Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Halloween Wrap-Up

Halloween 2009 has ended and I was left drained by the experience. It was fun and exciting, but the build up to the crescendo leaves you spent afterwards.

In large part that's due to the Halloween party. It was a big success -- some 40 people attended -- but the work, worry, and toil right up to the last minute was draining. Everyone had a good time, especially the kids. They told my stepdaughter that the party was just the best so that was cool, and the adults stayed to well after midnight. The food was just enough, so we didn't go overboard there, but a last minute purchase of beer means, well, that I'll have a lot of beer to drink myself! Completely unnecessary.

But a party the night before Halloween left me totally unenthused for Halloween itself the next day. No real hangover (okay, a little one), but feeling lethargic throughout most of the rest of the day did have me feeling inspired to want to scare the trick or treaters. Most of that left me by evening so that I was able to get into the mood again, and the first few ToTs who appeared -- and got scared by the animatronic witch -- got me going again.

There were fewer kids than last year, but that was undoubtedly due to the weather as it poured at what might be considered "prime" ToT-ing time. And it was hard and fairly steady for the rest of the night. In all, about 15 or so kids came. I once again sealed the fate of not having anymore show up when I went to the store to get more candy because I didn't want to run out. It was only about 7:00 p.m. and the bowl was looking rather low. We had just had a large group of kids come and it was raining at the time so I ran to Walgreens to replenish my supply.

That was fun in itself because I went in costume. I got a lot of chuckles as I walked through the store, but the best was the lady I scred in the parking lot because she had her head turned to me as I approach. When she turned back around she gave quite a start when she saw me. I got to laugh.

But upon arriving home, there had been two more smaller groups of kids that came and then that was that. The rain started and no more kids came to the door. It's been the exact same thing each year for the past three years running. I'll start to run low on candy, so I'll go buy another bag or two, and then we don't get a single ToT after that.

Nothing left now except for the clean up. Taking down all the decorations, putting up Fall-themed ones in their place, and putting Halloween away until next year.

I learned a few things though from the experience. First, start earlier on prop making. I hope this is actually year-round activity for me, but that two-day extravaganza leaves me wanting to put aside the dark arts for awhile. And my wife wants some Christmas props built anyway.

Second, I think having the Halloween party the day before the holiday is not a good idea. Certainly the energy is higher for everyone involved -- hosts and guests alike -- because of the proximity, but by the time Halloween itself dawns there's not the same level of anticipation there was the day before. Next year I want to have it maybe the week before to allow time for recuperation and the energy to return (and the hangover to go away).

Third, from a party menu perspective, I can simplify the process even further. I spent more on food than I otherwise should hve but tht was because I was looking for certain, specific cood itemslike chicken wings with the wing tips still on them. Wal-Mart and other big box stores only have "wingettes" but because I was looking to hve a "bat wing" display of food I spent more money than I should because I had to buy a large amount from the local supermarket. In the end, I didn't display them as I wanted -- there just wasn't the room to -- and they ended up jumbled in the pan anyway.

Tht brings to mind the admonition I always make to my wife about decorating the house. She'll see a picture in a magazine and I have to remind her that it's just like a movie set for the magazines; real people don't and can't live like that. So you have to be more practical. The display I saw for the "bat wings" was nice -- if you had three people coming to a party. A platter with about 12 wings on it arranged as a splayed bat wouldn't have gone very far with 40 people. In reality, while display is important up to a point, the description of the food can serve as a simple "display" in the end. Having those same wings jumbled in a serving dish as we did with the label "Bat Wings" was just as effective. So I could have bought the Wal-Mart wingettes, put them out as "bat wings" and saved money for the same impact. Next year.

Fourth, the party guest was a mixed adult-kids one and while the kids brought a level of energy to the party, it also dominated it. Adults were pushed to the corners almost, until the kids went outside. Maybe instead of having fewer kids next year, I incorporate the backyard into the event. I had set up the patio thinking the adults would utilize it for a getaway retreat, but in fact it was the kids who did and the backyard too. It's an interesting phenomenon to watch a mass of 20 kids or so huddled together all with their cellphones out texting madly. Who were they texting? It was a bizarre scene. But I'll put some lights out on the pergola next year and provide the kids with an area for themselves to go to. We were helped by the weather this year, which broke for the party and that was a godsend because having all those kids in the house at the same for an extended period might have been too much. I'll need to check out the Farmer's Almanac again because they were incredibly accurate about the weather for Halloween this year.

Fifth, don't stress. While I pretty much had the Halloween prop part down after hearing the guys on Hauntcast say that your neighbors have no idea what you had planned so they won't know about all the things you never got to, and you're probably doing more than most anyway (very true on my block -- no one does anything here), I didn't apply that to the party. I stressed more about the planning than was necessary (though I do that with most parties I throw) and it wasn't necessary. The holiday and the decorating fill in a lot of the blanks for you so trying to get specific details done just so isn't necessary.

Sixth, as for the Halloween part of it, since this is going to be a hobby of mine, I need to build with more care. Overbuilding props I see is essential. The weather wreaked havoc with my props this year. Wind and rain were brutal on the reaper and zombies so starting with sturdier foundations will help ensure they survive for many years to come. I should have known this from woodworking and framing, but because the field was knew to me I followed instructions that weren't completely sound. Using MDF plywood for a base that's going to be getting wet is not smart. It will just swell and fall apart eventually. Pressure treated plywood is a better choice; for all exposed or ground-contacting parts too. Additional levels of papier mache will offer more protection too, from what I've read. Two held up very well, but maybe three (or four) will be a better option. PVC and rebar beneath the shell will help as well.

In all it was a very good Halloween, even if the turnout wasn't as much as I would have liked. In part I do this just as much for me as for the holiday as it provides a creative outlet for me, but next year as I hope to have a much more elaborate display I'm looking forward to a bigger turnout.

It was very much a learning process this year and I look forward to spooky tidings in 2010!



Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */