Halloween tends to be an over-hyped holiday, filled with cheap plastic ghosts, nefarious shenanigans, and enough candy to give the Tooth Fairy business for the rest of the year from all the cavity-infested molars. Maybe that’s too harsh a criticism. Maybe some people are able to enjoy more than just the few freezing hours of walking door-to-door. But it seems that with the effort that retailers put into advertising Halloween, the day would have longer lasting significance, rather than three or four hours spent in the dark trick-or-treating as a child or partying as an adult.
When October 31st arrives this year, it should be about more than orange and black decorations and a few cobwebs outside. There are many ways to celebrate Halloween, no matter what moral or religious standpoint you have.
This day is the perfect time to celebrate all things fall, from crisp colors to warm sweaters. Do you want to have the best Halloween day ever? With a little bit of planning, you can establish traditions and create memories that will last even longer than the stale Airheads in the back of your pantry.
I grew up not trick-or-treating, but I still looked forward to the holiday as a time to spend the evening with family and friends and enjoy the glorious advent of fall, not to mention copious amounts of sugar. Every year, my parents and sister and I would rent a fun family movie and camp out in the living room with cozy blankets.
Huge, homemade caramel apples sat on a plate for half of the movie until we ate them with sticky smiles. There was always a big bowl of candy up by the front door so we could give mini 3 Musketeers bars to any trick-or-treaters, but we secretly hoped that no one would come, so that we would have more candy left over.
For several years my church even sponsored a “harvest party” replete with games and prizes, where all the kids could have a chance to dress up, which usually led to about five Dorothys from The Wizard of Oz and many berobed Bible characters. And, of course, every Halloween, ballet classmates and I would be allowed to break dress code and wear creative costumes like a bumblebee suit or elaborate tutus.
With so much of today’s emphasis put on either getting candy or getting alcohol, then, it’s sad that Halloween is over so quickly. There’s no reason you can’t make plenty of happy memories before nighttime arrives, whether you dip caramel apples, like my family did, or sew your own costume. In order to have your best Halloween ever, be ready to think outside of the coffin and enjoy a full day of fall-themed activities. Then, when evening arrives, you’ll be able to celebrate with the best décor and menu around.
Halloween morning, you might want to start by taking a walk around your neighborhood, or at least outside around your college campus. You’ll be consuming enough calories later in the day that you’ll want to stretch your legs as well as enjoy the turning of the season. The end of October tends to be the climax of fall: it’s not so warm that it feels like a weak version of summer, and it’s not so cold that all the trees are bare and shriveled.
On your walk, be on the lookout for unusual colors and shapes of fall leaves. You can use these later as table centerpieces or even part of a costume. Or, after you get back from your walk, rake up all the leaves that are inevitably scattered over your lawn. The important thing to remember is to not put them in bags—yet. These piles can become genuinely creepy yard decorations later at night if you dress them up with some fake cobwebs, glowing lights, or spooky sounding loop tapes.
The second thing to do, once you’ve gotten your fill of the wonderful outdoors, is to start getting your indoors ready for fall. Have you hung some warm, snuggly jackets on the coat hooks? Do you have a fluffy pair of slippers up next to your bed? Are there logs in the fireplace? If your answer is no, then you need to get moving!
Make sure that your fireplace is clean and ready for a crackling blaze later that night, and if you don’t have a fireplace, then now is the time to build a fire pit outside. You can either get instructions online or from a former Boy Scout, but there is nothing like a leaping fire to add a certain mystique to Halloween festivities.
Now, when you go about decorating your house for Halloween, you can choose on one of two themes. There’s a creepy theme, where you conveniently keep several rooms dark, place a cardboard cutout behind the shower curtain, and have a soundtrack of creaking floorboards. Or there’s a decorator theme, which is more of a catalog look. To keep it creepy, less is more. Leave the scare factor to the power of imagination, and don’t go overboard with the fake blood. You might even enlist some friends to help you plan.
To achieve a decorator look, start by scattering leaves all over your dining room tablecloth. Put out some orange or brown towels and plug in a cinnamon-scented air freshener. Then, pull your crock pot out from under the counter and make a batch of warm apple cider. Just purchase one or two jugs from the store, pour them into the crock pot, throw in a cinnamon stick, and turn it on its lowest setting. Your house will smell delicious in no time.
The next thing you might want to do is make some caramel apples. It’s not difficult to make them at home and they taste much better than store bought. Simply unwrap an entire package of caramels into a glass bowl, put in a few splashes of milk, and microwave until the caramels are all melted. Then, put a Popsicle stick into a washed apple, and use the back of a spoon or a spatula to coat the apple with the caramel. Keep all your apples in the fridge until the caramel is solid.
The final thing you need for your evening is a pumpkin. What Halloween celebration is complete without a gourd or two? When you get your pumpkins, whether at the farmer’s patch or at Wal-Mart, make sure to pick up some mini ones as well as large, carving-size ones. The mini pumpkins can be wonderful table centerpieces, and having a few friends over to carve the large pumpkins with you is a great way to kick off the evening. Save the seeds for roasting later.
When Halloween night arrives, make sure you’re stocked up with a variety of drinks, trail mix type snacks, plenty of packets of candy, and your caramel apples. Your home will have the perfect fall ambience with a logs snapping in the fireplace and a cinnamon smell wafting through the air. Stay safe; bundle up if you go outside. Wear your costume with panache. Brush your teeth before you go to bed, and make sure to enjoy the best October 31st ever.