Horror Writers Association Blog

10 Things to Do on Halloween by Joanna Parypinski


It’s that time of year again when horror lovers have to decide what they will do to make the most of their precious Halloween time. Sure, there are tons of activities available, from parades to theme parks to haunted houses, but let’s face it: most people will probably come home after work and stay in to hand out candy. This list of 10 things to do is for those of you who appreciate the simple things in life and in holidays! A Halloween itinerary for your Average Joe:

  1. Wear a half-hearted costume to work because you’re not sure if anyone else is going to dress up, and you don’t want to run the risk of going all-out with your zombie ballerina outfit. Wear all black and a witch hat like you do every year, to play it safe, and then spend the day lamenting that you didn’t just go for it.
  2. Stop by the grocery store after work to pick up a few bags of candy and a pumpkin. (Don’t forget the carving tools! Grab a knife sharpener if you don’t have one, or a set of pumpkin-carving knives.) Dither over the candy choices (you’ll be eating whatever is left over, and based on last year’s sad turnout, you’ll have a lot of leftovers on your hands). Carve said pumpkin, since you know if you had dared to carve it two days ago, it would be rotting by now. Rinse and roast your pumpkin seeds too much while you go searching for a candle or flashlight to stick inside of your pumpkin. Night falls fast in October.
  3. Spend a little too much time carefully blotting fake blood on your face so that when you open the door for trick-or-treaters they will get more than just candy. Now is the time to go for the zombie ballerina outfit, even if you feel a bit silly sitting in your apartment alone wearing a tattered tutu. Never open the door without a costume on, or the neighborhood kids will think you’re lame.
  4. Be generous! When the first trick-or-treaters arrive, give them sizable handfuls of candy—they’ve earned it, and besides, there aren’t that many kids in your neighborhood. If this year is at all like last year, you’ll get maybe another two or three more groups, and then you’ll have to eat the rest yourself. (Don’t forget to stock up on Pepto Bismol!)
  5. Grumble every time the doorbell interrupts Halloween IV (even though you’ve seen it eight times). The fake blood will be itching now that it’s dry and flaky, so wash it off with warm water and mild soap. You’ll want to ditch the tutu after a while, too, because it’s not very comfortable.
  6. Keep eating candy until your stomach starts to make strange noises. You can wash down the flavor by breaking out some seasonal pumpkin ale or spiced rum.
  7. Panic when the doorbell rings and the candy bowl is empty. Ignore the doorbell. They’ll go away eventually.
  8. When the movie ends, turn off the lights and sit in the dark. Take a drink of spiced rum every time the doorbell shrieks into the night, to calm your screaming nerves. Try to ignore the pounding of small fists on the door as the bell chimes again and again.
  9. Pull the curtains aside just a sliver and peek out into the night, wishing you were brave enough to step onto the porch and blow out the candle in your pumpkin so that trick-or-treaters would know not to stop here. Watch the dark figures moving slowly about the street, wondering why the streetlamps are going off one by one.
  10. Ignore the pounding on the door. Where did all these children come from, and how do they all know you’re in here? There were never this many children in your neighborhood before. Retrieve the knife you used to carve the pumpkin, just in case. Remind yourself that they will go away eventually. It’s almost midnight. Halloween will be over soon.

But you know, deep down, that it never really ends, don’t you?

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY:  Joanna Parypinski is giving away a paperback copy of Haunted Nights. Comment below or email membership@horror.org with the subject title HH Contest Entry for a chance to win.”

Bio:  Joanna Parypinski is a college English instructor by day and a writer of the dark and strange by night. Her work has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Haunted Nights (ed. Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton), The Beauty of Death 2: Death by Water (Independent Legions), and Vastarien. Her forthcoming novel, Dark Carnival, will be released by Independent Legions in 2019. Living in the shadow of an old church that sits atop a hilly cemetery north of Los Angeles, she writes, grades essays, and plays her cello surrounded by the sounds of screaming neighbor children. Visit her website at http://joannaparypinski.com or follow her bite-sized book reviews on Twitter @joannapary.

Description of Haunted Nights:

“Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.

In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.”

Reviews of Haunted Nights:

“Halloween brings out the best in horror writers, as this fright-packed anthology of 15 new stories with Halloween themes demonstrates…Editors Datlow and Morton have filled this book with an assortment of Halloween treats whose horrors transcend their Holiday setting.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The authors skillfully address the Halloween theme with a great variety of tones and styles, exploring the unholiest holiday from any possible angle, thus providing a very enjoyable book for horror lovers…Intriguing and creepy. In short, a “must-have” book.”

“This is a crazy awesome anthology that, honestly, I’m kind of in love with. Get it! You will enjoy it!”

“The entire collection is solid and refreshing, featuring great stories that don’t resort to overused tropes and revealing the full breadth of today’s horror, from surreal to creepy to full-blown, visceral terror…the perfect holiday companion, Haunted Nights is an ideal way to celebrate Halloween and its millennial history this year and for many more to come.”

7 comments on “10 Things to Do on Halloween by Joanna Parypinski

  1. What a tantalizing tease for her book! I enjoyed the work to night motif. Halloween playing in the background evokes the mood music in my head.

  2. Loved this post. It starts out with such a practical list of things to do and turns dark. Happy Halloween!!

  3. Well, went a lot longer than I would have before taking that first drink of rum. Maybe eating the candy, too.

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