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Decorating Your House For Halloween
In my family, decorating for Halloween is almost as big of a deal as decorating for Christmas. Every year, my parents would check garage sales, and just about every store on the planet, looking for spooky Halloween decorations. Boxes, bags, and bins would be dragged down from the attic, and gathered together in the garage. Days of exhausting labor followed. Everything had to be perfect. Things would be moved around, shifted, reinforced and strung about. Batteries were replaced, extension cords were unravelled, and everything had to be in working order. It took a lot of time, but it was well worth it.
I hope to carry on the traditions now that I have moved on from my childhood home, and into my own home. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays; from very early on, going from house to house in my home-made costumes as a small child, to dressing up in as little as possible, and having a big party with my friends as an adult. Halloween is a time to face your fears, have fun, and be someone else for a night. And it all starts with the right atmosphere.
Cute or Scary?
Halloween doesn't have to be scary. You don't have to have that one house on the street that the little ones are terrified to walk up to. Halloween decorations can either be frightening or a lot less so. Either way you go, there are many things you can do to decorate your house for the most wonderful, sugar-fueled day of the year!
If you lean more towards the cute, family-friendly style, you may want smiling ghosts and funny skeletons instead of tattered ghouls and monsters with blood dripping from their fangs. Instead of a coffin with a live person popping out and scaring the crap out of everyone that walks up to the door, you may decide on a cartoonish vampire in full view.
Of course, no Halloween, scary or otherwise, is complete without pumpkins. This in not to say that Halloween decorations should start and end at pumpkins alone! A well-carved jack-o-lantern is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of great patterns you can get from either the carving kits you can buy, or from patterns downloaded off the internet. Of course, there is also the classic jack-o-lantern face.
Money can sometimes be an issue. Think about what you have around the house. Do you have some ratty, old clothes in a bag waiting to go to Goodwill? Stuff the clothes with newspaper, or other old clothes, fit a clothes hanger inside, with the hanger part, un-bent into the shoulders (just as if you were going to hang it up) and either stick a small jack-o-lantern on for the head, or stuff a bag full of paper and place a mask over it. Place your new scary 'monster' out on your porch, seated in a chair, to greet trick-or-treaters. Old, shredded, white pillowcases make great ghosts. With a little bit of work, a simple piece of scrap wood makes a creepy tombstone.
Stores pop up around late August, early September, filled with Halloween costumes, masks and decorations. Stop by and see what you can find. Sometimes you can find a great deal shortly after Halloween, or you may just see something that sparks your imagination, and you can find a way to re-create the same look at home. Get creative. You would be surprised what you can make with a little creativity.
Decorating the Inside of Your Home
A Typical Halloween in My Family
Like I said, there is a lot of preparation that goes into my family's idea of Halloween decorations. It is a lot of work. I love all of it. Even when things don't always go as planned. Here is how Halloween decorating usually goes with my family.
A few weeks before Halloween, the decorations come down from the attic. The Christmas decorations have to be shifted out of the way to get to everything, but eventually, it all comes down from the attic. Everything with a cord or batteries is checked to see if it's working. Batteries and bulbs are replaced as needed. Indoor decorations are sorted out from the rest and brought inside. There isn't a lot of indoor decorations, just some lighted items that go in some of the windows.
Everything else is sorted out in the garage. There is a lot. We make use of everything we can. Some of the Christmas decorations even pull double duty. I don't know if this is sacrilege or not. Usually Santa and one or two of his elves end up wearing black clothes and a mask. We even have an old IV pole that is used as the body support of one of our 'monsters'. Repairs are made to things that need it. Again, batteries are replaced, and then the real work begins.
The 'graveyard' is set up. Wooden tombstones are propped up in the yard, and fresh dirt is laid over one of the graves; giving the impression of a recently escaped member of the undead. A wire is strung between a tree and the porch for the 'floating', noisy ghost, and spider web is draped over everything that doesn't move.
Bats and spiders appear at random on our porch, and a monster not unlike Iron Maiden's, Eddie, rattles inside his cage. A skeleton bride is forever awaiting her groom and Jason Voorhees often makes an appearance on our front lawn. To complete the affect, the fog machine pours out a sometimes dense fog, and scary sounds of howls and screams emanates from speakers in the living room. A professional strobe light adds to the eerie effects.
Obviously, we tend to lean more towards the scarier side of Halloween. On occasion, one member of the family, usually my step-dad, will dress up and 'hide' amongst the less alive members of our monster crew and jumps at the older groups of trick-or-treaters. Several times we have had parents or older siblings come to the door and tell us that little Billy is too scared by our house to come to the door, but we are always sure to give extra candy to that child to make up for any fear we may have caused. Usually we get compliments along the lines of; "Wow! Your house is so cool!" "This is the best house in the neighborhood!" It's good to see that all our effort is appreciated, but we do it because we love it, and I hope to carry a bit of that on at my own home.
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I have seen so many wonderful ideas that I can barely contain myself. There are so many ideas that I want to try. Pinterest has become a wonderful resource for Halloween decorating inspiration. Halloween decorations can be incredibly expensive. I was at the Halloween store that pops up every year in the building once occupied by a Circuit City, and I was astounded at the scope of what they had, and the prices for some of these decorations. They had life-sized, motion sensored creatures of every variety. I even saw a zombie baby. I want one of those! Most of us don't have the resources to spend that much money on Halloween decorations, but you can still have a wonderful Halloween house on a reasonable budget.
Cheesecloth makes a great ghost. All you have to do it blow up a balloon, soak the cheesecloth in some liquid starch, drape it over the balloon, and let it dry. A colony of bats can fly across a window or front door. All you have to do is cut them out of construction paper, or even felt. (Felt is better for outdoors.) One of the neatest ideas I have ever seen was a trick where you take toilet paper tubes, cut out eye holes, and place a glow stick inside. Place the "glowing eyes" in the bushes, and it appears as if there are things watching you. As I said, decorations don't have to be expensive. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!
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© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman