would break after 15 minutes of childlike fidgeting. My costumes were very last minute and rudimentary. Gypsy, hobo, or princess costumes were easily assembled from my mother’s closet.
From twilight to midnight we walked for blocks collecting candy until we thought our legs would fall off. We saw friends from school along the way and would often form trick or treat gangs and joke of toilet papering Mr. Baker’s house. He was our “get off my lawn” neighbor. Of course we would never toilet paper anyone’s house because who could afford to waste toilet paper? Then with renewed energy my brother and I would dump our pillow cases out on the floor of my bedroom and trade candy. Two tootsie rolls for a snickers, please.
Halloween as changed. We have trunk or treats, school and church functions. Today we have Haunted houses, and corm mazes. Another thing that has change is Halloween decorations. Paper decorations are a thing of the past. While I have always gotten into the Halloween spirit, I am finding myself getting deeper into the decorating each year. I have a few ideas that might inspire your Halloween décor.
The scariest Halloween decoration I create is Fred. Several years ago I had a plain white mask that was intended for an art project. I decided to build a man out of the mask and some old clothes, and Fred was born. Fred looks like a guy sitting on the porch, that first year he held a pick axe (I took it away because it was freaking me out!). Over the last few years Fred has had some interesting reactions from visitors. Kids cannot tell if he is real. People try to spook him and of course he doesn’t move. Fred keeps visitors guessing. The trick to Fred is putting black cloth behind the mask so he has an eerie “no face” quality. This year I used empty plastic bottles and bubble wrap to stuff Fred (this makes him waterproof). He always wears a black hoodie sweat shirt and jeans. You could use any mask for this project. Your porch could have a vampire, or any number of creepy creatures. I have thought about making a group of these “Freds” in a scene in the front yard, maybe next year.
Years ago we were in Bend Oregon’s downtown area. There was an old time soda shop on one of the corners. We stopped in for Chocolate soda. While we were sitting at the counter we noticed there were bats hanging from the roof and they were moving constantly. It took us a few minutes to figure out that those bats were connected to the front door with fishing line. This cleaver idea stuck and this year I have two bats and a spider that drop onto the trick or treaters when the front door is opened. When the door is closed these critters are close to the ceiling and out of sight. You can do this with any Halloween decoration. It could be a ghost or witch.
Spider webs have come a long way. Webs now come in spooky orange green and purple. Enshrouding your yard in webs adds a neglected look to your yard. A few days ago it rained and I discovered that it made the webs look real rather than store bought. Webs are also an inexpensive decorating option. Old sheets that are worn and beyond use can be ripped to create a mummy in your yard (used stuffed clothes to create the form of a person). Or you can shred the edge of the sheet and put them over windows for scary drapes.
When we lived in the desert we created graves using rock outlines or stone piles in the yard. Now that we have grass we outlined an area as graves and then my husband mowed around those areas creating a raised grave area. Then we set out head stones and bones to complete the effect. Every yard has been different. Several of our houses had fountains, in the picture you will see that I turned one of those fountains into a ghostly souls display enshrouded with masks that glowed at night. I also placed flow sticks under the white fabric to create a glow. Glow sticks are another inexpensive lighting option when you do not have a way to put light in an area. Glow sticks can be placed in fountains or water features to create glowing water. One year we used glow sticks inside jars with water and masks to make it look like we had heads in jars.
In 2008 I decorated inside the house for the first time. An arrangement of fruit started the whole thing. I was looking at an orange and realized the potential to make it a decoration. In the pictures is the pile of oranges and apples that I drew on turning them into little pumpkins. That same year I printed out a ton of old Halloween post card pictures, I then attached them to ribbon making a garland. Now I have several of these that I put all over the house.
This year I noticed the trend of putting everything under a glass dome. However Glass domes can be expensive. Instead I used my cake plate, and several hurricane candle lamps turned upside down (see pictures). I put pumpkins on top of my candle holders so it works as a dome and pedestal. A few years ago we had skinny windows beside our front door. I filled a jar with water, put a mask in it and then on Halloween night I dropped a glow stick in the jar.
As you can tell we have added lights to our decorations. Lights are great but they can be expensive. I recommend black lights on the porch, and strobe lights on scary decorations (it makes them look like they are moving). In recent years I stopped putting candles in our pumpkins due to the fire hazard. Fortunately there are lots of other options, flameless candles and glow sticks can be used to light your jack-o-lanterns.
I hope you found something you could use for your Halloween décor!