More and more, folks have begun to decorate for Halloween with as much zeal as some do for Christmas (and you know who you are). Bah humbug to those who see it as commercialism; it’s celebrating the passing of time, starting new traditions and making the most of one of nature’s prettiest months. And oh yeah – it’s FUN!
It’s all about pumpkins. Picking the right ones, and how you decorate them – from painting to carving – has become a big deal. You can get carving kits anywhere from CVS to AMAZON for those elaborate designs and faces you’ve seen… but there is much value in the old school way: a couple of triangles for eyes and nose and a toothy smile or grimace. Add a candle and voila!
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart Community Member Helen
Alternatively, use colored glow sticks to create a scary effect. The new battery candles prevent fires, wax mess and tingeing curious fingers – but they also rob us of that wonderful smell when the top of the flame licks the center of the Jack-o-lanern lid. You decide what’s best.
For very little effort and cost get a few of those adorable mini Cinderella pumpkins and put them in places around the house where you’d typically put flowers. I keep one on my desk (your kids will love them on theirs), on the bathroom counters, or anywhere my eye will catch them. Never fails to make me smile. I also give them to people to brighten their day (and mine).
Photo Credit: MedfordMom.com
Line them up down the center of your dining table, gather them around larger pumpkins and gourds, clear out your window boxes and dot the remaining soil with lines or groups of these — guaranteed to create good cheer. Or, cut off the tops, scoop out the insides and make votives! And they make perfect place card holders for autumn meals. Write on them with sharpies or cut a slit in the front top area to hold a small name board. For parties, they can tout the name of each cheese or various buffet dishes instead. Last tip – they float, so they can be used in glass bowls of water as a centerpiece (try that with the votives!).
Photo Credit: BetweenNapsOnThePorch.net
Wrap a trio of corn husks with gossamer ribbons in rust, gold, and greens to hang on a nail on your wall or front door like a wreathe. Or, top real or silk sunflowers or fall leaves. Most grocery stores and pumpkin patches have them. Do something scary like a circle of crows.
Photo Credit: Country Living
Or whimsical, like this witches woe!
Photo Credit: Country Living
Check out Country Living to make the two wreathes above and many others that are modern and fabulous!
Mini gourds of varying sizes and colors can be arranged down the center of your dining table on fall leaves, or in a container in keeping with the season like a wooden bowl, a basket, cornucopia, or galvanized bucket. It can be fun to find them at the flea market. Enjoy the process of picking out about 6 to get a good mix of shapes and texture.
Pick up a few pots of seasonal marigolds or cabbage plants in sunset colors and plant them in urns outside the house, or along the front walk. They keep well in the changing weather, don’t require a green thumb and are inexpensive, much like poinsettias. You will be amazed at what even one or two do to bring life against the fading colors of the grass, trees, and garden.
Hay bales are great for adding to a display at the front door, around the mailbox or in the yard. Add height with bundled corn stalks found at local farms and flower stores.
Photo Credit:Flickr: Photo by Angie Hicks
Decorative pumpkins are now to be found pretty much everywhere – from Trader Joes to Whole Foods to florists. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors – both solid and mottled.
Photo Credit: Patinawhite
For something different, go for the pumpkins in white, green, yellow, cream and even a light blue. Pick a few to put on your door step, or a corner of the patio – no need to carve!
Collect branches with colorful leaves or berries to add. Or, find realistic looking artificial greenery along with rustic touches like twine and velvet or crystalline ribbons at your local Michaels or Hobby Lobby (beware of buying way too much and getting TOO many ideas!).
Brighten the Night
Take advantage of the sun setting earlier — put up a few strings of lights to bring cheer to the chill in the air. While there are all kinds, from plastic pumpkins to ghosts to skulls, regular twinkle lights in orange and purple do the trick. Put these up early in October and you and all your neighbors as well as the kids can enjoy it all month long. New to the market are old-style bulbs — some that flicker like they might in a mad lab or old house. This set has creepy music to go with them…
Photo Credit: Home Depot
Switch out your porch or outdoor garage lights with orange bulbs from the hardware or party store. It’s still bright enough to light your way, while creating some fun for you and passersby.
There are outdoor floods to uplight the house or trees – and those bulbs can be changed to orange, green or purple. These tend to have varying effectiveness, but if you can find strong ones they will create a big impact for little effort and cost.
The Fright Factor:
Now it’s time to add the layer that’s all about the holiday. You can go traditional – like a haunted house or a graveyard and goblins, or you can go with themes like scary pumpkins, crazed scientist lab, creepy carnival, zombies, or the asylum! Bwahahaha!
Outside, add tombstones and skeleton hands coming up from the dirt. Hang ghosts or tattered figures from the leaf-less trees. Or create a witches cauldron with smoke and firelight that you can stir when the big night comes.
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart
Or line your front walk with ghosts.
Photo Credit: Money Crashers
One of the newest things are giant spiders that can be attached to your walls to appear to be crawling all over the outside of your home. Look at Halloween stores, online or you can DIY. Read about more easy outdoor DIY ideas on MoneyCrashers.com.
Indoors, you can make use of any table, mantle, chair, shelf, window or corner. Web cloths make a big impact for pennies and can be used again and again. It totally transforms this simple table area.
Photo Credit: Halloween Costumes.com
To pump it up, add cobwebs, a skull under glass, paint your pumpkins black, accenting a few with glitter, and your appetizer or candy table will look terribly terriffic!
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart
If you’d rather fill the room with color, go for festive skeletons and cut-out banners a la Day of the Dead.
Photo Credit: Party City
Visit the Party City website for a ton of themed ideas. You can order anything you need… or scare up DIY projects by Googling blogs and YouTube how-to’s. You will find no end to the ideas on Pinterest and Martha Stewart, as well as all the specialty magazines.
Kudos to the household who goes to these lengths! Not only will you be a part of childrens’ stories well into their adulthood, the memories you make may even affect what they themselves do when they are grown ups. That can make any work worth it.
Go forth and decorate!!!
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review, The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com