I read somewhere one of the hazards of being married to a geek is the tendency to overdo holidays and observances beyond any necessary means. I took a little offense at that statement and promptly continued making my full size zombie cutouts, complete with the proper “rules of engagement” signage (Rule #2, Double Tap).
I have to admit, it is true; I overdo Halloween. I do get a little help and support from a family who enjoys basking in the purplish and greenish glow of our happy haunts at home. For my fellow Halloween overachievers, I offer this early list of five favorite easy tricks and treats that hover around our home near All Hallow’s Eve:
Use Elaborate Pumpkin Stencils for Anything but Pumpkins. This practice was spawned by desperate necessity, since I am an admitted, yet fully-functional jack-o-lantern carving addict. The invention of faux craft pumpkins has only helped to encourage my problem. Pumpkins that last? O joy, Jack Sparrow will live forever! However, I’m running out of storage space and my poor family is running out of sanity. To appease this craving of creating all the wonderful patterns that are out there, I’ve used pumpkin stencils to create sidewalk chalk art and temporary window art, cut patterns in paper bags for seasonal luminaries, and even use them as powdered sugar stencils for cakes and pies. Last year, my oldest and I used the Haunted Mansion wallpaper stencil courtesy of paper model master Ray Keim to make some fashion tees. We sprayed diluted bleach over the stencil for black shirts and dabbled the stencil with cloth paint for light-colored shirts. These look cool year-round, with the right pattern.
Build a Collection of Geeky Multilingual “Boos.” As a writer, I love languages, especially “real” languages born from fictional means: Elven, Aurebesh, Klingon, etc. Still working on Circular Gallifreyan. Our little piles of miniature pumpkins with “Boo” written on each one in a different geeky language have not only been easy last-minute decorations, but have been the ultimate conversation starters, especially when someone recognizes one. Here’s a starter list of geeky “boos”for those having a hard time getting started.
Keep a Costume Album. The year my oldest daughter was born, I was fishing around my parents’ house for some photos of me in costume as a baby and young girl. I realized my parents, who were otherwise very responsible people, had no rhyme or reason to their holiday photo-sorting. This inspired me to keep a photo scrapbook of family costumes (or “cosplay” as my older daughter calls it, since “costumes are for kids”), over the years. I place it on our coffee table each year, and we have a blast looking back at how much everyone has changed, which ideas were really cool, and which ones didn’t quite work. Once the initial album is put together, it is very easy to update it each year with a few new photos.
Make a Candy Countdown Garland. This idea is similar to our Advent calendar, in which we clip a mix-and-match array of 31 small treat bags and containers along a garland line, and fill each one with one small treat (candy, stickers, beads, raisins). We let our girls retrieve the contents of one each day. On the final one, Oct. 31, is a little note telling them where to find a slightly bigger surprise somewhere in the house. This helps keep the pre-Halloween frenzy down a bit, and makes a nice-looking window or wall decoration.
Fill Bushes and trees with Glowing Beastie Eyes. These were one of the tricks that came from the world of memes; cut a pair of eye-holes in a bathroom tissue roll and stick a glow stick in them. We cover the ends with electric tape or foil so the “glow” doesn’t show up on either side. We make as many of these as we can stand and place the all over the garden, lawn or other assorted domestic flora early Halloween evening. They last all night, and look both creep and beautiful.
I hope at least a couple of these tips help feed the Halloween craft craving, or at least spark some inspiration. Consider this a Halloween treat from my little Tomb on the edge of Texas.