Why do we decorate for Halloween?
Halloween is the second most popular holiday in the United States (the first being Christmas). It’s really a mixture of a number of different traditions. It was influenced by Celtic harvest festival traditions, pagan roots and Gaelic roots, and Christianity. But, why do we decorate?
According to history.com, carving a pumpkin into a “Jack O’ Lantern” came from a Celtic folktale of a man called “Stingy Jack.” Stingy Jack had tricked the Devil (not once, but several times), and even got the Devil to promise not to claim Jack’s soul. When Jack finally died, God wouldn’t let him into Heaven, and the Devil wouldn’t take Jack to Hell. So, Jack was sent off on a dark night with a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and still roams the earth (particularly on Halloween) with his lit gourd. Jack was later called “Jack of the Lantern” and finally “Jack O’ Lantern.” The Irish tradition of carving potatoes and turnips eventually switched to carving pumpkins when it migrated to America.
So, decorating for Halloween is supposed to ward off evil spirits and trick the devil. It’s also lots of fun, though now we use more than just potatoes, turnips, or pumpkins.
Crafty Items with No Pumpkin Mess
There are alternatives to carving a pumpkin and cleaning up pumpkin guts. One option is to buy ceramic pumpkins or terra cotta pots and fill them with LED Halloween lights. Another option is to make luminaries by using canning jars filled with LED lights. The jars can be decorated (using stencils to cut designs from black paper, or by spray painting the jars). Spray painted tin cans can also become luminaries. Words or designs are punched into the cans with a hammer and nail. The luminaries can be powered from an outlet or run off of batteries. Of course, no matter what vessel you light up, using safe and cool-to-the-touch LEDs means no worries about heat, scorching, or fire hazards!
Styrofoam ball ghosts are also mess free and easy to make. Use a black permanent marker to draw spooky eyes on each white ball. Drape thin cheesecloth or white gauze (frayed at the bottoms) over each ball and suspend these specters from the porch or tree branches.
Make spider webs with white twine or yarn, building out concentrically with large circles. The web should, of course, include a large spider.
And there’s something about Halloween that just begs for spooky eyes…
The Spooky Eye is On You
Nothing puts a delicious tingle down our spines like the sense that we’re being watched. Plastic ping pong balls, toilet paper rolls, and LED lights can create spooky eyes.
Eyeballs can be made of ping pong balls and LED light strands. Use sharpies to paint a pupil on each ping pong ball—bloodshot, yellow, or evil-looking are options. With an X-Acto® knife, cut an X in the end of each ball. Insert one bulb of a strand of LED Halloween lights into each eyeball opening. With LEDs, there are no worries about the heat melting the plastic. White wired lights with either white or orange bulbs work best for this project.
Construct creepy, glowing eyes from toilet paper rolls illuminated by glow sticks or Halloween LED lights. Cut holes in the empty rolls, using different shapes for each set of eyes. Paint the tubes black and place them in bushes, on porches, or up in trees. Light with a glow stick or battery-operated LED lights.
Illuminate plastic doll head with purple or green LED lights and hide them around the yard or on the porch.
Trees, Porches, Graveyards, and Staged Frights
Illumination along a pathway or at the base of trees adds to the nuance of the fall holiday, whether you’re celebrating Halloween or All Saints Day. You can create your own graveyard with faux gravestones and a lighted path. Place luminaries at tree bases or along paths and power the LED lights with batteries.
Wrapping trees is also another way to take the Halloween decorations beyond the front steps. Orange, purple, green, or white tree trunk wrap lights make the project easy, with a uniform appearance, and white stretchable cobwebs are a great addition.
Black paper silhouettes of bodies, witches, bats, and cats can be made and taped to a window. Turn on the lights behind the silhouettes for a dramatic look. Stage a second story porch or window scare scene: make or buy large fake spiders, a ghoul or ghost, and illuminate with LED lighting. Use larger LED spheres shining upwards to create some shadows. Rope lighting is also a great addition along a balcony.
Gaming fans can make a Tetris®-themed Halloween pumpkin. You’ll need a large pumpkin, LED lights (5mm orange are suggested) and a few electronic items. No worries though: free downloadable instructions are available for those who want a challenging decoration that’s surely clever enough to ward off evil spirits.
Whether you decide to keep your crafts simple or go for the more challenging ones, don’t ignore the holiday or Jack could be after you with some tricks. Halloween LED lights will make your decorating safe and fun.