Brexit isn't the only terrifying event looming at the end of October... Halloween is coming too!
Halloween. For me it really is the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas is a close second, and well Brexit can sod off. I think most people agree that autumn is the best season, crisp cold mornings, low lying sunshine, a touch of mist adding drama to the spooky season. There always seems to be a smell of wood burning in the autumn air too, it's a feast for the senses!
I also have an unhealthy obsession with pumpkins. Andrew and I met in October (a few halloweens ago now) so we had always planned to have an autumnal wedding. We had pumpkins instead of flowers at our reception, which after several hours of cocktail drinking resulted in an impromptu game of bowling with empty champagne bottles as the pins and pumpkins as the bowling balls (you know who you are). So, that's the background to my love of October, now here's my guide to how I go about styling for the spookiest season of the year and actually the principles are the same for any seasonal styling.
Colour. Nothing says "it's autumn lads" like a few pumpkins knocking about the house. I usually do a little squeal when I spot the arrival of a crate of pumpkins in the supermarket... then quickly start flinging groceries (and children) out of my trolley to make space for the giant orange veg. They're a cheap way to add instant colour and scale to your halloween display, and let's face it, it wouldn't be halloween without the big round orange squashness (no Andrew that is NOT a word but I'm going with it!). I usually try to buy a mixture of size, shape and colour. Odd numbers always work best, this is a good rule of thumb for any kind of interiors styling. I'll get a mixture of large, medium and small pumpkins and then maybe a handful (trolley load) of the miniature ones in all shapes and colours. If you leave them outside and don't carve them until nearer the big day then they'll last for a few weeks no problem.
I'm all on for the spooky decorations, as you can see, but I do try to keep it playful and not too scary for the kids - I'm still not over watching Nightmare on Elm Street as a kid, and I will always have to check over my shoulder in the shower - FOREVER!
Theme. All styling needs a theme, obviously this is Halloween themed but it's a fun take on it. Any decent Halloween display will need a spook factor, for mine I made a pair of witches legs. One year I had these sticking out of a black flower pot, which currently has an Olive tree living in it so can no longer take part in our annual Hocus Pocus. The witche's legs were another one of those Pinterest specials (click to see how to make your own pair), but this time they were actually not too difficult to make. Basically you'll need a pair of old tights, two sticks (I used bamboo canes) lots of old newspaper/plastic bags, tape, witches socks I think I bought mine in a euro shop, and a pair of boots/shoes - these ones were kindly donated by my mother. I then cut out gold buckles from card and stuck them to the front. All you have to do is build up your witches' leg muscle onto the sticks by wrapping the paper or bags around layer by layer, taping as you go. Don't forget to make a pair of feet at the top or else the shoes will fall off! Then just dress her, and name her of course. Ours is called Sybil.
Scale & Texture. Whether it's a front step or a mantle piece you're styling, size matters. You need to add a bit of variation through height and scale. Great ways of doing this are; pot plants, to add height you can put one on an empty upturned pot then add a few to the front - this will tick the texture box too, storm lanterns filled with candles or even better still... mini pumpkins! A display of dried autumnal flowers and grasses, or a branch with some felt pumpkins hanging from its twigs would look great adding texture and height. Or just grab a bale of straw like I did!
Sometimes you just have to give up trying!
Cluster. This is where your varied sizes of pumpkins will come into play. Use them to add some colour, texture and that harvest feel. Play with different groupings, remembering odd numbers is always a winner. If you have one small pumpkin on its own it won't create the same impact as if you have three or five grouped together. If you're not into pumpkins (then whats wrong with you?!?) try some autumnal red and brown leaves scattered around as fillers.
Pumpkins of Halloweens' passed.
So my top tips for carving pumpkins would be firstly, draw your design on a piece of paper. Keep it realistic folks, don't go trying to recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on your veg. Then draw it on the pumpkin, or you could even trace it onto it using tracing paper. Secondly, (and pretty much lastly as this is the mother of all tips and I won't be giving you anymore after this one) get a craft knife. It is so much easier to be precise, and keep all of your fingers, with a craft knife. Be adventurous, now go forth and carve!
So, there you have all my styling ideas.
Happy Halloween folks!