A Case for Putting Up Halloween (or Any Holiday) Decorations Extremely Early This Year
Wow, 2020 has sucked. So much, in fact, that writers (me) have completely run out of creative opening lines to personal essays about this atrocious year. In an attempt to salvage the few months that are left, bolster my spirits, and find something to fill my depressingly open calendar, I decorated for Halloween around my house. Like, a couple of weeks ago. Like, in August. Yes, it’s extremely early—but let me explain why Halloween is my very favorite holiday… and why you should consider decorating for your favorite holiday early this year (and maybe every year from now on).
The air outside gets cooler, chunky knit sweaters come out, leaves start turning an array of brilliant colors, and someone inevitably reposts that genius McSweeney’s piece, “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.” Halloween (and the fall season generally) has always been my absolute favorite time of year because it’s a confluence of everything I love. I get to start wearing layers of clothing, tall boots, and the color black as much as I want. There’s finally a reasonable excuse to eat miniature candy bars throughout the day. My obsessions with death and true crime feel seasonally appropriate. Best of all, summertime—and the blazing hot sun, sweating, bugs, and beach vacations—is finally over.
Though I love Halloween (and all holidays, to be honest), there was a huge stretch of my life where I didn’t do much decorating or celebrating. I was (am) a workaholic, and without any conventional life milestones (unmarried, I have never planned a wedding, and I’m child-free, so there’s no commemorating any births, either). As a result, the years started to feel like one long mundane mix of chores and work.
And when you live in the South like I do, where there aren’t four actually discernible seasons, you can’t even depend on the weather to help you recognize the year is advancing. It’s honestly a lot like how many people have felt in 2020, while stuck in quarantine unable to leave our homes or travel. It’s felt like we haven’t really moved at all for months. Like life is standing still. Like the days are only filled with chores, work, trying not to nap, overeating, and forcing yourself to shower (are the last three only me?!). Can you even remember the last time you looked forward to something? It’s why I decided to decorate early—like REALLY early—for my favorite holiday.
For Halloween this year, I wanted to focus on transforming the two rooms I now spend 99.9% of my time in: The front room that I work in (our “library”), and our living room, where we watch television (and horror movies for the next two months.) I started with displaying Halloween knick-knacks I’ve collected over the years, like spooky glasses, foam tombstones, Halloween throw pillows, and polka dot fabric. And I added new things this year, like these “drape-y” things from Amazon; bats to stick on the wall, a light-up pumpkin from Target, a vintage-looking paper skeleton (bought in person at Walmart but I can’t find a link on their website), some AMAZING hanging candlesticks (also purchased in person at Walmart), this cute neon bat light, a light-up haunted house, and this stack of neon skulls.
I also got these simple black witch hats that I strung up with fishing line between the two rooms to make it look like they’re levitating (I absolutely stole the idea from Pinterest). I repurposed last year’s outdoor decorations—a bunch of jack-o-lantern paper lanterns, as a weird art piece above my costume chiffarobe. And I used other everyday items from around the house to make some spooky vignettes, like collecting all my books about ghosts and death and displaying them on my filing cabinet, as well as gathering some elements from nature to make a “witch’s altar”.
But my VERY favorite thing this year is the two (surprisingly) heavy concrete gargoyles I got FOR FREE from a neighbor cleaning out their garage. My boyfriend and I spray painted them black (they were gray and chipped) and I painted the eyes a creepy red. They now glare at us from behind our projector screen while we watch scary movies and it’s INCREDIBLE. Lastly, I added some flickering orange lights over the mantel in the front room, and when all the lights are out except that string and the “levitating” candles, it’s positively eerie.
Some might ask whether doing all this decoration work is worth it. After all, I’ll have to take all of this down come November (and find a place to store it for next year). But I can say unequivocally that yes, it’s worth it. These decorations have been up for a few weeks now, and I still smile every day when I wake up and stumble into the front room to start work. Seeing my Halloween-themed backdrop pop up on Zoom calls is making work meetings much more enjoyable. And as I mentioned above, those scary gargoyles are the perfect addition to horror movie marathons.
I’m not finished decorating, though. Since I’ve started so early, to keep my decor from getting stale by October, I plan on decorating the exterior of the house once rainy season is finished in New Orleans. And I recently picked up the craft of paper flower making, and will soon begin work on a Gothic-themed black paper flower vine I’ll add to throughout the next months.
I’m not sure if I’ve done a decent job of persuading you to spend time, money, and energy decorating for Halloween (or any holiday) extraordinarily early, but I certainly hope I’ve sparked a bit of inspiration. If you need more, poke around online. Believe it or not, in the world of Halloween Instagram, I’m actually relatively late with decorating. (I’m looking at you, Jennifer Perkins—only one of MANY out there.) Maybe next year I’ll start even earlier—no point in letting these good decorations collect dust for nine months of the year, right?