The season of screams and scares is officially here! Halloween is right around the corner, and it's time to embrace your inner ghoul. If you're in need of some spooktacular holiday inspiration, here are nine ways to get into the spirit of Halloween faster than you can say BOO!
1. Haunted attractions
Visiting a haunted attraction is the perfect way to celebrate this frightening holiday. What better way to get into the Halloween spirit than by fending off vicious vampires and escaping the clutches of serial killers?
A few weeks ago I went to Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, the ultimate haunted house experience. I was absolutely terrified, but still loved every thrilling second of it! At Halloween Horror Nights there were eight different haunted houses (my two favorites were based on AMC's hit TV series The Walking Dead and John Carpenter's classic Halloween), along with outrageous live shows and various scare zones throughout the Universal theme park. Although I was in a constant state of fear while going through the houses and scare zones, I'm so glad that I went and was able to embrace the spirit of Halloween! Visit Universal Orlando through November 1 to experience Halloween Horror Nights on select nights or check out a local haunted house in your area.
Decorating your house for Halloween can set the mood for the holiday. Think of cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns, and skeletons. Maybe you can even spook out your neighbors with a graveyard scene in your front lawn and some ghoulish props! Be creative!
3. Horror films
I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to scary movies. Even the two-minute trailers give me goosebumps! Although the horror genre is not my forte (seriously, I'm a scaredy cat), I can admit that Halloween is a great time to host a spooky movie marathon. Gather your bravest buds to watch all of the classic horror flicks. There are also a few scary movies coming out in theaters this month, like Ouija and Dracula Untold, which will definitely set the eerie tone for Halloween.
As the weather gets colder, one of my favorite things to do is curl up with a good book. I really enjoy reading Edgar Allen Poe's dark poetry and grim stories during the fall when there is a chill in the air and everything seems a bit somber. I recommend checking out Poe's The Raven or The Cask of Amontillado. Halloween is also a great time to read some of Steven King's horrifying novels. The creepy literature will have you counting down the days to Halloween!
This Halloween, turn dinnertime into a festive and frightening ordeal. Cook up a meal of Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers with a side of Mashed Potato Monster Faces, and you're set! If you use your imagination you can even turn an everyday dish into a spine-chilling meal, like a plate of "Blood and Guts" (a.k.a. spaghetti and tomato sauce). Finish off with a seasonal dessert, such as Candy Corn Cupcakes or traditional pumpkin bread. I find most of my creative recipes on Pinterest, so if you're looking for something delicious and aligned with the spirit of Halloween, I would be sure to search there!
6. Costume party
A costume party is an excellent opportunity to share your love for Halloween. Just because you're too old for trick-or-treating doesn't mean you can't dress up! Costumes parties are a great excuse to pretend to be somebody else for one night.
7. Halloween makeup
Practice your cosmetology skills this Halloween with special effects hair and makeup. With makeup, you can create anything from scars and deep gashes to decaying zombie skin.
I had the opportunity to speak with Laura Tyler, who is the winner for season 5 of Syfy's hit television show Face Off. She also works as a special effects makeup artist at Universal Orlando, and during Halloween Horror Nights she transforms scare-actors into horrifying creatures. We talked about her experience on Face Off ("It was like the boot camp for makeup artists!" ) and how she started working in the makeup department at Universal Orlando when she was a mere 17 years old.
"I just went in there with a bunch of photos from my theater class, all these little cuts and bruises that I had done." Tyler explained that when she was in high school her mom bought her a makeup airbrush machine; she later brought the airbrush machine to school to use in her theater class during her junior year. "I did more special effects makeup on people than beauty makeup. I always gravitated towards art at a young age," Tyler said.
As we spoke, she was transforming a scare-actor into a monster. "It's a really fun job, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."
I also spoke with Karina Smith, who works in the wig shop at Universal. She said that styling hair for the Halloween Horror Night's scare-actors is easier than regular hairstyling, "You can come up with anything. All you have to do is mess up the hair and it looks good! When you want to do a special event and want to look pretty, that's when the challenge comes."
8. Carve pumpkins
Carving pumpkins is a traditional part of Halloween, and fun for all ages! Whether you want to aim for the standard triangle eyes and toothy grin, or challenge yourself with an intricate design, you'll certainly feel the holiday spirit... or maybe that's just the cold pumpkin goo you're feeling!
9. Donate your old costumes
Many people have a pile of old Halloween costumes stashed away in their attic that have been sitting for years untouched. This year, donate your Halloween costume!
The nonprofit organization I started, Angels of God Clothing Closet, holds an annual event where we give out Halloween costumes and pumpkins to local children in need. Seeing all the big smiles and excited kids as they pick out their costume fills my heart with joy, because I'm able to share this holiday with them. Without a costume, many children cannot participate in this fun, annual experience and are unable to trick-or-treat. Since a Halloween costume isn't a necessity, like food and clothing are, struggling families have to skip celebrating Halloween in order to save money. Your donated costume could provide lifelong memories for a child. Contact youth organizations in your area, like Boys and Girls Club or a local family homeless shelter, and check to see if they're accepting costume donations.
Have a spooktacular Halloween!