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    Ultimate guide to getting your house — and trick-or-treaters — ready for Halloween
    • October 10, 2023

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    If you’re ready to start prepping for Halloween, look no further: We rounded up some of the best resources we could find on the spooky holiday.

    Need Halloween decoration inspiration? We’ve got it. How about Halloween costume ideas that won’t break the bank? Check. And, of course, we’ve got you covered on horror movies to watch this month. Read on — if you dare.

    Halloween decorations

    An interesting trend emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Brittany Anas for the Denver Post: “Homeowners began taking an interest in the Hollywood-quality monsters and props and incorporating them into their own front-yard haunts.” In fact, one Colorado company, Distortions Unlimited, saw direct-to-consumer sales in the past few years rise by roughly 200%, co-owner Marsha Taub-Edmunds estimated.

    “People weren’t able to go to haunted houses during COVID, and they weren’t handing out candy, so they really got into the spirit of decorating,” Taub-Edmunds told the Post.

    Retail stores joined in as well, and the National Retail Federation clocks in Halloween decor as a $3.4 billion annual business, according to Anas. If you’re ready to turn your home into a haunt, here are some expert tips on how to decorate for Halloween.

    Here’s how to decorate for Halloween, according to scare professionals

    Halloween costumes

    Instead of buying brand-new Halloween costumes or decorations this year, consider secondhand. There are numerous benefits to shopping this way, writes Liz Ohanesian for Southern California News Group. “Choosing a pre-owned item over something new is an environmentally friendly option since you’re extending the lifespan of a good and potentially saving it from a landfill,” Ohanesian says. “Depending on when, where and how you shop, it can be easier on your wallet, too. But perhaps the most attractive benefit of shopping secondhand is the knowledge that you’ll find something far more interesting than the seasonal products at big box stores.”

    Shopping secondhand for Halloween can be tricky, though, so you should start early. Here’s how to create scary Halloween costumes and decorations from secondhand stores.

    How to create scary Halloween costumes and decorations from secondhand stores

    Halloween recipes

    Pumpkin spice latte season started early this year, but you may only now be getting in the mood to start baking with autumnal spices.

    As Jack-o’-lanterns appear at grocery stores and on front porches — and pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin beer options abound — consider celebrating autumn with a different type of treat. We sourced pumpkin spice recipes from food connoisseurs and cookbooks from across the country, and none of them are your traditional pumpkin pie (though we have a recipe for that, too).

    Pumpkin spice dessert recipes that aren’t your traditional pie

    Halloween movies

    There are plenty of new horror movies ringing in October on your favorite streaming sites. For one, there’s a comedy called “Totally Killer” launching on Prime Video plus a new “Exorcist” film out in theaters, according to Tribune News Service’s Katie Walsh.

    What to stream: New horror movies and more to ring in October

    If you’re ready for a Halloween movie marathon, look no further than this list of 2023’s top horror films from Bay Area New Group’s Jim Harrington. “All 10 of my picks were released widely in 2023, although some may have premiered earlier, most likely at film festivals,” Harrington writes. “So, try mixing some of these new offerings in with your old favorites.”

    Top horror films 2023: Our No. 1 pick ranks among best horror movies of all time

    Halloween gardening

    Don’t stop at home decorations — take Halloween into your garden, too! “Spooky-looking garden and house plants have become increasingly popular,” writes The Press-Enterprise’s Alex Groves. “More than 17,000 posts on Instagram include the hashtag #gothgarden and plants such as the Raven ZZ (aka  Zamioculcas zamiifolia) and Alocasia Black Velvet are hot commodities in plant shops.”

    Here are some expert picks for spooky — but striking — Halloween plants.

    Halloween gardening: Experts suggest some spooky season plants

    Halloween pet care

    “Spooky season comes with plenty of potential pitfalls for our four-legged friends, wild birds and more,” writes Julia Lamont for Marin Independent-Journal.

    For example, “Jack-o’-lanterns and other candles are a burn risk if a curious pet comes too close,” Lamont says. “Opt for battery-operated, flameless candles if you crave that telltale flicker on your front porch.”

    Here are a few more tips protecting animals this Halloween, without sacrificing the fun.

    Don’t let animals get spooked this Halloween

    Contributing: Jim Harrington, Bay Area News Group; Brittany Anas, Denver Post; Julia Lamont, Marin Independent-Journal; Alex Groves and Liz Ohanesian, Southern California News Group; Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

    ​ Orange County Register