Halloween-y Things to Do During a Pandemic Quarantine

Hello, I hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy and staying home. Even Halloween fans must do their part to help to flatten the curve of Coronavirus, in hopes to minimize deaths and buy our overtaxed health workers a little time to get the crisis under control. Since the situation is so fluid, volatile and a vaccine is over a year away, who knows how this will play out, but citizens have a chance to save the day by staying indoors and doing absolutely nothing. It’s not going to get easier than that.

That said, I bet there’s a whole lot of people out there feeling anxious and stressed by the Covid-19 crisis though, so I came up with a list of things that Halloween fans can do during the quarantine to keep ourselves busy.

Write a Short Story

“Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble”

Don’t let anxiety and depression take over your brain! Get those feelings out on paper. Writing under duress sometimes produces the most creativity. Look at Shakespeare, that dude turned out Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and dozens of sonnets during the black plague. Yep, it’s true. The Bard of Avon was surrounded by the horrors of sickness and death every day for most of his life, and yet, he spent his time writing about love. I mean, isn’t that what life’s all about? Death and love?

Witches brew by Ka7 on DeviantArt
Witches Brew by Ka7 on DeviantArt

Binge-watch 14 seasons of Supernatural 

“The road so far”

Coronavirus has interrupted the production schedule of the CW’s Supernatural, television’s longest-running paranormal show. Maybe 2020 is upset as we are that this is the series finale. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to the Sam and Dean, and their angelic sidekick Castiel, which is why we should binge-watch all 14 seasons now, to mentally prepare for the end! It’s a 15-year story that demands closure. Does anyone even remember why the Winchester brothers are hunting demons in the first place?

spn

Create a Spooky Terrarium

“Life springs from death”

Creating a spooky terrarium is a lot like putting together a Halloween diorama. You get to work with miniatures to create a haunted scene, but somewhere in your terrarium, globe, or glass container is a real living plant. The upside is going green for Halloween is always a good idea. The other upside is if you forget to care for your living plant and it dies, well, a dead plant will fit right in with your theme. Win-win!

Work on your Halloween Smash book

“Something wicked this way comes”

Halloween junk journals are still all the rage. All you need is a journal or notebook, and some Halloween ephemera, postcards, printables, or stickers. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, just follow your heart. Make ’em big. Make ’em small. Get artsy or just manage your collection of pumpkin stickers. Since we never enough time to do all the things we want to do with our smash books, quarantine life is like a gift from Father Time.

Halloween smashbook

Create a Witchy Halloween Playlist

“But the talk got shackled by the howls and the cackles
From the bowels of the Black bayou”

Creating your own Halloween playlist is one of those suggestions that always end up on lists like these, but I’m challenging everyone to get specific. When you’re done creating a witchy playlist, with only songs about witches, make a zombie one, then, werewolves, vampires, okay, apocalyptic tunes to dance to, you get the picture. With any luck, the rabbit hole you fall into should last the entire pandemic.

∴∴∴

You’ll notice I left off reading scary books and watching spooky movies, not because they’re not great ideas to keep our minds entertained and occupied during these surreal and unsettling times, but because those are things you should be doing every day anyway.

Let’s practice good physical-distancing, so we’re all here when Halloween 2020 rolls around this October!🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

 

Happy Caturday!

Don’t tell Disney Sr. Designer Caley Hicks that Halloween can’t be cute because there will be cute!  If you’re looking for new wallpaper or love to sew, you’re gonna fall in love with Caley Hick’s designs. Personally, I’m waiting for the day that she turns her boo-tiful art into wrapping paper!

Caley Hicks
Happy Halloween ©Caley Hicks

To view more of Caley Hick’s art, please visit her website here: https://caleyhicks.myportfolio.com/

Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThereWillBeCute?

6 More Things to Do When It’s not Halloween

Happy Walpurgisnacht! We are halfway to Halloween and another long, hot, miserable summer is just around the corner. Last year, around this time, I shared with you 10 Things to Do When It’s Not Halloween.  Sometimes, we tend to focus on the bad so much that we forget to concentrate on the good, like the fact there are plenty of Halloweenesque activities to do to keep us happy until October.

Plant a pumpkin

The Pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of Halloween. It’s the heralded icon. The shepherd of the holiday. One could argue it’s the whole reason that Halloween even exists. Planting your own pumpkin can be rewarding in a number of ways. For starters, you’re doing something nice for the environment. Your pumpkin can be insecticide and chemical-free. Second, it might be more economical than buying a pumpkin at the store, particularly if you live in rural areas. Next, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that gardening relieves stress. Watching your little pumpkin grow makes you happy. That alone is totally worth it. Next, you can brag about it on your Instagram and social media. Create a photo album tracking your pumpkins growth. Lastly, you’ll have an amazing pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern by Halloween!

The Farmer’s Almanac has all the info you need on growing pumpkins:
https://www.almanac.com/plant/pumpkins

bonnie plants pumpkin
©Bonnie Plants

Paint Halloween ceramics

Lemax and Department 56 are awesome, no doubt about it, but they’re also a little pricy.  Why not try and create your own Halloween village? Everything you need, ceramics, materials, and the tutorials that teach DIYers how to create certain looks with paint, can all be found online. Likewise, you can find paint, brushes and other materials at your local arts and crafts stores. You can paint your own ceramic haunted house and knick-knacks, or add new items to storebought villages piecemeal.

Bonus: Painting ceramics can be a soothing way to relax and hone in your concentration skills

Watch all 1225 episodes of Dark Shadows

ABC’s dark gothic soap opera Dark Shadows featuring vampires, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, aired 30-minute episodes on weekdays from 1966-1971.

The first season sluggishly produced efficient melodrama, romance, and the usual family squabbles, as found in a typical daytime soap, until introducing the charismatic, creepy, and somewhat sexy character of Barnabas Collins, a centuries-old vampire played by Jonathan Frid. From that point, the show became his show and Frid’s portrayal of the powerful Barnabas helped boost audience viewership and eventually, made him a horror icon.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Create your own Halloween florals

You can certainly wait for fall to buy some artificial autumn florals or black roses, but it’s always been my belief that some fake flowers are “fuller” than others, during different times of the year. This is certainly just an opinion, based on no facts whatsoever, but if we always paid attention to facts, we’d have no fun at all!

For those of you looking to dye real flowers black, the good people over at Florist Chronicles have put together one of the most comprehensive tutorials on how to create black flowers that I’ve ever seen. Check it out: www.floristchronicles/2011/create-black-flowers

black vase Steph O Rama
©Steph O Rama

Create a spooky centerpiece

After you create some black florals, you may need a haunted vase to put them in. You can turn any dollar store vessel into a gothic or Halloween centerpiece with some black paint, a glue gun, some fake spiders and other Halloween objects.

spray painted vases paige taylor evans
©Paige Taylor Evans

Check out this amazing easy to make spider vase tutorial over at KS Craft Shack:
http://www.craftshackchronicles.com/dollar-store-crafting-spider-halloween/

spider vase ks craft shack
©KS Craft Shack

Need more ideas, check out the Halloween florals board on Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/halloweenkristy/gothic-halloween-florals/

Visit a cemetery

Cemeteries are lovely quiet little places, open all year around. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting under a tree and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature of a cemetery in the springtime, a time when the flowers and trees are in full bloom. There’s something meaningful, even bit ironic, about so much life flourishing among the dead. Just when you thought your little goth heart didn’t like pastels.

Go early and you’ll have a chance to photograph the gravestones before the morning mist burns off, or try in the late afternoon to catch those eerie shadows falling over the tombstones.

springtime greenwood cemetery
Springtime ©Green-wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

 

Midsummer Scream 2018 Recap

Halloween lovers and horror fans (aka screamers) gathered over the weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center to kick-off the unofficial start of the 2018 Halloween season, as Midsummer Scream returned for its third year. This spectacular convention celebrates Halloween, haunts and horror. Here’s a recap of convention highlights:

IMG_E1358

Hall of Shadows

IMG_1364

The Hall of Shadows was split this year between haunters, vendors, filmmakers and special effects on one side, and the interactive scare zone on the other, where SoCal’s top haunters previewed their upcoming spooky haunts for fall.

The Hall main stage featured everything from zombie burlesque to the classical quartet Nostalgic Nebula. The flexible and talented Decayed Brigade, SoCal Sliders, returned with a brand new show. My personal favorites were Murder House Production’s Trick ‘r Treat maze and The Haunt Store’s display of those awesome AtmosFX projections.

Six Flag Unleashed showed off their glow-in-the-dark world, with the most talented folks on stilts I’ve ever seen.

Warner Bros. Studio Tours showed off costumes and props from It and The Nun, in promotion of the upcoming Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights, starting in October.

The Show Floor

This year, there was an abundance of creepy and unique creations from some exceptionally talented artists and creators, where screamers could find everything and anything relating to Halloween and horror.

Screamers over 21 were able to get a blue wristband and purchase adult beverages at bar stations around the convention hall, or one of two cash bar attractions hosted by Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place and Slashback Video, courtesy of Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.

SoCal Valley Haunters & Classrooms

Thinking of creating your own decorations for Halloween but don’t know where to start? Well, Midsummer Scream had you covered. On the Show Floor, SoCal Valley Haunters taught screamers how to create their own tombstones, carve foam pumpkins, make lanterns and village displays, with the help of Dept. 56. Down the hall, classes on Halloween floral arrangements, budget decorating, yard displays and more, inspired a whole new generation of Halloween designers.

Theater Macabre, Black Cat Lounge, Screaming Room and Second Stage

Screamers flocked to the upstairs second floor, where they could fall in love with rescue kittens in the Black Cat Lounge, or attend haunt shows and theater presentations from Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Urban Death, and many others. Inside the Screaming room, screamers could watch horror shorts and listen to spooky stories. A nice respite for weary feet.

The Grand Ballroom

IMG_E1469

The Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2100 people, offered sneak peek presentations on this fall’s upcoming horror theme park and haunted attractions, and two very special panels:

On Saturday, screamers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie, where they were treated to interview clips of cast of the movie and with amusing, funny and witty anecdotes from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson.

IMG_E1687

On Sunday, screamers packed the room again for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus and hear behind-the-scene stories. After an incredible live performance from The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus, the panel featured actress Thora Birch, who played Dani, producer David Kirschner, screenwriter Mick Garris, composer John Debney, production designer William Sandell and make-up and special effects artist Tony Gardner.

Elvira, Mistress of Midsummer Scream

mss2 curtesy of NBC
Photo ©NBC

The fabulous Cassandra Peterson spent two days signing autographs at her booth, where Elvira’s Boo-tique and Sweet Hollywood were selling candy, clothing, novelty items and other amazing Elvira wares. I swear this woman has done a deal with devil or something because she does not age! This past year, Cassandra retired Elvira from doing Knott’s Scary Farm and I heard she’s cutting back her schedule, possibly to work on an autobiography?  In any event, it’s so great to see her at Midsummer Scream. I hope she returns next year!

That pretty much wraps up my experience. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff because there’s just so much to do and see.

Midsummer Scream is now my favorite  horror convention. I have a feeling this show is only going to grow and get better. Highly recommended for Halloween and horror fans.

IMG_E1735
Some of the goodies I bought at the show.

 

Halloween Creep is Good Business

A little birdie told me that Halloween merch is already creeping into the retail stores.  While there may be a desire to throttle the messenger, since nobody likes ultra-aggressive commercialism, for Halloweenophiles, this news might as well have been heralded in by silver trumpets.  This is the unofficial start of the Halloween season!

Wait, Halloween in July? Why the heck are they starting so damn early? What’s the rush? Indeed, the rush may be simple math.  The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $9.1 billion on Halloween last year, up from $8.4 billion in the previous year, with $2.7 billion spent on decorations alone. Anyone who works or has worked in retail knows the need to get sales into the black, as early in the year as possible, is much desired.  According to NRF’s annual Halloween survey, over a third of Halloween shoppers start in September or earlier. Roughly 30% of households find inspiration within physical retail stores.

Hallmark Halloween Merch
Hallmark Stores Halloween Merchandise 2017

No one likes empty shelves, so retailers always look ahead. Thus, the term “holiday creep” is born. Holiday creep, which is more associated with Christmas, but can be used interchangeably with all holidays, like Halloween, Valentines, Easter, etc., only increases year to year, so, retailers will often cater to those shoppers in hopes of moving merchandise sooner than the Halloween season, mostly because the bigger holiday season follows right behind.

In fact, those retailers spend a great deal of energy, time and money, fine-tuning their sales process and strategizing their local marketing efforts and inventories for the region. Weather, location and pop culture all have an effect on Halloween sales. They have learned over the years, discounted seasonal items, collectibles and blow-out back stock almost always sells out early. This in turn allows retailers to offer newer merchandise or restock old favorites, at full price, and sell even more during the months of September and October.

Michaels Halloween merch
Michaels Halloween Merchandise 2017

There’s another really good logical reason by Halloween merchandise appears in stores early, and one could argue the term holiday creep shouldn’t even apply here. Anyone who frequents craft stores like Michaels or Joann’s understands that the supply chain must start earlier in the season. Artisans, designers, DIYs and other craftspeople who create and sell their own Halloween merchandise, can’t wait to get product in September. To be ready by October, their work starts now.  The same goes with Christmas, shoppers need to craft their items before the holiday season in order to sell in the holiday season. That’s why Halloweenophiles, stake out their local Michaels and craft stores during the summer, we long for the glorious warm hues of Fall to first appear and caress our demented little souls.

Michaels Halloween merch4
Michaels Halloween Fall Merchandise 2017

Halloween creep may be an annoying reminder to some people that time is flying by and the holidays will soon be here, but until the backlash is louder than the ringing of cash registers, holiday creep in general is unlikely to change.  If you encounter anyone freaking out over that fact, kindly remind them this is a totally natural progression in our capitalist society, which benefits the entire country overall, relax and enjoy the fact that we Americans get to celebrate holidays at all.

halloween-brunch-photo