Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ashleigh,Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Company~ Guest Post

Best and Worst Examples of Halloween Decorations in the Washington Area

halloweenbest1Christmas decorations mix the sacred (angels, crèches) with the secular (Santa Claus, mistletoe, Christmas trees). But no other holiday during the year is as interesting as Halloween for variety in decorations. On Halloween, you can decorate with ghosts, skeletons bats, black cats, spiders, spider webs, toads, witches, ghouls, poltergeists, severed hands and other body parts, fingernails, scarecrows, ravens, owls, chain saws, blood, tombstones, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, hay bales, fall leaves, glitter, streamers, candles, smoke, fire, headless horsemen, Victorian apparitions, vintage photos, and anything orange or black, the colors of Halloween, or both.


Any home enthusiast knows that the front of their home is their first, and maybe only, opportunity to make an impression. A tasteful garden walkway vs. a vehicle on cinder blocks will give visitors two VERY different perceptions of the home they are about to enter. With Halloween just days away, this is a time when we notice home owners going slightly overboard in their decorations. And while Halloween is inclusive, as I listed above, you don't want to make a decorating mess. It's one thing to have a few creepy crawlies, but 20 blinking skeletons, a smoke machine, cobwebs and a scarecrow can make your porch or yard look like a junkyard and will deter even the most avid trick or treater.halloweenworst1

Decorators advise homeowners to keep it tasteful, even if Halloween is the most outrageous of holidays. Don't use a real skeleton or any real bones. Don't hang anything resembling a real person. And pick a theme and stick to it. Of course, Halloween is your theme, but you might opt for the Victorian or vintage method to remember old things and ghosts of the past, or you might go for the crypt keeper look with a carefully chosen skeleton, a coffin and some tasteful cobwebs. Low light adds mystery. If your theme is share rather than scare, you might be setting up a harvest festival display with leaves and pumpkins. Some people pick a good theme and then don't arrange it carefully so there is no center focus. You want to have a center of focus and spread out from that point. Lack of a focal point just makes your yard and porch look like you have strewn stuff randomly. At Halloween, since the stuff is scary, the randomness can be threatening! Or at least unattractive.

halloweenworst3Probably the hardest Halloween prop to work with is the blow-up pumpkin or ghost, especially the lighted ones. They sag, they blow in the wind, they can look randomly placed as if your yard was air-bombed by big Halloween balloons. But sometimes simpler is better and the night, the dark and your visitors' imaginations will do the rest. Bainbridge Gardens has an annual Halloween nighttime tour with walkways lined with simple carved and lighted pumpkins. With some imagination, things on hand in your home, or inexpensive supplies, you can come up with something more interesting. Draped muslin, for example, makes a great scim and a place to hang spiders or bats. White plastic garbage bags, stuffed to make a "head" and tied at the neck, and with eyes and a round mouth painted on, make great little ghosts to hang from your porch ceiling or balcony. Use scissors to cut the bottom of the bags so they ghosts will trail as they float in the air and light them from below. Vintage photos, framed, can be arranged in a shrine to the dear departed.

Home decor expert Mary Carol Garrity suggests that silver serving pieces, like five-armed candelabras, are great with black, drippy candles for a Gothic look. To give trick or treaters a laugh, she says, find an old mirror and write "Turn Back Now" on it in red nail polish. Then hang it on your front door with some Halloween ribbon and faux black carnations covered with glitter. Or take an old Christmas wreath and paint it black and silver to hang on your door with paper bats scattered in it.

If your theme is more along the lines of Hogwarts, any big wash pot makes a great witch's cauldron with dry ice and maybe a colored light bulb placed in the bottom. Take an old pair of tights, stuff them and put a pair of ruby red heels on the feet. Stick the disembodied "legs" through your porch railing with a witch's hat nearby.

halloweenworst2Here are some "best" and "worst" decorations we found in the Washington area. The worst ones are cluttered, sloppy or, in the case of vampire Barbies, just too weird. The best are thought out, spaced and balanced and have a nice use of color and form. Plus they stick to a theme within the broader free-for-all that is Halloween.

Happy Halloween! May the Fear be with you!

Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.


NanaDiana said...

LOL- This is the first Worst of Halloween pictures I have seen. Amen....stick to a theme...and WHO wants a Vampire Barbie...Count Dracula? xo Diana

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

I love this post, I even love halloween and we go a little overborad BUT only on the night. We put some fun scary stuff up the few week before. Then the night of....chili cookoff, lights, sound, scary guys, smoke....the kids love it and so do we but in the am it's all gone, makes me happy! hope you are having a great weekend my friend!

fialka012 said...

❤ ✿ ❤

Terry said...

Sure wish I had a camera today...I saw the worst home with about 100 lighted plastic ghosts and pumpkins all over the yard! Looked like a delivery truck had lost its load!