Halloween Tips (10/18/06)

Dear Zelda

Every year my “perfect” neighbor (who I really do like) has a Halloween party for the neighborhood.  She starts making the centerpieces months before, Everything is color-coordinated in orange and black (even the pillows on her sofa!).  Her cooking is perfection and she manages to make a ghoulish (not goulash) dinner that tastes divine.  Well, this year she is out of town and the party is at my home.  I’m terrified.  I’m lucky if I can whip up some franks and beans.  I look at decorations and panic.  

HELP!!!  How can I make it a howling success?

Scared to Death

Dear Scared to Death,

Comparing yourself with someone who sounds like a veritable “Martha Stewart...Mistress of the Dark,”  will only lead you down a path of worry and self-doubt. Sure, we all know someone who has those perfect party-planning genes, the one who carves the entire Salem Witch Trial into the face of their pumpkin, then takes the seeds, tosses them in a Cuisinart and pops out a pumpkin-seed bunt cake worthy of its own time slot on the Food Network. That’s great, and impressive, but don’t lose too much sleep keeping up with the Jonses if your tastes run a bit simpler.

Halloween is not a competition to see who deserves the full-page spread in Better Homes and Gardens. You're in costume, you may be drinking, and depending on the costume, it can be a little clumsy. Make it simple, and go completely kitsch. Monster mashed potatoes? How about some Beans and Frankenstein? And hey, Candy Corn wasn’t meant to be jewelry (see last week’s column), but it certainly fits this theme in a cute little bowl with some Halloween flair.  Don’t be afraid to do the expected...we all love the old standbys when hittin’ the town in our ghoulish get-ups. Coordinating ribbons...Puhleeze, give me fake spider webs and dry ice in a big bucket any day. Do you really want your guests worrying about spilling their bloody vampire juice cocktail on your decorator pillows? Save “pretty” for the big holidays; Halloween is all about being scary, cheesy, fun, and, well...scary. Besides, use your time for better things, like your wicked costume that will bewitch their minds and make them forget all about little “Mistress Martha”

Don’t worry...be scary!


Dear Zelda-

Every year my office has a HUGE Halloween party. I'm the girl who always feels left out while everyone else is going crazy and having fun. They prod me on and try to coax me into joining but since I never dress up I just shake my head no and shrink back into my cubicle. For the last 5 years I’ve never gotten into the whole costume thing but secretly I’d love to just cut loose and dress up and be part of the festivities.

Is it too late?

Halloween Wallflower

Dear Halloween Wallflower

Too late?  NEVER!  If all those teenagers STILL going door-to-door begging for candy can teach us anything, it's that it's never too late to become a party animal.

Remember back in the day when figuring out what you would be for Halloween was all that consumed your  thoughts and day-dreams in the month prior to the spooky festivities? Were you the girl who would scream “I want to be a princess!” or were you the girl who non-chalantly and ever so dryly spoke the words “please, please, can I be a girl who sits in a cubicle wishing I could dress up and party with all my peers?”

I think we both know the answer.

Too late?...NEVER! You’ve only just begun. Today you are a co-worker who sits shyly in her cube, but come  this year’s Halloween Party, let your imagination go to the dark side and become the “party girl” that’s been waiting to “trick her treat right out of her seat.”  The hardest part here is figuring out what you’ll be. A fairy princess? (oh, how sweet). A lady vampire? (eek, how scary). Or, better yet...a fairy princess lady vampire! L-O-V-E it! Okay, maybe a little too “Anne Rice meets Disneyland” but the true expectation for Halloween is that there are no expectations. Come as you are, come as you want, come as you meant too, but didn’t pull it off, IT DOESN’T MATTER. No one is there to judge, well, unless someone comes as a judge, but even then they are just pretending, well unless they are there to judge a contest and then...ugh, forget it.

The important thing to remember is that if they didn’t want you there, there would be no poking or prodding. They like you and want you to be part of the fun and the only thing holding you back...is you.

Too late?...Only if you’re reading this the day after the party.


Dear Zelda,

Where do you get the cool bulldog costumes?  Halloween is coming up and my mom wants to get me a costume but she can't find any that look like they will fit my athletic build.  Last year she just put devil horns on me and I felt like such a dork.  All the kids that came to the door had such better costumes.  Please help me out.

Licks and slobbers,


Dear Boris,

Hmmmm....a bulldog with horns. Which were you, a “bull-horn” or a “horn-dog?”

Okay, kidding aside, this is one of my “pet” peeves.  Like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, all of us know Halloween comes every year, which means that: WE HAVE AN ENTIRE YEAR TO PLAN! And that’s the big secret to getting great Halloween costumes: the best time to get the most fabulous Halloween costumes at rock-bottom prices is… can you guess.? November 1st! The further in advance you plan, the easier it will be. That said, you can’t very well wait a whole year to look your best, and you don’t want to wait until the day before and be caught empty-handed! You may very well end up papier-mâché’d with five pieces of wet, matted-down cheap toilet paper and left at the front door as a “mummy.” By the way, don’t ask...I was young and needed the work.

As fate would have it, a lot of us bullies are “blessed?” with the figure of an eight-to-ten-year-old child which, in fact, just happens to be the perfect size for some of those adore-a-bull costumes the stores come out with every year. If budgets permit, this is the way to go. They require no sewing, only a smidgen of ironing, and with very little effort, getting ready can be as easy as a quick slip and a little zip. And if alterations need to be made, a little nip and tuck can take care of most problems. As a real quick fix, a child's bikini is a great option for an inexpensive costume with the right amount of spandex for the perfect "give" in all the right places. But then again, Boris, it takes a big man to make the spandex bikini work.

If you need to work within a budget, and one of your parents is a sewing savant, take advantage of their talents and go to your local fabric store for an easy-sew pattern that will fit their pocket book and your athletic frame. Most of these are fairly simple and inexpensive and they allow you to “fit” the costume for those areas that may need a “teeeeeeny” bit of extra room (trust me, this is important). It also allows you to spread your creative wings and fly. Who says a pumpkin has to be orange? Make it purple if you want! Oh wait, I guess then you’d be a Halloween eggplant. Okay, bag that one, but I think you get the gist. There’s no limit to what you can do when you’re creating from scratch.

And lastly, if devil horns are to be the extent of your costume for a second year in a row, grab those horns by the...well...horns, throw them off and take matters into your own paws. You could always go cover yourself in corn and go as a “corn...dog” (I know it’s a corny joke… I can’t help myself).

In all seriousness, Halloween is a great chance to get the creative juices flowing, and most of all, for you and your folks to have a great time.