Halloween on a Shoe-String

Halloween on a Shoe-String
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Call me evil, but there is something about dressing up as someone you are not for an evening and scaring the living daylights out of others, or better yet, getting scared yourself. Several of the television channels run scary movies during the month of October, so there is always something on to get my heart racing and give me goosebumps. I love decorating and this year one of my garden spiders has decided to assist me by spinning her web right in front of the picture window by my front porch. She is huge; black, red and yellow; and she sits in the middle of her web, awaiting her dinner.

Being a single parent, I well remember the days of worrying about the funds for costumes, treats, and decorations for my girls. It’s never easy, but there are a few things that you can do to chill your kids to their thrill-seeking core without draining your bank account.

Costumes are usually a #1 concern. Smaller children usually are not into the scare factor as much as the older ones. I saw a series of costumes with the main component being a sweatshirt in the current issue of Parenting magazine. Most of their ideas were vegetables, which were really cute, but I got to thinking about other possibilities. Craft stores such as Michael’s and A.C. Moore have plain sweatshirts at very reasonable prices. Don’t worry about buying ones that are “too big” because it is for certain that your child(ren) will grow into it. A black sweatshirt that comes down to the knees, with black tights, cardboard triangles colored black and taped to a headband, and a section of black yarn that has been braided for thickness and safety-pinned to the behind makes an excellent black cat. Use eyeliner to blacken the nose and draw on a few whiskers and your child is ready to purr! An over-sized orange sweatshirt, the bottom stuffed with wadded up newspaper to make it stand out from the body, green or brown tights, and a green hair ribbon with lots of dangling ends makes a great pumpkin. Use standard black grease paint (K-mart or CVS carries small make-up sets for Halloween for $1 - $2) to “paint” triangles around the eyes and nose for a “carved” look. Your little jack-o-lantern will come to life!

Just as important as costumes are decorations. Insist the your child(ren) help with decorating the house – inside and out. Most of the dollar stores (i.e., Dollar Tree) carry bags of spider webs with or without little plastic spiders. These go a long way and the more they are stretched, the more realistic they look. They can be used inside or outside – stretch then across the front porch to create a spooky entryway. They can be stretched across the treat table as a spooky table cover, across the windows to make your house look haunted and can be incorporated into a costume for an ancient mummified corpse or a witch with a hygiene problem. Small ghosts cut from construction paper with “O”s for eyes and mouth can be strung with fishing line in the house. An entire string of ghosts can be made by tying a knot in the string on either side of each ghost so they don’t clump up together. Just be sure to string them high enough (i.e., the tops of doors, light fixtures, etc.) so that no one gets tangled in their invisible flight boosters. Bats made from black construction paper can be hung the same way. White or silver crayon does well to draw vampire teeth on their little faces. Do you have a black light left over from your younger days – or better yet, a strobe light? Set it up on your front porch. It will illuminate the spider webs and add to the spookiness for your trick-or-treaters.

Do you have older children – even teenagers? Solicit them to add to the scariness of your decorations! Have them dress up as monsters and ghouls. One is in charge of the door, while others hide in the bushes to scare your trick-or-treaters as they leave. If you only have one or two, have them recruit their friends to help. It keeps them busy on Halloween night, satisfies their need to “trick” and when the trick-or-treaters have headed home, they can indulge in ice cream and/or frozen pizza – the perfect “treat.”

I took a walk down Halloween Lane at Wal-Mart and I was shocked by the price tags on costumes I saw there. A black cape – very thin and cheaply made – was $20! Decorations are not much better. There was an electric pumpkin for $10 and I was able to buy three – count ‘em: 1, 2, 3! – real pumpkins at a local produce stand for $12. (And it is much more fun to carve your own!) So release your “inner child” and get creative this Halloween! Enjoy a hauntingly good time with your kids, embrace the night, and know that your homemade Halloween props are not sliming your bank book. Happy Haunting!

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