Make Halloween decorations more fun than scary, experts say

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published October 21, 2015


METRO DETROIT — The Halloween holiday is notorious for people of all ages who enjoy taking on the persona of someone or something else.

With an ever-present eeriness always associated with Oct. 31, it’s the time of year when ghouls and goblins are welcome with open arms.

Kids trick-or-treat across American neighborhoods, receiving candy and other delights from relative strangers. Adults also get involved in the festivities, using the day as an excuse to go back to yesteryear and relive childhood memories.

Some experts in the design industry, however, believe that Halloween is best celebrated with levity and not with overwhelming amounts of fright.

Corie Conroy, president of First Impression Home Staging and Interior Design LLC in Bloomfield Hills, said standard Halloween décor can never go wrong. But she added that there should be a limit as to how frightening decorations should be, inside or outside the home.

“It’s important to keep it fun: to have some sense of spookiness but also make it silly at the same time,” Conroy said.

She said having seasonal flowers, like mums, accentuates the outside of a home, while taking on a do-it-yourself, or DIY, model can elevate mood and creativity. Rather than just carve pumpkins the age-old way, paint them in different motifs or create silhouettes on the outside of them using attached lighting.

The usual decorations never grow out of style either, she said, referring to fake spiders, caskets and ghosts. Even pumpkins are still as popular as they ever were.

“Carving pumpkins is still really popular, and they’ve become a lot more ornate,” Conroy said.

Denyse Tzavellas, interior designer at Denyse & Co. in Grosse Pointe Woods, also supported the DIY theme in what she called “the biggest decorating event of the year.”

Tzavellas said the outside of a home should invoke a sense of excitement, which can be accomplished by a simple trip to the dollar store to both save money and offer different forms of inspiration.

She is a fan of the festive and not the frightening, saying music playing outdoors gets both the homeowners and visitors in the proper mood. She said homeowners can insert battery candles in little orange bags, then line them up along a walkway from the front of the house to the porch.

And rather than use complicated materials to emulate spider webs, it’s easier to buy spray or use netting for easy assembly and disassembly.

With many youngsters trotting up and down residences in the dusk, an integral part of the decoration process is to make sure children — or their guardians — are not put at risk due to the décor.

Conroy said that when homeowners pick up miscellaneous toys and stabilize lawn decorations and electrical cords, it eliminates hazards in the safety realm. She recommended using some kind of LED lighting to be both creative and offer people some sort of illumination when vision is not 100 percent.

As for the events inside a home, Conroy said color and texture make things stand out.

For kids’ parties, textured food that looks like something spooky — such as hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls to look like fingers — and photocopied pictures with red lighting for the eyes can increase the Halloween effect. Using dyed Elmer’s Glue to add handprints to windows, or cutting out images in construction paper and hanging them up on walls, can spruce up an interior.

“There’s a lot of things you can do on your own with creative ideas,” Conroy said, adding that the Internet possesses a wealth of information — such as the HGTV website or Pinterest.

Tzavellas said little things like adding dry ice to adult beverages can mimic potions, or putting a fake tarantula by the bathroom sink can amp up the adrenaline of unsuspecting party guests.

“It’s great to have the bells and whistles with the plates and cups and napkins,” Tzavellas said. “It’s all relevant to what people can spend, and you’re kind of going back to your youth a little bit and letting your hair down.”