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halloween-tree.com ~ hallowe'en tip countdown

Countdown to Hallowe'en, 2023!
& Tip of the Week

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This is our weekly (occasional, LOL) tip archive. If you've got a super tip to share, let us know! We'll give ya credit!

Days Hours Minutes Seconds 'til Hallowe'en!

Week of August 31 (2003)

Hallowe'en is hitting the stores in earnest! Do you have your Hallowe'en party plans in order? If not, this is the time to figure out what you'll need to buy, borrow, or (just kidding!) steal to make the shindig a success! If you don't have a lot of money but still want your house to be great for your get-togethers and trick-or-treaters, here are a few tips:

Use music and sound effects to your advantage - Sound packs a lot of punch in atmosphere creation, making it a good "decoration" value. Use your computer speakers and mp3 collection or favorite online Hallowe'en radio stream to create instant mood. Or, pull out your favorite scary soundtracks or haunt compilations and pop them in the cd player, Or, why not use sound AND video to your advantage? I like to play spooky movies and cartoons for Hallowe'en parties, as it creates an instant party activity for those who want to watch, and provides a great party soundtrack for those who don't.

Don't forget the value of lighting! - Dim the lights, whip out your candles, and stock up on novelty Hallowe'en lights! Be creative, be careful, and don't forget how effective indirect lighting can be! torchieres, uplighting, and odd-colored bulbs are all easy ways to make your pad feel spooky!

Make use of ubiquitous traditions - Jack o' Lanterns are traditional for a reason: they're relatively cheap, they're fun to make, and they look great! Why not turn your party into a pumpkin carving extravaganza? Ask guests to bring their own, while you supply the newspaper and carving supplies.

Food! - Great refreshments are a necessity, but they don't need to be expensive! Make your party pot luck, while you provide drinks and candy. I like to make a cider out of hot apple juice mulled with cloves, cranberries, and cinnamon sticks!

Week of August 17

Looking for a fun project to get you in the mood for the season? Why not put together a personal tribute to Hallowe'en? I'm talking about scrapbooks and websites featuring photos of your best decorations, costumes, and parties. You could also include old bits of decoration, invitations, drawings, whatever! It's not only a fun way to organize your memories, it's a great way to share them, too!

Weeks of October 20th and 27th (2002)

Well, gang, it's almost here! I don't have anything left to say, really. Just be safe, remember that trick-or-treating is community service, and keep your pets inside on the Big Night! Have fun, and we'll be back with more tips in June of 2003!

Week of October 13

Believe it or not, Hallowe'en stuff is starting to go on sale! Hit the stores to see what's been marked down...last year, I got a great pumpkin tray for half price - more than a week before Hallowe'en!

Weeks of September 29 and October 6

Pumpkins! Hallowe'en is just a few short weeks away! In between costume dry-runs, haunt events, and pumpkin patch pilgrimages, you may be itching to bust out the carving kit and the bags of candy stashed in the pantry. Don't! Save the candy for the trick-or-treaters, and keep your pumpkins as fresh as possible until a day or two before Hallowe'en night. We've noticed that about two nights (maybe three, tops) is about it for a carved pumpkin, so plan accordingly. If you must have your jacks out for Hallowe'en night and for the big saturday night hauntfest you've been planning the weekend before or after, make sure you have extra pumpkins. If you carve those groovy faux pumpkins, rock on! Those can last you a lifetime.

If you're interested in making your pumpkin-finding expeditions a little more interesting than a trip to the market, seek out a cool patch at a local farm, school, &c. My neighborhood patch is a groovy farm and winery located on Highway 12 in Lodi, California. It's called Phillips Farms, and it has one of the coolest corn paths and petting zoos around. Going to get pumpkins there is an event! When we arrive home, we have a carving party. We save our pumpkin seeds, roast them up in the oven with some salt, and mow them down as we light up our jacks for the first time! It makes for a lovely family evening at home.

Weeks of September 15 & 22

Now's the time to look for cool new Hallowe'en gizmos in mainstream stores like Target. Retro decor, fun light strings, silly lanterns, and all other stripes of goofball decorations and costumes are currently stocked. New stuff will come in as the weeks pass, but not every item will be restocked (sometimes, a store will get just a few of something wacky and cool!). See them now, before they sell out!

Also, try your hand at making your own decor and costume masterpieces. Recreate vintage paper lanters and fireplace screens, make themed soaps and candles, and come up with jack-o-lantern templates on your own, or with the help of websites and books!

While you plan and create, why not see a few spooky films or read some classic scary literature? For some suggestions, see our Literary & Film Pix page.

Week of September 8, 2002

Several weeks ago, we offered an alternative to hair coloring - fake hairpieces! As we mentioned, successful hairfalls and extensions require a certain amount of real hair with which to work. For those who don't have to preserve their natural hair colors for work/school/church, or for those who sport very short hair, dyes may be the ticket.

There are a few rules to remember, however...unnatural colors like blue, red, purple, green, and yellow tend to look best on very light, bleached hair. So unless you're white-blonde by genetics, you'll have to get some bleaching agents (usually a combination of developer and hair bleaching powder, which are available at beauty stores everywhere). Additionally, you may have to use a color stripper to take out pigments from previous dyejobs. Black is nearly impossible to lift into a light blonde, so you may have to settle for an ombre look...or, cut your hair. Lastly, be aware that most brilliant, unnatural shades are NOT permanent. Quality dyes like Manic Panic get good results, but fade with washings. To boot, dyes heavily reliant on blue pigments will fade quickest...the blue tones go first, followed by yellows and reds. If you must do blues or purples, try finding dyes with violet bases...they last longer than those with blue bases!

Taking care of your bleached and dyed hair can be difficult. Pigment loss is often the least of your worries, as continued processing can kill your hair! Fried ends aren't just ugly...they usually don't take dye well, either! So, keeping your hair short might be a good idea. Not only does it rid you of frizzy ends...it gets rid of the ghosts of past dye jobs, as well! To condition the hair you decide to keep, we recommend L'Oreal Color Vive products. They're inexpensive, available at most drug stores, and they work wonderfully! Hair glossing products - while pricey - may also help reduce the look of frizziness.

Our parting thought - safety. Bleaches and dyes ruin clothes, floors, furniture, eyes, and skin. Skin and strand tests are a necessity. And always read the directions!

Now go have fun!

Week of September 2

Remember to protect your pets - especially your black cats. September and October see several poor babies taken and mutilated by freaks. Chances are Fluffie and Midnight will be fine, but it's always best to keep an eye on them. And PLEASE keep them inside on Hallowe'en...and the nights immediately prior!

Weeks of August 11 & 18

Small is cool. If you don't have the tools, brawn, space, or inclination to make a life-sized haunt for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, consider putting together a miniature Hallowe'en graveyard, town, or pumpkin patch. So long as you don't have distructive pets or small children, a tabletop/windowsill/mantlepiece setup could be a conversation-starting alternative to the papier-mache mess. You can buy village kits, ready-made buildings and landscaping, and various raw materials at craft and hobby stores everywhere. Even better, you don't have to have a whole-hog holiday city and a ton of room on your furniture - just a spooky tree and some cool miniature pumpkin lights can do the trick!

Week of August 4

Sick of messy pumpkin guts? Tired of waking up on November 1 to find that all of your jack-0-lanterns have been smashed by pranksters? Sad that your prize designs will be rotten in a few days? Here's a concept - foam or plastic carvible pumpkins! They last from year to year, work with electric bulbs (no candles!), and can be easily displayed in front windows, away from the teenage pumpkin marauders. You can get the synthetic pumpkins at craft stores, often for cheap cheap cheap! We've found good ones at Michael's - they've got 'em starting in June.

Weeks of July 21 & 28

Great visuals and lovingly crafted decorations are a given at Hallowe'en. But how much care do you give to your holiday soundtrack? Superbly selected audio and some mood lighting can turn a house and a couple of jack-o-lanterns into a haunted mansion...or a spooky graveyard...or a monster's cave! Everything from classical music - such as Saint Saen's Danse Macabre - to specially-made home haunt cd's is fair game. Be creative, think outside the box, and make your own special compilation!

Week of July 14

Remember, responsible trick-or-treating helps build communities! Hallowe'en parties, haunts, and other alternatives can be fun too, but nothing compares to the simple community relations potential of visiting your neighbors door-to-door as a family. Even if your neighborhood isn't a hotbed of trick-or-treat action, take this opportunity to meet neighbors you don't know well, especially seniors who can't get out as much as they might like. Perhaps you can turn the tables on the folks you visit by bringing them treats of their own! The possibilities are numerous, just remember to be safe about choosing how you go about it!

Week of July 7

Do your dreams of your Hallowe'en getup include wild makeup and crazy hair? Not sure how to go about dying your locks without doing damage? Worried that 'non-permanent' dyes will leave you with blue hair for weeks? Skeptical that the quick fixes won't create the smashing effect you crave? Fear not! There are ways to drastically change your look without the committment. There are wigs...and there are HAIRPIECES! Beauty shops, wig stores, and online hair outfits have a vast number of options for those interested in adding wild-colored ponyfalls and extensions to their regular 'do. You can buy them ready-made or custom, in varying colors, fibres, and price ranges. You can even make them yourself, by folding locks of your favorite faux hair over an elasticized piece of fabric. Loose, braided, or dreaded, they're all fab, for men, women, and even kids. It helps to have a goodly chunk of hair to attach them to, but depending on the piece you get and the lengths to which you're willing to go to attach it, that may not be necessary. ;o)

Week of June 30

Start your home haunt, costume piece, and decoration planning and shopping early. Many online shops - and some brick-and-mortar party outlets - still have great Hallowe'en paraphenalia from last year on sale at clearance prices. Others - especially the hardcore haunt outfits - will already have this year's stuff up and ready to sell. Online auction sites may also have some super Hallowe'en deals going on right now - and since you have a jump on the crowd, competition may not be so stiff as it'll be in the fall. At any rate, it never hurts to plan ahead. If you're going to have a party, make sure your friends know to save the date. If you're going to put together a fabulous costume, give yourself time to experiment with materials and methods. And if you're going to enter our costume contest, you will of course want to have your costume ready in time to submit a picture on September 1! ;o)