Whew. What a season! I think I did some of my best work on both The Blog and on The Podcast this year, and the Spooktacular was the tacular-est of them all, thanks to everyone who has been following along. Please, check out All Our October Podcasts and All Our October Blog Posts if you’d like to catch up. But don’t worry too much about the past. There’s lots of cool stuff on the horizon, too, so whatever your relative “now” is, it is always a good time to jump on board with our stuff. To close I will ask, one last time, that you take a look and a listen at The Ways Of Ghosts one more time, and if you’re feeling generous, please pick up a copy. It’s a good way to support what we do, and a great piece of Halloween listening if I do say so myself. (End of plugs section.)
As much as I’ve enjoyed Halloween and the music associated with it for a long time, I have never obsessed too much over what I dress up as, or how I should decorate for the holiday. Sure, I would participate if I was going to a party, or had a pumpkin lying around, but it is only recently that I have gotten into collecting cool decorations for the holiday, and if I were to get very specific, it is only since I met my wife, who is also a big fan of vintage holiday ephemera. We have an aesthetic we’re trying to cultivate, and obviously we fudge things here and there for the sake of nostalgia, but try to keep it within reason. We don’t go all-out with crazy decorations, and “tasteful” is something we are constantly weighing when we put things up. But we do like to have fun, an we’re always looking out for something to add to our collection. To close out the season here on the blog, here’s a photo shoot of our decorations, and some highlights discussed below.
First, here’s a video of walking up to our house in the dark. I think it is rather charming.
We try to keep our lights simple, and limited to path lighting with a few accent strings here and there. Among them are a few strings of these flickering lights, that are supposed to replicate the look of candles. I’m quite fond of them, and the best part is that they are appropraite for both Halloween & Christmas. The path lights are only problematic because we have shitty people in the neighborhood who will stomp on them. Otherwise, they are so easy to install and store if you keep the original packaging, and replacement bulbs are easy to find.
I would also mention that many of the “electronic” candles that you can get in most stores have “timer” settings, where the light is on for five hours, and off for 19. (Some have even further settings to fine tune these times.) These can work really well to accent parts of the room, or light the inside of other decorations (like our stack of pumpkins). Lastly, I have all of my lights on one switch in the living room, so I don’t even have to go outside to turn everything off. I recommend this for anyone who wants to set up decorations. I used to just plug things in where ever I could, and really thought I wouldn’t mind going out to unplug things. Being able to shut it down with one switch is quite a luxury.
When we moved into our house last year, it was Spring, and throughout the summer we got to know our neighbors. But we were still very surprised when they offered this wreath to us last October, just before we were about to put our our decorations, as a gift. It was so incredibly thoughtful, and is such a great addition to the porch. I have since made a special box just for the wreath to store it during the off season, we are very proud of it. While we mostly keep to ourselves, that wreath really bonded us as neighbors.
My wife and I are fond of vintage blowmolds, and every time we’ve found one it’s been worth buying, no matter where you find them. Patience has paid off, and we have found four incredible pumpkins at various thrift stores. Each of these are designed to insert a light that plugs in, creating the effect that the entire plastic item is lighting up (you can see them in action in the video). These things are really awesome, and we get excited when we can put them out. As you can see, the biggest one is clearly sun-damaged with age, but the others are pretty fantastic. We’re hoping that we can find more to flesh out our entire porch as the years go on.
Among the other weird thrift scores that my wife has found was this plastic bag that you can fill with leaves. It is much grosser and harder to fill than you would think, and it is easy to damage or ruin the plastic, too. However, it has a bit of charm to it, and we have enjoyed putting it on the porch this year. There are four other versions of this same kind of thing, made by the same company (Kenley Corporation in Mason, Ohio), so it would be cool to complete the set.
Last year I made this mix of “scary” sounds from a variety of sources, and edited it to fit the length of an audio CD. I made a CD, and play it on my porch from a small, portable CD player that I purchased several years ago (you can see it in the video above). I put the CD on infinite repeat, and it works very well as an atmospheric sound for people who walk up to the porch.
While we have picked up a few things in stores (like these pumpkins that fold out), my wife has scored a variety of vintage cardboard and paper wall hangings, and you can tell by the designs that they are most likely the from the early ’80s or late ’70s. However, we have also acquired a folding witch lantern, a Halloween banner, and a stand up cat. While most of our paper crafts – like the Mummy – are fairly newish, this Pumpkin / Owl Fold-Out item is not only one of the oldest items we have, but by far the coolest. I added a spider to it this year for effect, but it does not need one. It is pretty great.
My mom used to make these tissue paper ghosts when I was a kid, and they are very much something I remember fondly. They’re incredibly easy to make, too. After you wad up a bit of paper or newspaper to create the “head,” wrap a piece of generic tissue paper around it. Tie a piece of thread around the tissue paper to keep the head in place, and cut off the thread at a reasonable length so you can hang it from somewhere (like, you’re ceiling). I call this part of our living room “Ghost Corner,” and I already have plans for creating little floating styrofoam headstones in the future. But for now these twenty are a good start to my collection. These are an easy craft project for kids, too, and is much less messy than carving a pumpkin.
My wife used to have a number of Blythe Dolls, and to this day is connected to a group that still interacts regularly. (She has two that she still keeps). This year she was invited to a Halloween Doll party, where other collectors brought their dolls dressed up in all sorts of costumes. To that end, she made the helmet using a styrofoam pumpkin she bought at a craft store. She cut the bottom out, and covered the surface of the pumpkin with glue, then glitter. Lastly, she added a coat of hairspray to help “set” the glitter. The overall effect was pretty great, as you can see.
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So, while we don’t cover every inch of our house with decorations, we like to have fun, and we like the stuff we have. We’ve only been together for a short time, and just got married, so our collection is pretty young. But given a few more years, we could amass some awesome stuff if we keep looking.