Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Big Beetlejuice Halloween Wrap-Up

John and I took an extra day off for his birthday yesterday, which was lovely and exactly the rest we needed, ahhhh. (We ate fancy take-out and played video games all day. Like adults.) So thanks for being patient while I shirked my bloggy duties, and for all the sweet birthday wishes!

And now I am BACK with a full report of our Beetlejuice Halloween shenanigans. Woot woot!

(If you missed them be sure to check out our Sandworm build and all the pretty reveal shots!)

 Halloween night was hectic, hilarious, stressful, so exhausting, and totally worth it.

First let me back up and show you a couple last-minute additions, because of course we kept crafting until the last second:

I covered a hardback book with brown craft paper, waxed the paper to darken it, printed the image, and cut & transferred the title with our Cricut. This was a great prop for photos, and honestly it'll be fun to have lying around the house later.

We also made the "Now Serving" sign - which lights up! - and some number strips for people waiting:

The sign is made of Dollar Tree foam board and posterboard, with two LED puck lights behind the numbers to make them glow.

We hung this on the garage door behind our chairs and coffee table - a make-shift "waiting room."

Our friends Traci, Arielle, and Karen all came in costume, so we had increasingly silly photo-shoots as the night went on. There were also several impromptu dance parties, as we kept the soundtrack blaring.

In fact, here are some video snippets of the silliness:

Another look at the house set-up:

  With Tim the Thestral off to the side:

There was a big storm the day before, so we had to install everything Halloween afternoon. Then we had to remove it all that night, since nothing is weather-proof. We started around 4pm, wrapped by 10, and spent nearly the whole time on our feet. Woof.

I didn't know how many trick-or-treaters to expect, since the past 2 Halloweens we went from 60 to 300(!!). Thankfully we "only" had about a hundred, so for once I didn't run out of candy!

The Sandworm candy slide was hit or miss, literally. We hid the tube so well that no one could tell where to hold their bags! Ha! We finally taped a mark on the driveway and had them set their bags down, which helped a lot.

As much as it pained me to see so many candy misses, all the wide-eyes and shouts of delight made it worth it. Some of the littles were so shocked you'd think it was a magic trick!

Cool action shot from our friend Warren.

We get a huge amount of older teenage trick-or-treaters - easily 50/50 with the younger kids - which makes me happy. Even if they're in minimal-to-no costumes, I'm always in favor of people having fun and being a little ridiculous at any age. I tried to greet the teens out of costume especially - the ones looking hesitant and keeping their heads down - so they'd know they were welcome. (Also, oof, my heart.)  I joked with one pack of boys,

"Ok, tell me the truth: have you seen a better house than ours tonight?"

"No way!"

"That's the correct answer! Extra candy for you!"


I fixed the Maitland's silhouettes, by the way - thanks to those of you who pointed out they needed longer torsos:

Lydia with the Maitlands in their designer sheets:

And can't forget Side-Eye Herman over there:

 The best quote of the night was from an exasperated mom trying to get her 8-year-old daughter to stand next to Herman for a photo:

"So he has a tiny head! Mitzy" [I'm guessing their cat?] "has a tiny head and big body and you're not scared of her!"

There was a huge crowd around at the time and EVERYONE started laughing. So good.

Here's the finished sand worm, complete with her teeth, tongue, and fin:

Kids would get their candy and then exit this way through the worm body arches:

  We had cars parked on the lawn to keep the driveway clear.

Setup was extra stressful that afternoon thanks to gusting winds which kept toppling the arches and our Beetlejuice standee. After much panicking and running around, John reinforced everything with more lines and weights. After that, naturally, the wind died completely and the night was perfectly still.

::deadpan stare into camera::

 Oh, hey, I almost forgot! Can you guess what John's and my costumes are?

"Beetle... drink? Beetle breakfast?"

Beetle juice?


I live for punny costumes, so this made me so happy, y'all. Especially since none of my friends could keep a straight face when I put on the bug antenna, haha.

In the chaos of the night I neglected to get a good photo with John in costume, but here's a group shot with friends to give you the general idea:

 We did try a few night shots of just me and John, but I really don't like my face in them, so I've been struggling through that yucky headspace this week. It's tough when you're caught up in something you're excited about, and then you see a photo of yourself that just... deflates the moment. You know? It doesn't hurt as much as it used to, so I know I've made progress in my self-hate journey, but it still stings. So while I'm here to share the silliness and fun with y'all, I also want you to know I'm still fighting my monsters, and it's OK if you are, too.

Forever grateful for a main squeeze who shows me my worth is in so much more than my appearance:

Oh yeah. He juicy.

Since I first wrote this I asked John for a re-shoot in our costumes, since I really wanted a good one. (I just love this couple's costume so stinkin' much, ha.) John very sweetly agreed, and my favorite shot is the one where's he's dancing around behind me in the backyard trying to make me laugh:

Our relationship in a nutshell. Or an OJ carton.

And finally, more photos of our fabulously talented friends:


Halloween is so much better with friends, so I'm extra grateful for these amazing people. I invited everyone we knew around Orlando to stop by and see us that night, so we had a steady stream of people and friends coming through. On top of that, some of the trick-or-treaters remembered us from our Ghostbusters year! Hearing strangers rave about our decorations from 2 years ago made me all glowy inside. Can't wait to bring Ghostbusters back next year.

Sorry this post has been all over the place; that's what I get for writing stream-of-conscious style, oops. I hope you had fun seeing the fruit of our Beetlejuicy labors, though, and that you're feeling inspired to do something a little extra, a little silly. Even when it takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you ::gasp:: talk to strangers, I promise, it's worth it.

Now, let's announce some Squeegineer winners!

The Squeegineer give-away is my monthly drawing where I give away fun stuff from my office closet: various nerdy treasures, toys, and jewelry. You can enter for free by e-mail, or anyone who donates any amount via Paypal is automatically entered. (More details here.)

I'm delighted to announce our winners for October are Peter S., June Marie H., & Allegra H.! Congrats, you three, and please check your inboxes for a message from John to choose your prizes.


  1. Awesome! I'm glad you got a picture of you two as well.

    1. ...because I'm always happy to see your faces.

  2. Amazing!!!! Somehow I grew up in the 80's & 90's and I've never seen Beetlejuice. Its on my to watch list now.
    I especially loved the effort you took to welcome the kids not dressed up. My son hates dressing up and unfortunately was born into a family that loves it. We've gotten good at creating minimalist costumes but it means a SO much when people don't comment on his lack of costume or, better yet, engage with him without discussing costumes.

    1. Same here! Watched the cartoon TV show when I was a kid, but never actually saw the movie. Reading about all this inspired me to do so, though, so it was our Halloween evening activity (since no kids come to our house where we are)!

  3. Good times! I love it. And I love your costumes too... the pun is strong in you two. >:>

  4. I think everything look completely awesome, but especially your costume! I know it's hard to have your photo taken when you feel blech abut the experience, but I think you need to remind yourself of an evening where those teenagers you reached out to will remember you as the amazing, awesome costumed adult who showed them kindness (and as a former high school teacher, and current special education administrator, I am so HAPPY you did this!)...

  5. This is fantastic. I agree about the "older" trick or treaters, they deserve to have fun as long as they can. Last year I walked around (following my kids) and passed out full size candy bars to older kids and people that went above and beyond with their costumes. It was so much fun surprising them!

  6. Those costumes are the best part, I think! :D

  7. Love how great everything turned out! And oh course the wind died down once everything was secured. So glad to hear your comments about teenage trick-or-treaters. I wish the stigma about them being too old would just go away!

  8. ...I wish you were in my neighborhood, because this is just *^%$#@&@$ awesome.

  9. Jen-- You are Amazing! Talented, Creative, Inspiring, Awesome and Beautiful Inside and Out!!! Thank you so much for sharing your Halloween decor and excitement with all of us!!
    This year I was just so Meh... All I did was put out a couple of plug in pumpkins that night to signal that we had candy pass out to the hundreds of kids we get. This was a down year for us too and I still have 2 gallon bags full and I'm trying to lose weight...!
    I Love your Punny Costumes too!! They are awesome!

  10. Jen, I just think you are beautiful! Your hair is gorgeous, your skin is flawless, and your eyebrows are to-die-for! The things that make you the most beautiful though are your thoughtfulness, intelligence, and kindness. Keep fighting your monsters, because you are amazing!

  11. Man, I hear you about hating your face in pictures. (I mean, I hate mine, not I also hate yours! :)) I had a take a picture because of a real cool thing at work that they wanted to announce on the office FB. I took like a dozen pictures. As I'm scrolling through, I just hate every single one of them. I don't feel like I look like ME right now. :(

    BUT that depressive bit away, your creation and your costumes are completely amazing! I love the finished candy slide, and I'm sure kids will be talking about it all year. I wish I lived in Florida so I could come experience it!

  12. I love this so much! You did an amazing job!! And I can't believe I won!! Squeee! :D From June Marie.

  13. I LOVE the purple and green colors btw. The ambience was happening!

  14. AWESOME! I was so excited to see the final reveal... did not disappoint. You all are the BEST!

  15. I love this SO much...trying to think how I could recreate it and make it work in my tiny tiny yard...I have a few hundred days to think on it. Any who, SO MUCH WORK but it definitely paid off well for you and your trick or treaters! It's incredible how your heart took over and forced you to share your talents even while you are struggling, you are amazing and deserve whatever you think might be fabulous! (I was going to say "parade", but that would be *my* nightmare, so ya, you do you) and my favourite part of it all ... the "CandyCandy" sign!

  16. The decorations were friggin amazing. All of your efforts and hard work were well worth it. And I totally understand what you mean about self-hate. I just did the Wine and Dine 5k where my friend and I had Pain and Panic running costumes. When the race photos came back, instead of seeing the joy on my face of being at the event, all I can focus on are the big-rig load of spare tires around my midsection. Makes me not want to order any prints.

  17. Dear Jen,
    I've been a fan for years, dating back to before the first Cake Wreck book. I love to check in on your creative adventures, and I particularly loved your Beetlejuice Halloween post, but I was sad to see your joyous day was almost ruined by your thoughts about photos of yourself. I'm so glad that you were able to get a photo that allows you to come back and remember the joy!
    I see that you are still struggling with your "self-hate journey". (The fact that you call it that is probably prolonging the struggle, I beseech you to think about this journey differently!
    I wanted to share with you a resource I have been using for the last few years that has really helped me turn my life around and take control of my negative thoughts that have kept me from living a life full of health, happiness and vitality. I subscribe to a program called Diligent Mind Self Care, led by a coach named Jason Seib. He is a coach, but what he prescribes is consistent hard work on working on our thoughts. That means being able to see our thoughts, questioning the validity of the thoughts, then changing the thoughts to stop the self sabotage that is keeping us from living with happiness and vitality. It is a ton of hard work to change the pattern of thoughts that we all think is normal, but the freedom from those faulty thoughts is SO WORTH IT!!!
    He has a group associated with his program that includes a bunch of people (mostly women) who are all working on this together. I encourage you to give his public podcast a listen to see if this is something that would resonate with you.
    Here is the introduction text:
    You’re in the right place if you’re ready to learn how to get out of your own way and build a self-care practice based on self-worth.
    My name is Jason Seib and this is the Diligent Mind Self-Care podcast.
    Happiness is our goal. Vitality is our birthright. And health is the outcome of the mindset we nurture.
    So let’s build these skills together. Let’s examine our thoughts and our motivations until they hold no mysteries. Let’s learn to treat ourselves the way we DESERVE to be treated RIGHT NOW rather than trying to change ourselves into something that we will finally like.
    Let’s do this!
    Diligent Mind Self Care Podcast
    I encourage you to listen to the first 3 or 4 episodes, then feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have. I assure you that I have no financial stake in this, and that I just have benefitted so much from this practice and I hope that it might help you change your mindset too!
    Life is an amazing gift, please don't waste any more of it trapped in a "self hate journey". I want you to see yourself as the amazing, creative, beautiful spirit that we all do!

  18. Hi! Great work! How did you construct the arches?


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