All Hallows Eve is upon us, and the true terrors aren’t the witches, devils and monsters. We think that getting lost in the dark, taking lousy Halloween pictures, and wondering if your kids are up to no good are definitely more horrifying, so here’s our Halloween Survival Guide to help you stay safe, have fun, get the most candy you can and, yes, perhaps survive a legitimate zombie takeover:
1) Don’t succumb to the shadows: Halloween may be all about nighttime spookiness, but you want to make sure that you and your kids are visible to any oncoming traffic and that you can see where you’re going. Many guides suggest incorporating reflective material into costumes, but why not go one step further and add some glowing LED eyes to your mask. You can bond with your kids as you make your monster mask stand out with this fun, easy DIY project. RadioShack has some great LED kits to choose from and all the supplies you need to pull off your project. Also, be sure to get some fresh batteries in your flashlight. A good flashlight will help you see where you’re going, and cars won’t have to wait until their headlights are upon you to know you’re there.
2) Check the weather and costume accordingly: Some costumes are a little skimpy, and most kids’ costumes are made of thin materials. Don’t get caught in the cold. Get a fiendish forecast from the Zombie Weatherman app for iPhone. It works exactly the same as the standard weather app, but with 100% more undead. Based on the temperature and precipitation in your area, the Zombie Weatherman wears appropriate clothing ranging, from a Hawaiian shirt and shorts to a yellow rain slicker to a full coat and wool hat. He will also howl out his meteorological expertise with the occasional “Clouddddddddyyyyyyyyy” or “Raaaaaaaaiiiinnnnn.” Finally, should your trick-or-treating get rained out, you can take your frustrations out on the Zombie Weatherman by tapping him, which causes him to keel over in pain and blood to splatter on the screen.
3) Replace jack-o’-lantern candles with LEDs: When lighting your jack-o’-lanterns, LEDs are safer than candles and you can reuse them or add them to another project, making them more cost-effective. You can also get some interesting color combinations to add another layer of creativity to your carvings. If you decide to go the traditional candle route, make sure your pumpkins are on the ground or a steady surface that won’t tip over and that they’re far away from flammable objects like curtains or wood fences and siding. Check out all the LED options at RadioShack.
4) Get in the spirit with spooky songs: Stock your iPod with more than just “Monster Mash.” While we love the perennial Halloween classic, to successfully get kids, teens AND adults into the Halloween spirit, you need more than the “Mash”, “Thriller”, and a goofy scary sounds compilation. Here are some suggestions to rock things up a little bit:
- “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon,
- “Black Magic Woman” by Santana,
- “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles,
- “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (This original version has many more sinister laughs and screams than later versions, making it even more appropriate for Halloween.)
- “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo,
- “Zomby Woof” by Frank Zappa and
- “Halloween” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
5) For the kids: Know your candy optimization techniques: Most of these are common knowledge now, but this is just a reminder. First, pillow cases hold more loot than novelty Halloween buckets (and you already own the pillowcases). Second, skip houses with the lights off to use your time efficiently. They have no candy and don’t want you ringing their doorbell. Third, small groups are less overwhelming for candy providers, therefore making them more generous. Fourth, use good manners, say “Trick or Treat!” and smile. Halloween is for fun, not for scamming your neighbors out of treats. And finally, for you older trick-or-treaters, once you start thinking “Sexy Witch” is a better costume than “Scary Witch,” you should buy your candy at the store.
6) Track your trick-or-treaters: Halloween can be a little bit scary for parents with kids who are old enough to venture out on their own. Make sure your kids are safe by using a geolocation app like Google Latitude or Apple’s “Find my Friends” tool in iOS5. With most of these apps, each party must allow sharing of their location with others, similar to adding friends on Facebook. Savvy teenagers will know how to turn these features off, so make sure they get properly punished if they do. Also, these kinds of apps can be total battery vampires, so charge up before heading out or check out RadioShack’s selection of spare batteries and portable chargers.
7) Prepare for a legitimate zombie attack: Remember, zombies are usually slow, so wear a costume that will allow you to move freely and quickly enough to escape. Dressing up as a baseball player gives you an advantage—a bat is a formidable weapon against the living dead. Next, zombies have no interest in candy; be very suspicious of people who are not interested in candy on Halloween. Finally, just start shouting ‘BRAAAAIIIINNNSSSS, BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS!’ and hope your costume is scary enough to blend in.
8) Capture the memories, even in low-light conditions: Capturing the mood and memories of Halloween is a lot more difficult in the relative darkness of trick-or-treating at dusk and at gatherings with the appropriate low-light, spooky ambiance. Smartphone cameras add another layer of difficulty, because they typically have fewer options than stand-alone cameras regarding aperture, flash and white balance. Luckily, there are apps for that. Check out Camera+ for the iPhone or CameraZOOM FX for Android. Also, don’t forget basic photography techniques like having your subjects facing what little light source there may be and, if you’re using your flash, making sure you’re close enough to illuminate everything in the shot.
There you go. May your pillowcases be filled with nothing but the finest candies, and may your electronic devices light your way on this darkest night of the year.