Shindig

For the longest time I’d wanted to host a party of my own, and I finally threw a little Halloween shindig at my house this past weekend.  It’s the first of many to come, as I’m turning this into an annual tradition.

The idea for a Halloween party came to me last November when I noticed all the decorations in the store were 50-90 percent off.  What better time to start stocking up for next year?  Then I realized I could combine my desire to throw a bash with my love of Halloween, so I stocked up on discounted party supplies as well.  I packed all that stuff away until this September.

Autumn was approaching and I was waffling.  I’d wanted to have a party, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready.  Even though I’ve been living here for ten years, I still had a lot of work to do on the house and yard.  I finally pulled the trigger on the first of October, creating a Facebook event and inviting everyone I could.  That was just what I needed to spur me into action.  Unfortunately I waited a bit too long, because the weekend before Halloween was even more popular than I realized.  I was in competition with a lot of other parties and other invites had already gone out.

No matter.  Regardless of how many people ultimately came, I was determined to show those who did a memorable time.  I got to work immediately, and since my party was outdoors I had a lot to do.  I rushed to reseed a good portion of the lawn.  I condensed my enormous woodpile.  I fixed the broken Adirondack chairs.  I rented a jackhammer to bust up concrete pilings left over from a deck that was taken down years ago.  If anything, I was finally crossing off long-neglected items on my to-do list.

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Then I started shopping for more decor.  Last year I’d bought 30 bags of spider webbing and figured I’d use those and some strings of lights to make everything look festive.  But I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I wanted more.  So I bought a couple dozen headstones to make a cemetery:

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I still wasn’t satisfied.  First I had to glue on bigger stakes, because the little plastic ones that came with them were useless.  Then I wanted more, but not at full price.  Instead I decided to try making my own.  I’ve always considered myself an arts n’ crafty little bastard, but never really put my skills to the test before now.  This was a chance to cross another item off my endless to-do list.  So I went out and got some foam board and went to town:

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Not bad.  But they needed some color.  And snark:

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Much better.  I ended up with nearly 40 tombstones in all. But I wanted more.  So I took some leftover wood that’s been lying around here and finally put that shit to use.  I made an archway for the cemetery, from which I later hung webbing and lights.  I also made a path through the cemetery using rolls of wooden fencing:

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Pretty good.  But guess what?  I still wanted more.  I made trip after trip to every store selling Halloween stuff, looking for good deals.  Finally I scored big at Home Depot:

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Hey, I needed more bones for my graveyard…  Plus I needed skeletons to hang from the trees and another one to go in a wheelchair.  I hung more lights in the front of the house, eventually using 20 boxes of 21ft strings of orange.  I put out plastic pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales.  I stretched webbing between all the trees in the front and hung giant spiders on them.  But I.  Still.  Wanted.  More.

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I was envious of others who had those big spooky figures in their yards.  Animatronic witches and goblins and zombies and whatnot.  A family in my old neighborhood had a plethora and they used to hold a spooky walk-thru in their front yard every year.  Sadly they stopped one day, citing financial hardship.  It’s been over 15 years, but every October I still drive past their house, looking and hoping that they’ll bring it back.  But then I started thinking I could just do my own spooky walk-thru instead.  I’d already invested in a couple of climbing figures and hanging ghosts, but I had nothing life sized.  Once again, I decided to try being crafty.  I bought mannequin heads, PVC pipe and black costume fabric and started experimenting:

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Not bad for 30 bucks, and I later added skeleton hands and a scythe.  I was pretty pleased with the results, but some re-engineering is needed after seeing how it functions outdoors.  I still had space to fill outside, so I bought one more big item at half-price:

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The final result:

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With that I brought my decorating to an end… apart from the luminaries I used to make additional paths through the cemetery and into the backyard.  And the lights I hung on the fence.  And the fog machine I had running.  The funny thing is, this isn’t even half of what I ultimately wanted to do, but my guests were sufficiently impressed anyway.  The headstones in particular were a big hit (note to self).

In the end I only pulled in about 13 people.  (Ooooh, spooky!)   I could have easily pulled in twice that had I sent out my invites a little sooner.  Holding my party on the weekend of the 21st would have been even better, since there was less stuff to compete with.  Another note to self for next year, which I’m already planning for.

I spent 200 bucks on food and drinks – definitely more than I needed to, but better to have too much than not enough.  (I’d also forgotten that people typically bring stuff with them too.)  I had burgers, hot dogs, beer, soda, marshmallows, cupcakes and a big bowl of candy.  Next year I’m thinking of adding pizza, lasagna, baked ziti, potato salad, etc.  I’d also like to add more lights and a heated tent (even though we had a perfect warm night this year).

When all was said and done I must have forked out nearly 500 bucks after buying all the extra decor and party supplies and stuff I needed for the yard.  That’s part of the reason why I’d never held a party until now: the cost.  At least, the cost of putting on the kind of party I’d envisioned.  But now that I’m in a great place financially, money is no issue anymore.  Plus a lot of those were one-time costs since I’ll be reusing this stuff next year and beyond.

It was definitely a learning experience for me, as far as what logistics to improve on. It also helps me to be more social and have things going on in my life.  I’d barely finished decorating and setting up before the first people arrived, so I was a bit stressed and frazzled as a result, but I did my best to be an attentive host.  The whole affair lasted about five hours, and by the end of the night we were down to a handful of people.

My buddy Tim got into a heated political discussion with three others.  I could see him getting visibly agitated.  Oh boy.  I knew ten minutes in advance that it wasn’t going to end well, and I was right.  He accused them of romanticizing their struggles and wanting to commit genocide.  Finally he stood up, bade me adieu, called the others cocksuckers, and flipped them off before walking away like George Jefferson. Classic Tim fashion.  I got a kick out of it, as did the others.  We cracked up as he burned rubber down the street.  And what was the argument over, you ask?  Universal basic income, of all things.  When it comes to politics, some people just have no chill.

And that provides a great segue into the subject of my next post: politics and dating.

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