Preparing for a haunted Halloween


Halloween is upon us and if you need help with preparation, here are some ideas for saving time and costs.

The almighty decorated pumpkin is a must for any Halloween home, though preparing and carving your pumpkin can be a big time consumer. Possibly the easiest, yet most festive way to decorate your pumpkin could be the cartoon-themed inserts ($6.99 per set) sold at the Stop & Shop Pharmacy.

The choices range from Mickey Mouse to Pooh, and are dressed in Halloween costumes. The simple five pieces of inserts include the head, arms, and feet that will transform your pumpkin in less than a minute from plain to fun. Another plus is that the stakes are not sharp, so kids can decorate their own pumpkins, and they will last a lot longer than those that get carved.

For lighting up your festive area, think paper lanterns that you can decorate yourself with a marker. Shades of white, orange, and black can be found at Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven for as little as $9, and they are easy to plug in. Rosebuds on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs also carries lanterns, but they might pale in comparison to the store’s enormous selection of wonderful Halloween supplies from the latest in costumes to household decorations and party supplies.

Preparing for trick or treaters? If you are using your front hallway to great your costumed neighbors, dress up your furniture with old white sheets, some twigs from the yard, and some cheesecloth from your kitchen. Covering all available furniture with the sheets and using the twigs as spooky accents along with cheesecloth spread over mirrors and pictures can turn your welcome area into a spooky lair. If you don’t have old sheets laying around, try finding some at our area thrift stores, like the Boys & Girls Club Second Hand Store in Edgartown or the Community Services Thrift Shop on Chicken Alley in Vineyard Haven. While there, wander a bit: you might be inspired with some more options for decorations or possible costumes for the whole family.

Finally, how about dressing the house up with some Mad Scientist jars? This is a great, quick, inexpensive project for the whole family. Here is the how-to on making these spooky treasures, compliments of


Glass jars

Black spray paint

Wax metallic finishes or grayish glitter paint (optional)

Plastic toys: bugs, rodents, and doll heads look best


Food coloring

Measuring cup

Sir stick

Tags or paper to make your own

Ink pad(optional)

Twine or string



Wash the jars and lids thoroughly. Spraypaint the lids and once dry apply the wax metallic finishes, or some grayish glitter paint to them for an aged look. Fill a measuring cup with water. Add a drop of food coloring and stir. Add more food coloring or more water to get the intensity of color that you want. Place a toy or knickknack into the jar with water. Screw lid on tightly. Using the tags, write out a label for each jar. To antique the tags, gently pat or rub them on an ink pad. Tie the labels onto the jars with twine.

To highlight them, place the made jars in an area that is darker and backlight the jars with tea lights or the flameless version to give them an even eerier look. Also, for the smaller scary items, you could add some gelatin to the water and as it begins to thicken, push in your items, such as plastic spiders, in so that they appear to float in the middle of the jar.

Should you not have the materials on hand, you may find all your items at several places on the Island. Some suggestions: in Edgartown, Granite Ace Hardware; in Oak Bluffs the adjacent duo of Phillips Hardware and Rosebud’s will have what you need; in Vineyard Haven, Shirley’s has everything for your home needs, as well as being Halloween Central with a large selection of decorations to costumes and accessories relating to Halloween.