With its changing leaves and warm, cozy aromas, autumn is a favorite season for many. Even if you’re the rare person who thinks pumpkin spice is overrated, the season’s renewing themes of home, family, and transformation are powerful, especially in a time of such national upheaval and stress. Though this year has felt like a century, October is finally here, so here at the Foghorn, we say it’s time to get our fall on!
To start, have you ventured into Trader Joe’s within the last month and feasted your eyes on the amount of pumpkin and fall madness now in full swing? Think pumpkin-infused butter, empanadas, pancake and baking mixes, fall leaf-shaped tortilla chips, and quirky pumpkin trees in the floral section. You can even pick out a miniature pumpkin or gourd to keep you company on your desk while you study for midterms. Because going out to the store too often can put us at risk, we recommend going all out when venturing out to buy your festive essentials — it’s pretty difficult not to, anyways.
If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon the fall motherlode aisle in a department store like Target or Marshall’s that’s filled to the brim with festive bric-à-brac, indulge. 2020 has been a stressful year unlike any other, and you deserve all of the decorations, accessories, and bags of Halloween candy necessary. With fall comes the beloved scents of pumpkin spice, cinnamon, hot lattes, and fir forests. Picking up a candle (or five) of your favorite fall scent can be an inexpensive and nose-satisfying way to get in the spirit. A personal favorite of ours is the massive, iconic candy corn candles layered with white, yellow, and orange marshmallow-scented wax.
Go a step further by decorating your Zoom background for Halloween. A pumpkin garland and purple fairy lights, a corner of spooky cobwebs, and a Halloween-themed plushie situated on your bed will certainly boost your remote learning morale. Decorate to Halloween bops like Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” the theme song from “The Addams Family,” and Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You,” and sit back when class time comes to casually sip hot apple cider from your new “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” ceramic mug while taking notes. While it might seem pointless to decorate a space hardly anyone but you will see, the arrival of fall is the perfect opportunity to (pumpkin) spice up the monotony of remote learning and quarantining.
On Friday nights after classes get out, plop down with a bowl of Boom Chicka Pop’s Pumpkin Spice Drizzled Kettle Corn and turn on a spooky Halloween movie. Whether you’re into the horror and fright of the season or are more of a “Hocus Pocus” person, there are a plethora of iconic, nostalgic films to choose from. Revisit Disney’s heartwarming “Halloweentown” trilogy, the alternative claymation in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” or Mike Myers in the thrilling 1978 “Halloween” classic. It’s also the perfect time of year to defeat the troll Professor Quirrell let in on Halloween with a “Harry Potter” marathon!
Because our favorite autumn traditions in our hometowns will look different this year in light of COVID-19, research ahead of time what safety protocols your local pumpkin patch, apple orchard, haunted house, or corn maze is implementing to decide whether you would feel safe still going. As the weather cools around the country and the trees in our neighborhoods begin to turn beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows, take a socially distanced stroll in your long-awaited outfit of a cable knit sweater and boots to view all of the foliage and your neighbors’ pumpkin displays and outdoor Halloween decor close up. Bonus points if you can do this with a hot caramel apple spice or chai latte warming up your hands.
While our plans for Oct. 31 itself are likely still up in the air since traditions like trick-or-treating and Halloween parties will either look different or be discouraged completely to keep everyone safe, there is still much we can do to keep our spooky spirits up. Think up a clever Halloween costume involving the waist up, and plan a virtual Halloween watch party with your friends. Paint or carve pumpkins with your family and hold a contest for who can come up with the most creative COVID-themed costume — like a toilet paper mummy or a Freddie Kreuger-inspired face mask.
Although this Halloween season unfortunately can’t scare us more than this year already has, leaning into fall festivities will help alleviate some of the stress we’ve undergone.