When it comes to seasonal decorating, Christmas continues to be
tops among families eager to festoon their homes with festive
frills and colorful décor. But creeping up as a close second is
Consider that in 2011, nearly 50 percent of Americans decorated
their yards for Halloween. The National Retail Federation estimated
that just under $2 billion was spent on Halloween decorations last
year. In fact, Halloween spending as a whole (including costumes,
candy and décor) increased from an estimated $3.3 billion in 2005
to $6.9 billion in 2011, it reported.
The evidence is clear: All Hallow's Eve is serious business-and
serious fun for parents who want to indulge their inner Great
Meet Mr. Halloween
I'm one of those parents, a kid-at-heart whose favorite memories
center on Oct. 31. Raised in a cramped Rogers Park apartment by a
family that didn't have a lot of disposable income, my
opportunities for Halloween decorating were limited to what I could
tape on the walls and windows. Yet, I always wished for a more
grandiose way to express my unmitigated love for Halloween.
My dream wasn't realized until I became a parent and a suburban
homeowner many full moons later. Inspired by several impressive
outdoor displays in and around my town, I decided to create my own
front yard home haunt in 2004, which I dubbed, after the street we
live on, Spirits on Sproat (visit welovehalloween.blogspot.com
What began with a few carefully staked and dressed-up dummies
across the lawn has turned into a full-blown neighborhood
phenomenon, with hundreds of visitors returning every year to see
who's new in our ever-growing gallery of ghouls. Our collection now
is comprised of 33 different characters, consisting of classic
monster icons from movies and books (such as Frankenstein and the
Headless Horseman) as well as several originals (the Green Ghoul
and Broom Helga).
I don't claim to have the greatest or most popular home haunt in
the area. We lack animation (figures that move via compressed air
and motors) and a fancy light show. But it makes up for these
deficiencies with attention to detail, humor and heart.
Young kids and seniors alike can visit without being frightened.
Adults relish our museum-like approach, with amusing signage posted
in front of most characters. And fans of all ages appreciate
occasional live musical performances on keyboard by our teenage
son, "The Blue Phantom."
Be the "ghoulest" house on the block
Hosting a home haunt of your own can be a great way to bond with
your kids, make new friends and conjure up some frightfully good
fun. And surprisingly, it's not as hard as you'd think to pull off
a crowd-pleasing Halloween display, provided you plan ahead
Try these tips:
Erik J. Martin is a work-at-home father of two boys, husband and freelance writer.
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