Decorating on The Dark Side

Dun, dun, dun: Gone are the days of cute, cuddly Halloween

Staff writerOctober 16, 2011 

Cute. Yes, that’s the type of Halloween decorations you used to find at our house.

We’re talking strands of red and gold glittery leaves, silly stuffed scarecrows and static window clings with pictures of adorable black kittens sleeping on pumpkins and hay bales.

But as our kids have gotten older, our sweet decorations have been increasingly replaced with spooky ones.

It all started about three or four years ago when our strand of grinning jack-o-lantern lights burned out and was replaced with a set of fang-bearing bats.

Suddenly, it was anything that isn’t-too-gory goes: a candy dish that grabs people’s hands, candle holders that glow like skeletons, terrifying plastic eyeballs that peek out from windowsills. Cue the sound effects: dun, dun, dun.

Last year, my kids talked me into buying them some glow-in-the-dark fake spiderwebs to string along the picture frames in our living room, and a set of Styrofoam tombstones to put in front of our house.

That’s when I realized that my “happy harvest time” days were over, and the hair-raising Halloween haven days had arrived.

I know what’s next: One of these days the kids will ask their dad to tarp our walkway with sheets of black plastic and build a homemade haunted house.

It’s going to be expensive and time-consuming, and, to be perfectly honest, it’s going to make my idea of bobbing for apples look so lame.

Just like the decorations, our family’s annual pumpkin-carving party has taken a ghoulish tone during the past couple of years.

Thanks to a ton of Halloween party ideas on the Internet, we found recipes for “witches brew” and “vampire blood” punch.

One year, we turned cupcakes into bloodshot eyeballs with ring-shaped gummy candy and red gel frosting.

My goal to completely gross out my kids worked last year when I brought out a platter of “lady fingers.” They’re easy to make: Take a bunch of cooked chicken tenders, and paint “finger nails” on the tips with ketchup.

Our daughter actually gagged a little when I brought them into the dining room.

The best part was that they never expected something gross and cool like that from their mama, the keeper of all things cute, cuddly and corny.

I might get used to this creepy and gross Halloween business after all.


Seven out of 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, and the average person will spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, according to a survey by the National Retail Foundation. That’s up from $66.28 last year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $6.86 billion.

Another survey by Value Village shows the average family of four will spend about $300 on costumes, candy and decorations.

For those who need a quick costume idea, grab some tattered clothing, fake blood and grey makeup and transform yourself into a staggering zombie, one of the hottest Halloween costume trends for 2011, according to Party City.

Lisa Pemberton covers education for The Olympian. She also is one busy mama with three young children. Reach her at 360-754-5433 or

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service