Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead to my friend and his celebrations for the rest of this week.

Now back to Halloween…

I don’t recall ever celebrating Halloween as a child; it wasn’t until recently that we started to celebrate, or at least dress up and make a thing of it. I can’t say I felt I was missing out on Halloween when younger, in fact, I don’t think my generation really did a lot of ‘Trick or Treating’ which is probably why I don’t remember too much about it. I believe it wasn’t until I was in my teens that the American craze of Halloween celebrations really started to kick off here in the UK. Films like ET were the ones to highlight what us Brits were missing out on and until then it wasn’t something we’d really thought too much about. My younger sister who is fifteen years younger, was the first in our household to start dressing and making props for the kids on our street and it wasn’t until my Mum mentioned it today that I felt a little pang of jealousy over the added attention or free-reign she received compared to my older sister and I. However, I do remember that we belonged to a ‘club’ where one year we attended their Halloween disco and me and my granddad dressed up – he was Dracula and I was a Bat. We won that year, to my joy but for the life of me I can’t remember what we won but I do remember we went up on stage briefly – to be honest if I don’t remember what the prize was, then it’s highly likely to be something very trivial as I tend to remember the really exciting stuff.

In 2007 we moved into a new area, away from the hustle and bustle of the town and into a small village. There are about five villages closely knit together and I assumed that being so cliquey as some families are, they’d all be out Trick or Treating. To my dismay in the first two years we received about 2 knocks; our children were disappointed and so was I. I’d heard families out and about in the village so I knew there were a few going around and it dawned on me that as there are no street lights in our section of the village, unless you have your front light on, the children wouldn’t come into the garden.

Three years back I made sure the porch light was on and that something spooky could be seen and on that occasion is was a fake spider web on the hanging basket under the light. We managed to get five knocks that year; I’d dressed as a dead surgeon, our youngest as a skeleton and our eldest as a cat. Last year our eldest went to a friends for her first Trick or Treating so we didn’t dress up, however I did include a carved pumpkin of Kermit the Frog and we managed to get seven knocks. Our children dressed as a Ghost and a Bat/Devil/Dracula! Our youngest couldn’t make up his mind and wanted a little of each costume.

An old work friend who celebrates Samhain (pronounced sow-en) every year has given me the greatest incentive to pay more attention to the celebrations; we also brought home a lot of Halloween candy from Disney World. We started about a month ago collecting items or purchasing them from the shops after a few months checking out ideas and pinning them to my board on Pinterest. I remember another post being Freshly Pressed about Pinterest and that we seem to pin but never use it – I can now say “I have made use of the board and try to limit my use to interests (although there are the odd dream posts)”.

Over the last three days we have spray painted bottles and jars, carved pumpkins, stuffed witches legs, painted a skull and filled the jars.  Last night we put up a spider web that we stretched from the porch wall around, over a plant and up into a hanging basket just below the outside light. We put a glow-in-the-dark tomb stone into the plant tub in front of the window and distributed LED lit skulls around the lawn. I’d made spiders from pumpkin shaped squashes and these were put out in numerous positions from the door to the gardens edge. The jars were filled with dried Cranberries (Toads hearts), raisins (Warts), dried Apricots (Cockroach guts), Pumpkin teeth (orange from Disney), Devil teeth (purple from Disney), and Pumpkin babies (Pumpkin shaped gummies from Disney); these were placed out on the doorstep in front or behind the lanterns which were lit. We had covered the tops of the bottles and jars with tissue paper and elastic bands to make them look more authentic and they’d been sprayed black or lilac to make them seem like potion pots. The Witches legs were positioned nicely under the car port door with the witches broom to make it appear like she’d been squashed and the large white-painted skull was put to her side with glow sticks inside to make it stand out. I’d carved three pumpkins to say ‘BOO!’ and another two that had been spray painted on the top with black and sprinkled with a mixture of gold and silver glitter which were placed either side of the door mat. The last three pumpkins (one each for us all – not including my husband who shares mine) were carved as the Jack o’Lantern, Stitch and Perry the Platypus. To top it off, I added a small cauldron with apples in water which nicely tied it all in.

We did have a few additional items such as more webs, crêpe paper for shapes, and ‘Be Warned’ or Do Not Enter’ tape but it was far too windy to put them out. These are now under the stairs ready for next year. Unfortunately due to the wind, the candles wouldn’t remain lit in the pumpkins so we had to resort to using thin bracelet glow sticks which weren’t as bright but they did the trick for the evening.

Once everything was out and all the sweets including bracelets and stretchy spiders, were in the tub, we ran up stairs to get ready. Our eldest was a dead bride with a pale face and black lipstick, our youngest a mummy also with a pale face and dark eyes, then I was an angel of darkness with a very short angel dress, large hole fish net tights, a long black cape (that I used to hide my very short dress 😳 ), a white face with black mascara and lipstick and to top it off a glow in the dark white wig that looked fantastic with our black-light on at the door. We did have black nail varnish that I had specifically grown my nails for, but it was cheap rubbish that cracked and started peeling instantly!

Over all, the evening was a success. People commented on our costume or house presentation and we succeeded in beating last years knocks with approx eleven or so this year.

Next year, as long as the winds stays at bay, it will be even better. I’ll have to think hard and search further for some good ideas to add; we have a relatively small garden so can’t be too generous with our props as it will start to get tacky.

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