When Did Halloween Get So Decadent?

I’ve always wanted to host a fabulous Halloween party.

I fantasize about having some freaky butler doll greeting people at the door and spewing puns like “We’ve been … DYING to have you for dinner.”

And then, inside, the table would be covered with tempting ghoulish delights like, oh, I don’t know, a MEATLOAF HAND!!! Complete with questionable ingredients that actually look like marrow and fingernails sticking out of it. (Is that raw bacon?)

Via: NotMartha.org

Via: NotMartha.org

Children might think twice to use the bathroom if they had to contend with THIS FREAKY COMMODE waiting for them.

A time or two I’ve even thought about sewing costumes for all three of my children. Hell, I’d even make something the whole family if I thought I could actually save money by doing so! (I claim Lumiere!) I’ve done the math; it costs less to shop around online or in thrift stores.

Halloween Family Photo

Sigh. Ah, Halloween. Where to take you!

And yet, I’ve never hosted a Halloween party. In fact, I’ve never “invested” in good Halloween decorations, much to the chagrin of my kids. It’s just seemed so decadent … and time-consuming.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that I live on a hill — a scary hill — that’s unlikely to convince any trick-or-treater to get closer to the Candy Mountain at the top of our driveway.

Halloween Driveway


BUT … all that effort for just a week or so of action? Not happening. No sooner would I put something up for Halloween than I would be taking it down again. (Or, just leaving it up all yearlong until Halloween returns 364 days later.) The holidays are so compressed as it is.

I mean, the moment Halloween is over, there’s that pressure to downshift to your standard fall decor of autumnal leaves and harvest themes. And then you have to quickly change gears mere moments after Thanksgiving in order to scramble to the top of your roof and install that damn inflatable Santa helicopter.

So, I’m always bemused by the level of effort retailers put forth in getting you to buy Halloween decor. It really has become the next big thing, and I’m continually shocked by how they pull out all of the stops for such a brief holiday.

When I toured West Elm the other day, I came across the most bewitching Halloween table.

West Elm

West Elm

I think I was most impressed with this place card holder.

West Elm

West Elm

“Wow … $69? Really?” I asked the sales associate who was trying to convince me that it could also double as a casual knick knack or candle holder (“or a broach … or a pterodactyl!” I felt compelled to add.)

Don’t get me wrong. I almost walked away with this handsome collection of plates (on sale for $27.99, but originally $40.)

West Elm X-Ray Plate Set

West Elm X-Ray Plate Set

Of course, why would you just stop at a set of four? They certainly are fun plates, but there really is no other time of year that you would use them. Maybe at Easter? Maybe perch a few Deviled eggs along that massively constrictive muscle?

But it begs the question: when did Halloween become such a holiday contender? Who’s responsible for this?

I vote for Martha. She is the goddess of all things holiday, after all. (I love you, Martha!!) And she’s probably spending literally thousands on just makeup alone on her spooky (and, sometimes, Marilyn Manson-esque) Halloween special publications.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

You go girl.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween is expected to be a $7.4 billion industry this year. In 2009, it was about $4.3 billion, (which was down from a previous high of $5.7 billion.)

More people — kids, adults and pets — are expected to buy costumes this year, the most in the survey’s 11-year history. This year, the average person is expected to spend more than $77 on Halloween on candy, costumes, decorations and parties. Last year, it was about $75 per person. (That still doesn’t seem to be close to what I would expect to spend. Did you see that little skull? So cute!!)

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Halloween falls on a Friday this year. And next year, whoa, it’ll be on a Saturday. Can you imagine what retail sales are going to look like? It’s as if the Castro District  and Martha Stewart are getting ready to have a baby.

And yet … it’s interesting to note that Halloween spending spiked in 2012 when it reached over $8 billion. Eight billion dollars!! And that year it occurred on a Wednesday! What’s happened since then?

So … mysterious. And I’m sure retailers were pulling their hair out. What do we do now?

Who knows. Yes, I’m sure I could go into minute detail on the subject and really research the hell out of this subject. (And, I haven’t even brought Ballard Designs and Firefly into the conversation.)

So if I’m still writing this blog next year I will. It’ll be an annual thing. But now it’s Thursday at 11:45pm. And I still have to work up the courage to play Tooth Fairy tonight.

In the meantime, I had to hold in my giggles when I walked through Pottery Barn today. Because, they really know how to take a theme and run it 6-feet under the ground.

Pottery Barn, $118

Pottery Barn

Yes, the Walking Dead Serve Bowl Stand is still holding out at $118 … on October 9. Shouldn’t something that’s only brought out once, maaaaaaybe twice a year, settle down around $30 right about now?

But, like the West Elm four-pack, I almost fell for the these beautifies. Well, maybe just one. Each … each glass … costs $24.50. Bat wings. Awesome! Can’t use it for any other moment in time except … that exceptional holiday … Halloween!!!

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn