This year my husband won't be doing an elaborately carved pumpkin, though the door of his office at the college celebrates the holiday in special fashion with one of his signature rats.
My daughters have always gotten into Halloween. I'm not clever at all and I'm cheap, so they had to make their own costumes. They still do. Brilliantly. Here's them a few years ago, doing me proud. I crack up every time I look at this photo.
This year Daughter #1 is dressing up as her cat. (See photo at the end of this post.)
So what goes on with the rest of you at Halloween?
LUCY BURDETTE: Well, okay, we are in Key West for Halloween, and that means a week called Fantasy Fest, leading up to the big parade on Saturday. The week starts out with an unofficial event called the zombie bike ride. (I wrote about all this in KILLER TAKEOUT, which was loads of fun. John and I commissioned a professional face painter to do our zombie looks. )
THEN, as the week goes on, the costumes get raunchier and skimpier. As I was doing research, I persuaded the boys to participate in nearly everything, including the tutu party.
The Key West locals parade is on Friday night, and the creativity for that event is stunning!
There are several blocks on Duval Street, designated as the "fantasy zone," and that's where the dearth of costumes other than body paint becomes notable. (I will not share those photos, but you can Google.)
I have always loved costumes and hence, Halloween, but I never imagined living in a place where costumes rule!
RHYS BOWEN: Not having grown up with Halloween I have never seen it as the big deal that my children and grandchildren have made it. In fact my first year in the US there was a knock on my door and a child in cat costume stood there. Trick or Treat she said. I had no idea what she meant! And of course I had no candy to give her.
I used to love dressing up. Now it seems like a chore.
We're going to a Halloween party and as I write this I'm trying to come up with clever costumes that take no work. I'm thinking of a black veil over a long black dress and a picture of Oprah Winfrey tacked to it. I'll be the Phantom of the Oprah. What do you think? And John can wear his usual suit with the letter C on it and be The Old Man and the C.
Any better ideas?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Rhys! You are hilarious. Perfection. Jonathan and I--see here? Went a few years ago as the Arcs: Joan, and Noah.
And funnily enough, I was reading an old diary from seriously, more than 30 years ago. In it, I was swooning over a guy I had met at a Halloween costume party. Will he call, won't he, all that stuff. I was--35 maybe. Very very single. And here's the BEST and purest diary line of all times, seriously. I wrote:
"And how can I even be sure what he thinks? He's only seen me dressed as a teabag."Honestly, I can barely type now, I am laughing so hard at that. I was being completely and totally serious.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hank, that is the most hilarious line ever. Honestly, you could build an entire BRIDGET JONES-style novel around that one sentence (and of course, she has a costume disaster, when she shows up to a garden fete mistakenly dressed for a "Tarts and Vicars" party.)
We live out in the country, and Halloween is so low key we've taken to leaving a big bowl of candy on the front porch - and there's always plenty left by the end of the night. There are a limited number of children around, and only the youngest go house-to-house in our area. Once they reach the age when they start calculating how much candy they could be getting, they're off to the suburbs or to Portland.
Hank, I too met a young man on Halloween, when I was at school in London. Not having packed any costume material when shipping a wardrobe overseas for seven months, my best friend and I rented outfits from a Fancy Dress Shop. First and only time I haven't made my own. Anyway, I went as a sort of Gay 90s Burlesque girl - satin corset with velvet drapery fore and aft, fishnet tights with a garter, and some sort of plume thing in my hair.
HALLIE: JULIA, WE WANT PICTURES!!
JULIA: We went to our local pub and then on to three different parties, and I got more male attention that night than I ever have before or since! I chatted with and made a date with one nice fellow I met at a party. I think he was horribly disappointed when I turned up for dinner in my usual garb of frill-necked shirt, sweater, and Laura Ashley skirt (it was 1982, and every girl dressed either like Diana Spencer or Madonna.) Maybe if I had been in a tea bag, he would have had different expectations.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: You are all so cute! (And Rhys, you are hysterical...) Now I'm embarrassed to admit that I am a total bust at Halloween. My mom didn't do costumes, and I just never got the hang of it. My daughter learned pretty early to cope on her own. But I love seeing the little ones in their costumes. We don't get many trick-or-treaters, but I like to sit on the front porch with a bowl of candy during the prime time to welcome the few who come by.
But this year I'm in London, and am going to my friend's house in Chiswick (west London.) They have hundreds of trick-or-treaters! Halloween has taken over the UK. And there are Halloween-themed decorations everywhere here.
Back at home, Wren is getting off to a good start in her first Halloween costume!
HALLIE: Please, share your Halloween traditions! And if you email me a picture, I'll add it to the post.
To get us started, here's my daughter as her cat.... Is she adorable or what?
Thanks for this, from Edith Maxwell: "For many years my best friend and I dressed up in complementary costumes for Halloween, often with face masks. We'd go together to parties and not speak to try to fool our friends. Here's one from the early eighties." I think everyone will agree, these are two scary babes.
And here's Denise Terry, who says: "A few years ago I went to a Cape Cod Writers Center event in this costume which not one person could identify! Gertrude Stein!!" We would have guessed it. Thanks, Denise! (Her tag says: Rose is a rose is a rose)