A Halloween Party in the Woods

A Halloween Party in the Woods

Two years ago, probably a day after Halloween, I was struck with another of those impossible-to-ignore urges to throw a specific party for my favorite little kiddos.

A Halloween party.

In the woods.

And I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like…

I saw a spread in Country Living once (hey look! I found it: click here) featuring an outdoor Halloween party inspired by festivities of yore where costumes were less “dress-like-your-favorite-Disney-princess” and more festive and Halloweenish. Here’s an example of one of the antique costumes at the party:

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I was completely taken with the idea, and tucked it away in the back of my brain where it sat for years. Every Halloween, I would think about it and pine for such a party and costumage (you can go ahead and add that word to your handy-dandy-Mrs. Gore-Dictionary); and as Halloween 2011 drew to a close, I made a decision. We would have our old-school Halloween party next year, or I would die trying.

Only one problem.

Vintage Halloween clothes are ‘spensive. And rare. And just like there weren’t a lot of WWII-kids-party supplies out there when it was time for Gid’s 6th birthday, I had trouble finding any reproductions of old-school Halloween clothes on the market today. I know, right? Cray-cray.

So we did the next best thing and bought every Halloween dress and accessory that Cracker Barrel had to offer. Every year, they sell an assortment of black, orange, purple or gold dresses with lots of tulle, and by the time we bought them after Halloween, they cost about as much as an Arby’s value meal.

Thus, for a full year, my Mom had bags of poofy dresses and funny hats hidden in her closet, waiting to surprise the children on a beautiful October afternoon in 2012.

Oh, and there was one bright orange shirt for Gideon from the hunting section at Wal-Mart.

And here were the goals of our party: 1. The entire concept had to be a surprise - when the kids arrived at Grandmother’s house for the party, we wanted them to have NO IDEA where they would be going or what they would be wearing, 2. We wanted to allow them to walk through the woods to the party alone – with the oldest being 8, this would be a big and memorable deal for them (and Amy would shadow them with her camera, of course!), and 3. Have a festive and magical hole-in-the-wall-type party all set up when they arrived.

And shiver me broomstick, we did it! I will admit, I almost died of fatigue before this party even started, loading and unloading mountains of supplies, single-handedly arranging all those haybales and pumpkins, and then there were the three giant wasps nests we discovered above the party table about an hour before go-time (my Mom is a rockstar and slayed every single one of them without fear)…

but this afternoon will forever be cherished in my heart as one of my favorites. The kids loved it. And I loved watching them love it. Take a look…

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies.

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies. We placed one at each child’s seat and they passed them around so they could sample all of the different flavors.

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

I lined the pathway with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and filled in the path with crunchy leaves. Very fun!

The pathway was lined with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and was filled in with crunchy leaves. Very fun! And free!!

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware - we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, but heavy on Halloween.

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware – we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, with a heavy emphasis on Halloween.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery - I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain't got time for that.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery – I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain’t got time for that.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with a twig from the backyard.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with twigs from the backyard.

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You can’t see them very well, but we also hung black bats and festive lights from the ceiling.

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The kids LOVED their surprise costumes. Each one was different (but similar), and each girl had a funny hat to wear (Gideon got a black superhero mask). Anna’s hat had a giant spider on the top, but still looked very beautiful and fancy.

Funny...Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But we totally look like witches.

Funny…Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But…we totally look like witches.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat. More on him later.

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Marching to Halloween! I was pretty giddy about this part of the party…

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Which way do we go?…

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That way!!

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They found us! And good thing, too, because I was about to eat all their candy.

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Ready to party.

I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents' cat, Batman, to our party. He followed the kids, and was by far our best Halloween decoration.

So. The cat. I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents’ cat, Batman, to our party. He appeared out of nowhere and followed the kids, but was by far the best Halloween decoration we had at our party. Way to go, Batman!

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I had to take a minute to get a picture of Amy and her girls (and the cat). They all looked so beautiful! (You too, Batman).

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And I have to brag on my party guests…

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they are used to their weird Mama/Auntie, so they gladly took a few “fake party pictures” for my blog before digging in to their treats.

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I’ve never been so proud. :)

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their party and some lively conversation.

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their candy and some lively BFF conversation.

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After their meal was consumed, Grandmother had a special game planned for them where they had to find special treats and surprises she had hidden in the woods.

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It took some earnest searching…

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but all the treasures were eventually found…

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and the rest of the evening was leisurely spent, playing, talking and daydreaming. One of my favorite things about children is that they need very little to entertain them. Just give them the great outdoors…

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and some playmates…

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and they’ll stay happily occupied for hours.

~

As a fittingly full moon began to shine through the trees…

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our Halloween party in the Woods mozied to an end and we made our way back to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house…

tired?

Oh yes!

With a huge mess to clean up?

Indeed.

But our Halloween-lovin’ hearts were oh so full and happy…

especially Batman’s.

~

Happy Halloween, dear friends!

A Storybook Halloween – Outtakes and Info

 Did I say in my last post (a week ago) that I would share this post “tomorrow”? Silly me. Little Red Riding Hood’s Mother has been super busy taking care of Granny and hasn’t had too much time for blogging… 

~

First of all, I am so thrilled with your feedback from our Little Red Riding Hood “storybook”. Thank you for all the encouragement and kind words and ‘likes’ and shares…I’m a lifetime fan of compliments, which is probably why I run a blog that shares posts about every 5 minutes or so.

And if you’ll indulge me for a bit, I’d love to share a little about the day we had this “photo shoot”.

When I have big ideas, I get all atwitter, but if I’m not careful, my excitement can turn into tension, especially if the idea I had is not translated into real life with all of its spontaneity and childish behavior and, sometimes, weather complications (welcome to Oklahoma!).

And the Thursday of our scheduled shoot, as I was ironing dresses, and pulling props from all the nooks of our house, and sweeping the shed, and willing the children to take good naps, I could feel that tension hovering in the distance, enticing me to leap in and see my joy obliterated.

I desperately wanted to refrain from taking that leap.

So, silly as it sounds, I took a moment to pray. It went something like this…

“God, I know there are people starving somewhere in the world today, and that it is of little consequence whether or not we successfully capture the story of Little Red Riding Hood. But I DO want to glorify you today, so please…please…let this be fun for everyone. Let Ben get good photography practice, and let the kids enjoy themselves, and help me to relax and keep things in perspective…(and if this doesn’t work I will try not to throw myself in a lake). Amen.”

And it was amazing. My prayer was answered so graciously, and about 45 minutes after Ben arrived at our house, our entire storybook had been acted out and captured with no crying, no stress, and no whispered threats on my end. I think that was definitely the favorite part of my day. I had fun! The kids obviously had a blast. And Betsie…oh, Betsie. Who knew that my unpredictable little whirlwind would play the part of Granny like a pro?! I still haven’t stopped kissing her for it.

So, as thrilled as I am that the finished product turned out how I had envisioned it, I am even happier that our day was memorable and laidback and that, at the end of it, I had no regrets for acting like a b-hole. Thank you, God, for hearing even the silliest prayers of your silliest children.

Moving on, some of you have mentioned that you might try making your own storybook – I hope you do! And because I love you, I would like to humbly offer a little advice to help your project run smoothly…

1. Photography has become so accessible in our culture, and there are usually amateur or budding photographers in every community. When I heard Ben mention that he would like to add to his portfolio and was eager to practice, I nearly tackled him and said “What day can you come?!” And photographers who are just growing their business are usually very reasonable in their prices. All that to say, the thought of having a real photographer with a real camera capture your “storybook” for you isn’t nearly as far-fetched as it might have been even 5 years ago. And supporting your local photographers is a win-win, for they grow in expertise while you receive a finished product that is both affordable and WAY better than anything you could do on your own.

2. Go outside! Even with your own point-and-shoot camera, outdoor lighting (especially on overcast days) is the best and will do wonders for…well, everything.

3. In my opinion, the more homespun your costumes and set are, the more authentic your storybook will be. Thus, we didn’t purchase much for this project – Granny’s “room” was pieced together from all the stuff in my house that looks like it belongs to a little old lady (I’m an old soul…) and most of our costumes were pulled straight out of our closets. In fact, the only things I bought this year for our Halloween “theme” were…

  • Gideon’s fur booties and wristlets (he got the hat last Christmas), both purchased from Restoration Hardware during their 20% off sale. Click here to see their collection of faux fur gifts. Very warm and very “cool”, these would make great Christmas gifts.
  • The little lace mobcap that the Wolf wore came from Amazon (click here).
  • And Ben’s amazing wife, Leslie (who also edited the photos like a champ!), made Rebekah’s cape for me – and a wonderful job she did!.

4. I like 2-for-1′s…shampoo+conditioner, Swiffer Sweepers, turducken…and so I recommend photographing your storybook around the time of Halloween. By the night of October 31st, we had already taken all of these pictures in our costumes, and I wasn’t worried about them getting dirty, resulting in the most laidback Halloween we’ve had yet. I even thought, “Meh. I might not even dress up tonight…” (But you know I did).

5. Conduct your “photo shoot” after nap time and have supper waiting on the stove as a reward to your cast and crew. It felt rather like a cast party as we all sat around the table and talked about our storybook adventure and slurped up bowls and bowls of potato soup.

6. Speaking of food, have a few snacks hidden amongst your props in case you need to resort to bribery or distractions for your little actors and actresses.

7. And most importantly, be prepared and ready for showtime. When Ben arrived at our house, we were dressed, every scene was set up, and I had a detailed list of every shot I could possibly need to properly tell our story. I had also thoroughly gone over that list with Mr. Gore so he could “be in my head”, and help Ben know what to do should I have to tend to the children or run back to the house for props. Children don’t do well when adults stand around and discuss what to do next, and so we did everything we could to have none of that.

8. After you make your list of needed shots, go back and schedule them in the best possible order. For example, we did the scenes of me and Rebekah first, followed by our group pictures, so I could run back into the house and change into comfortable clothes, leaving me free to help Ben with whatever he needed. Betsie (the loose cannon), was next, before being buckled into her wagon with a box of raisins and some fruit snacks. And then we filled in the middle parts. I am positive that if we hadn’t had this planned out in detail, our day would have been a disaster.

9. One last thing. If you are using a 1-year old as one of your main characters, do not put her in place or put on the final details of her costume until you are truly ready to take your shots. Ben was in place with his camera ready before we sat “Granny” on her bed. We handed her a handkerchief to keep her hands busy, perched her glasses quickly on her nose and then we all stood behind Ben clapping and jumping around like idiots to keep her from fleeing the scene or yanking her hat and glasses off. And what do you know? Heavens to Betsie, it actually worked.

And now, for your further entertainment…

~ Outtakes and deleted scenes ~

We’re so used to looking AT the camera…

One oversight: I forgot to clean all the junk up out of our yard. I am quite sure that Little Red Riding Hood’s mother did not have a big, ugly, green waterhose next to her little cottage house, and had certainly never even heard of a Spiderman bicycle or a Radio Flyer tricycle.

In many shots, our “Wolf” was less than vicious…

and had a little bit of trouble with freeze-frame “running”.

And I can’t get enough of the Granny pictures. Dressing my baby up like an old lady was one of the best parenting moves I’ve ever made.

A few times, my “actors” took dramatic liberties.

For example, the script does not call for Red Riding Hood to hand Granny the flowers that were already sitting on her bedside table (but that’s a great “sick Granny” face, Gid the Kid!)…

and the Wolf is supposed to be afraid of the Woodsman, not bite him!

Sheesh. Thesbians.

A few times, near the end, we had sheer chaos on the set…

but Ben caught some awesome photographs, nonetheless. This one looks like a new twist on “American Gothic” and might have to go on my wall…

~

Again, thank you, dear readers, for taking a trip with us into the land of fairy tales and make-believe. Oh, to stay there forever…

and if you do happen to make your own storybook someday, please come back and let me know. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

~

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A Storybook Halloween – Part Two

…Continued from “A Storybook Halloween“…

~

So as I was saying, Granny was just sitting in bed waiting for someone to come visit her, as sick people are prone to do…

but she most certainly wasn’t expecting a wolf.

a BIG…BAD…WOLF!!!

“Oh dear me!” Granny cried.

and she sprang from her bed in terror.

For even those who are very old and very sick can become quite spry and hasty when there is a wolf at their heels.

But alas, she was no match for a fast and hungry wolf.

He caught her, and tied her up in the closet to save her for his dessert…

and Little Red Riding Hood would be his supper.

He put on a hat and shawl and crawled into bed, for he had a sneaky plan: to trick Red Riding Hood into thinking that he was her Granny, and not, in fact…

a mean. sly. horrid. cruel. dastardly WOLF.

Just as he curled up under Granny’s covers, Little Red Riding Hood arrived.

“Hello, dear Granny!” she sang with a smile…

and walking up to Granny’s bedside, she presented the basket of goodies that her Mother had sent.

But when she looked at Granny, she thought something seemed a little…strange.

“Granny…what big eyes you have today…” she said.

“Well, the better to see you with my beautiful dear!” replied Granny.

“And what big ears you have!” said Red Riding Hood.

“Oh, well, the better to hear you with, silly!” replied the wolf, growing more nervous – and hungrier – by the minute.

“And…what big teeth you have!” said Red Riding Hood, leaning in closer to figure out what in the world was wrong with her Granny.

The Wolf knew his time was up.

In his vicious wolf voice, he lunged forward and growled, “the better to EAT you with, my dear!”

I’m afraid it all would have been over for Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny if something quite extraordinary had not happened next.

A most handsome woodsman who was out hunting for his supper happened to walk by at that very moment and heard the Wolf’s growl and the little girl’s shriek.

He burst through the front door and presented something even sharper than the Wolf’s teeth…

a sturdy and trusty axe!

The Wolf tried to weasle his way out of the Woodsman’s grasp and ran as fast as his feet would fly…

but just as Granny was no match for the Wolf…

the Wolf was NO match for the handsome, manly, ruddy (and married) Woodsman.

With his own trickery, he was tied up and sat waiting for his deserved death…

while Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodsman laughed at his foiled plan.

And what happened to Little Red Riding Hood and the rest of the characters after this fateful day?

They lived happily ever after, just as they should have.

Except, of course, for the Wolf, who was made into a batch of hamburgers, providing a very fine supper for Little Red Riding Hood’s family right after this picture was taken.

The. End.

~

Costume details and outtakes coming up tomorrow!

~

This telling of Little Red Riding Hood and all photos are property of Mrs. Gore’s Diary and Benjamin Grey Photography. 

A Storybook Halloween

I am beyond excited to share the following post with you, and have to give special thanks to our sweet friend and brother in Christ, Ben Williams (at Benjamin Grey Photography) for spending a fun afternoon with us behind his camera lens. I will never forget this day and will always cherish the photographs he took for us.

~

Our Halloween “theme” fell nicely and quickly into place this year, and it was unanimous: Little Red Riding Hood.

Rebekah would, of course, be Red Riding Hood, Gideon would be the Wolf, Papa would be the Woodsman, and Betsie would be poor ol’ Granny.

But what part could I play?

“I know!” Rebekah exclaimed with glee. “The closet that the Wolf puts Granny in!”

Great. I’ve always wanted to be a closet for Halloween. And its funny…my little pipsqueak doesn’t realize that, just a few years ago, I would have played the role of Red Riding Hood.

Prima donna.

But in the midst of our brainstorming, my Mom had a brilliant idea – there was one character we had forgotten: Little Red Riding Hood’s Mother!

Perfect!

And as I pictured all of us in our costumes, I got that excited feeling in my gut…

Because I had an idea.

Ben was more than willing to help me out, and a week before Halloween, we all dressed in our costumes and acted out the story of Little Red Riding Hood while he snapped away. We had a blast doing this, and the best part? The kids have no idea that I’ll be using these pictures to make a very special Christmas present for them: a storybook for each child starring…us!

I’ve always wanted to be in a book. And if I can’t be the star, at least I don’t have to be the closet.

Would you like to hear our story?

~

Once upon a time, Granny was very, very sick.

Little Red Riding Hood’s mother decided to send some goodies to her, and asked her daughter if she might deliver them. She put on her cape…

handed her the basket of goodies…

and kissed her goodbye, after warning her to be very careful on her walk through the woods.

Little Red Riding Hood took off on her adventure, and she felt very brave and important.

But what she didn’t know was that, lurking in the woods nearby, was a BIG…BAD…WOLF.

Hooowwwwwwwl…

He laid in wait on the path ahead, hoping someone would amble by.

And he was very…very…hungry.

Little Red Riding Hood was enjoying her walk and was getting very close  to Granny’s house…

when suddenly, she heard a noise!

It was a wolf, and Little Red Riding Hood was very afraid.

But as he approached her, he looked very friendly.

“Hello, Little Red Riding Hood!” he said with a sly smile on his face.

“Hello…” she replied.

“What are you doing out in the woods alone on this nice Fall day?” the Wolf asked.

“Oh, I am on my way to my Granny’s house,” she replied, “for she is very sick and my Mother asked me to deliver this basket of goodies to her.”

“Oh!” said the Wolf, “You…I mean, they…look delicious. Er…where does your Granny live?”

“That way!” answered silly Red Riding Hood.

“Perfect!” said the Wolf. “Gotta go!…”

And with that, he was off, running down the lane to return to the Woods.

Or at least that’s where Little Red Riding Hood thought he was going.

But gasp! He wasn’t going to the woods.

He was going to…t0…Granny’s house!!

Where poor Granny sat in her bed, feeling very under the weather and very lonesome. She had been waiting all day for someone to come and visit her.

But she wasn’t expecting a wolf.

~

to be continued…

(Part Two).

~

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Halloween Magic

Well, its finally here…

The day of our year that most inspires our imagination.

The day where it is perfectly alright to eat candy for breakfast, lunch, supper and dessert.

The day when my kids actually look normal and have minions of other costumed children to blend in with.

Happy Halloween, everybody!!!

Thinking back over all of our past celebrations has left me a bit sentimental tonight, and I have a gut feeling that someday, I’ll painfully miss these days of playing dress-up with my kids. I have a deep affection for all holidays, but Halloween is truly special with its beautiful Fall backdrop and its cozy warmth and whimsy. And there is something so fulfilling about helping the innocent dreams of my children come true as I scour the internet and our closets to find costumes that will best help them look like their favorite characters.

This year is sure to be a special memory for all of us, and I’ll share more about that in the days and weeks to come…

But for now, I’d like to share with you the most special moment of last year’s Halloween. We had been busy, busy, busy, getting dressed in our pioneer costumes, meeting up with Jerry and Amy and the girls, taking lots of photographs, loading up into our covered wagon, trick-or-treating all over town, and I had been quite wrapped up in just keeping the festivities moving and keeping the children happy. We were at our last stop of the evening, a hustling and bustling Trunk-or-Treat at our town’s Assembly of God church, and we were stopping at each car to get candy, saying “hello!” and “how do you do?!” to townspeople we hadn’t seen in months, and the air was just positively thick with celebration and Halloweenish goodwill. That’s when I happened to look down and take notice of Miss Sunday, my fair-haired little Indian maiden.

She had reached up and taken my hand, and I noticed that her confident and bossy aura had been replaced by one that was subdued and watchful, and just for a couple breaths of a moment, I had the joy of seeing on her face one of the most beautiful facets of childhood. She was in awe. She was overwhelmed. She had slowed down in her running and gunning and had taken time to look around her and feel the wonder that a night of merriment with one’s family can bring. Halloween had captured her for a moment, and what I saw on her face and felt in her touch took me back to my own childhood, and the many similar moments I experienced growing up in our free and bountiful country. Moments so big and so over-the-top that the only thing I knew to do was sidle up close to my Mama and grab her hand, anchoring myself to what was normal and safe, even as my heart and my imagination were captured by what I saw taking place around me…

Trick-or-treating.

A hugely lit Christmas tree.

Musicians or actors on a stage.

Fireworks.

Sunday worship.

My heart would catch within me, and I would study the people and the scenery around me, trying to understand the mysteries of life and why we were doing what we were doing, sometimes unsure of how I felt about it, but mostly…happy. Especially with Mama by my side.

I can’t believe I’m the Mama now.

I can’t believe how wonderful it feels to anchor my little ones on their biggest days.

I can’t believe Halloween – and all the days in between – is even more magical now than it was then.

Life is beautiful. Enjoy celebrating it today!

And I’d love to hear from you…what are you dressing up as? What are your plans? Any special memories or funny stories to share?

A Non-defensive Defense of Halloween

I understand it would be folly to answer every disagreement that finds you on the internet…

In such a public – yet somewhat anonymous – forum, it is so easy to start lengthy, and sometimes passionately spirited, discussions that would probably never see the light of day in our real, face-to-face lives. Once we dip our toe into the realm of internet discourse, we then can feel the need to try to counter every argument and answer every question and defend every stance, an occupation that could keep us busy from sun-up to sun-down…and what do we really gain from such banter? Perhaps our vehement responses and well-stated arguments might shape and mold the opinion of another reader, but more likely than not, those who agree with us will say “yeah! what she said!!” and those who disagree will skim right past our argument so they can post their own.

That is why I choose to keep private any comments on my blog that might lead to controversy, or long, drawn-out discussions that really wouldn’t benefit many, and would most likely draw me away from the real people in my life as I sit at my computer desk to wait for responses to come in so that I might counter-respond. The very thought of such a life gives me the shivers; I’m here to celebrate life, not engage in word-fights with people I can’t see. And besides…word fights would totally clash with my soft, floral background.

That said, I received a simple comment to my last Halloween post, and I wanted to respond to it. If you go looking for it, you’ll not find it, for I never approved it and made it public; it was not mean-spirited at all, but I knew the minute I read it that it would have led to a long and unnecessary discussion. However, it did trigger a memory for me of a blog post I once considered writing and had kind of forgotten about, and hopefully, the post that ensues might answer some questions some of you might have had about me…and better yet, it might encourage some of you who feel conflicted about the holiday I speak so often and so fondly of: today, dear friends, I’d like to share with you why Mrs. Gore, the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher, so joyfully celebrates Halloween.

So the comment I received yesterday was nothing more than a gentle suggestion that I should look up Halloween and what it truly means – but it was rather loaded, for I knew exactly what the commenter was saying (without really saying so)…that Halloween is a dark holiday with evil origins and that Christians should not celebrate such a holiday. I am quite positive that the commenter meant no ill will in this recommendation, and only means to help me, and I appreciate that very much. However, this is a subject that I’ve given much consideration to over the years, and I’ve got to tell you, in all humility, I feel great freedom in our personal decision to partake in the innocent fun that is Halloween.

And here’s why. Regardless of the origins of Halloween (and those origins are foggy, indeed), there is simply nothing pagan about what our family does on this Fall holiday. We dress up in fun costumes and we have an absolute blast. We thank the Lord for our chili and caramel apples and fun-size candy bars, just as we thank Him for every meal we partake of. We strive to glorify Him as we traipse through the streets of our town, knocking on the doors of our church members, many of whom are also dressed up in fun costumes, just as we strive to glorify Him on every other day of the year. In other words, we might be enjoying Halloween, but we are still, by the grace of God, living a gospel-centered life. Halloween neither detracts nor adds to that, unless you consider how fully this day draws us together as a family. In that light…Halloween actually adds to our gospel-centered life, silly as that may sound, and is one of the highlight days of our year, every year.

But I know this has been a very tricky subject for Christians over the years. Many of us don’t really know what to do with Halloween.

Should we do away with it altogether?

Should we celebrate, but keep that information on the down-low lest an another church member find out about it?

Or my personal favorite, how about we celebrate Halloween, but call it a “Fall Festival”…then we can have a party at the church, and we can still dress up, we can even throw evangelism into the mix, and…everyone is happy and no one feels guilty or condemned.

The opinions are obviously varied, even among the most devout and theological.

And so, in my truly humble opinion, what Halloween and all the trimmings comes down to is just another of those instances of Christian conviction. There are matters of Biblical truth that we must be unwavering on, no matter what our culture says, or even our own deceptive hearts. But then there are other (secondary) matters that we must pray over and examine, honestly seeking the direction and peace of God and the wisdom and authority of our local pastor and congregation. The conclusions we are led to in these secondary matters become convictions that are very personal and are often unique to our different situations and settings, and sometimes even change as we grow in our faith. And I think a lot of subjects fit in this second category – Halloween, Santa Claus, certain TV shows and movies, clothing, music, dancing, card-playing, pool halls, Harry Potter, Disney…just to name a few.

And, sadly, a lot of times, we mistake these convictions as universal truths, and pretty soon, we’ve taken something personal and perhaps Spirit-led and created an extra-Biblical standard that all Christians must live under or meet our unsolicited disapproval. And, what scares me the most about this is, if we’re not careful, our good intentions can tear up the Kingdom and the unity of the church as we become warriors for our pet causes, trampling over the unifying blood of Christ in our haste to have the entire Church – and the world, even – share our opinion.

So…is this blog post a defense for Halloween? Not really. I’m not that in love with Halloween, that I would defend it to my grave, and am even open to the thought that God might change my convictions about it someday (but please no, God!).

But I try to be pretty serious about the verse that states the following: The world will know we are disciples of Jesus if we have love for one another (John 13:35).

Therefore, I think the most important thing we can do on Halloween – and every day of the year – is strive for unity and grace and love, to the point that we go out of our way to submit to our God-ordained authority (remember, your pastor has been commanded to watch over your soul and you have been commanded to make this easy for him) as well as our brothers and sisters in the faith, and show, by our actions and our attitudes, that we esteem each other even more than we do our own lives. I don’t know what that will make October 31st look like for you, but I definitely thing it is worth mulling over.

And if you are like our family…you might get to the end of all that examination and decide, quite happily and confidently, that Halloween is alright by you, at least for now, and that, at the end of your holiday, love and peace and unity reigns. Because, after all, isn’t that what Halloween is all about?…

Wait…that’s Christmas.

So…what I guess I’m trying to say is, let’s live every day – including Halloween – like its Christmas.

Merry Christmas, dear readers! And Happy Halloween/Plain-old-October-31st/Fall Festival/Reformation Day…

~

As mentioned above, I will see and welcome all comments, but reserve the right to only publish those that are edifying and that will not lead to further debate, therefore causing my readers distress or the temptation to watch drama unfold on the internet. Thanks for understanding!

A Pinteresty Halloween

In celebration of our upcoming holiday, I’ve been sharing Halloween ideas all day on the Mrs. Gore’s Diary facebook page (where we have LOTS of fun! Join us, why don’t you?), and I thought I’d gather them all up together right here, along with a few more that have yet to be shared…

Last year, just awakening to the glorious world of Pinterest, I threw a Halloween party for all of our friends and family members employing many of the ideas I had come across at that most beloved site, along with a few I had picked up over the years from Country Living and Martha Stewart. We had a ball…but I think I’m still exhausted from our fete, as I have yet to put up a single Halloween decoration this year.

Still, I’ve had great fun looking back at all the fun we had last year, and would love to share with you some Pinterest ideas that worked…and then some that didn’t work…to help you with your Halloween festivities next week.

Really…you  don’t have to thank me.

Let’s hop straight to it!

~

Pinterest ideas that worked:

Idea #1: Use a Sharpie to draw jack-o-lantern faces on clementines. On a night that is fueled by candy and sugar, its nice to have at least one healthy treat for your little ones. I’m pretty sure I drew all of these faces on while watching “The X Factor”…

(source)

We also had a bucket of healthy, shiny apples. I am proud to say that, by the end of the night, only 3 of these beauties remained (thanks to our favorite and magical apple peeler/corer/slicer).

~

Idea #2: Glitter Pumpkins! I saw these on the Martha Stewart show in college and had always wanted to give them a try, so one fine Fall day, Gideon and I sat on the front porch and did our first craft together. These were great fun to make (even though we made a HUGE mess on the porch), and seriously? I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. SO much glitter. SOOOO pretty! (and please don’t even think of comparing mine to Martha’s…you should know better).

(source)

~

Idea #3: my favorite Halloween decoration everrrrr…and another Martha Stewart stroke of genius! Use her templates to trace and cut out these little mice (I did mine on black cardstock) and attach them to your baseboards or have them crawling onto your windowsills or mantle…I will admit that, after they were stationed all over our living room, they caused me to shiver a few times, but my kids loved them. And I do love Halloween decorations that aren’t gory or scary…just classic, kind-of-spooky, old-fashioned fun.

(source)

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Idea #4: These cake-like cookies (on the bottom tier) were not too difficult to make and…I loved eating them. I don’t remember how well they were received at the party, but I do know this: they were all eaten. Maybe mostly by me.

(source and recipe)

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Idea #5: Amy brought the drinks for our party, and they were a huge hit among the kiddos. Giant pickle jars (with Dollar Store signage) held the drinks, and little jelly jars with spill-proof laminated “lids” served as perfect spooky vessels…topped with a spider ring for each guest. This might have been the kids’ favorite part of the entire party, and was born solely out of Amy’s creativity and resourcefulness. Love her.

~

Idea #6: I’ve seen this game several times in magazines and blogs, but I can’t recall from whom or where or whence it came. Its just something we picked up along the way and have used many a time at Halloween or Fall parties. So the source is…whoever gave me the idea. Thanks, you!

Anyhow, as an alternative to dunking for apples, simply tie donuts to long strings and elevate them. The children have to hold their hands behind their back and try to retrieve the yummy donut, resulting in lots of giggles. Our donuts were tied this year to a broomstick that I held in my hands and lowered or raised according to each child’s height.

Yes, I have a picture of me holding the broomstick. Yes, I look about 6 months pregnant in that particular picture. No, I was no pregnant at all. Yes, I was having so much fun I forgot to suck in my gut. No, I will not be sharing that photograph. But YES, I will share this one of sweet Anna trying to get her a donut, as her friends cheer her on…

~

Idea #7: You may recall us making these lanterns at my Mom’s Halloween party…well, they looked even more magnificent at night, and helped give our party a festive, family-friendly Halloween vibe. And the kids were so proud to see their own handiwork on display! This idea came straight from Southern Living and was discovered by my Mom, not on Pinterest, but in a real live magazine. Yes, they still make those (and we still love to peruse them!).

(source)

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Pinterest ideas that did NOT work:

So not every endeavor ends in success. You win some…you lose some…even on Pinterest. I definitely lost some in the next two instances.

Failed Idea #1: Would you just look at these adorable cupcakes all tied up with a little bow? Upon seeing them, I directly added them to my list of party treats.

(source)

And then I made them, foolishly using a different recipe that obviously wasn’t destined for such Halloween cuteness. I almost smashed each puny little cupcake as I tried to gingerly tie a pretty bow on them, a sea of powdered sugar covering my kitchen floor. They tasted great, but…I still hate the sight of my version, a blight on my memory and my stupid Halloween party. Gah!

~

Failed Idea # 2: I keep a board on my Pinterest account just for Amy so she doesn’t have to mess with an active account, and there, I share things that I think she might like, or projects I think she would excel in, but more often than not, we bounce around photography ideas. One day, I shared this precious photograph with her, eager to try it out on Betsie. I mean, look at how content that sweet little baby is to sit in a pumpkin! I just knew Betsie, the most content and happy baby I’d ever been around, would do exactly this and more!

(source)

Amy was as gung-ho about it as I was, and we couldn’t wait to set up our little pumpkin photo shoot…

Turns out, Betsie wasn’t keen on the idea of being stuffed inside of a cold pumpkin. Epic fail.

My sincerest apologies to my sweet baby girl who, for some reason, now has a pumpkin phobia. Just kidding. But she might if I showed her this picture…

And just for the record, we got her out of this horrid predicament as soon as possible, whereupon she received lots of cuddling and sympathetic baby-talk.

~

Pinterest failures notwithstanding, it was one of the most festive and enjoyable nights we’ve shared, music playing, Fall breeze gently blowing, trick-or-treaters showing up at the gate and realizing too late that we were having a private, rather than a neighborhood, party (“Oh hi! Um…we only have candy for the kids inside the fence. Sorry…”).

And I was doing one of my favorite things. Sitting around a table with little people, in costume, eating lots and lots of sugar…

Life, in my opinion, doesn’t get much better. Thanks, Pinterest…

Except for where you miserably failed me.

Halloween Costumes = Family Fun (Part Two)

So, yes…

last year just happened to be my favorite Halloween EVER.

But how could it not be?

Gideon was in love with Davy Crockett.

My nieces were studying “Little House on the Prairie” in homeschool.

Amy’s parents made a covered wagon for us to trick-or-treat in.

The stars had obviously aligned for the perfect Halloween theme for an extended family of 10. Is it okay for a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife to thank God for Halloween blessings? Don’t answer that…

Anyway, Jerry, Amy and their 3 girls dressed as Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie Ingalls.

Our family dressed as a hodge podge of frontierspeople, starring Davy Crockett (played by Gideon), accompanied by his pioneer friend (who also doubled as Pa Ingalls friend, Mr. Edwards), his friend’s Indian wife (my very first costume repeat), and their two daughters. Our favorite part of this costuming was that Rebekah Sunday looked like the picture of a frontiersgirl who had been kidnapped in her infancy and raised by Indians, with her cornflower blue eyes and golden yellow braids. And I obviously read a lot of Christian fiction.

Truly, though. I have never in my life experienced such a joyfully fun Halloween, and I hope I never forget sitting in the back of the electric Mule watching my son and nieces being toted around town in a super-awesome covered wagon.

I seriously don’t know how we’re going to top it.

Actually, yeah I do. Halloween 2012. Coming soon to Mrs. Gore’s Diary…

Halloween Costumes = Family Fun (Part 1)

I love Halloween.

Always have.

Always will.

When Mr. Gore and I were first dating, it didn’t take long before I dragged him into the realm of my holiday madness. I’ll never forget our first Halloween as a couple. We dressed up in costume (I was a princess and he was a gangster), I made him an absolutely awful home-cooked meal (on accident, not on purpose), we went trick-or-treating at the homes of some of our friends, and then we went, in costume, to the movies – my giant puffy dress wafted up and over my theater seat, and I loved every minute…even though I hated the scary movie we watched with a passion.

Then we got married and moved to Kentucky. I cannot share a picture of the costume I wore that year, as we “stayed in” for our Halloween “party” (you know what I mean?)

Not surprisingly, the next year I was pregnant, and dressed as a miserable pregnant woman. Mr. Gore wore jeans and a t-shirt.

Had we lost our Halloween spirit? NO. WAY.

Because the next year we were joined by our first baby, and our Halloween spirit went up about 2,000 notches when I learned what fun could be had in dressing up as a family unit. Poor, poor Mr. Gore…

It should be noted that, I always come up with fun ideas and spend August and September being so excited about our costumes…until I am getting dressed on Halloween night. There, alone in my room, I berate myself for being such an IDIOT who still gets dressed up on a decidedly children’s holiday…

But that all washes away when I step into the living room and my kids just nearly die of excitement over what I’m wearing. Little ones are so very easy to impress, and I will gladly look like the dork of the century for them every October 31st, so long as they will enjoy it. And then probably when they don’t, just so I can embarrass them.

So. Our first Halloween with baby. Gideon was 7 months old and an absolute mizer. He didn’t like to be held by other people and he didn’t like festivities. Which was a problem, as Mr. Gore and I were playing a key role in our church’s Halloween festival…it was going to be loud and there were going to be lots of people there. Gid was sure to hate it. So I dressed him as a chicken (I glued a felt “beak” to his pacifier) and put him in a “nest” (a cheap laundry basket wrapped in burlap) of raffia, surrounded by Hobby Lobby craft eggs for him to play with. Throughout the entire party, he was able to be happily unsociable, and I was able to enjoy the party! Mr. Gore dressed as a gentleman farmer, and I was his doting wife, dressed in my Granny’s old pioneer costume that just happened to fit my new Mama body perfectly. I will admit, this was a very throw-together year for us – I spent very little time on our costumes (note the cardboard sign and the office clip), but we had such fun!

The next year was one of my favorite Halloween themes ever. We dressed as the “First Thanksgiving” – Mr. Gore was a pilgrim, I was an Indian maid, and Gideon was a turkey. We did not eat him. (and we kept news that I was pregnant again a secret until November – we didn’t want to get the Pilgrims in trouble).

No, I changed my mind…the NEXT year was my favorite theme ever. My brother and his wife (Amy! You know her!) had moved back to town, and we had more kids to play dress-up with us. Gideon was absolutely in love with Peter Pan at the time, and my little nieces were thrilled to play the part of Wendy and Tinkerbell. Mr. Gore reluctantly dressed as Mr. Smee, and I displayed just how much I love my kids by donning a faux mustache (my real one wasn’t impressive enough) and dressing as Captain Hook. I actually loved this costume, as I felt comfortably fashion forward with my knee-high boots, white ruffly sundress and black J. Crew 3/4-sleeve velvet dress coat (that I borrowed from my Mom). The hat came from the Disney Store, as did our Peter Pan costume (and all of these items are still being enjoyed today!). The sad news: I ordered a precious mermaid costume for Miss Sunday to wear, but it arrived the day AFTER Halloween. Tragedy.

The next year we went Biblical. Gideon was the young shepherd David, Rebekah was his little lamb, Mr. Gore was dumb Goliath and I was Goliath’s dumb groupie, who carried around a sign that said “Goliath Rocks!” (Get it? “rocks”…slingshot…yeah, it was the best I could do). We ordered some cool headgear off of Amazon, and the rest of our costumes were pieced together from our church’s closet full of nativity costumes. Rebekah’s lamb costume came from Chasing Fireflies (I think).

Man, that was fun. But now that I think about it…

the NEXT year (last year) was really my favoritest Halloween ever.

I love it so much, I’ve decided it needs its own post. Comin’ up tomorrow…

Her Haunting Halloween Homeschool Hoopla

Without further ado, I bring to you…

~ GRANDMOTHER’S HALLOWEEN HOMESCHOOL PARTY ~

The children line up for the party with NO idea of what fun awaits them!

If the kitchen didn't scream "Happy Halloween!!!" loudly enough, the Halloween music playing in the background did. "They did the Monster Mash..."

The table's centerpiece was a Halloween cup filled with yummy candy for each child to take home. I did NOT eat the M&M's hidden at the bottom of my kids cups. Excuse me...I did not eat ALL the M&M's hidden at the bottom of my kids cups.

My Mom whisked the kids to the back for a surprise - they came running back into the living room with these horrid teeth in their mouths!

Kate Belle was kinda proud of hers, giving her good tooth a polish.

Next, we played a mummy-wrapping game in the yard.

Rebekah stood as still as a statue! She's not in homeschool yet, but I give her an A+++.

Next it was time for a craft that my Mom found in Southern Living magazine. Each child was given a mason jar to paint orange...

(I most certainly had to go back and paint Rebekah's when she was finished...)

After they dried, Aunt Amy drew jack-o-lantern faces on them and then they were sprayed with a clear gaze and set out to dry.

The finished product! An LED light was placed inside and each child had a new nightlight to carry home.

The children were sent back into the playroom while lunch was placed on the table. When it was time to par-tay they each had to run down the hallway and make a scary face! Then they were shown to their seat. Here's Abigail!

then a kinda scary (but too cute to ever be scary) Anna...

followed by Rebekah with her one-trick-pony always-the-same scary face...

then a fierce-faced Gideon…

followed by Baby Kate, who is still working on her scary face!

Let the party begin! I saw a quotation on Pinterest last week that said "A grandparents house is where cousins become best friends." I could not agree more!

There was Orange Crush soda in bottles...

(sluuurrrrrrp...)

and Orange jell-o with a dollop of Cool Whip on top...

and a caramel apple for each of us with a ribbon-wrapped stick (not to mention popcorn balls, trail mix, goldfish, cheetohs, oranges, carrots, ham/cheese/crackers, cheese dip and chips, peanut butter crackers, iced gingerbread cookies, and enough special candy to give a cavity to each tooth in the house!!!)

Oh, and a precious little box of treats to enjoy at home. (purchased from Kids at Heart Designs at etsy.com)

And finally, while the grown-ups chatted and cleaned, the children watched "Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", easing our Halloween extravaganza to a happy end.

Do these children have any idea how blessed they are to have her in their life? I doubt it. But they will, I am sure of that.

As we pulled out of the driveway to return home for afternoon naps, I asked the kids what they thought of that Halloween party…

Gideon had one word: “Awesome.”

“What was your favorite part?” I asked.

“…All of it.” he said.

I’m inclined to agree.