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Halloween is a great time to involve the family in festive decorating projects
Samuel Holt, 5, peeks from behind the paper ghosts in the trees of his front yard. The Holts involve the whole family in Halloween decorating. - photo by Tom Reed

Want that  Martha Stewart effect? Break out the power tools: With a few tricks, local woman's sister creates award-winning pumpkin carvings

Is the light on?

Rule No. 1 in trick-or-treating? Look for the porch light.

According to Sgt. Kylie Sargent of the Hall County Sheriff's Office, it should be common knowledge that trick-or-treaters shouldn't approach a house without its porch light on.

"Although, the house lights might be on ... (the porch light) is the signal from the homeowners, I would say, that they're not participating or they're out of candy or whatnot," Sargent said. "And we would really encourage the trick-or-treaters to be really mindful of the neighborhood, and I would even think to know the people you're going to."

What's the essential part of any spooky yard setup? Skeletons. Lots and lots of skeletons.

At least, that's what 7-year-old Claire Walton thinks, who joins her brothers and parents in an elaborate Halloween decorating extravaganza every year at their home on Green Street Circle. There's bobbing witches, ghosts hanging from the trees and, of course, glowing skeletons.

Her brother, Benjamin, added that any good Halloween decorations worth their salt should also include some blinking orange lights, cotton cobwebs and "I think we have a fog machine - that helps."

On this street, lots of Halloween decorations are just part of the party where the street closes off for Halloween night and activities include a haunted house.

But the great thing about decorating for Halloween, homeowners say, is the ability to spend as much or as little money as you like in doing it. And while the Walton family gets their neighbors involved in trotting out scary ghosts and witches to haunt their yard, other Gainesville families, like the Holts, find a challenge in what decorations they can make each year on a small budget.

Josh Holt said he tends to decorate with less-expensive items - such as the tiny ghosts haunting the trees outside - and things they can make themselves.

So, along with a slowly decomposing pumpkin carved by 5-year-old Samuel Holt, the family also has some cobwebs and a spider made from garbage bags filled with leaves.

"A lot of the stuff we end up, to be honest, just throwing it away after we're done using it," Holt said. As a result, the family bought a metal pumpkin at Mule Camp Market this year, so they can pull it out for years to come.

But in general, Holt said, Halloween decorating is partly an activity for the kids - and partly an activity for the parents, too, indulging in their inner child.

"Pretty much all our decorations have to do with stuff we can do with our child," he said. "It's just all activities we do together as a family."

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