Autumn is the best season

Between the golden hues of fallen leaves and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon in the air, Autumn is more than just a season, it’s a force in the universe, with the power to bring back memories, compel lovers to take chances, and motivate people to nurture their creative side.

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Autumn wraps around people like a warm blanket, sometimes reminding them of happier times in childhood or giving them hope towards the future. Like the trees that shed their leaves, preparing for winter’s coat, people lose the inhibitions that hold them back, allowing themselves to experience the joys of the holidays and all that life has to offer.

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Autumn is a time of reflection, a time of nature, a time of wonder and a time to spend with loved ones and friends. So, this fall, reconnect with an old friend or go visit a family member you haven’t seen in a while. Go for a long walk in the park or the forest. Pick out a pumpkin at a pumpkin farm. Take up a new hobby or make some crafts. Or, create a bucket list and have fun checking each item off.

Truman Capote once wrote, “Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”

Autumn truly is the best season.

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.

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10 Halloween Things to Do When It’s Not Halloween

Here are ten things to do while we patiently await the return of the Halloween season.

  1. Listen to Halloween Music
    From spooky orchestral to monster remixes, the fastest way to invoke some Halloween spirit is by getting your groove on. If you don’t have time to create a Halloween playlist, the good folks at Halloween Radio got you covered with four different live channels to stream online. Lend them your ears here: http://www.halloweenradio.net/
  1. Read Halloween Themed Books
    Sometimes it’s just fun to read novels set around Halloween time in the middle of spring. October Dreams Volume I and II is a great collection of short stories, novellas, and personal essays from the world’s best literary minds. Who knows, you might be inspired to write your own Halloween story.
  1. Watch Halloween Themed Movies
    Believe it or not, there’s a lot more Halloween themed movies out there than Halloween or Hocus Pocus. Check out some more obscure movie titles, like The Monster Squad or Trick r Treat. Careful, the first one is for kids and latter is most definitely not. You can find more movie suggestions here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_set_around_Halloween
  1. Plan/Shop for a Halloween Costume Early
    Whether you’re buying a full outfit or shopping for accessories, now is a great time to start looking for things that sell out during peak season. You could even find sales online or sharp discounts. Remember to buy items that fit. It is risky business buying costumes two sizes too small, in hopes of losing weight by October.
  1. Practice Halloween Recipes
    Practice makes perfect! Sure, you could wait until October to make chocolate-pretzel spider balls or toasted ghost marshmallows, but there’s always a risk involved in trying out a new recipe the night before your big shindig. Pinterest is filled with hilarious Halloween recipe fails. If your waistline and your wallet can afford it, work out the kinks of the kitchen now, and by the time Halloween rolls around, you’ll be the Betty Crocker of Samhain.
  1. Make Halloween Crafts
    Since the emergence of Pinterest, DIY Halloween has become wildly popular. It’s easy to find online tutorials for dioramas, door wreaths, etc. Places like Michaels, Joann, and local art stores happily cater to your craft needs all year-around. While stylized Halloween supplies are indeed more abundant during the season, generic supplies in Halloween colors can be found every day. Online shopping off-season could yield some pretty good discounts too.
  1. Visit a Real Haunt
    From haunted homes to spooky hotels to abandoned asylums, chances are there’s a few places near you with a ghostly past. Taking guided ghost tours is most entertaining way to learn about history of your town or city and an excellent way to get some exercise. You may even have your own paranormal experience. The spirit world doesn’t exactly wait until Halloween night to make contact.
  1. Shop for Vintage Halloween Items
    If you’re lucky enough to hit right the estate or yard sale, it’s like finding buried treasure. eBay, antique shops and swap meets are also good places to find vintage wares. Buyers beware! If you plan on getting into the collecting business, be sure to do a little research on what’s vintage and what’s not. Take time to research market values of rare collectibles and learn how to spot replicas (cool) or outright fakes (not cool).
  1. Find a Halloween Conventions, Expos, and Tradeshows
    There are several websites dedicated to passing on information on expos and tradeshows that you can attend outside the Halloween season. Some shows are for home haunters, which has grown into its own multi-million-dollar business; and some that simply celebrate Halloween, horror and such. Conventions and expos often showcase new industry trends, animatronics and products for haunters. Film festivals are another subject entirely, but another awesome way to satisfy those Halloween cravings. Check out the Favorite Links page to find events near you. https://halloween-haiku.com/favorite-links/  
  1. Join a Halloween Facebook or Google Plus Group
    Find like-minded souls who share in your love for Halloween by, what else, talking about Halloween! Halloween fans love sharing ideas and tips and movie and book review with each other. Seriously, Halloweenophiles will gobble up anything and everything Halloween, because every day is Halloween!