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From the Ground Up: That’s not a Christmas tree!

It’s not even an official holiday, but it’s the fastest growing festive occasion in the United States. We Americans spent more than $8 billion on Halloween this past year. And nearly 70% of Americans plan on celebrating this year, a huge change from just a few years ago.

The traditional way to celebrate Halloween focused on parties, jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating for kids. Children dressed as witches, princesses, pirates and sometimes even animals and roamed from house to house in their neighbor-hoods shouting, “Trick or treat!” In most cases, they were given candy; once in a while, however, when no treats were forthcoming, the kids played pranks on their neighbors. Schools frequently held Halloween parties that featured haunted houses, bobbing for apples and costume contests.

Times have changed. Fewer kids wander their neighborhoods begging for treats, and adults have decided that they want in on the fun too. Adults are indulging in very elaborate costumes, carving intricate jack-o-lanterns and hosting Halloween parties just for adults. There are potent witch’s brews in smoking cauldrons, pasta salads made to look like brains and bread sticks shaped like bony fingers. In some cities, there are famous Halloween costume parades.

To make the festivities last even longer, many families now decorate their doors and gates with Hal-loween wreaths, send spooky cards, pose skeletons on their porches and even put up Halloween trees. Yes, trees; they are expected to be this year’s biggest decorating trend.

There are many types of Halloween trees available – small tabletop ones, large ones that reach the ceiling and everything in between. The most popular color for these trees is bright orange, with black follow-ing as a close second. Many families put up their Halloween trees in early October and leave them up all month. There are many ways to decorate a Halloween tree. It can be scary, with rats, bats, snakes and other creepy crawly things, or it can be gentler with Halloween candies. It can have life-size witches or skeletons peering from behind the tree. Witch’s hats or cauldrons can be used as the bases. Black bows and spiderwebs are popular finishing touches. There are even special lights. Strings of candy corn lights look perfect on black trees, while black cats and witch’s hats are effective on orange trees.And what to do with an orange tree after Halloween? Why, redecorate it with harvest-themed items for Thanksgiving. Happy haunting!