There’s something in the air in New England in October. The foliage usually intensifies to its peak, then leaves end up everywhere, causing footsteps to become crunchy and spooky. Maybe the moon is a little brighter, or the air’s a little cleaner, because everything seems just a little more in focus at night. The cider gets a little better, and my husband and I start grinning a little wider. Halloween is suddenly right around the corner.
Halloween is kind of a big deal around our place. It’s my husband’s favorite holiday, and it’s definitely in my top two; call me a sap, but I have trouble choosing Halloween over Christmas. On top of that, we live in a neighborhood where several houses seem to have entered a black and orange arms race, so it’s hard not to be in the spooky spirit of the season, and that suits me just fine.
We’ve had some ups and downs in our Halloweens, but overall, it’s always a good time. So I thought I’d share some Halloween traditions from our neck of the woods to help you make your holiday more haunted than ever!
Go All Out With What You Have
We live down the block from a neighborhood restaurateur, who has oodles of cash. When the leaves change colors, his house becomes a kind of weird wonderland, complete with giant spider webs, lighting effects, and people in costume roaming the grounds on the night itself.
If we tried to compete with that, we’d go broke, so we don’t try. We do, however, have some props we use year after year, and we add things each year. After all, inside every gay man is at least a tiny touch of interior decorator!
Home Depot yields some great outdoor ground lights. Adding creepy colored bulbs like green or purple can set the mood all on its own.
Target is a fantastic place to stock up on low-cost props. We bought a giant spider there that’s inflated by a small fan and that lights up. It retailed for about $20.00, and it always gets a huge reaction from the kids when they see it. Target is also responsible for us having a couple of fog machines. These are a great way to add some atmosphere. Turn them on now and then to smoke up your yard, and you’ve got creepiness! The smoke is no worse than clubbing in your local bar, trust me.
You probably already have an MP3 player, so get some creepy music at any store that sells holiday stuff. A Halloween mix on repeat might get repetitive to you, but it’ll be fresh for each new batch of trick or treaters.
Travel in Packs
We’re lucky in that our town has no issues with Halloween, trick or treaters, decorating, etc. Some of our friends aren’t so lucky, or they live in an area where trick or treating just doesn’t happen (such as an apartment building). We stock up some cider and invite our friends over. We make it a social affair. No one has to stay waiting for the kids at the door all night; we can take it in turns.
If you’re not planning on giving out candy, you can still use this advice. A Halloween party can be a blast. You can make it a costume party or not, themed or not. If you just want to hang out, throw in bad horror movies, and drink yourself silly, it’s still more fun to do with friends.
Some nice folks in the neighborhood started their own tradition recently. They go around the area in costumes, carrying bottles of various alcoholic libations. They hit the houses that’re getting trick or treaters and offer them a reverse Trick or Treat! It can be awfully nice to enjoy a little something while waiting for the next bunch of costumed crumb-crushers. After all, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!
Enjoy the Season
Even if you don’t want to give out candy, you can still get into the seasonal spirit. Our neck of the woods goes nucking futs for Halloween, so we have haunted houses, haunted hayrides, haunted amusement parks, candlelight ghost tours, spooky graveyards…heck, I live within an easy drive of Salem, MA, and they celebrate all October long. We know from Halloween out here in New England!
If you’re not sure you have access to these sorts of pleasures, do a little research. Sites like http://www.hauntedhouses.com can guide you to local attractions…and even “real” haunted houses!
If you’re still not near any creepy destinations, why not take some time on Halloween to stroll around the neighborhood and see how your neighbors have decorated? It might inspire you to do some decorating of your own next year.
And if all else fails, you can always watch a spooky movie or two. It’s just cool to think that the whole country is focused, even for just a little while, on frightful fun.
How About You?
Do you have a fun or unusual Halloween tradition? I’d love to hear about it, because I’m always looking for new things to try. Share it, and we can all make our Halloweens a little bit creepier.