Yes, it is September, but decorating for the spookiest time of year has been getting earlier and earlier.
The Spirit of the Season
"The big push for Halloween decorating … hits major crunch days a week before Halloween," says Bob Pranga, aka Dr. Halloween , which provides custom upscale decor for homes, businesses, film, and TV.
Steven Joseph and Bob Levine with Bob Gail Special Events have clients that plan their Halloween parties a year in advance, but say the biggest push occurs after mid-September. They noted that some of the more popular themes this year for adult parties include 'American Horror Story' and 'Game of Thrones.'
At Spirit Halloween stores, Halloween also started early. The company, which has been selling decorations and costumes since 1983, will have 1,300 stores across the United States and Canada open by mid-September. Their season stores, which are open from August until November, embrace the motto: “So Much Fun It's Scary.”
"This starts as early as days after the prior year’s Halloween, say in the early days of November," says Laurie Camacho with Party Planners LA, a party and event production company based in Los Angeles. "Others who are exhausted from the festivities might wait until June or July to get started. This year we are seeing more requests for the old classic horror film themes, as well as a huge leap of interest in escape rooms, particularly the mobile version that can show up at a private event."
Halloween decor runs the gamut from slightly spooky to gargantuan gory, with a budget range to match.
Many options are available that scream "light and fun," with pumpkins and decor based on Minions, the Peanuts gang or the Disney characters.
At the Harvest Festival Original Art and Craft Show, which sprouts up all over the West Coast this time of year, it's more about keeping the holiday light and friendly, and creating something simple that's made with love.
"[There are] wood hand-carved pumpkins and scarecrows, ceramic pumpkins with glow lights; festival hats with Halloween decor like spiders, witches, and bat headbands; hand-blown glass pumpkins; and seasonal table-runners and tablecloths," says Lisa Carey for the Harvest Festival.
And don't forget about the yummy foods this time of year: "We also have huge candied apples covered in Halloween decor."
For those who go light inside and really dark outside -- especially families who don't want to see blood oozing down the walls during dinner, but don't mind body parts hanging out on the front lawn -- there are many stores that help make your Halloween dreams (or nightmares) come true.
"Some of our most popular decor items this year include 'Hocus Pocus' sign decorations, stemless glasses, and pillows," says a Spirit representative.
The one-stop shop also has wall-cling decor and props that don’t require hard labor to display.
Then there are those who want the ultimate in Halloween – going so far as to turn their garages into haunted mazes.
For the folks at Bob Gail Special Events, turning up the scare factor is all about the right lighting.
"If you are planning your own Halloween celebration, lighting is key," according to Joseph and Levine. "Don’t just dim the lights, focus your lighting on key areas like the bar, food, and that giant hanging clown that’s sure to terrify your guests. With the right lighting, you can highlight key pieces to achieve your desired atmosphere without breaking the bank trying to decorate every inch of the space. "
For those more inclined to put their personal touch on Halloween décor, there are plenty of DIY ways to decorate, some of which are less scary than others.
The Container Store offers up an easy way to decorate pumpkins (so easy your kids can help). The store doesn't sell premade Halloween decorations, but with a glue gun, googly eyes, ribbon, and decorative tape, you can add a personal touch to your jack-o'-lantern without having to scoop out pumpkin guts.
For that extra aura of foreboding, The Container Store sells glass bottles, which can be made into spooky candlesticks by lighting a tall candle, and letting the wax drip around the sides.
It's also fun to take glass jars, grab some labels, and make a display of snakes, plastic eyeballs, or "blood and guts" (aka spaghetti and tomato sauce).
As for keeping the decorations up for the season, Camacho, of Party Planners LA, has two must-get items for DIY Halloween enthusiasts: gaffers tape and zip ties.
"With these you’ll be able to hang and secure most of your decor items and, more importantly, be able to remove them quickly without damaging walls and other surfaces," she says.
Meanwhile, vendors at the Harvest Festival are all about color, and having the right mix can really help a fall scene stand out – inside or outside.
"Make sure your fall colors don’t compete with each other," Carey says. "Colors should be balanced and are most radiant when all blended together. Use of different textures adds additional depth, and burlap and twine can be helpful accents when you showcase your seasonal decorations."
Devilishly Smart Ways to Make Decorations Last
Buying decor for Halloween – or any holiday – year after year can get pricey. But there are ways to keep the decorations from looking shabby (unless that's the look you are going for).
"My best advice when it comes to prolonging your decor and keeping it fresh looking is to look for discount lace, gauze, and polyester in Halloween colors and add to or redress the characters you buy each year," Pranga says. "Remember they are supposed to be the undead and not look like they walked off of 'Project Runway.' Unless, of course, you are going for the glam look. I mean sequins go with everything!"
A product that may help with storing Halloween decorations is The Container Store's Jumbo Fabric Storage Bag, which is designed to keep out dust and pests. It is shaped like a large box and has handles on both ends, as well as at the center, which makes it easy to shlep to and from a basement, garage, attic or shed.
No matter how you decide to decorate, the important part is to have fun with it.
But, as Pranga says, "Unlike Christmas, once Halloween is over, everyone wants it down right away."