There are certain classic activities we associate with Halloween: carving jack-o-lanterns, watching horror movies, making costumes, and of course, getting into a sheet with too many holes cut into it and having your cruel neighbors put rocks in your trick-or-treat bag. Not to complain; these are traditions for a reason, and can be a lot of fun! Sometimes, though, you want to mix things up and see what other fun you can get out of Halloween. As an absolute Halloween freak and internet beachcomber, I’ve pulled together some more obscure (but no less fun) ideas for how to spend your October.
The Homunculus Nightmare Scavenger Hunt
In folklore and mythology, monsters often have a special fear or weakness that would get them to leave you alone. Jonathan Wojcik of Bogleech took that premise, mixed in a little Silent Hill, a little Pokemon, and came up with a multiple-phase scavenger hunt he calls “Homunculus Nightmare”. Basically, you print out the gross, creepy, amusing creatures he’s designed, and you expose them to their greatest fear, taking a picture as proof. You can compete with yourself, with friends, or with the internet if you want to have a shot at the promised grotesque trophy. This is a great one to mix into your social media too.
You can take a look at the first wave here, the second wave here, and the third wave here. Keep checking the site if you want to keep joining in on successive waves. The last is going to be released on Halloween day! It’s also worth noting that Bogleech runs a fantastic Halloween blog, and has a creepy, wonderful Halloween-appropriate webcomic.
Ouija boards get a lot of Halloween love, but what about that other great psychic playground that is Tarot cards? There are many, many sets of Tarot cards commercially available, and there are a host of styles for every taste. You can learn how to read cards online quite easily, on sites like this one. Most sets also come with a book that teaches Tarot basics, too. Sure, it takes a little more effort to get going, but the payoff is usually better than waiting 10 minutes for a ghost to learn how to spell.
What’s nice about Tarot is that, even if you don’t buy into the mysticism, as I don’t, it’s still a lot of fun to see your life through the lens of the cards. It can actually help you figure out problems, or make decisions you’re not sure about, by offering a new and interesting perspective you may not have thought of through more logical means. There are plenty of different ways to read the cards, and you can do it alone or with friends, so there’s a lot of variety to be had once you get the card meanings down!
The Halloween Mood Table
Every year, I build something called the Halloween Mood Table, which you can see above. Invented by master of the mundane, Matt of Dinosaur Dracula, the Mood Table is more than just a pile of Halloween decorations. It is a shrine devoted to the very spirit of Halloween, and what it means to you! There are some great suggestions for your first time out, if you feel intimidated:
- Include not just things to look at, but things to do! Movies to watch, books to read, music to listen to! Whenever your Halloween spirit is ebbing low, these pick-me-ups can help get you back into the season.
- Make sure there’s candy. It’s just not Halloween without candy, and since most of us won’t get anything but dirty looks from trick-or-treating anymore, we’lll just have to provide for ourselves. Look at it this way: at least mom can’t tell us to just eat 2 pieces and save the rest for later!
- Moody illumination is key, whether it be colored light, glow-in-the-dark toys, or candles. It really ties the crazy mix of objects together somehow, and makes the whole table come to life at night.
What makes the Halloween Mood Table special is the way it opens up Halloween decorating to those who might not normally participate. Don’t have a lot of decorations? The Table is perfect, as it lets you consolidate the few you have and make them look really special! Don’t have a lot of time? The Table is a focused hour’s commitment but has the power of an entire weekend’s worth of decorating. Decorations feel bland and worn out to you? Assembling them in this new way breathes life into them! It’s a weird idea, but I urge you to give it a try, and there are more examples on Instagram and Tumblr.
Building an Aurora Monster Model
Some of us just aren’t cut out for gourd carving. No matter what tools are presented to us, we end up mangling even the most basic jack-o-lantern patterns. It’s not right, dammit! There’s got to be a Halloween craft project for us. Fortunately, the answer comes in a bunch of 50-year-old toys. Back in 1961, Aurora Plastics brought a model kit to market that, at the time, was something of a risk. Up to that point, making detailed depictions of movie characters was a rare pursuit for toy companies. With the onset of innovations in plastics, though, came a desire to experiment, and the Frankenstein model kit was unleashed on the public. Kids of the time ate it up, and dozens more like The Wolf Man, Godzilla, and The Bride of Frankenstein followed. One of the most distinctive things about the kits was the beautiful and colorful box art painted lovingly by artist James Bama. The Aurora monster models were really the beginning of the beautifully sculpted and packaged toys and statues that fuel the collector’s market today!
At this point, you might be wondering if I’m expecting you to track down a bunch of very expensive vintage toys. Not quite! The Aurora kits are some of the most enduring toys of all time, and have been re-released over and over again throughout the decades. What’s more, companies like Moebius and Monarch have taken up where Aurora left off, and brought a bunch of great new kits to market. Assembling and painting these kits can be a fun, meditative experience, and when you’re done, you end up with a display piece you can be proud of! Still, this is one activity you’ll want to do your research on. A few easy painting tips can make a big difference.
Got any other suggestions for a fun Halloween? Put them in the comments!
Featured image credit: Universal Pictures/Moebius Models