Jacksonville has the ideal environment for decorating outside for the holidays, especially on Halloween. The summer rains have passed, so it’s likely to be a clear night and, unlike Halloween in northern states, the temperatures will be pleasant enough to stay outside all evening. Northerners may be bundled up in winter coats while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, but Jacksonville residents can don their own costumes and join in the fun. Your Halloween decorations can cover the entire yard, or simply turn a front porch into a fun treat station for little ones. No matter the size of your plan, the mood you want to create will determine what kind of Halloween decorations you install.
If your neighborhood is filled with families that have small children, your house will be the most popular one on the block if you decorate with a gently spooky theme. Concentrate on cartoon-like characters such as scarecrows with smiling pumpkin heads, Mickey Mouse jack-o-lanterns, and strings of bright orange blinking lights. The best way to dress up when using this gentle decor is something non-threatening, such as a scarecrow or a friendly witch. Concentrate the decorations around the porch or patio where you’ll be handing out the candy, as that’s where the kids will concentrate their attention. Pile hay bales around your chair, stand cornshocks around them as background decoration, and keep the candy in a big orange bowl.
For a spooky Halloween house, go traditional with old-school scary decor. Think of the classics, like graveyards, vampires, coffins, and ghosts. Make headstones from Styrofoam and paint them gray, then turn part of your yard into a cemetery. Hang spooky gauze ghosts from overhanging tree branches. If you’ve got carpenter skills, put them to use and make a scary coffin, including shiny black paint and brass handles. Dress up as Dracula and lay in the coffin, rising up to scare bigger kids.
This cemetary design is where spooky Halloween recordings come into their own. Get a CD of spooky noises, hide speakers in the yard, and play scary sounds to scare visitors. Hang spider webs from the porch roof and make kids walk through them to get their treats, and rent or buy a fog machine for the ultimate in spooky graveyard atmosphere.
If your neighbors are all adults and teens, feel free to go all out on a hard-core Halloween. Dress up a few friends in ragged clothes, get zombie makeup from the Halloween department at the store, and give your friends a horror makeover. Set chairs beside the house where trick-or-treaters can’t see them, and have your friends wait there. Have the shambling horde of zombies appear every time someone shows up trying to get candy, and have them chase the neighbors from the yard. Go with blood and gore, and get your friends in on the action to create entire scenes from movies. Scare anyone who dares to come up your walk, and give them a Halloween fright they’ll remember.