Making a holiday about
suspense more suspenseful
always count the days until Christmas, but Halloween is the one day on
the calendar that's really about suspense and surprises.
I don't like it when people start decorating
too early, but
conversely, I don't like it when folks wait until literally a day or
two before xmas before they put the tree up. To me that seems
wasteful since it's there and gone in the matter of a week. I
always think of xmas being a countdown until an event. If you
shorten that, you've taken away from the build-up. For me,
Halloween starts October 1st and continues through November 1st.
When October hits, that's the day
start to dole out the scary.
First I'll set up the old, crooked Halloween fencing in the front
yard. The next day I hang some crooked shutters on the face of
the house. Some gravestones appear in the yard the day after
that, then ghosts in the trees, and so on. I have enough stuff
that I can literally do somewhere close to 30 days worth of setting
When there's thirteen days left, that's when it's time to bring out the
Halloween Countdown Clock. In addition to counting down the days
(and nights) until Halloween, I also swap the arms on it over the
course of those two weeks, such that there is a little surprise there
for those who are paying attention.
I try to make
the build-up suspenseful for everyone watching what I'm going to put
out each year. I always think of the process of decorating my
yard for Halloween as a sort of unveiling. Sure, it might be
funny to put all the decorations up in the middle of the night and
surprise everyone with them the next morning, but it's much more
interesting to have some suspense to it. However, I definitely
like the idea of decorating in the middle of the night. I always
try to put out things when no one's watching so that they notice
there's something new sometime the next day.
Every day I put out something more,
something extra. Things get
layered until there's a yard full of decorations. It's fun
because it keeps the neighbors (and especially their kids) checking it
all out every day to
see what's new. Suspense builds, and the anticipation of the
event becomes an event unto itself.
Here's a proposed decorating sequence based on the props I have on-hand
as of this writing:\
First of all, there's an element of
suspense about the costumes.
I make it policy that no one knows what we're going to be for
Halloween. None of my friends are told. Even the people at
the costume shops are never told the big picture, just whatever
isolated element we are looking for at that moment. Our costumes
are a secret right up until the Halloween party, even if I had the idea
literally years in advance (which is often the case). It's always
a surprise when we show up (or to guests who show up at our
parties). I don't even post
pictures until Halloween is completely over with and we aren't going to
wear them anymore.
(Updated 2016) the Ale[x]orcist.