Maya’s almost at the end of her second month of Kindergarten. Going on eight tiring weeks of long, 7 hour days, but we’re finally getting into a routine! A couple of people have asked me if she even plays on the backyard playset anymore. The answer is simple… YES! It’s usually the first place she runs to once she steps off the school bus, shedding her backpack and jacket somewhere along the way.
I can see why Maya and her friends RUN to play in the backyard after school. I recently found out that sometimes they only get 10 minutes of recess time at school! Also, if the weather is even a LITTLE bit iffy – it might rain, it’s too cold, etc. – they don’t get outdoor recess AT ALL! Disappointing, to say the least, and a big shock to a little girl that was used to playing outside for hours each day, even in the winter! All the more unfortunate is the fact that these kids don’t even have PE regularly. Sometimes 2 days a week, but normally one. On weeks where there’s a holiday, such as Columbus Day earlier this month, Maya may not have PE at all for a week straight. Crazy!
Now that I’ve gone off on a rant tangent, let’s get back to playing on the playset. It’s clearly the centerpiece of our backyard, so I’m going to put a special focus on it this Halloween, as we’re hosting the annual neighborhood Halloween parade and after-party on Sunday. It’s the third time we host, so I know what I’m getting myself into! I love seeing so many adorable kids take over my yard. It makes the setup and cleanup totally worth it.
Backyard Discovery, the manufacturer of our playset, kindly sent me a big basket of goodies to help us turn our beautiful wooden playset into a spooky haunted house… including an eerie glow in the dark skeleton, 100 feet of ghostly garland, orange LED lights, colorful spider rings, hair-raising rubber bats, super giant spider webs, a pumpkin carving kit, bright orange treat bags, and a bunch of foam masks for the kids to disguise themselves with: a devil, mummy, frankenstein, jack ‘o lantern, skeleton, werewolf, dracula, black cat, witch, bat, and a ghost. All this inside a big orange plastic bucket that can double as a cooler for drinks when I fill it with ice. Isn’t it great?
While I now have an ample supply of decorations, I’m still thinking of adding a few more terrifying touches to our backyard. Okay, maybe not terrifying, but I can only think of so many synonyms for spooky, ya know? Our budget is minimal, so I have to get creative… and when you’re going to have potentially 100 or so kids running around your backyard, buying expensive decorations is definitely not a priority anyway! I’m still brainstorming – last minute, as always – but these are some of my ideas. I’ll share the final product with you on Halloween Sunday!
- MUSIC! Set the mood with music. We have outdoor speakers installed on the sides of our house, so I’ll be blasting Halloween tunes into the backyard. I still have a playlist from last year, but may add a little something new. Any ideas?
- SET THE TABLE! An old vase with a bouquet of dead flowers (picked from our yard, no less) flanked by a couple of small pumpkins will highlight the picnic table. I’ve weathered an old, tattered sheet to use as a table cloth. I’ll set out crayons and Halloween coloring pages on the table for those kids that just want to sit down and chill for a bit.
- BATS, SPIDERS, AND COBWEBS. OH MY! Rubber bats and little black spiders will be dangling from the ceiling of the fort. Cobwebs will cover every corner! If I can’t find anymore rubber bats at the store, a spooky bat garland would be kind of cute, no? Made out of black craft paper, here’s a PDF bat template.
- LIGHTS! I’m debating whether to hang more lights. Maybe white ones to mix with the orange that BYD sent me. Too many strings of lights may be a choking hazard, though, so I’ll most likely eschew the additional lights. Eschew… sounds like a sneeze, doesn’t it? Just sayin’.
- CAUTION TAPE! I bought a couple of rolls of yellow caution tape and plan to crisscross it across the front and sides of the playset. I may wrap some of the railings with black crepe paper, too.
- A GRAVEYARD! There’s a space underneath the fort that’s supposed to be for storing toys and things. Kids can crawl in there, but there’s not enough room to stand. It’s maybe 2 feet tall… perfect for a dark and creepy graveyard! I’m working on making a few tombstones out of cardboard. I’ll spray paint them grey and use black markers to draw funny epitaphs on them… Hal O. Ween, Al B. Ritebak, M.T. Koffin, etc. I’ll partially bury a hat or some old shoes in front of one of the headstone to up the spook factor a bit.
- SIGNS! A simple sign can be just what you need to set the mood! Happy Halloween … BEWARE! Monsters ahead … CAUTION! Ghosts may be lurking … Witches Welcome … Broomstick Parking (attached to a bucket with a couple of little brooms sitting in it), etc. Dafont.com has some cool FREE Halloween fonts that you can enlarge, print, and attach to cardboard. A quick and easy craft that kids can help out with!
- GHOSTS! I don’t have too many old white sheets in my closet… we’re colorful people. That said, I’m improvising and making small ghosts out of white grocery bags, stuffing the head with even more wadded up bags. Bigger ghosts will be made out of full-size trash bags. Their heads, secured with a thin rubber band or string, and a face drawn on with a black Sharpie. The best part? No bags were harmed in the making of these ghosts, so after Halloween, I can take the ghosts apart, and put the bags back under my sink to be used as trashbags, as they were meant to be used in the first place!
So that’s it for now. I’m raiding my husband’s work shed in a bit to see what old junk I can find in there that I can refashion into something great. An advantage of waiting until the last minute to decorate is that I won’t have to do it twice… this crazy wind we’re having would knock everything down! But seriously, waiting until the day before Halloween means SALES! SAVINGS! KA-CHING! Stores want to get rid of all their stock, so it’s marked down significantly. I’m hitting AC Moore, Target, and the dollar store tomorrow morning. Heck, I may even go back on Monday for the really good deals and be prepared for next year!
Wait, me be prepared? Okay, we know that’s NOT gonna happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?