Ladies and gentlemen: the clock is ticking. You can feel the energy in the air. People are rushing hither and thither, preparing.
In mere days, Halloween will have arrived.
The word “Halloween” was first used in the 16th century. It had something to do with demons and the underworld and souls of the dead and human sacrifices. I think that these themes are much less important these days unless you are the creepy neighbor on the block.
If you are disagreeing with me, my hardy congratulations on being the creepiest neighbor on your block.
While modern-day Halloween is focused less on sacrificing humans because the harvest has ended and more on fun, it can be a very stressful time. There are so many things you have to worry about. You could very easily end up with the wrong candy or costume and become the laughing-stock of all of your friends. Everyone hates to be the laughing-stock.
In an effort to try to steer you through the field of landmines that is Halloween, I have created “Your Guide to the Perfect Halloween.” You’re welcome.
Arguably the most important thing about Halloween is candy. During Halloween, 598 million pounds of candy are purchased. That’s almost enough for every American to have two pounds of candy in a single day.
Candy can make or break Halloween for kids. When trick-or-treaters show up, there are very tangible expectations that they have and you should try your best to meet them.
First and foremost, raisins are not candy. Fruit snacks are also not candy. Apples are definitely not candy. If it has any nutritional value at all, it is not candy. Kids aren’t stupid so you will not convince them that a granola bar with chocolate chips in it is a suitable replacement for a Snickers bar.
If it contains whole grains, it is not candy.
While some parents are busy trying to enrich the diet of America’s children on this, the candiest of days, others are just being cheap. When I was a kid, every other house offered up a bucket full of waxy caramelish candies wrapped in orange and black wax paper that each cost less than a cent. These candies are the candy equivalent of mystery meat. Even after a kid has ripped all of his teeth out trying to chew one of these bad boys, they still will have no idea what they just ate.
Don’t go for the cheapest candy. Go for good candy. Imagine the joy on the faces of children as they receive their Reese’s cup or their Milky Way bar. You can provide them a great memory if you are willing to spend more than a dollar on your candy.
One final note: kids hate York Peppermint Patties. If you find a kid that doesn’t, that is a weird kid that you want nowhere near your house. DO NOT GET MINT FLAVORED CANDY!
What would Halloween be without decorations? Imagine walking up and down the street with your child, but instead of houses ready for the trick-or-treaters to arrive, you have a bunch of regular, boring, everyday houses.
It would be significantly less fun.
The key to decorating for Halloween is sticking to the classics. First, you want to buy a pumpkin and carve a jack-o-lantern. This is very important. For some reason, the symbol of Halloween is a gourd with a face cut out of it. There are two different approaches.
1.The classic, simple approach:
2. The overachiever approach:
While either one is acceptable, remember that at the end of the night, there is a 1 in 4 chance that someone will smash that pumpkin. I would be very upset if I had spent 14 hours on a Mona Lisa pumpkin only to have it be run over by my neighbor’s Land Rover.
The rest of your decorations can be as wild as your imagination allows it. Bats, gravestones, even zombies are allowed. Not just allowed, but encouraged. Come up with a creative idea and have some fun.
One thing to remember, though, is that you have to stick to it. When I was a kid, a neighbor a couple blocks away dressed the patriarch of the family like a terrifying scarecrow, then sat him on a bench next to their front door. He would jump up and scare kid after kid.
While this is a brilliant idea on paper, in practice it is much less so. Looking back on it, that man had to sit there motionless for several hours wearing itchy hay all over his face. The only entertainment was the terrified cries of children. I would have really enjoyed this for all of 10 minutes, then headed inside to watch some TV and grab the Reese’s cups out of the bucket when my wife wasn’t looking.
I guess the moral of the story is stick to your attention span or come up with a decoration that involves a recliner and flat screen TV in the front yard.
The costumes involved in Halloween are a very interesting study of the human mind. Costumes are all princesses and doctors and athletes. Then with no warning, puberty arrives. Next thing you know, every costume is either a princess prostitute or a streetwalking doctor. Apparently when puberty arrives, women stop dressing to reflect their dreams and aspirations and start dressing like the prostitute with a heart of gold.
I wonder what Freud would have said about that.
For men, it is more complicated. Many of us do not want to wear costumes. Every year, the following conversation takes place in my home:
Wife: “We should dress up for Halloween this year.”
Wife: “It would be fun!”
This is where I try to distract her with something shiny and hope she forgets all about it. She very rarely does.
I don’t care to put makeup on that makes me look like I have had my face torn off of my skull. I also don’t want to dress up as a random pop culture reference like everyone else will. This is why I have dreamed up the perfect costume for people like me who have no interest in dressing up.
The look is very simple. First, wear clothes. Architects nearly always wear clothes. If you go naked, people will not be able to guess your costume mostly because they will avoid the weird naked guy who keeps stealing all of the Reese’s cups. Plus, going somewhere naked is definitely more embarrassing than that costume you didn’t want to wear to begin with.
The second part is very complicated. You will need a protractor and blue prints. Now you have a costume and all you have to do to appease your wife is hold those two things the entire evening.
(Editor’s note: This will not necessarily appease your wife. In fact, it will probably just make her upset. We are not liable for any injuries caused by your wife when you hold up your protractor and say “Here’s my costume.”)
The phrase “Trick-or-Treat” has some very serious connotations to it. Each person who comes to your door is essentially saying “Give me candy or I will do unspeakable things to you and your loved ones.” While most of them are bluffing, occasionally you find a few who are not.
The main pranks that take place on Halloween involve stealing pumpkins or trying to throw a bunch of toilet paper in a tree. Really, they are incredibly lame “tricks.” That is why I feel like people should try their best to trick the trickers before their tricks are tricked.
Wouldn’t it be great if the tree that kids are trying to throw toilet paper into suddenly spoke? One roll goes up and suddenly a voice comes from the tree saying, “I hope that’s two-ply, kid. My bark just goes right through single ply.” Those kids would be gone in a heartbeat.
Even better would be if the tree wasn’t a real tree at all. The kids go to throw some good old toilet paper, only to have the tree crumple under the weight and leaving them in an empty and very boring yard.
I don’t know how you would pull this off, but having the pumpkin explode as they went to pick it up would be fantastic. You know, unless it blew their hands off or something, though that would definitely give you a reputation amongst the pranking community.
If these don’t work, just go for the classic. Hide around the house with a hose, spray the kids, then chase them away screaming. Your tree is toilet paper free and, if you’re lucky, they probably dropped a Reese’s cup or two in their hurry to get away from that crazy guy with a hose.
The Day After
Once Halloween has passed and November has rolled around, there is no reason to get sad. It’s my favorite holiday, “After-Halloween.” I mean, 75% off of candy just because it happens to be shaped liked a pumpkin? Count me in! This is the perfect time to stock up on candy for the coming apocalypse.
Nothing makes the end of the world bearable like an underground bunker stuffed with Reese’s.
- Create a frightfully fun environment for trick or treaters this Halloween (personalcreations.com)
- The True Cost of Trick-or-Treating (cashnetusa.com)
- Halloween fun facts (whptv.com)