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Is your house lit up like the Griswold’s for Halloween?

Diane Hall

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Halloween House

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The ritual of dressing up our houses for Halloween has become more popular in recent years. Akin to Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation—who adds so many fairy lights to his property that the States’ version of our National Grid has to switch to nuclear power to cope with the drain on their resources—some people really do go all out on October 31st to frighten (or, more likely, impress) visitors.


Though, in the film, Griswold’s decorations are for Christmas, the sentiment is the same: people will strive to have the best-dressed house in the neighbourhood on All Hallows Eve. We’re not talking a few carved pumpkins at the end of the drive...no, in true Griswold style, I’ve seen some people treat the front of their houses and their garden like a film set, with orange/red lights giving off a scary hue, zombie characters guarding the place, tombstones on the grass, swathes of white netting and cotton wool over shrubs, and skeletons dangling from tree branches. 



You can also buy projectors that, when pointed towards your windows, can cast an image forward or play film on a loop. This can make it look as if ghostly entities are swirling around inside the house, or the projection of ‘bloodied hands’ on the window glass can have you believe that murderous rituals are going on inside. Projectors are relatively new to the Halloween market and they’re not the cheapest of decorations, but I think they’re worth the money as they look very effective.


It’s not the homeowner that benefits from the money and effort they spend on Halloween decorations but the passing public—mainly, the children and parents who go house to house trick or treating on October 31st. Of course, such decorations bring a lot of fun, but I can imagine there’s an element of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ between homeowners—an informal competition to see who can have the best Halloween display.


Whether people spend lots of money dressing their house this year remains to be seen. The cost-of-living crisis has seen many cut back on any unnecessary spending, which could see their plans to trim up their house for Halloween scaled back. 


There’s also the possibility of being fined. If you’re a homeowner you can usually do what you want to your property (within planning laws, etc.); however, the last thing you would want is a member of the general public suing you because they tripped over, or became injured by, an ornament, decoration or wayward wiring whilst they were on your land.



Barratt Homes has said that such fines could be as much as £5,000. They suggest that we all have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure no one suffers an accident or injury whilst visiting our properties at any time of the year, but particularly on Halloween, when there could be lots of additional obstacles and accidents-waiting-to-happen in situ. Barratt recommends ensuring that your gardens and pathways are well lit on Halloween—even if you are trying to create a spooky atmosphere. 


One of the best (and easiest) decorations I’ve seen was a family who had put some white netting over a tall bush in their front garden. They’d stuck some rubber gloves on the branches, a wide smile, and a pair of googly-eyes on the front. The effect was more Casper the Friendly Ghost than anything from Amityville Horror, but it did make quite the impact as I drove past.


I’ve never been one to decorate our house (much to my kids’ disappointment when they were younger)...I never seemed to have the time, the money or the inclination to do so. My husband would help our two girls carve a pumpkin each and these would sit on the top step with tea lights inside. Occasionally, they would be accompanied by some fake cobwebs across the porch, but that’s as far as my inner Griswold ever went (I’m equally rubbish at dressing the house for Christmas). 


This year, however, my eldest has vowed to dress the house up a little more—at her own expense; so frustrated is she by my apathy. In my opinion, she can knock herself out entertaining her inner Griswold...as long as it doesn’t result in a five-grand fine!