The Ultimate Christmas Gift--Halloween Express Style

  • December 01, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell

Have you had a chance to look through “The Christmas Book” annually put out for the holidays by Neiman Marcus?  Admittedly, I can afford precious little in the entire lovely luxe catalog, but nonetheless, it’s fun to peruse, if for no other reason than to see how the other half lives, or to think about what spoiled rich kids might find under their Christmas trees.  Presenting what could arguably the ultimate selection when it comes to uber materialistic Christmas gift ideas, Neiman Marcus has been publishing this annual fantasy gift catalog since 1939.  You can buy a subscription to the famous catalog, but it will set you back fifteen bucks, or you can do as cheapy yours truly did and looked at it for free online.  Like every other year, this year’s catalog is loaded with jaw-dropping stuff that would likely leave even Santa Claus simply aghast.  For example, would you like to jump on a slick ride and take a 2-day motorcycle trip with Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger?  Plunk down a mere 150K and the trip is yours.  An extravagant trip to Italy is also available for a chump 150K, and a Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Mustang can sparkle in your driveway for an almost budget-conscious 95K.

All these gifts do sound pretty amazing--but alas, barring some major Christmas magic, they won’t be happening anywhere near my house.  I was intrigued, however, to see what Neiman Marcus had for this year’s his and her’s gift choices.  This is where things got a little bit interesting. 

At Neiman Marcus, this year’s his and her’s fantasy gift choices gear themselves toward youngsters.  The gift is your choice of an elaborately decorated and personalized trunk, filled with every kid’s favorite Christmas surprise ever--costumes of course!  The boy’s version of the costume trunk includes five Marvel Superhero costumes.  Spiderman, Thor, Starlord, Captain America and The Hulk.  The little girls costume trunk includes costume character dresses and accessories to dress up as Elsa of Disney’s Frozen, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Sophia the First, and Cinderella.  Each trunk, filled with the above costumes, will cost you…(get ready and don’t choke!)…five thousand bucks!  

Are you thinking what I am thinking?? 

I’ve done the math in my head, folks, and it would take one heckuva elaborate trunk to justify laying down that many greenbacks for a dress up box.  Trust me--no kid cares about the actual trunk--it’s what is in it that counts.  What does this mean for you my dear costume loving friends?  It means that you can gift-give like the rich and famous--without the five thousand dollar price tag.  It’s just a matter of knowing where to shop!  (At Halloween Express, of course!) I’m pretty sure there are plenty of creative ways to decorate a box, bin, or yes even a trunk to hold a wide selection of truly awesome costumes, accessories and assorted gear that your kids are going to love.  Don’t be surprised if this costume box turns out to be the gift that your kids love best.  Dress up is great fun for hours of imaginative fun and entertainment--plus if you have a few different costume styles in your box, your kids can invite over all their friends for what is likely to be the ultimate play date.  No need to have Neiman Marcus decide which costume characters best fits your child’s personality, either.  Handpicking what goes inside your costume box is all part of the fun.

Happy (and smart) holiday shopping from your friends at Halloween Express! 

The Ultimate Christmas Gift--Halloween Express Style

Black Friday: What it Means To You

  • November 27, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell
Black Friday

The annual Thanksgiving Dinner has barely finished when suddenly a significant mind shift begins to occur. Before the turkey leftovers get put away, many folks are already thinking about holiday shopping!  Black Friday has become a post-Thanksgiving holiday ritual, and although this traditional day of shopping is not an officially sanctioned holiday, perhaps it should be.  And why not?  Many people already have the Friday following Thanksgiving off, so why not spend the day along with throngs of shoppers that will be lining up at local retailers? Yes, some will choose instead to stay home and lounge around the house in a tryptophan-induced food coma; but millions of others will be making their shopping lists and checking them twice.  Black Friday means that there are deals aplenty for the taking, and savvy retailers have made these sales and discounts so appealing to the masses that they are simply hard, if not impossible, to resist. 

Why is Black Friday called “Black” Friday?  There are several reasons why Black Friday may have its name and none of them are quite as ominous as the moniker may imply.  The name Black Friday has been around since the sixties.  Some assume that the name pays homage to the day retailers go from having their sales figures go from being in the red to being in the black. Others theorize that because of historic record crowds, traffic jams and people virtually everywhere on this popular shopping day, those who have to deal with the hubbub and hassles named it appropriately “Black Friday”.  No matter where the name came from, you can be sure of one thing.  Black Friday will mean sales, promotions, doorbusters, early bird specials and more.  If you are a shopper (and even if you aren’t) Black Friday is a day for the more resilient amongst us to score some major deals.  The downside?  You may lose a little sleep, and more likely than not, you are going to have a lot of company. 

Each year, retailers have gotten more and more aggressive with their Black Friday specials.  Some retailers will be open for business as early as Thanksgiving Day. Other stores will open at various early hours on Friday after Thanksgiving, enticing customers into their stores with special discounts that only apply to the wee hours of business.  Brave (and weary) shoppers have been known to line up outside of stores to be the first inside to snatch up the doorbuster promotions. 

Where will you be on Black Friday?  The best news ever may be that you do not have to deal with traffic jams, crowds, or even lines to score some pretty amazing Black Friday deals.  As a matter of fact, some of the smartest Black Friday shoppers of all may be sitting pajama-clad, eating a turkey sandwich in front of the computer clicking their way to some pretty epic holiday specials.

Black Friday means deals and deep discounts on many holiday gift items, including electronics, toys, clothing and much, much more.  If you decide to brave the crowds, you will not be alone.  If you decide to stay home instead--never fear. Cyber Monday is just around the corner. 

Black Friday:  What it Means To You

Feast Your Eyes on This: Thanksgiving Facts That May Surprise You

  • November 17, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell
Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday based on longstanding tradition, right?  We eat the same foods, we gather with our friends and family, and we give thanks.  Some of the truth about Thanksgiving, however, may come as a bit of a surprise to you.  The facts show that much of Thanksgiving tradition has nothing to do with the original Thanksgiving at all, and some of what you’ve been assuming about both pilgrims and popular Thanksgiving fare might turn out to be just a bunch of turkey.

Everything we know about Thanksgiving comes from two short paragraphs.  The first stanza was part of a letter written by Edward Winslow to a friend back in the year 1621.  In this letter, Edward described the first Thanksgiving in this way:

"our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

William Bradford, in “Of Plymouth Plantation” wrote the following:

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

That’s pretty much it--most everything else we know about the original Thanksgiving has probably been made up, theorized or intelligently deduced. 

At the first Thanksgiving, there was no turkey, cranberry sauce or even pumpkin pie.  The first Thanksgiving celebration fare likely consisted of venison, wild fowl, cod, bass, and corn.

So, where did we the specific menu ideas for a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey dinner?  To get to the source of Thanksgiving’s most popular food items, you have to go back to the woman who may be responsible for the Thanksgiving holiday in the first place.  Back in the 1800’s, a woman named Sarah Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a holiday.  This campaign would end up spanning nearly twenty years.  It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln was President that she finally got someone to pay any attention to her appeals.  Sarah Hale was able to convince President Lincoln that the Thanksgiving holiday was just what the nation needed to heal as the Civil War was coming to an end.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as the new national Thanksgiving holiday.  As part of Sarah Hale’s efforts to promote Thanksgiving, she published many editorials that were widely distributed.  These articles contained suggestions and ideas for potential Thanksgiving holiday recipes.  Amongst Sarah’s food ideas were Turkey and Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, Cranberry Sauce, Sweet Potatoes and Mashed Potatoes! 

Did you know that FDR once changed the date of Thanksgiving?  Back in 1939-1941, to extend the holiday shopping period that follows Thanksgiving, Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the second to the last Thursday in November.  Unfortunately, this change caused a lot of confusion nationwide, and many states simply refused to cooperate with the change.  Finally, after Congress got involved in 1941, Thanksgiving was officially pronounced to be set on the fourth Thursday of November, which sometimes falls on the last Thursday of the month, other times on the second to the last Thursday of the month.

Did you know that only half the passengers on the Mayflower were pilgrims?  The other half of the people on board were just strangers catching a ride to the new world.

And just a little bit about that Thanksgiving turkey….

Did you know that turkeys are specifically bred so that they will have huge breasts?  This is because most people prefer the white meat of the turkey.  The problem with these huge turkey breasts is that they get in the way of the natural breeding process.  Thus, most modern hatcheries now use artificial insemination to fertilize the eggs of domestic turkeys.

91% of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving, with over 280 million turkeys being sold just for the Thanksgiving holiday! 

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Feast Your Eyes on This:  Thanksgiving Facts That May Surprise You

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Have Served

  • November 11, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell

It’s that time of the year when our focus begins to change.  Halloween is over, and already many retailers are focusing on the upcoming holiday season.  In spite of all that is happening, let us not forget that Veterans Day is November 11.  This is an important day to remember as we honor those who have served our country.  Here is everything you need to know about this important day of remembrance! 

  • Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day.  Armistice Day was a day set aside to recognize only those that had served during WWII.  In June of 1954, the U.S. changed the name of this holiday to Veterans Day and expanded it to remember all those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. 
  • Veterans Day is a Federal as well as State holiday.
  • Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe in its name although this is a very common spelling error.  In plain English, the holiday does not belong to the Veterans, but is a holiday set aside to honor them.  Thus, the correct spelling is Veterans, not Veteran’s.  
  • Veterans Day is officially commemorated on November 11.  This date recognizes the actual moment when Germany signed an armistice, a treaty with the Allied Nations that would halt the war hostilities of WWII.  This armistice was signed precisely on the 11th month on the 11th day during the 11th hour.  This year, Veterans Day falls on a Wednesday, meaning many banks, post offices, and schools will be closed on that day.
  • Veterans Day is frequently confused with Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is a holiday in which we remember those who died while serving in the Armed Forces.  Veterans Day honors all those who served in the armed forces.  Veterans Day is the perfect time to honor those still living that served our country.
  • Currently, there are about 19.6 million living veterans in the United States.  Over 1.5 million of these vets are women.
  • 400,000 members of the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces died during WWII.
  • 71% of Veterans vote on Election Day!  Less than 60% of the general population will cast their vote during any given election. 
  • 3.6 million Veterans suffer from a disability associated with their military service. 

Take a moment out of your day this Wednesday to thank the Veterans that you know for their courage and their service.  Your words of gratitude are sure to make their day!  Happy Veterans Day from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Honoring Movember: Remembering The World’s Most Epic Facial Hair

  • November 09, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell
Honoring Movember

Move over October because it’s time to make room for Movember, the month where many men say sayonara to shaving.  Movember, Grovember or in some circles no-shave November, all mean basically the same thing.  Men will stop shaving to promote a good cause--to bring awareness to men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer.  In honor of what may turn out to be somewhat of a hairy month, we’d like to remember a few of our favorite (and most legendary) facial hair looks. 

Abe Lincoln-Legend states that Honest Abe’s grew his famous chin curtain upon the request of an 11-year-old girl who wrote him a letter imploring him to grow some facial hair while he was running for President of the United States.  Little Grace Bedell of New York felt Mr. Lincoln’s slender face would look a great deal better with some whiskers.  We concur! 

Charlie Chaplin-The Toothbrush Mustache was an essential part of the trademark look of Charlie Chaplin.  This style of mustache became very popular at the end of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century.  Adolf Hitler was also a fan of this style of facial hair growth.

Elvis Presley-In addition to being one of the most influential musical performers of all time, Elvis also had some pretty memorable facial hair as part of his signature style.  Elvis’ legendary muttonchops helped to shape his unique image as the King of Rock and Roll.

ZZ Top-Many musicians have gained infamy for their facial hair.  ZZ Top (Billy Gibson and Dusty Hill) have been sporting chest-length beards since the seventies.  (Isn’t that the definition of a sharp dressed man?)

Tom Selleck-Considered an eighties icon, Tom Selleck, set the bar in his day for all handsome, mustachioed men. 

Hulk Hogan-Hulk Hogan is one of the most well-known wearers of the horseshoe mustache.  The horseshoe mustache is a thick mustache that begins under the nose, with downward growing extensions that extend down past the sides of the lips and then grows down past the mouth and jawline.  When fully grown in, the mustache looks like a (duh) horseshoe! 

The Wolverine-Just like Elvis but with a bit more attitude, the Wolverine sports his gnarly, yet mean muttonchops with true ferocity, making him arguably one of the best of the X-men. 

Salvador Dali-Some might call Salvador Dali’s mustache another one of his famous works of art.  His mustache may be one of the most famous of all the ‘staches in the world!  Dali's crafted his memorable mustache after the look of 17th-century painter Diego Velasquez. Apparently Dali took his mustache as seriously as his craft. 

Wyatt Earp-Known as one of the most legendary lawmen of the Wild West, Wyatt Earp is also remembered for his impressive handlebar mustache--called such because of its similarity in shape to the handlebars of a bicycle.  The handlebar mustache in many ways, defines the facial hair popularized during this particular era in history.

Fu Manchu-The Fu Manchu mustache gets its name from its most infamous wearer, Dr. Fu Manchu, of course. This unique style of facial hair growth originates near the corners of the mouth, growing downward past the lips into two long strips of hair that often extend past the jaw line.

Whether you are participating in Movember or not--and no matter what your facial hair, costume or costume accessory needs may be, Halloween Express has the best selection you will find anywhere.  Happy Movember from your friends at Halloween Express!  We hope you will support a mustache or beard near you.

Honoring Movember:  Remembering The World’s Most Epic Facial Hair

Halloween: The Aftermath

  • November 04, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell
Halloween is Over

After months of waiting, Halloween has come and gone.  Now we must face the aftermath, affectionately known as the day AFTER Halloween. The day after Halloween often looks something like this--streets littered with candy wrappers and broken pieces of pumpkin--tattered remnants of a night well had, and perhaps a bit of pumpkin warfare and rebellious mischief.   Kids bedrooms strewn with costume accessories, candy wrappers and candy itself.  Adults may be hung over, and the kids are likely suffering from a hangover version of their own, brought on by sugar overload and intense candy consumption.  Yes, the day after Halloween has its own punishments and rewards.  Here are a few tips to help you deal with any post-Halloween horror.

Recycle that Jack:  Believe it or not, there are many clever uses for smilin’ Jack even after he’s finished lighting up your stoop on Halloween night.  For starters, we hoped you saved his innards (pumpkin seeds) for roasting.  Roasted pumpkin seeds are both healthy and delicious.  Jack himself makes for fabulous compost, or you can use him as a pumpkin planter.  You can also try turning your carved pumpkin into a useful pumpkin bird feeder. Some folks enjoy using their carved up Jack as part of a good ole’ fashioned pumpkin catapult.  Done with care and proper supervision, pumpkin chucking is great fun for the entire family.

Detox:  Halloween probably isn’t the healthiest of holidays, and many of us will overindulge in sweets and alcohol.  The day after Halloween is a great time to give your body a break and to detox!  Drinking lots of water, exercising (to sweat it out) and eating healthy foods are all smart strategies to get back on track.

Donate:  Once Halloween is over you may find yourself with more candy than is humanly practical to consume or you may have candy varieties that you or your kids just don’t like.  You may also have costumes that will never fit your child next year.  Donating extra candy or costumes is a practical solution that will benefit others while clearing your home of things you can’t use or don’t need.  Many communities collect excess candy to send to our military troops or local charities.  Google a resource that is convenient to you!  Costumes that you don’t need are always welcome donations.  Charitable organizations like WEENDREAM are a great way to put those gently used costumes to good use.

Candy Games:  Did you know that Halloween candy has a potential educational purpose?  Halloween candy is a great tool for post-Halloween playtime.  Teach your kids to sort their candy by color or type or smallest to largest.  Have your kids make a rainbow out of their candy.  Have your kids sort their candy from most favorites to least favorites.  (Consider giving the latter candy varieties away.)

Halloween Keepsakes:  Now is the time to preserve those wonderful Halloween memories that you have made for a lifetime.  Take your Halloween photos and put them into a special album!  Halloween costumes along with all those great Halloween decorations have obviously made for some very memorable photo ops with fun memories you will want to preserve. And if you're into costume contests, you might want to check out this DIY Costume Contest.

Shop:  Believe it or not, as soon as Halloween is over, many retailers are thinking about Christmas.  Expect to find Black-Friday-like bargains in stores soon.  Why not shop now and beat the holiday rush?  Additionally, expect to find epic deals on any Halloween merchandise that is remaining at your local stores, as retailers will be very anxious to clear their shelves to make room for holiday merchandise.

Party On:  Can’t get enough celebrating?  Well, lucky for you, even after Halloween is over, there are plenty of plenty of other ways to party on.  Many cultures commemorate Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) or All Saints Day--why shouldn’t you? If you want to keep on celebrating, it shouldn’t be too hard to find good reason!

Halloween:  The Aftermath