"Halloween isn't just for kids in Spiderman costumes carrying plastic pumpkin buckets," says Kim Boyd, chief "spook-tologist" for the Johnson Smith Company. Boyd's family business has been selling novelty items, including Halloween decorations, since 1914. "According to the American Retail Association, only Christmas surpasses Halloween in terms of how much people spend on decorating," she says.
That means a lot of adults are spending a lot of money each year on Halloween decorations, Boyd observes. "Just as families add to their collection of Christmas decorations year after year, a lot of adults take pride in improving and expanding their collection of Halloween decor."
Modern Halloween decorations have gone far beyond cardboard skeletons and hand-carved jack-o'-lanterns. Now there's something for every boy and ghoul - from the serious collector to the casually creepy - to fit in virtually every budget. Cheesy, campy, frolicsome or downright bone-chilling, whatever your Halloween decorating style, Boyd and her cohorts at www.thingsyouneverknew.com offer some ideas for decorations sure to set just the right mood this All Hallows' Eve:
♦ "Keep your audience in mind," Boyd advises. "When choosing decorations for kids, remember that your goal is for that initial squeal of surprise to be followed by giggles and laughter. A nice jar of bubbling eyeballs, a coffin fogger, or haunted shaking chandelier can do the trick."
If you're expecting teens or adults to be haunting your abode this Halloween, you can amp up the fear factor with some gruesome masks or the ever-popular headless corpse (equally effective on your coffee table as on your front lawn), bloody baby or twitching cleavered head.
♦ "You don't have to murder your budget just to scare the life out of someone," says Boyd. Consider adding small, inexpensive items, like a string of shrunken heads, vinyl replicas of human organs that pulse with multi-colored light, or even a bleeding human skull candle to your fright-night decor. All can be had for less than $10 an item.
♦ To inspire screams - and a sheer adrenaline rush - nothing beats action or sound by an object you thought was inanimate. Decorations like the life-size glowing mummy are doubly diabolic. The victim knows the mummy is supposed to be a spirited decoration, but doesn't expect the 6-foot figure to groan and glow when approached.
A motion-activated ghoul, called a Spazm, can have the same effect. As a visitor approaches, the seated, shackled figure begins quivering and panting. Definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, and probably most appealing to serious collectors, the mummy sells for $169.98 at www.thingsyouneverknew.com, while the Spazm is available for $179.98. A set of motion- and sound-activated Possessed Books could do the trick at $24.98.
For more fiendishly fun Halloween decorating ideas, visit www.thingsyouneverknew.com or call (800) 232-0962 to request a catalog.