Happy Halloween!

How dare people throw parties and enjoy themselves on Halloween? The Denver Post, whose editorials could use a good wake-up scare, is upset that people are spending a few dollars to celebrate the holiday. The sub-head of an October 26 editorial complains that, while Halloween “used to be a simple, fun holiday,” now people spend (gasp!) $5 billion to celebrate. “That’s right, 5 billion,” the editorial repeats. The Post laments:

These days, you’re likely to see yards turned into horror movie sets, with orange lights, talking skeletons and smoke machines. The parties start days before the holiday and frequently involve printed invitations and catered food.

Stop the madness! …

It would be a shame to see this once-simple holiday turn into yet another commercial extravaganza with the potential to linger on your credit card bill for months.

Just imagine how Labor Day through New Year’s could turn into one blurry buy-fest, filled with obligatory parties and gifts purchased out of desperation.

The Denver Post should take a chill potion.

If the editorial writers at the Post can’t enjoy themselves without going into debt, and if they can’t attend parties and buy gifts for some reason other than a sense of duty, that’s their problem. They should stop projecting their pathologies onto the rest of us.

Let’s see. The population of the United States is about 300 million. So Halloween costs about $17 per person. That’s a pretty good deal, considering how much fun most of us have.

In our family, Halloween is a pretty big deal. Partly that’s because, with so large a family spread out over so large a distance, it’s impossible to see everybody on every holiday. My wife’s parents have claimed Halloween as their own. The holiday fits with my (step) father-in-law’s interests: he’s a huge sci-fi and horror buff. So my parents-in-law throw a huge party every year, complete with food, costumes, elaborate and mostly hand-made props, and, yes, a talking skeleton (at least in previous years) that tells ghost stories. They even send out “printed invitations,” which my wife designs and prints on our trusty HP ink jet.

This year, the party features a magic show. My father-in-law hand-built a stage prop so that his friend and my sister-in-law could re-create one of Houdini’s tricks. I heard children literally scream with delight during the show. If the sticks in the mud at the Post can’t manage to similarly enjoy themselves on the holiday, fine, but leave the rest of us alone.

My wife and I spent about $65 on Halloween costumes (that we can use again in future years), plus some extra money for clothes that can also be worn in regular wear. We spent $48 on DeVotchKa tickets, which allowed us to enjoyed Colorado’s best band and the many spectacular costumes among the crowd. We spent additional money for food and drinks, including pie pumpkins and Jello shooters in Halloween molds. Oh, and we spent $14 to see The Nightmare Before Christmas, 3D. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed every penny.

Yes, people often celebrate Halloween on the Saturday before. So what? We enjoyed the events on Saturday, and we look forward to the events on Wednesday. The writers for the Post are more than welcome to stay home and watch television or clip their toenails on both nights.

The Post got the $5 billion figure — that’s right, $5 billion — from the National Retail Federation. Here’s what the release says:

With the year’s spookiest holiday approaching, consumers are looking to celebrate. According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, consumers are expected to spend more on Halloween this year than last year, with the average person planning to spend $64.82 on the holiday compared to $59.06 one year ago. Total Halloween spending for 2007 is estimated to reach $5.07 billion. …

Halloween party-goers are bobbing for more than just apples. They’ll also be on the lookout for candy, costumes and decorations. The average person will spend $23.33 on Halloween costumes (including children’s and pet’s costumes), though young adults will spend far more. In fact, according to the survey, 18-24 year-olds plan to be the most festive, spending $34.06 on costumes, nearly twice as much as they plan to spend on candy ($19.65). According to the survey, average spending will rise in all categories, including candy ($19.84, decorations ($17.73) and greeting cards ($3.92). …

The most popular activity on Halloween this year will be handing out candy, with nearly three-fourths (72.9%) of consumers planning to stay home to hand out treats. Other popular activities will include pumpkin carving (43.3%), decorating a home and/or yard (47.8%), and throwing or attending a Halloween party (28.3%).

This is just way too much fun for The Denver Post. What are people thinking, dressing up, putting up decorations, and enjoying time with friends?

I must have missed the Post’s editorial complaining about how much money people spend on baseball, which mostly comes down to hitting a ball with a stick. And is the Post next going to come out against parties in general? After all, they also often involve special dress, decorations, and food. And Christmas trees! I bet all kinds of people will buy trees and decorations later this year. Christmas sweaters, candies, cakes… too much fun! Just stop it, already!

Or could it be that people get more value for their Halloween dollars than The Denver Post gets for its incessantly whining editorials? Be sure to put the paper’s editorials to their best use: spread them out on the counter or the floor to capture your pumpkin guts.

Happy Halloween!

One thought on “Happy Halloween!”

  1. I was so psyched to see DeVotchka on Saturday that it never occurred to me that the tickets could qualify as a holiday expenditure. It was just a really fun night. And besides, it was a Dia de los Muertos celebration!

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