It's cooler this morning than normal and I can feel the life stirring back into me. The oppressive heat is giving way to the first signs that summer is almost extinguished and the more temperate fall weather is on its way. Secretly, I have a Mardi gras-style celebration going on inside my head because cooler weather means that HALLOWEEN is fast approaching!
I love Halloween. Always have loved everything about Halloween. There are thousands of websites and groups dedicated to creating beautiful objects for Halloween. I have such wonderful memories of all the kids loading up in the back of the pick up as mom and her friends slowly drove us around town gathering treats from the neighbors. It's funny that I don't recall much about my costumes but the memories of camaraderie and excitement are an integral part of my life. I don't like the scary part of Halloween but I love the traditions and parties. As adults, Halloween allows us to forget the troubles and routines of every day and just be kids again for one night.
Recently, my husband and I, my mom and step-dad, and several wonderful friends began hosting a Halloween party at my house. I knew as soon as we decided to have the party that I must go extravagant and "leave no stone unturned" in decorating for this party! We don't build elaborate sets with zombie monsters jumping out, but we do change the entire house into a Halloween celebration. The party is not about gore and blood, it's more about Halloween colors with a little glitter thrown in! My husband loves the party and he is an excellent host, but he does not love the "changing the entire house into a Halloween celebration." However, he tolerates my innate need (at this point it has become an innate need) to go crazy decorating for Halloween. He even expanded the attic in his shop to accommodate my growing collection of Halloween items. Now, a man who gives over part of his shop for Halloween decorations is a keeper.
We try to make the party bigger and better every year and we are working on the next big decorating decision. Let me tell you just a few of the things we do in preparation:
1. Change all the pictures in the house to Halloween-themed pics
2. Change out the fabric on the dining room and breakfast room chairs to Halloween fabric
3. Paint a new series of paintings each year to reflect some new detail of Halloween. Last year the new paintings centered around green witches (Tony and I had just seen "Wicked" on Broadway so my mind was occupied with thoughts of the green witch!)
4. Incorporate bigger-than-life wooden cutouts of witches decorated for the season. So far we have Willow, Boobalicious, and Bootylicious. The names are very descriptive of their actual look. My step-dad cut out the witches and painted them while my mother and I decorated them. They are very stylish and are great props for Halloween pictures.
5. Replace all the knobs on my cabinetry with big, hairy rubber spiders that have a hole drilled in them to substitute as knobs. The effect is really wonderful and the guests and always surprised when they reach up and grab a spider rather than a handle! I love it.
6. Place a hundred pumpkins on the porch, the deck, and every open spot in the house.
7. Design the skeletons so that they are climbing the columns on the front porch to sneak into the upper window of the house.
8. Cutting out and hanging hundreds of black bats so that the living room looks like a bat cave!
9. Collecting EVERY Halloween book known to man to scout out new ideas!
10. Decorating the back yard with hay bales, corn stalks, and eerie candles and lights to give just the right party atmosphere!
11. Searching for the perfect costume all year so that I: (a) Don't show too much skin; (b) don't have to wear a wig - they are just too hot; (c) don't need high heels - this is a fun party and aching feet could mess with my fun; (d) don't look fat!
12. Reminding everyone all year that there are only 8 months until Halloween; only 7 months until Halloween; only 6 months until Halloween, only 5 months until Halloween; only 4 months until Halloween........
13. Decorating a Halloween tree (using an old Christmas tree) with orange lights and every kind of wonderful Halloween ornament. The tree turns out beautifully and is too fun to create.
14. My favorite part of the preparations is creating the hand-made invitations and envelopes with my mom. She is very creative and a wonderful paper artist (along with jewelry artist - some of you may own a piece of hand-crafted jewelry). The invitations are individually made and printed by mom and me. The envelopes are also hand made by us and we try to make them very special. We are solidifying our design aesthetic for this year and should start making the invites very soon! The perfect words for the invite change each year and we are working on that part of the design now.
15. My colors for Halloween are the obvious choices of orange and black, but I also use turquoise. I love turquoise, but you don't find it much in Halloween decorations. For some strange reason, purple is too often thrown into the mix by retailers. So, when I find a new Halloween decoration that I love that has purple in it, I just pull out the trusty paint box and brushes and customize that sweet baby until it is uniquely Tina. I have lots of altered pieces that started out one color but have been changed to another color. Of course, they look great.
16. Wonderful food abounds at our Halloween party. We have special Halloween cakes and home-made Halloween cookies along with BBQ by the Spring Fling Grand Champion. Thanks Johnny and Jackie! Usually the guests bring some wonderful food item and the food table become a pot luck heaven!
17. Build a wonderful center-piece of Halloween fun items. The centerpiece includes skulls, crows, mice and beautiful flowers. Of course, there are a few girly feathers thrown in for good measure.
18. My step-dad makes a wonderful grave yard with hand-made grave markers and Connie contributes the mannequin legs peeking out from the graves. The effect is really great.
19. Built a witch's shelf that looks like she just came in from flying. The shelf (created by my step-dad) includes the witches book, cape, hat, stockings, boots, and jars of various potions for creating mischief! I love this particular piece.
20. By far the best part is the many friends who make the party so wonderful. We had no idea that anyone would even show up for the party, but our friends have been very supportive. It's not a crazy party, but the costumes are fabulous. People who are very conservative in their real lives, can be very creative in their Halloween life. Costumes are REQUIRED.
Here is a salute to everyone who loves Halloween and to those hosting Halloween parties this year. Have fun and be safe, but most of all draw on those memories of the Halloweens of our childhood that still linger in our minds. Happy Halloween!