Are You In the Mood for Halloween?

  • October 25, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

There is no denying it--the world is going a little bit crazy right now. Are you ready to take a break from the insanity and have a little bit of fun? (We are too.) In case it may have gotten a lost in the shuffle, we're here to remind you that there is a pretty awesome holiday coming up in the midst of all the news and worldly chaos. It's time to regroup and celebrate. Here are some great ways to get into the mood for Halloween!

Music: Have you made your Halloween playlist yet? Whether you are looking for your favorite Halloween-appropriate hits to rock your party, or just want some scary sounds to emanate from your front porch, there is nothing like some good old-fashioned Halloween music to set a spooky mood. Your favorite music app likely has already put together an epic Halloween music playlist--so crank the music up and get in the mood for a few Halloween scares!

Movies: Scary movies are fun year round, but let's face it, at Halloween time, thrilling movies are almost a necessity! The good news is that finding a film to scare the bejeezus out of you is pretty darn easy. Your local theater likely has a few doozies now playing, and there are plenty of classic scares available to rent or buy for a fantastic evening of popcorn-fueled, self-induced terror.

Food: Halloween and yummy foods go hand in hand, and it extends well beyond trick or treat candy. With literally thousands of Halloween and fall recipes flooding the Internet, it's very easy to find new culinary delights for your Halloween festivities or just some fun food ideas for your family to enjoy.

Ghost Stories: With so many haunted venues and movies in town at this time of the year, some of the more old fashioned types of scares may have become a lost art. Telling ghost stories in the dark is a time honored tradition that we think should be kept alive!

Halloween Attractions: You won't have to look very hard to find a Halloween-themed attraction in a neighborhood near you. Between haunted houses, haunted hayrides, spook alley's and the somewhat tamer pumpkin patches, if you are looking for something to do for Halloween, exciting and spooky fun is easy to find.

Pumpkin Carving: Pumpkin carving is one of the oldest Halloween rituals out there. Ancient Celtic people would carve lanterns out of turnips and pumpkins to scare away evil spirits that might be out and about on All Hallows Eve. You won't want to miss out on this perfect-for-Halloween activity. Pumpkin carving fun, and as far as Halloween decorations go, a carved Jack-o-Lantern is a Halloween must! Looking for something unique to carve? Look for some very unusual pumpkin varieties to carve including pumpkins with odd shapes, textures and out of the ordinary colors.

Costumes: It's Halloween, so you've got to dress up! There is simply no better way to get into the spirit of Halloween than by wearing a costume! Getting dressed up in a Halloween costume doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming. Halloween costumes offer the perfect opportunity to showcase a part of your personality that isn't always apparent in your everyday life. Get creative and don't forget to make it fun--that is the point.

Party: Throwing a Halloween party is a great way to combine some or all of the above elements of Halloween into one spectacular event. With Halloween food, music, fun, scares, costumes and friends together all in one night--really, what could be better?

Happy Halloween from your friends at Halloween Express!

Are You In the Mood for Halloween?

Tips for Creating an Insanely Awesome Halloween Costume

  • October 18, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

It's that time of the year again. Sometimes the biggest hurdle we face during the Halloween season is one that may surprise you but is surprisingly common. Each of us must ask ourselves-,"What do I want to be for Halloween?" It's a question that is not always so easily answered. Here are a few tips that will get the gears of ingenuity flowing making it easier to take your costume to the next level.

What character should you choose? Are you drawing a complete blank when it comes to possible costume character ideas? With literally thousands of potential costume choices out there, sometimes narrowing the choices down to one can be difficult. Sometimes even coming up with one character idea that fits your needs is a challenge. Start your list of potential costume ideas with characters that interest you. Your favorite television shows and movies are a great source of wonderful characters to dress up as for Halloween. Tabloid stars or pop culture icons are other favorite ideas for great Halloween costumes. Vintage or retro looks are extremely popular Halloween choices.

Get creative: If you have a particular character in mind but are worried that your choice feels a little blase or overdone, consider getting a little creative with your idea to make the character uniquely yours. For example, instead of a standard fare superhero or princess, you could take one of these classic looks and with a little makeup and fake blood, morph it into a zombie or vampire version of that very same character. Another smart idea is to put your character in a less than typical situation. For example, instead of just wearing that Superman shirt on its own, why not pop on a pair of thick black glasses and have that Superman getup peek out from underneath a Clark Kent-style white dress shirt? Thinking a little bit out of the box will take an ordinary costume and make it not only more unique but also will make the look uniquely yours.

Gender Swap: For a hilarious twist on a classic costume look, consider doing a complete gender swap by wearing a costume that is typically for the opposite sex. Imagine a burly man dressed up as a sweet and innocent Snow White? Dressing in a costume that is usually for the opposite sex doesn't always have to be silly, in fact, in some instances, it could even be quite empowering.

The Gang's All Here: Family or group costume themes have become more and more popular every year. If you are part of a posse, by all means, consider a group theme (and there are many) and dress up in coordinating characters. The great part about group costume ideas is that everyone can be their character while still being part of a group. When the characters coordinate and go together, this creates impact. Even babies and pets can get in on the action with costumes that go along with the chosen theme.

Details, Details, Details! One of the absolute best ways to set your costume apart from the rest is through accessories. We just can't emphasize this enough! Once you've decided on the character you want to be, put some thought into which accessories are going to be an integral part of your chosen look. Do you need a particular hairstyle that would benefit from a wig? Do you need a hat, jewelry, gloves, shoes or weapons? The right accessories, accouterments, and special pieces will add a lot of pizzazz to your chosen costume look.

Makeup: One of the most important ways to get into your character look is through costume makeup. Your face is always going to be the focal point of your look, no matter what costume you are wearing. Decide what makeup you will need and practice your makeup application before your Halloween event.

Comfort: Even the best costume ideas can be particularly disastrous if they are uncomfortable to wear to your event or while trick-or-treating. When planning your costume, consider the comfort of the elements your costume contains and how that translates to what you have planned for the evening. Six-inch stilettos may look beautiful, but if your night includes a lot of time on your feet, you may want to rethink them or bring along some alternative footwear for after the photos are taken.

Safety: Above all else, make sure your costume and all its components are safe. Make sure you can see well and that you don't have things dangling off your costume that might cause you to trip. Make sure any accessories that you have are free from sharp or pointy edges.

How to Apply Halloween Costume Makeup Like a Pro

  • October 18, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

We've all been there. It's Halloween night and there you are, staring at that palette of colorful Halloween makeup wondering, "Ok, now what?" Let's face it. Halloween makeup is a lot different than your everyday makeup. The consistency of the makeup is often very creamy and somewhat heavy. The colors are often extra bold and vibrant. The makeup can also smear very easily. Even the simplest makeup application can be complicated when even the smallest mistakes look super obvious. What's a novice to do? Here are some great Halloween makeup application tips that are sure to help remove much of the stress you might be feeling. From clowns and zombies to vampires and princesses, here are a few Halloween makeup tips that will make you feel like a pro!

Wear a Base: Even if you think you don't need to wear a foundation, chances are you do. Wearing a foundation will even out your skin tone for a more flawless finish. It will also ensure that all shading and contouring colors go on smoothly and evenly. For makeup looks that require your skin to be your natural skin tone, it's fine to use your everyday foundation. Costume makeup foundations come in a huge array of colors from white to black and virtually every color in between. The best way to apply your foundation is with a damp makeup sponge. The sponge will blend the makeup into your skin evenly for a virtually seamless application.

Your Makeup Goes Beyond Your Face: It's always a good idea to try on your costume before you begin your makeup application to see what other areas of your skin (besides your face) are going to need makeup. One of the hallmarks of an amateur is to apply makeup to the face only and forget about the neck, the chest, the ears and sometimes the hands. Think through your look and decide where you are going to need makeup that goes beyond your face.

Highlight and Contour: One of the most important ways to get a professional makeup look with costume makeup is to remember to contour and highlight your look. Even if you are painting your face one solid color (for example, green for a witch face) by adding shadows and highlights you are going to get a far more realistic look with much more dimension. Apply contours and shadows with a darker shade in the areas of the face that naturally recede. Contour areas of the face include the area under the cheekbones, around the hairline, the sides of the nose, under the lower lip, etc. Apply highlights by using a lighter shade of makeup. Highlighting will add emphasis to certain areas of the face. Apply highlight shades to the bridge of the nose, the center of the forehead, the cheekbones, and the chin. Gently blend the makeup colors for the most natural look.

Powder: When it comes to Halloween makeup, the importance of a good setting powder can't be emphasized enough! Without a setting powder, the creamy texture of most Halloween makeup will easily smear, smudge, or streak and then you will have a real mess on your hands. Setting powder will set the makeup and prevent most of these unfortunate makeup mishaps. The easiest way to apply setting powder is to use a large powder puff and press a generous amount of powder into the makeup. Any excess powder then can be dusted away with a powder brush.

The Eyes Have It: When planning your Halloween look, always remember that 99% of the time the eyes are the focal point of your look. Whatever you can do to create more emphasis, drama or highlighting in the eye area is a sure bet to kick your makeup look up a notch. Need some ideas? Obviously, it depends on the makeup look you are creating, but when it comes to the eyes, go big or go home. Don't forget your eyebrows and if applicable, by all means, wear a pair of false eyelashes.

Blood: Don't stop your makeup look with the makeup. When it comes to Halloween costume makeup, there is nothing like special effect makeup to add some drama. For many costume characters, fake blood is a fantastic tool to use to add a little realistic gore. Today's fake costume blood products come in many forms so you can get the look you want quickly and easily. Coagulated blood gel is thick and gooey and dabs on quickly and easily. Liquid fake blood will drip a little to give your wound a freshly injured look.

Remember to have fun and don't stress! By following a few of these great makeup application tips, your Halloween makeup look is sure to be elevated to the next level.

Need more ideas? Check out our huge library of Halloween how-to makeup videos.

Halloween Decorating: Use your Senses

  • October 16, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Guess what time it is? It's time to decorate your home for Halloween! If you haven't done so already (and we know many of you Halloween die-hards have) there is no time like the present to haul out your Halloween decor and start getting ready for the best holiday of the year! (In our humble opinion.) Does your Halloween stash need a little re-vamping? Are your Halloween decorations looking a little bit tired? Is something missing from your seasonal display but you just don't know what it is?

Halloween is probably the best holiday to engage all of the senses in your decorating strategy. Unlike other holidays that rely primarily on one or two of the senses to create a spectacular yard scene, Halloween brings with it the opportunity to utilize all of the human senses--sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Do you need a few ideas?

Sight: Sight is by far the easiest sense to engage in Halloween decorating. Virtually any piece of Halloween decor you use in your decorating will send a visual message. To maximize the impact of your Halloween decorations here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Know your audience. If at Halloween your neighborhood floods with very young children you may want to recognize that some of the more graphic or overly hideous items may frighten them. If you are decorating for a group that consists of grown-ups, most anything goes.

Set a theme. Transform your suburban home into a spooky graveyard or haunted cornfield, mad scientist lab or a creepy haunted house. Your decorations will have substantially more impact if they are part of a central theme.

Sound: Sound can be a very useful (and spooky) tool to engage in your Halloween decorating. Many modern Halloween decorations have clever designs with a motion activation features. Once motion is detected, the decoration will often go into action, making a wide variety of scary sounds. Bring frightening sounds into your Halloween decor with Halloween music or spooky sounding CDs. The simple addition of some scary music can dramatically affect the entire ambiance of your decorating.

Touch: One of the easiest ways to get a serious creepy crawly vibe into your Halloween decorating is by using some fake spider webs. Pull the fibers of the webbing into fragile, nearly invisible strands and place them strategically around your yard so that your visitors will walk through or into them without even realizing it, but when they do, they are sure to feel that unsettling feeling one gets when walking through a spider's web. Another way to utilize the touch sensation in your Halloween decor is by hanging decorations with soft fabric pieces that hang or drape so that they gently brush against your guests upon arrival.

Smell: The smells of Halloween may seem tricky to get into your decorating, but there are many ways to accomplish this depending on your goal. First of all, think about what smells you love the most about Halloween. Candles, pumpkin, cinnamon, dried leaves, chocolate, apples and campfire are some of the most pleasant smells associated with autumn. Some of you may be interested in recreating a scent that is more dank and wretched. Believe it or not, stinky smells (such as those you add to fog machines) are commercially available and are perfect for Halloween use.

Taste: Our personal favorite Halloween sense to tantalize has to be the sensation of taste. C'mon this one is easy! Halloween candy, savory fall foods, Halloween-themed sweets, cinnamon-y beverages--the list goes on and on. You will want to make sure and stockpile your home with all your favorite yummies for you, your guests as well as the trick or treaters.

Halloween is arguably fall's greatest celebration. Get ready for the good times this year by trying some Halloween decorating that just makes sense!

Pumpkin Q & A

  • October 04, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Come this time every year, local communities begin to take on a bit of an orange hue. It's the great pumpkin invasion! Grocery stores, local patches, farmer's markets, nurseries and garden shops are all beginning to fill up with large displays of the beloved seasonal fruit. Let's face it, we all love pumpkins. Not only are they the source of inspiration for so many seasonal treats, but also as one of the primary symbols of Halloween, their arrival in a town near you can only mean one thing. Halloween is just around the corner! Today we are going to address a little pumpkin protocol and answer some of those pressing questions you may have about pumpkins!

If I buy my pumpkin now, will it last until Halloween? In mild weather conditions a healthy pumpkin will easily last uncarved for a couple of months! This means if you want to buy your Halloween pumpkins now and leave them on your porch as a decoration, by all means do it!

What are some tips for selecting the best pumpkins possible? Look for a healthy pumpkin. Make sure the stem is fully intact and that the flesh of the pumpkin is nice and firm, with no soft spots. If you eventually will carve your blessed gourd, make sure it sits nice and flat and that it has an appropriate side for cutting. Sometimes flaws in the flesh add to the character of your Jack-o-Lantern. Just be certain that any flaws you see now are not indicators of early rotting or the demise of your orange wonder.

Once I carve my pumpkin, how long will it last? Sadly, once carved, your pumpkin will not last very long. There are a few variables that come into play when it comes to Jack-o-Lantern longevity, such as weather conditions and the general health of the pumpkin. Although deterioration begins immediately upon carving, you can delay or slow down this process by trying a few things. Some folks rub the cut edges of their pumpkin with Vaseline. If you've carved your pumpkin in advance of Halloween, you can also try soaking the Jack-o-Lantern in cold water overnight. This may slow the rotting process, keeping your creation fresh a little bit longer. Another method is to add 1 t. of bleach to the cold-water soak to help with the preservation process. Commercially available pumpkin preservatives will also delay pumpkin rot.

Besides orange, what other colors of pumpkins are out there? It may surprise you to know that pumpkins are not just orange. Perhaps you have seen white pumpkins in your local store. There are also varieties of pumpkins that are blue, green, yellow and red.

Can I eat my Jack-o-Lantern? In some instances, you probably could eat it, but it may not taste very good and generally speaking it's probably not a great idea to eat the pumpkin you've carved for Halloween. Most of the pumpkin varieties that are used for Jack-o-Lantern carving taste a little bland and tend to be quite watery once cooked. . Additionally, carved pumpkins deteriorate and begin to rot quickly. If you want to cook with a carved pumpkin, do it while it is still fresh! If you want to make a pie or other pumpkin-flavored culinary delight, (and still have good results) you may want to use a sweet pumpkin or pie pumpkin. These are usually very small round pumpkins that are sold specifically for cooking purposes rather than just for carving. Cooking a Jack-o-Lantern that has been sitting out for any period of time may not be a good idea, either. Carved pumpkins deteriorate and begin to spoil rather quickly.

How do I cook pumpkin for eating? Pumpkins can be steamed, baked, boiled or cooked in the microwave oven. Remove the stem. Remove the seeds and the pulp within the pumpkin. Wash and save the pumpkin seeds if you plan on roasting them. Scrape the sides of the pumpkin so that the stringy stuff is completely removed. Cut the pumpkin into pieces. Roast in the oven, skin down, until the pumpkin is very tender. If you are boiling or steaming the pumpkin, cook the pumpkin until tender. In the microwave, place the pumpkin skin side down and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave pieces until tender, rotating as necessary. Once the pumpkin pieces are cooked to tender, allow them to cool until easy enough to handle. Scrape or cut the pumpkin from the skin. The easiest way to make a pumpkin puree is to use a food processor, but a potato masher will also work, you are just going to have to utilize a bit more elbow grease! That's it! Use your pumpkin puree at this point as you would a canned pumpkin product in all your favorite recipes.