I’ve been buying Halloween decorations for weeks, hoarding them in our hall closet. Finally, Wednesday, I allowed myself to hang ‘em up. All of them. When Jake came home, he said our house looked creepy. That is exactly what I wanted to hear.
I’ve always enjoyed going to man-made, seasonal haunted houses. Sure, they cost a fortune (usually about ten bucks a head for a fear fest that lasts about ten minutes). Regardless, I can’t help but check them out, because the man-made haunted houses do make me feel like I’m living in a horror movie.
I also love the real, honest to goodness haunted houses, though. In college, overlooking the city of Athens, Ohio, was an abandoned insane asylum. It was said to be filled with spirits up there—children, adults, and gnarly old ladies. We would sneak up there late at night, and scare the crap out of ourselves. I loved that adrenaline, and I swear, it always felt like someone really was hiding in the shadows.
Both of these ghostly entities—the man-made and the real—have perhaps molded my Halloween house adornments. There are a precious few things I find to be necessary for interior decoration at Halloween time, so I submit the top five MUST-HAVE items to freak out your friends and neighbors.
1. We’ll call them “Halloween lights.” They’re the same as Christmas lights, but they’re usually purple or orange. The purple ones especially give your house an Elvira’s boudoir feel. They’re sexy and spooky, and it’s so much fun to turn off all the lights in the house—except the purple ones—and watch The Candyman or something equally jump-worthy. I’ve only recently discovered the color-changing LED lights. They’re pretty cool, too, especially if they’re in shapes like, say, little skulls or pumpkins.
2. Candles. I prefer glass votive holders in the shades of red, orange, or again, purple. No matter what color the votive inside, they give off an eerie glow, as if even your candles are expecting some fanged monster to come creeping from your back closet. And don’t forget the smell. Grab a nice pumpkin one from Yankee Candle. (Midsummer’s Night is good, too.) Despite the heat outside, the smell makes me think of Midwestern fall and the way weather should be on October 31.
3. Pumpkins. As adults, we forget about pumpkins. We forget how exciting it used to be as kids, carving away, covered in orange slime, creating little monsters of our own. (I was reminded in Charleston, where Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island has a pumpkin carving contest every year. Alas, where do people carve their pumpkins in PHX?) You don’t have to get real ones, if you’re a clean freak. Just get a fake one with a light in the center. It looks great, especially if you switch the usual white bulb with orange or red. And oh, how festive!4. Something that scares you. My aunt bought Jake and me this Tim Burton-esque doll that stands in the center of our kitchen table. When you touch the table, he laughs at you. He stands for what Halloween is all about. Ghouly noises. Creepy laughter echoing down a dark alley. Gives me the heebie-geebies, and don’t forget the fun in not warning your friends about him when they come over.
5. Something that makes your neighbors think you might be a witch. You don’t want your neighbors to like you too much, do you? Halloween is the perfect opportunity to hang some huge ghost critter with red eyes from your front door. The neighborhood kids will probably love it, but that neighbor who always stops by when you’re watching your favorite episode of Dexter will probably hesitate before asking to borrow some sugar.
What do you do for decoration? And don’t tell me you don’t decorate. Halloween is one of the only times of year when the whole bunch of us boring, stressed-out adults can get away with acting like children. Oh, and never overlook the decorations on your own body. I’ll be rocking black fingernails and orange toenails all month long.