Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween in a Dorm Room

As my readers are no doubt very much aware, Halloween is creeping up on us Goths fairly quickly. It's already  mid-October and now I have to make plans for what to do with mine. Of course, this will be my first Halloween away from home, and my first in a dorm room. Dorm life isn't really conducive to big parties (especially since I have classes the next day) or intricate decor, but I'll be damned if that means that I plan on letting my favorite holiday slip by uncelebrated. So, my first order of business is prepping my tiny dorm room for the holiday festivities. But how does one do that on a budget and with the constraints of dorm life? Here are my thoughts.

My local Tesco

The first order of business is to assess what you are allowed to do to your dorm room or residence halls. This means both that you need to consult your school for their regulations (this should be somewhere on the Residential Life page on their website) and what your roommate (if applicable, I'm in a single) is comfortable with. Common restrictions such as the banning of candles, damage to provided furnishings/walls, or door decorations could hinder your abilities to decorate for the Halloween season. Do try to stay within those rules unless you have a very, very good reason (Under "very, very good reason" I would count religious obligations, but still do try not to set off the fire alarm if you must light candles.)

If your dorm allows it, make or buy a "Happy Halloween" sign for the outside of your dorm door or, if you want to get really creative, split a roll of butcher's paper with your friends and decorate the entire door! Online you can find tons of inspiration, particularly from Residential Adviser websites, to turn your door into a scene from the Nightmare Before Christmas or something similar. Hang a Halloween wreath on the inside, if you like, there are plenty of tutorials for that even in my "DIY dorm decor" post or on any craft site. The good thing is that Halloween trends have been moving away from twee and more towards glamorous and quirky, so there's sure to be something you like.

Your window is another place where you can add decorations, provided your roommate is okay with it. From window clings to silhouettes and other kinds of Halloween signs, there is tons you can do for that. It's a generally accepted courtesy that you shouldn't put a silhouette of someone hanging themselves (someone will call ResLife and someone [read: you] will get in trouble for it, or at least be asked to take them down) but there's no reason to avoid other silhouettes on your windows. If you're stuck, visit Halloween sites such as PartyCity and check their decorations for windows, then buy or DIY those yourself. 

If you want a pumpkin, you have several routes you can go in. If you must get a Jack-O-Lantern, be sure to fill it with fake tea-light candles to avoid fire hazards. For an interesting twist on a traditional Jack-O-Lantern, after you hollow out the pumpkin poke small holes through it and fill it with string lights. Those ideas can be done with fake or real pumpkins, depending on your preference. If you've made any friends that are interested in it, you can go pumpkin picking to find the perfect one or you can just stop by a craft store and buy one of styrofoam/plastic. Just remember that if you buy a traditional pumpkin to take it out of the room and throw it away when it starts to rot. Another idea is to use pumpkins crafted from paper. You can find all sorts of inspiration for this, anywhere from origami pumpkins to ones made of paper strips.

But what to do on Halloween itself? Some residence halls will have Halloween celebrations, which you may or may not want to attend (depends how much you really want to see a bunch of drunken University students with horrible face paint and lots of skin showing. Not my cup of tea, personally, but it depends on you.) However, you can always have your own! You can have a movie night with someone's laptop or the television room (if applicable), showing anything from Tim Burton movies to horror flicks. How about a costume contest, or organizing a trick-or-treat event on the floor? The opportunities are endless. Ask everyone to chip in somehow, either by getting the films out or by chipping in to buy food for the event.

Speaking of food, there are plenty of recipes you can make for Halloween in your dorm room. If you don't have access to an oven, look for Microwavable recipes (popcorn, some chocolates, cakes, etc.) or raw ones (an aside: the recent "revolution" of raw foods, often associated with vegan or very healthy recipes, is a boon for university students without oven access, and some of it tastes really good, too! Check it out if you are stuck for what to make!). It might be worthwhile finding someone with either an apartment or access to a home kitchen if you want to whip up anything fancy, though. Or, of course, you can buy store-bought food if pressed for time/kitchen space. Keep a Halloween bowl of candy in your dorm room for yourself, your roommate, or any guests.

Do you all have plans for Halloween this year? What will you be doing if you're in halls--or not?


  1. Halloween isn't exactly HUGE in Australia but it is still a holiday for us :3 I'm planning on going Trick-or-treating with friends then hitting a local concert :D dressed as a Jack O' Lantern!

  2. The spouse and I will stay home Hallowe'en night to hand out candy to the few children brave enough to venture up the dark alley to our house that night. And then we'll probably lay on the couch and consume the leftovers... :D

  3. My radio show is on Halloween night, so I'll be having a Halloween-themed night.

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