1.) Get some comfy sweaters – Sweaters are necessary as the temperatures start to drop. Whether you rejoice in their versatility or denounce them for their abuse by hipsters, sweaters are undeniably useful. So, do some shopping. Thrift stores are great for both traditional and eccentric finds. Grab some pullovers every color of the rainbow for work; for those of you rocking the Cosby sweater this fall, more power to you.
2.) Read Gothic literature – Classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are must-reads, especially around this spooky time of year. Still there are some solid contemporary writers in the genre as well like Stephen King, of course, Dennis Lehane, and Mark Z. Danielewski. If you’ve never read King’s Carrie, Lehane’s Mystic River, or Danielewski’s House of Leaves, now’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book and a cup of autumnal tea.
3.) Stock up on horror films – Who doesn’t love munching on some popcorn and peeking through your fingers as a character is murdered on the TV screen? Some personal favorites include: The Shining, Psycho, Hellraiser, The Conjuring, and Insidious. If you’re scared easily, then there are always the B-rated standbys: Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and pretty much any other “scary” movie made in the 90s.
4.) Research haunted houses and hayrides – What makes October fun is all the Halloween-themed activities going on in any given area. From your neighborhood haunted houses to Universal Studios-caliber events of mischief and mayhem, it’s important to do some research beforehand to find out which attractions are worth going to and which ones don’t deserve your $30 (or more). Most places overcharge at the gate and sometimes you can find discounted tickets or coupons online, so checking out their website or a site like Groupon ahead of time may save you some cash for scary-oke later on.
5.) Listen to the Nightmare Revisited soundtrack – This cover album of songs from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will rock your spider socks off. With artists like Marilyn Manson, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Korn, Rise Against, RJD2, DeVotchKa, and more performing the beloved songs from this holiday classic, you’ll find yourself headbanging in the car, the shower, your desk, repeating, “This is Halloween, This is Halloween” in your best Jack Skellington impression.
6.) Explore a local oddity – There are tons of bizarre places in America. From graveyards to museums, abandoned psychiatric hospitals to gravity hills, there is always something creepy in large cities and small towns alike. Weird U.S. by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman is a great place to start your investigation into things surreal. The two authors specialize in weird history and have documented some notable locations in the country that may be of interest to you if you’re looking for an adventure.
7.) Gather scarecrow materials – While you’re putting away your summer clothes and getting out warmer apparel, why not do a bit of fall cleaning? Pick out some shirts and pants you know you absolutely won’t wear anymore and put them aside to dress your scarecrow! What kind of scarecrow will you make this October? Will you be clever? See here for easy instructions on how to put your scarecrow together.
8.) Press your own apple cider – Most farms have their own cider press and will allow for patrons to make their own. If you’ve never pressed your own cider, it can be a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and the results are more delicious than you could have ever imagined. You don’t need to add any ingredients; the apples alone will provide the perfect amount of sweetness! If you’re taking children, just watch out for the bees!
9.) Learn to make fall-themed beverages – Yes, pumpkin spice lattes have returned to Starbucks. But even though your mouth says they’re irresistible, your wallet doesn’t have to keep suffering. Cosmopolitan’s Charlotte Palermino recently hacked the pumpkin spice latte so that us pumpkin fiends can delight in its glory all year long. Check out some of these other savory autumn chillers from The Kitchn as well.
10.) Brainstorm costume ideas – A respectable costume is vital to a successful October as the month is filled with work parties, themed outings, and general tomfoolery. You don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions, and you certainly don’t want to spend $60 on basically a piece of fabric. If you plan ahead, you can put together your costume with real clothing items or even make it yourself from scratch. DIY is very in this year, so don’t feel cheap if you’re sitting in on a Friday night sewing a Gryffindor scarf. Halloween is normally cold, so it’s best to dress with that in mind (I’m talking to you, ladies).
11.) Decorate – Draping your porch in fake spider webs and planting faux gravestones in the front yard is half the enjoyment of October. If you’re “too old” to be into Halloween, you can at least make your house look frightening for the rest of the kids. From jack-o-lanterns to mechanical mummies, everyone appreciates a little effort. Besides, you know you still love carving pumpkins. So grab some knives (carefully), newspaper, and a marker, draw a scary-looking face on that bad boy, scoop out its innards (yum!), and get carving! Voila! You now have at least one decoration for your stoop (for a few weeks anway).
12.) Plan your Halloween night – There are lots of spectacular shows happening on October 31st. Depending on your style, you could spend your Halloween in Vegas with Phish or in Lexington with Garth Brooks. If thrashing is more your thing, head to Dallas to see Slipknot and Korn for an epic night of metal. In true theatrical spirit, you could always make your way to New York to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and do the time warp (again). Tickets to these events will definitely sell out quickly, and you’ll need to make travel arrangements, so definitely start preparing for the best night of October now, Halloween itself!