Halloween for Dummies: Top 5 Tips For a Successful Holiday

hocuspocus

Some people live in countries (or states) where Halloween is ignored because people believe it’s based on Satanic rituals and pagan beliefs. They might have a small Jesus-themed trunk-or-treat event in a church parking lot, handing out mini New Testaments, before heading home for a family sing-a-long. But in Utah (home of pagan beliefs) we celebrate Halloween like NO OTHER. We Halloween the s**t out of October.

I attribute our love for this dark holiday as a respite from the otherwise strangling hold the dominant religious culture has on our everyday lives. When you’re afraid to go to lunch on Sunday or fearful of ordering a glass of wine with dinner, Halloween is nothing!

So if you are Halloween clueless, here are some tips to help you get through this hellacious month.

  1. Decorate your house. This doesn’t need to be elaborate. Maybe a mummy by the doorstep or a bloody head on the mantel. It seems the more religiously oppressed a person is, the more Halloween decorations they purchase. If your neighbor has a plethora of monster-themed inflatables, they probably need a religious intervention.
  2. Get a costume. To blend in on Halloween, you’ll need a disguise. Again, if you’re super-religious, you’ll probably decide to go as a sexy Dr. Who or a nymphomaniac circus clown. If you’re more moderate, a T-shirt with a clever Halloween slogan will do.
  3. tshirtCarve a pumpkin. If you’re a vegan, gutting and carving up this orange squash could make you a little nauseous. But suck it up. Carving pumpkins is a big business. Instead of using dull butter knives and metal nail files (like I did 40 years ago), there are now super-duper carving kits with all kinds of blades that will guarantee you a night in the ER. (For extra points, roast the pumpkin seeds; then brag about how you roast pumpkin seeds.)
  4. Buy candy. In bulk.  This is a holiday MUST. Utahns have an average of 9.5 children per family. There are approximately 800 families that will come to your door begging for candy. You must give each trick-or-treater (aka Halloween beggars) at least three pieces of candy. You do the math. I don’t do math. It’s a lot of candy.
  5. Host a Halloween party. Part of the requisite celebration is throwing a Halloween bash. Spend at least 14 business days constructing a menu that includes demon-themed delicacies. Make sure to throw a tantrum when people don’t appreciate your culinary efforts. Post photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and every other social media platform that validates your superior Halloween cooking talents.

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(Last year’s Carrie-themed Halloween cake.)

Important note: you must have ALL Halloween decorations, costumes, foods and paraphernalia removed by midnight on October 31 so you can start decorating for Christmas on Nov. 1. Happy Halloween!

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Happy Retro Halloween!

Let’s travel back to 1975, when the world was less complicated and Halloween was a day-long sugar orgy. It was a simple holiday; I knock on your door–you give me candy.

Since then, Halloween has become a multi-million dollar business. Leave it to Americans to prostitute fear. And candy.

Costumes

1975: I’d open my costume box which consisted of a plastic mask with death-hole eye sockets and a plastic-tarp of a costume. Or I’d get a homemade princess costume.  (And BTW, being a graceful princess is difficult when you have five layers of sweaters under your ball gown, making it look like you just ate a princess.)

wonder woman

(My Wonder Woman death mask.)

Now: You can purchase elaborate costumes all year long. They’re expensive, gory and (for females) crossing the border into Slutville. You can’t just be a princess. You have to be a branded princess–with a history and a back story, and a bustier.

Pumpkin Carving

1975: Before the cool carving kits, all we had was a paring knife and our imaginations. You could carve triangles, squares or circles. That was it. Most pumpkins looked either a) scary, b) startled, or c) mutilated. Someone was always accidentally stabbed.

Now: Pumpkin carving is an Olympic sport. Displays of sculpted pumpkins adorn porch stoops. Intricately designed pumpkins mock my basic smiley-faced squash.

alien pumpkin(This never happened 40 years ago.)

Décor

1975: My mother taped Halloween pictures in the front window, and if she was going all out, she’d twist black and orange crepe paper across the window.  We were a simple people in the ’70s.

Now: People invest big bucks in Halloween decorations. Front lawns display graveyards, witch covens, torture chambers and colossal spider webs. People spend more on Halloween décor than I spend for Christmas shopping.

halloween display(It’s beginning to look a  lot like excess.)

School Parties

1975: Classroom parties consisted of four things. First, the Halloween parade where we’d dash through classrooms for fellow students and parents. Second, we’d play Halloween Bingo vying for a black and orange pencil. Third, we would decorate ONE pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie. (My cookie had more frosting and sprinkles than Ke$ha’s underwear drawer.)

Fourth, we would sit in a circle and sing Halloween songs. “Halloween Cat/ Halloween Cat/ Why do you mew and mew like that?/Neither I nor the moon/Like your tune/So SCAT! Halloween Cat” (I know. Pure poetry.)

Now: Schools are doing away with Halloween parties, parades, songs, and fun. What’s the point of going to school if you can’t dress up on Halloween? I’m predicting a rise in drop-out rates.

Trick-or-Treating

1975: Some kids used cute pumpkin buckets to beg for candy, but I had no qualms about looking like a greedy bastard when it came to getting my share of the Halloween booty. I grabbed a king-size pillowcase to gather my candy, never worrying I looked like a homeless Wonder Woman. Plus, the holiday was a night-long event where we’d travel the county looking for homes giving out whole candy bars.

Now: Sanitized versions of trick-or-treating have popped up all over the country. New rules consist of, “Only visit the neighbors we know,” “Stay off the freeway,” “Get home before 7 p.m.” and “Let’s all go as a family!” Babies.

And don’t get me started on Trunk-or-Treating.