2. If lighting is the cake, cobwebs are the icing. Everything looks better with cobwebs. And fog. See #1.
2.a. Don't get the ones from the dollar store--they don't stretch out nicely like the ones from wally world or Michael's.
3. Enlist the help of the neighborhood teens next year. Several came over and decided to hang out, light the pumpkins, pose as corpses in the yard, and let me know when the zombie corpse was stuck. (He had timing problems.) They had such a good time, I mentioned maybe needing help next year and they jumped at the idea.
4. I need more skeletons and skulls. And another fog machine. See #1.
5. Plant some bushes along the edge of the yard. This year, as last, some of the kids were just too excited to come in through the driveway and the cemetery arch. Even though I had pumpkins at the end of the driveway to help light it up, one little girl fell in the ditch. (This will also help to keep my dog from running headlong into the road, which she tries to do, even with her shock collar.) I could try to make a fence, but I think the hedges will add a mystery and I can always do a smaller fenced area inside the yard.
6. Take a plastic knife or spoon with me to test pumpkins before buying. If they don't make a dent in the pumpkin, DON'T BUY IT! Enough with the gourds, already.
6. a. Think about buying more foam pumpkins. Michael's had theirs on half price by the second week in October.
7. Acquire more "creepy cloth" from the dollar store. I've seen it used several ways on different blogs and want to copy them. I have lots already and even some unopened bags, but--see #1.
8. I don't have any pool noodles, but I have to say that old C-PAP tubing has come in pretty handy.
9. This is the second year I've used the tiki torches and I really like the atmosphere they exude. I got these for half price last year in late Sept., early October, when wally world was starting to put out their Christmas stuff in their garden lot. One jug of fluid has lasted both years, with some to spare, though I only have 3 torches now. (One bit the dust last year.)
10. No matter how much lighting I have, it's not enough. Again with #1.
(On a side note, I've had at least 3 people tell me this year's display was the best one yet. That's great to hear, since it seemed so last minute to me, but on the other hand, I need to figure out why it was the best so next year will be better. Oh, the pressure...)
This year's theme was: The Funeral. It came about after having had 4 family members and one good friend die in the last 10 months. Yeah, sometimes a morbid sense of humor helps.
For the longest time, I couldn't get into the spirit of things due to all the stressors, and then the Alaskan cruise took up a lot of planning and thinking time, as well as the week itself. It wasn't until I had the casket out and up on pallets and was wondering what I could do to keep it protected until the big day, that inspiration struck when I erected the canopy tent.
So the last few weeks have been frantic, and some of the things I hurriedly planned were just too involved or time-consuming to come to fruition. In addition, of the twelve real pumpkins I purchased, 8 were gourd-like in their hardness and inability to truly carve, and I filleted a small bit of my left forefinger in the process, slowing things down even more. But I got lots of compliments from kids and adults alike, even before the lights went on. Some came for candy and a look before it got dark and then came back after dark to walk through again. Some, after getting their candy, asked if they could go through the yard and were excited when I said "Please DO!" Others, especially the little ones, were content to view the yard from afar.
The Deceased. So to speak.
Fans of "The Walking Dead" will get this small tribute.
I had planned to put the scary or gruesome stuff towards the end of the display, so parents could just walk the little ones up the driveway to the porch and back again. But Zombie Girl wasn't battery-powered as I thought she was, and she needed a flat surface. So I plugged her in to an outlet in the garage and placed her on a sheet of foam insulation board.
Unfortunately she scared some of the little ones and one pre-teen dissolved into tears. I did regret that.
Each year, I think it will have to be my last. I turned 60 this summer, and it gets tougher to do this all alone. I drool over all your creativity, your wonderful handmade props, and fight the urge to compare my small yard haunt with yours.
But then, as I sat on the porch steps, shivering in my Zombie Nurse scrubs, watching adults, teens, and kids alike wander through the graveyard, turn their flashlights on mysterious object dangling from trees, and try to sum up the courage to peek into the casket, I realized I won't stop as long as I can get around. I can't stop. It's heady. It's a rush. It's too much fun.