Posted by: Jennifer | Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Martha does Halloween

Have y’all seen this on your newsstands yet:

Sorry for the crappy photo quality.  I tossed the magazine on the floor and took a picture of it myself.  Why?  Well, my mission today was going to be to thoroughly review this issue for you, just as I did last Christmas.  The only problem is, I can’t find anything about this magazine at The Martha’s website.  I’m not kidding.  No mention of it at all.  No photos.  Nothing.

Who publishes a magazine and then doesn’t hype it? The Martha, that’s who.  Clearly, her empire is so big that her stuff just sells itself.

(Although I seriously doubt that her marketing plan included the “buys Martha’s magazines in order to snark them” demographic.)

Thus, my plans have changed a bit.  Instead, let me tell you what I discovered at The Martha’s website:  EIGHT WEEKS worth of plans so that you can fully prepare for All Hallow’s Eve.  Eight weeks, people.  I don’t know about you, but I’m personally still focused on September and haven’t given any thought whatsoever to October, much less that last day of that particular month.  I don’t have eight weeks to give over for holiday prep.

But, if I were so inclined, The Martha has planned out everything for me so that I can artfully decorate my home and make costumes for everyone here in Jenworld and even plan a Halloween party that would make me the envy of my neighbors.

There are the handmade invitations:

… and the decorations:

… and the party favors:

… and, of course, jack o’lanterns:

Am I inclined to follow The Martha’s instructions for the Best. Halloween. Ever.?

In a word, no.

Because who can live up to The Martha’s standards?  No one, that’s who.  Even if Michelle Obama were to throw a major Halloween bash at the White House — and she has dozens of staff to assist her — something would not meet The Martha’s standards.  The pumpkins would not be the correct variety or the goody bags would not be completely handmade or the invitations would have been printed using a computer and printer, instead of using paper made by hand from rare, old-growth trees and inks made from natural dyes.

So there’s no way I’m going to attempt to follow The Martha’s planning guide.

In fact, here’s how it’s probably going to go down here in Jenworld:  I might or might not decorate the house.  In fact, it’s likely that the only thing I’ll do is buy some small pumpkins and put them on the dining room table until such a time as I get around to chopping them up and cooking them.  There will be no party, of course, as I am throwing two children’s birthday parties this month.  And, as for costumes, one of my children is planning to re-use last year’s costume and I’m desperately trying to convince the other child that a costume bought at Target is far better than anything I could make.  (No luck so far.)

Here’s the thing:  I’ve read the reports that Halloween has become a Major Holiday and that now people decorate as much as if it were Christmas.  This goes beyond themed towels in the bathroom or colored candles on the table.  Some people have Halloween napkins and placemats and dishes, plus boxes and boxes of decorations. And if that’s what makes you happy, then I say go for it.

I, however, don’t.  Halloween comes after the Month of Birthdays, so I’m still feeling a bit exhausted from that, plus I’m already quietly preparing for Christmas, which I absolutely love.  This will be our first Christmas in New Mod Jenworld and I plan to decorate the shit out of the joint.  (Big Ass Tree?  Ha!  Think Bigger Ass Tree.  Hell, I’m even contemplating hanging something like these from the steel I-beam that runs across the kitchen and living room.)  I need to conserve my energy for the Christmas season, not blow it on a 24 hour spook-fest.

Here’s what I want to know:  Where do you fall on the Halloween spectrum — do you go all out or is your celebration a bit quieter and more subdued?


  1. Just skimmed your post as have to get off to school. But Halloween here consists of scavenging a costume from what we have in the house (K will be Queen Elizabeth because she was that in the school play in July) and putting out a carved pumpkin and one wooden ghost sign saying boo on Oct 31.

  2. I’m torn. I alternately love and hate the Martha.

    When she was in prison I had a Free Martha T-shirt which I wore mostly to annoy the Ex but I really thought she’d been railroaded.

    Anyhoo…I have high hopes that someday I’ll be able to carve a pumpkin with laser precision but until then I will hate her mostly on principle.

  3. I try to be Martha-like, but never quite pull it off. From pumpkins to cupcakes, my stuff never ends up looking like hers, so therefore I hate her.
    I love Halloween and would go crazy decorating, but we live on the outskirts of our sub, and get not a single trick or treater. We go to my parents ‘hood to trick or treat. Sad.

  4. Hmmmm, I guess I fall on the spectrum somewhere around mid-minimalist. I do have a small box of decorations for the mantel — some clear orange glass tealight holders shaped like jack-o’-lanterns, and tealight holders that say ‘beware’ and ‘go back’. We usually carve a pumpkin for the front steps on hallowe’en night, and the girls pick up mini-pumpkin gourds at the Farmers’ Market.

    The last couple of years the girls’ dad carved some pretty ornate jack-o’-lanterns and brought them over. But that’s it. No parties, no party favours, no outside decor.

    Martha has waaaaaaaaay too much time on her hands. And then what happens to all the crafts when Hallowe’en is over? Does she have acres of storage space for all this stuff? Or does it end up in the landfill so she can make more stuff for next year?

  5. I LOVE Halloween, so I tend to go overboard. Not overboard by Martha standards, but in comparison to the way I do the rest of the holidays, yes, overboard. I can’t help it though, it’s my FAVORITE. At least now I have kids to use as an excuse.

  6. And I’m mostly talking about costumes. I don’t really decorate for holidays, but now that I’m in my own house again, that may change.

  7. Halloween! To me it marks the beginning of the holiday festivities. Because I go bonkers for Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND Christmas. We used to throw a huge (adult only) Halloween party that probably would have nearly lived up to Martha’s standards. My invitations were much creepier. We even have black vodka just for the occasion. And decorated the house to the 9’s. But alas, the last few years we haven’t been able to do it for some reason or another.

    This year? DEFINITELY not.happening. Something about a 10/27 due date. Although I’ve already been tempted to buy a bazillion gourds/pumpkins. I’ll probably start buying them this weekend. Large, small, white, orange…you name it, I want at least 3.

    And there are no store bought costumes in this house. It’s a leftover from my childhood, but one thing I won’t budge on. Although this year I think the Boy may go as Payne Stewart (a golfer) and I’m just really hoping kid #2 arrives *before* Halloween. (And he/she will probably wear the cat outfit the Boy wore his first Halloween.)

  8. I love the martha style….but I too live in the real world!!
    Anyhow Halloween isn’t celebrated here as much - thankfully so that’s me off the hook.
    I am taking part in a Halloween book fest - a spooky treat from Mr B’s!

  9. I like to do something in my yard to entertain the trick or treaters. But I get lazier as I get older.

  10. I like the blue lights.

    And I have no time to be Martha.

    Salvador Dali mixed with the Anti-Super-Nanny with Zack, but not The Martha.

  11. We normally don’t do Halloween here as we go to town for trick or treating (no one rings our doorbell out here in the boondocks). But Mr. B wants a Halloween haunted house bday party this October so I need to get Martha’s phone number.

  12. I like to decorate for Halloween, not Martha-style, though! And I don’t really throw a party, but we live on a big Trick-or-Treating street so we get lots of candy to give out and invite other families over to ToT in our neighborhood with us. We eat pizza before taking the kids out, and then some adults go with the kids while other stay behind to answer the door (sometimes there is such a steady stream that we just stand at our open door). When the kids get back to sort their loot, the adults have a glass of wine together. It’s really fun and there’s no need for more!

    Between June 1 and Halloween, there are no family events, so we are feeling ready to decorate the house when October gets here! Valentine’s Day is the one that I don’t do. We have lots of birthdays and anniversaries before and after Valentine’s Day and I am just too pooped to care about Feb. 14!

  13. I hate Halloween. In fact, I was interviewed in the Chicago Tribune last year for my hate of Halloween. But that’s mostly from some lingering childhood memories.

    I like candy, though.

    I actually have 3 Halloween decorations, all given to me as gifts. I guess I’ll put them up this year.

  14. I think I really like Halloween because of the beautiful fall weather I associate with it. It’s fun to see the kids out in costumes but I don’t decorate my home.

    By the way, that Martha magazine cover is beyond creepy.

  15. I’m late to the discussion - busy day at work. Eight weeks worth of planning - its Halloween not a damn wedding.

    And you’re right. The Martha is perfection and no can live up to her standards.

    As I grew up without Halloween (I had a devout Baptist momma), I don’t really think too much of it. The only thing I do is put out a bag of candy for the neighbors - don’t knock on my door.

    Can’t really ask me to do much else.

  16. I used to go as far out as I could when I was younger with what my mom would help me buy. Anymore I just don’t bother. When I’m older and have my own house and kids, I’ll probably do a bit more in terms of decorating. Christmas, however, is another story altogether. ;)

  17. Even Martha admits she has staff doing most of the stuff - she is much more normal post-prison from what I obseve on TV, I don’t buy the magazine anymore.

    I do like Halloween and when the kids were little I made costumes and decorated quite a bit and we have even hosted a haunted house and parties. Now - not so much. Only a couple of little trick or treaters on our street.

    We don’t really do Christmas (it isn’t our religion) and some of the Halloween stuff works through Thanksgiving - so it makes fall more festive!

  18. Oh - I do Loooove the stars!! They will be magical hanging from the beam.

  19. I think this is my first time commenting and I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your blog! It’s funny because I saw this magazine at a bookstore and one of the first things I thought was “I wonder if Jen is going to write about this on her blog?” Martha’s eyes are so creepy on the cover! As far as your question goes, I’m a major minimalist so it’s basically 1 or 2 (non-cutesy) decorations, pumpkin carving, and handing out candy. If I were to host a Halloween party I would probably follow the “less is more” philosophy. I’m just not into overly decorated living spaces for holidays or in general when it comes to my house. It’s cool if you go to someone else’s house and it’s decorated to the hilt. To each his own, though.

  20. Are you kidding me???? We are lucky if we remember to get a bag of lollies from the supermarket on the way home. Otherwise we hand the very few trick or treaters we get fruit. Which doesn’t go down well.
    Halloween just isn’t “done” here in NZ….a pity really.

  21. Eight weeks? Are you telling me there are only fifty-six shopping days left until Halloween? EEK! Actually, my husband loves to decorate for Halloween and I don’t. So we sort of compromise in that he paints his face and dons a scary wig, and I don’t. But our neighborhood (Belmont) seems to have a lot of houses that really go all out. I am impressed with their creativity and I appreciate the enjoyment they give my kids.

  22. I love Halloween. This sounds weird, but it is my favorite holiday. Before we had my son, I would always dress up and hand out candy. Now I dress up while we take him trick-or-treating. I try to go all out as much as I can. I’m looking forward to when my son is older and I can do the house like a haunted house and he can have friends over :)

  23. I absolutely love Halloween! We’ve gotten progressively more creepy with our outdoor decorations as my boys have gotten bigger, which is always a ton of fun. I love Christmas more, but Halloween is definitely a big holiday in our house. We still dress up with the boys and go trick-or-treating with them.

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