Larry Schaeffer has a simple philosophy: “Any holiday you can make into a party is a good time.”
Naturally, Halloween is at the top of his list. And, every October, he has fun with it inside his store, Yesterday’s Treasures, the famous statue shop on County Road 39 in Southampton. It is home to larger-than-life celebrities, 15-foot-high dinosaurs, barnyard animals and, now, a grizzled, green animatronic witch whose eyes light up as she stirs a cauldron to her own raspy cackle.
“Getting people into the spirit, that’s what I think makes a party. And statues help,” Mr. Schafer said last week during an interview at his shop. “I think the costume Halloween parties probably have it over anything else because people get into the spirit. Even though it’s a pain in the ass to go get a costume, especially if you want to look like her.”
He bopped the witch, which retails for $600, on her wart-covered nose and chuckled as she sprung back into action. “But I’m not sure you’d even want to look like her.”
The ladies behind Lynne’s Cards and Gifts in Westhampton Beach certainly don’t. Over the years, they’ve dressed up as pirates, princesses and, last year, characters from “The Wizard of Oz” for the village’s annual Halloween parade.
They haven’t decided on this year’s theme yet.
“Halloween’s fun because it’s a chance to show your inner child, you know?” explained owner Lynne Jones as she tinkered with her holiday display, which boasts a number of decorative skeletons, rats, witches, black cats, glow lights and party favors, ranging in price from $2 to $20. “There’s nothing better than a good Halloween party.”
“I haven’t been to one in a long time,” employee Anne Anderson said. “Most of mine are with the 3- and 4-year-old set, so nothing too exciting.”
Ms. Jones laughed. “I haven’t been to one in awhile, but I love when they have all the decorations and the brew and just everybody dressed up. It’s so much fun.”
“I used to love all that stuff. I’m turning into such an …,” Ms. Anderson hesitated and mouthed, “old fart.”
“No, you’re not,” Ms. Jones smiled. “You’re right,” Ms. Anderson said. “I’ve never been known to turn down an invitation to an awesome party.”
The Halloween of 1988 is one that Calico Garden owner Charlene Maloney will never forget, she recalled last week in her East Quogue shop, thanks to the best costume party she’s ever attended and the INXS single “Devil Inside.”
“My friend in Rockville Centre had this huge, massive party and that was the song of the night,” she said. “In the middle of the room, the dining room table, they made a whole tablescape of gravestones and spooky stuff, and among that was all the food.”
For a festive table—on a not-so-grand scale—decorate with Halloween serving dishes, salt and pepper shakers, and spooky pot holders, Ms. Maloney said. A few wine glasses inscribed, “Here For The Boos!” wouldn’t hurt, either, she added. “A play on words. They’re popular,” she said. “What I’m telling people to do, so they’re not just a wine glass: go and get a little bottle of wine, put one in there and then surround it with candy corn to add something a little different, if you’re giving it as a gift.”
For children, Ms. Maloney carries LED trinkets of owls and pumpkins for $10 each, or World Village Fair Trade Market in Hampton Bays sells polyester finger puppets of ghosts, witches, pumpkins, spiders and bats for $4 each, according to volunteer Gretchen Mead.
“You don’t want anything too spooky, too scary,” Ms. Maloney said. “Until they get a little older, I suppose. That house party I went to, they turned an indoor planter into a graveyard.”
Reminiscing about the not-to-be forgotten 1988 Halloween party, Ms. Maloney reported that she had been dressed in a black witchy dress and lace stockings, with wild hair and a white painted face to match. She even crawled into the dirt and took photos of herself with the makeshift gravestones, she recalled.
“I looked like something from the dead. Believe it or not, at the time, I was a banker!” she said. “It was a fun time. Halloween really does bring out different sides of people—with the right party.”