With October, we are now entering into what I call “The Best of the Best Holiday Seasons.” Jumpstarting into a spooky and sweet Halloween, we’ll immediately fall into oh-so-grateful Thanksgiving gatherings. Our race continues as each day culminates through Holly Jolly Holy December, finally ending with a Bang on New Year’s Eve!
First things first, though. Today, our focus is Halloween. Over the last five years, I’ve watched the art of decorating for Halloween escalate in its popularity. Lawns transform into graveyards, front porches evolve into haunted houses. And Don’t even get me started on the costumes …
Since all of this can seem overwhelming, I’m hoping to simplify it for us, making it fun before, during and even after. With these basics, you can select an idea from the numerous photographs available online. Just don’t forget Halloween is our light-hearted, young-at-heart holiday, inviting us into its cooler weather and preparing us for the festival of seasonal activities that follow — energized, not exhausted, enjoying the fruits of our labor. We begin by immersing ourselves in its bounty and how we can make it work for us.
Think colors, smells and fun.
Here are several questions I’m often asked:
What is your favorite creative way to decorate for Halloween?
This is the season we look outside. Why? First of all, nature is beautiful and nature is free. Second, it can easily involve the family. Third, we’re recycling, repurposing and reusing. Right now is the perfect time to save trimmings from the Crepe Myrtle trees, Elaeagnus hedges, and ornamental grasses, like Pampas grass. Branches from trees with vibrant fall leaves also add that pop of color.
One easy project you can do:
1) Buy some bricks of DRY floral foam found at any craft store.
2) Wedge them into the bottom of one or two large pots or urns.
3) Arrange the branches, pushing them into the foam — no glue is necessary. If I don’t have access to certain natural pieces, I go to my local Bramble Market or garden center and get corn stalks, hay bales, pots of grasses and mums. The variety of textures and colors are never-ending. Wire in some large spiders and ghosts, and you have a great-looking front porch arrangement.
What colors should I use to decorate for Halloween?
Typically when we think of Halloween colors, we think orange and black. Yet, when I think of Halloween colors, again I go outside for my inspiration. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Arkansas. Have fun gathering ideas and items like you’re on a scavenger hunt. Search your yard (or a family’s or friend’s yard) for flaming red and sherbet orange Maples tree branches, along with chartreuse to forest green branches from shrubs and trees. You might have deep purple Dahlias and russet orange persimmons. I also love to add whites and creams.
For each area outside and inside, consider a color scheme that works best for you. Do you want your color scheme to be bright? Then use complementary colors on the color wheel. Those are colors opposite of each other — like oranges and blues, yellows and violets, reds and greens. Placed side by side, one complementary color intensifies the other. Or maybe you’d like a harmonious color scheme. Those are the colors side by side on the color wheel — yellows, oranges and reds or violets, blues and greens. You can also mix it up with various shades and tints of just one or two colors. Tie it all together blending key colors from your house trim, doors, walls and permanent interior and exterior decor. This is where you can add the neutrals — the whites, creams, browns, grays or black accents.
What is your favorite area to decorate inside?
The most popular place in my house is our Snack Bar. This can be a simple refreshment cart, a table in your entryway or family room, or a counter in the kitchen. With that area, I trade in those everyday Goldfish and Annie’s Gummy packets by filling my large clear jars with funny, gross and scary snacks. I add blackbirds, skeleton heads, real pumpkins or cutouts, a ring of antique door keys — anything you find to turn your everyday space into a party within itself. Don’t forget to place descriptive labels so your kids and guests will know they’re eating zombie eyeballs, witches’ toes, pumpkin teeth or skeleton bones.
What do you recommend if you don’t want to decorate for a whole month but just for the Trick-or-Treaters?
Consider installing a Balloon garland. The garland makes a dramatic statement placed over the exterior door, in the entryway or staircase. Have fun adding large googly eyes on the black and white balloons, or put plastic spiders inside the clear balloons. You can involve the kids by letting them imprint footprints and handprints with red or black acrylic paint on white balloons. Balloon garland kits and balloon air pumps are on Amazon if you want to create your own garland. Or you can order an already blown-up balloon garland with selected colors at Just Peachy in Little Rock. The balloons usually last 24-48 hours. All of my celebration garlands have proven to be a hit for all ages. Who doesn’t love balloons!
Any other suggestions to bring in the autumn theme?
I love for our house to smell like fall. This time of year means Pumpkin Spice everything which is a favorite staple. But why not have your guests sniffing out some different scented candles and wicks in fragrances with apples, pears, marshmallows and campfires. Memories will be made every time family and friends walk into your home. For the years and occasions that follow, those aromas will take them back to your home whenever they’re at the fair snacking on a caramel apple or sitting around the first campfire of the season. Special note for those who aren’t fragrance fanciers, use the psychology of the senses. You can simply place a bowl of apples on your table and fill a large jar full of giant marshmallows. Their minds will connect those aromas from your visuals.
Can I multi-purpose some of my Halloween decorations for Thanksgiving?
Absolutely. Simply remove all things spooky: bats, skeletons, spiders and witches. Keep your autumn and harvest season classics: the mums, pumpkins, gourds, tree branches and corn stalks. This is where those white and cream-colored pumpkins and speckled gourds in all sizes and forms come in handy since they blend well with almost everything. Then add Magnolia branches, Cedar strands, and pinecones. We’ll talk more about this next month.
Don’t forget to have fun!