All things Halloween… and then some

Halloween in Crystal Beach: If you build it, they will come

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When I wrote my introduction on this site, I mentioned how it was a challenge to celebrate Halloween (and autumn in general) in sunny, Southern California. Well, here we are a few years later and now I’m on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast. On the one hand, it’s gorgeous here with blue skies, white clouds and amazing thunder and lightning storms. On the other hand, it’s even warmer than Southern California.

While it’s still more of a challenge than ever to celebrate the season, I’m determined to make the best of it. Now that the temps are actually dropping down into the low 80’s (brrrr!), I’m finding myself peeking my head out of my door and even venturing outside every once in a while. It’s amazing how much more energy one has when they aren’t feeling as though their skin is going to melt off the moment they go outdoors. Decorations went up indoors last week and I’m slowly adding to my outdoor display. The spider pictured above was a fun find a few years ago at a grocery store, of all places. I have named him George.

I moved to this little house near the ocean last year and was sad to see that almost no one put up Halloween decorations. It’s a nice, family-friendly neighborhood with nightly gatherings on the beach to watch the sunset while kids and dogs splash in the waves. I figured Halloween would be a big holiday, but it seems everyone goes elsewhere for their trick-or-treating. I only had two groups of kids knock on my door last Halloween night.

This year, I was happy to see that there are already more decorations up. Neighbors on both sides of my house, neither of which decorated last year, have put up a few pumpkins and ghosts. One asked for my help with her small display and we are planning to put out candles and lanterns on the night of Halloween and have some fun – even if no kids show up.

I’m hopeful that this is a sign that my example last year has raised the interest in Halloween. There was a line in a great film that once said, “If you build it, they will come.”

Well, I’m building it. One spider web at a time.

Prepping for Halloween 2015: Yes, Already

My Halloween display from 2014.
My Halloween display from 2014. Image by Michelle Carlbert

Winter is still underway for most people in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start looking ahead to Halloween. Before you know it, winter will be over, spring will be here and that’s only around six months before the greatest holiday in the world (at least to me, anyway).

When is Halloween 2015?

One reason I’ve decided to get Halloween prep going early this year is that it’s happening on pretty much the best day of the week: Saturday. I remember as a kid thinking that there was nothing better than having Halloween fall on a Saturday. You didn’t have to go to school that day or the next so you could spend the whole day celebrating on Saturday and sleep in on Sunday if you’d stayed up too late indulging in all that chocolate and other goodies.

Tips for Halloween Prep

If you’re like most of country, you’re probably spending a lot of time at home right now trying to stay warm and avoid the bitter cold and record amounts of snow. I live in a milder climate than those residing back east, but we’ve still had some snow up here on the mountain where I live. It’s a great time to pull out your decorations and start organizing. If you’re anything like me, you probably tossed all those Halloween decorations into boxes on November 1 so that you could start getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are a few things you can do right now to prepare for October 31:

1. Throw out old/broken decorations.

Got a plastic jack-o-lantern with a crack in it? Toss it.

2. Organize outgrown costumes to donate.

Many organizations will accept gently used costumes to give kids in need a fun Halloween.

3. Make lists of needed items.

If you’re planning a party and not sure what supplies you have and what you need, this is a great time to figure that out.

4. Ask the kids.

Before making plans, ask your kids (especially teens and tweens) what they’d like to do. If you’re thinking of a big party, but they just want to trick-or-treat, you might need to make some adjustments.

5. Start thinking about costumes.

The earlier you decide on a costume, the most cost-effective it will be as many Halloween websites run specials throughout the year before fall. You can also avoid the frustration of figuring out exactly what you want to wear, only to find out they’ve run out of stock in October (trust me, I speak from experience).

6. Make a Pinterest board.

Want some ideas for decorating, costumes, parties, food and more? Head on over to Pinterest and check out all the great posts people have put up there for Halloween. My own board, The Queen of Halloween, has some really awesome stuff that I’m planning to try this year.

7. Make a calendar.

Every year, it feels like I have all these decorating different ideas I want to try but by the time October rolls around, I’m so engrossed in all the celebrating and going to scare parks that I don’t get around to most of the decorations. If you’re planning any big projects, such as making your own DIY Halloween Village (I swear I’m going to try it this year, look at how cute it is!), the sooner you start the better. Summer is a great time to work on these kinds of projects.

Have you started making plans for this Halloween? Let me know how you’re prepping for the holiday this year.

12 Ways to Make This Halloween the Best One Ever

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Photo credit: halloweenhorrorsqueen.tumblr.com

It seems like I spend every year looking forward to the month of October and Halloween all year long. But when it finally gets, I often find that I’m too busy to sit back and enjoy it. So here’s a reminder for all of us Halloween lovers out there to do whatever we can to make every Halloween season better than the last.

1. Dance the night away to every tune that has a remotely spooky theme.

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2. Eat ALL THE CANDY

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3. Carve a bunch of jack-o-lanterns and light the way for all the trick or treaters.

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4. Dress up in a wacky costume to make your friends laugh.

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5. Dress up in a scary costume to make children run in fear.

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6. Dress up in an amazing costume to make people green with jealousy.

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7. Dress up in a slutty costume just because you feel like it.

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8. Watch all of the Halloween movies you loved as a kid.

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9. Put up frightening decorations in front of your house, set up a camera and enjoy the results.

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10. Turn out the lights, bring out some flashlights and tell ghost stories.

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11. Watch some classic horror films and turn them into a drinking game, such as taking a drink every time a character goes off on their own.

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12. Finally, just remember that Halloween is the best night of the whole year.

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What fun plans do you have this Halloween?

Halloween 2014: Finding Great Bargains at the 99 Cents Only Store

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Photo by The Queen of Halloween

I know many of you, like me, pretty much celebrate Halloween all year long. But I know that I always look forward to that time in late summer/early fall when the rest of the world catches up and finally gets into the spirit, too. In Southern California, the weather is usually hotter than ever, but I feel an immediate sense of relief when the Halloween decorations make their way into stores. It’s like my body can feel the heat going away and the cooler fall weather coming, even if it hasn’t actually happened yet.

For me, that moment came a couple weeks ago when I was out shopping. I headed down to my local 99 Cents Only store for some household supplies. The kitchen supply department in my local store is fantastic so I’m always there perusing for new bargains. It was barely September so honestly I didn’t think the store would have any of its Halloween stuff out yet as they usually keep the school supplies there until mid-September.

But as I picked up my cart and began walking into the store, my eyes befell a wonderful sight: Halloween had arrived! There were all kinds of Halloween goodies to choose from and even though my Halloween supplies already take up a good portion of my storage at home, I couldn’t help but to pick up a few more items. Who can pass up a large cauldron for 99 cents? Or baking stencils with cute Halloween pictures on them?

My best buy that day were the three light-up paintings I found. hands down. They were obviously tossed out of a larger store, probably at the end of last Halloween season, because the lights don’t work. But that is an easy fix and I now have three canvas paintings with beautiful and spooky Halloween vistas on them. Best deal ever.

Now that Halloween 2014 has finally officially begun (for the rest of the world, anyway) what great buys have you found and where?

Halloween in Summer: Visit the ScareLA Convention

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Image courtesy of ScareLA

It’s my first summer living on the top of a mountain and the weather is definitely different than what I’m used to in the valley. Near Los Angeles, the weather during the summer is very hot and mostly dry, though it can get a little muggy, too. One thing you rarely see during summer in LA is rain. But the mountain is different. Today on the mountain we have cloudy skies, rain and thunder — and I love it. I am listening to my Halloween station on Pandora (currently playing: Edward Scissorhands soudtrack) and having a blast listening to the pitter patter of rain and the occasional rumble of thunder.

But it’s not just the weather that is getting me into the Halloween spirit today, it’s also the anticipation of a Halloween-filled weekend in just seven days. I’ll be joining the throng of Halloween fans at the ScareLA 2014 convention, taking place Saturday and Sunday, August 9th and 10th in Los Angeles.

I attended the very first ScareLA convention last year and to say it was a blast would be a bit of an understatement. Being its first year, it wasn’t a huge convention (just give it time), but it had everything a Halloween-lover like me could want. There were exhibitors for everything from costumes to decorations to music masks. There were classes on how to make your own Halloween decorations and special effects for your own home haunt. Plus, there were panels from the big scareparks – including Knotts Scary Farm and Universal Halloween Horror Nights – giving teasers for their upcoming attractions that year. There were also panels from home haunters, giving tips and tricks for those who want to be the scariest house on the block.

ScareLA is set to do it all again this year and it looks like it’s going to be an even bigger convention than last year. Here are just a few of the panels on tap for the 2014 convention:

When Hinges Creak: Celebrating 45 Years of The Haunted Mansion
Graveyards, Mansions, and Ships: LA’s Unique Halloween Event Locations
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor
Knott’s Halloween Haunt presentation
From the Headless Horseman to Jack Skellington: Halloween Lore on the Page and Screen
Halloween Horror Nights Presentation

So if you’re in the LA area, be sure to snap up your tickets because I know they are going fast. You can purchase them from the ScareLA official site.

If you can’t make it to the convention, don’t worry because I’ve got you covered. I’ll be taking notes and pictures at the convention and then I will be posting all the wonderful goodness from the event here on this site. So stay tuned! Only 89 days left until Halloween!

Get That Halloween Feeling with a Full Moon on Friday the 13th

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Halloween is still a few months away but if you’re like me then you probably look for just about any excuse you can find to get into the spirit. June 13, 2014 provides the perfect way to do that as we’ll be having a full moon on Friday the 13th. Despite the fact that this event is happening smack in the middle of the summer, you can still have fun imagining black cats crossing your path and werewolves howling at the moon to give yourself a spooky feeling.

Another special thing about this particular full moon is that it will be lower in the sky, thanks to being so close to the Summer Solstice on June 21. That should give you a spectacular view of the moon, no matter where you are.

Looking for ways to celebrate this very special night? You can always invite friends over for an impromptu costume party. Or if you have a large balcony or deck, you can host a viewing party from your home.

One thing’s for sure, you might want to keep your celebrations close to home if you’re the superstitious type. Friday the 13th is already considered a very unlucky day by many and adding to that a full moon, which is also known as a night where people can get a little wacky, it’s could end up being a recipe for disaster.

So if you’d rather stay home and be safe then maybe you can spend the night planning your next Halloween party or making some fun Halloween crafts. However you decide to enjoy the night, be sure to have fun as we won’t see another full moon on Friday the 13th until August 13, 2049.

Halloween Party Idea: Elegant and Sophisticated Halloween Party

Halloween Party Idea: Try an Elegant and Sophisticated Halloween Party
Photo credit: FindingHome.com

Who says Halloween parties have to be made of nothing but cheap decorations made of paper and plastic that will be thrown out as soon as the last guest has gone home? Is it possible to have an elegant Halloween party?

The answer is: Yes

Now don’t get me wrong, I love getting a great deal on Halloween party decorations and sometimes a party calls for items that are disposable or for the kind of decor that is perhaps more kid-friendly. But if you’re looking to have a nice, elegant Halloween party there are plenty of options.

Check out what I found on FindingHome.com, a fun website full of crafts and other ideas for the home. They put together a post called Elegantly Spooky Halloween Tablescape (& Sense of Humor).

In the post you’ll see plenty of pictures and ideas for how to put together a tasteful, yet fun and spooky Halloween party. The decorations include cute, little skeletons with witches’ hats and shiny, gold pumpkins. One of the things they did that I enjoyed was using classic horror/spooky novels as inspiration. Such as Sleepy Hollow, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

This clever Halloween party idea uses another great idea by taking the images and ideas we all know about Halloween and presenting them in a different way. The standard orange and black color scheme is made more sophisticated by adding touches of shine, as well as muting the orange with a softer, more natural yellow. Paper and plastic decorations are replaced with cloth, metal, wood and glass.

If you think you’re getting a little too mature for Halloween party decorations you can buy at any party supply store or if you’re just looking for a change of pace at your next Halloween party, then trying out a chic Halloween party might just be the way to go. And just because the decorations are elegant, don’t assume that they have to cost that much more. Checking out local craft stores for items that can be hand-painted or searching stores for their day-after-Halloween sales can be a fantastic way to get some nice decorations at a lower cost.

What did you think of this Halloween party idea? Are you going to try an elegant and sophisticated theme at your next Halloween get-together?

Halloween in the summer? Yes! Time for the Great Horror Campout

Can’t get enough of Halloween? Looking for a way to celebrate your favorite holiday even in the middle of summer? Then the Great Horror Campout is for you.

 

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Photo credit: A. Sweeting

As I said in my About Page, one of my favorite things to do for Halloween is visit scare parks. When I heard about the Great Horror Campout, I got really excited because a part of me has always wanted to visit horror amusement parks more often than just in late September and early October. Of course the other part of me wonders if I would get bored of them if they were available year-round, but I digress.

The Great Horror Campout sounded like a fun way to spend a warm summer weekend, so I checked out the website. It all sounded like fun until I got to their Safety, Terms and Conditions page.

Here’s what it says:

Please read the following terms and conditions before your ticket purchase:

Great Horror Campout is frightening and may include total darkness, water spray and splash, uneven surfaces, steps up and down, strobe lighting, latex, narrow tunnels, crouch spaces which require you to bend down while walking, sudden loud noises, live scareactors, fog and scent effects which are all intended to startle and frighten you.

Great Horror Campout is not recommended for people with heart or back problems, pregnant women, people prone to seizures or anyone who has an affliction that is made worse by fear, anxiety or flashing lights. Also, this event is not recommended for anyone with health issues that can be made worse or aggravated by any other form of participation. PARTICIPATE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

During Great Horror Campout you may be forcibly handled, moved, bound, hooded, chained and subjected to simulated torture by our actors. You may witness strong verbal content, which may be considered offensive in nature. This content is part of the experience and is presented for entertainment purposes only.

I was good up until I got to the last paragraph. Now I love a good scare and nothing makes me happier than to come home from a place like Unversal’s Halloween Horror Nights with no voice. Getting scared is an adrenaline rush for me, but underneath it all I am always certain of my safety. As soon as I found out the actors could touch you and subject you to “simulated torture” I was out.

So why am I writing about this event on my site? First of all, just because I may not be into it, doesn’t mean that other Halloween and horror fans might not love it. Secondly, I just discovered that they’ve updated the attraction to include “Chicken Zones” that are a bit milder than the more horror-ific ones. They’ve also implemented a safe phrase, “I WANT MY MOMMY!” for those who wander into the wrong area or just find the action to be a bit too much.

The Great HorrorĀ Campout happens across multiple cities on multiple dates throughout the summer. Be sure to check out theirĀ website for more info.

The Queen of Halloween is Here!

Hello Halloween fans!

I am Michelle, your reigning Queen of Halloween and I started this site so that I can share with you all the things I love about the best holiday of the whole year.

This site is still in construction, but feel free to take a look around and let me know what you think. Have something you’d like to see on the site? Reply to this post and let me know!

More to come……

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Photo by Jessica Sterling Photography