Beat Holiday Commercialism with Your Own Projects!
By mid-September, with a month of Halloween marketing behind us, you have probably just about had your fill of Halloween decorations; however, Halloween is still six weeks away. The commercialization of holiday celebration has made the approach of any holiday seem more like a burden than a call to festivity, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Do what I do! Ignore the marketing! Avoid the Halloween aisle, and make your own decorations.
You can approach Halloween from a number of angles depending on your own take on it. Whether you see it as a time for friendly fun, an honoring of the hallowed dead, a time to pay homage to Hollywood horror, or TV kitsch ala Addams family, you can still have a grand time decorating for Halloween on your own, without the expense of commercial decorations.
Many people follow the pull of the marketers by spending a fortune on garish, temporary decorations, strewing them about the house and yard for one day, and then tossing them in the landfill the next day. Don’t do this. Allowing yourself to be sucked up in this kind of fast-lived frenzy is cheating yourself. Approach your Autumn/Halloween decorating slowly and subtly beginning early in September.
Start making the transition from summer to fall in your lawn and window decorations. Now, with all my railing against commercial decorations, you may be surprised to know that I have a rather extensive collection of yard flags! I look for them on sale at garden centers after the season (whatever season it may be) is over. When you do this, you can often get very beautiful lawn flags for as little as seventy-five cents each. I consider these an extremely good investment in decoration. They are easy to store, durable, washable, reusable year after year, and usually they are exceptionally beautiful and festive. So, watch for these in your local garden center and start your own collection. Then when fall begins to nip the air, mark the occasion by putting out your autumn/Halloween lawn flag.
The next time you go to the store, you will probably see the pumpkins on display. Choose a nice one or two early in October. Set them out on your porch uncarved to begin your fall decorating. When you carve them, just before Halloween, of course you can roast the pumpkin seeds for yourself if you wish; however, if you are lazy like me, don’t just throw them in the trash. Be sure to put them out for birds and squirrels to enjoy. Helping wildlife as the days begin to cool and shorten and food becomes less and less abundant is a way to honor the season.
Take a trip to the library to check out books on the traditions of Fall and Halloween and arts and crafts that are appropriate to the season. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
Collect all of your garden debris, such as branches and larger plants and tie them together with brown twine or jute into a “straw man” to display. This is probably the precursor of the scarecrow tradition. The straw man is to be burned at the end of the growing season to encourage fertility and growth in the seasons to come. Rather than burning yours (which could be dangerous) just toss him into your compost heap early in November. You will probably want to dismember him first!
Be sure to save your chunks of Styrofoam from large packing boxes throughout the year. When Halloween comes, you can cut it into slabs with a sharp bread knife or a craft saw. Spray paint the slabs gray and write some spooky stuff on them like R.I.P., and so on. Make burial mounds in your yard with hay or leaves and put the grave markers in place. You might run dowels, PVC pipe or some other sort of stake through them to hold them in place. To help the mounds stay put, sprinkle just a little earth over them and spray them lightly with the hose. Keep them a bit damp, and they will be less likely to blow away. Be sure to compost the leaves or hay and dispose of the Styrofoam appropriately after Halloween.
If you are able to get some extra pumpkins, you can make a pumpkin totem pole just before Halloween. You don’t want to make this more than a day or two in advance because your pumpkins will deteriorate rapidly. You can make your totem pole by affixing a length of PVC pipe or a metal fence post in the ground. Impale the pumpkins on it, then paint a scary or humorous face on each one. Again, be sure to compost the pumpkins when Halloween is over. It would be nice of you to make the seeds available to local birds as well.
On Halloween, you can put some spooky ghosts in your trees and on your porch by covering balloons filled with helium with a good sized square of white sheeting. Gather the sheet at the base of the balloon and secure it with white twine or a white twist tie. Paint a friendly or spooky face on the sheeting with tempera paint. Tie the balloons in various areas of your yard with clear fishing line. When Halloween is over, be sure to take the balloons and fishing line down, deflate the balloons and dispose of them and the fishing line properly so they do not cause problems for birds and other wildlife.
By creating your own Halloween decorations, you will give yourself a number of advantages:
First, you will save a great deal of money. It is entirely possible to spend hundreds of dollars on throwaway Halloween decorations.
Second, you will be spending quality time with your family and friends creating something that is uniquely your own and decorating your home and yard together.
Third, many of your decorations will be lasting. You will be able to create your own traditions by using them year after year.
Fourth, your unique fall and Halloween decorations can be specific to your family and your neighborhood. Creating decorations that poke gentle fun at your friends and neighbors or commemorate a particular fright can be fun and enhance your relationships (as long as it is done in a spirit of good fun!)
Fifth, creating your own costumes for Halloween night will provide you with great photo memories in the future. You will be able to pick your child out of the Halloween crowd in your family album, and having a unique costume may also be a safety factor at parties and on the street on Halloween. You want to be able to identify your child quickly and easily.
By creating your own Fall and Halloween decorations, you can save money and add to your enjoyment of the entire season. Spend your leisure time in the month of October adding to your fall and Halloween displays. Continue the fun into November by adjusting your decorations and your efforts to include Thanksgiving.
Enjoy the fact that your displays will be uniquely yours. If you are creating your decorations with children, be sure that they appreciate the value of making one-of-a-kind, unique and original creations. Talk about the changing of the seasons, the gathering of the harvest, and the meaning and traditions of Halloween around the world.