Written by Jonathan Wojcik
THE SUBTLE GENIUS OF AT HOME 2018!"At Home" is a home decor chain I somehow wasn't aware of until this very year, when a Halloween facebook group buzzed with posts about its STAGGERING volume of Halloween items stocked on many of its shelves as early as the end of June. That's over an entire month earlier than any other store I can think of, and with no means of ordering their items online, I thought I'd never see the likes of any of its items in person...until we finally revisited our family out in the Midwest, and it turned out the town we had visited almost every year for half a decade had one of these stores all along.
...But did we miss anything as clever as they offered in 2018? I'm going to hope not, but at least their website features some nice, crisp photographs we can share.
First up is a pumpkin stake with just one eerie, humanlike eye. I am shocked to say I've never seen this before, but more than one retail chain is stocking a similar design this year. The more the merrier!
This odd little item is designed to look like some kind of "anatomical model," but I don't think any actual anatomical models ever looked like this, did they? The brain is embedded in an exactly brain-shaped bony casing rather than a skull. It's pretty, though, however little logic went into it.
HALF BRAIN MODEL
This is a really interesting idea for a "graveyard" decoration! A weathered, snapped-off hand or foot from some sort of destroyed sculpture, complete with patches of "moss." I'm surprised they don't also offer a shattered-off face or head, even just chunks of one, but the hand and foot are novel enough. Fake, broken statue pieces as graveyard decor are obvious once you consider the idea, but you probably never considered it.
This was one of the items I wanted the most from catalogs, but was nowhere to be found in the store we saw. I found some compensation in a framed version of the moth design, but it's not QUITE as cool. The same design is also printed on small, white pumpkins, on candles and on washcloths, and it's just really neat to see a gothic moth as a Halloween symbol.
Just a sculpted heap of dirt with a couple of pale, creepy arms clawing their way out of it. I feel like I may have seen something along these lines before, but really, there's usually a whole tombstone or part of the creature's face involved. I think this is the first time I've just seen a fake pair of pallid arms emerging from the ground like this.
These come in different sizes and colors, but they're just pastel-colored pumpkins with cute, closed eyes. This is another new one on me; I don't think I've seen many Halloween pumpkins at all that opted for such a soft, sweet style. These are adorable! They tie in with a whole line of other pastel pumpkin items, though most of them don't have any facial features at all.
SLEEPY PASTEL PUMPKIN
Skeleton gnomes are a widespread Halloween trend now, but this little lady stands out from the crowd with her skeleton frog friend, who doesn't seem to mind being carried around too much. That doesn't feel like a look of concern to me, and really, who's going to mind being carried around by a cute skeleton in pigtails who only wears suspenders? Classy. The only way to travel.
SKELETON GNOME WOMAN
Just a throw pillow modeled like a ticket to a haunted house. Again, adorable AND something I have never seen before.
HAUNTED HOUSE THROW PILLOW
If you like skulls, and you like tentacles, and you like tealight holders, At Home has you covered with a tentacle-wrapped skull you can light up with a little candle or LED or whatever you want.
Holy crap!? The detail isn't spot-on or anything, but this is a recreation of a real, actual Chachapoya mummy notorious for its horrific expression, and you can buy an imitation of it from a discount doily store. HARDCORE, At Home!
SCREAMING MUMMY STATUE
This, too, was unfortunately sold out of our store, but it would have been one of the first and only gold plaques of a fly I'd ever seen if Michael's hadn't debuted one of their own this year. How did that even HAPPEN? They're two completely different, gold-painted engravings of an insect I seldom see receiving so much attention as a Halloween creature.
This is pretty classy! It's nothing but a fake, entirely black pumpkin, no Jack O' Lantern face or anything, but the stem is formed by a pair of skeleton hands whose bony fingers beautifully accent the pumpkin's natural contours.
SKELETON HAND PUMPKIN
This is something I have definitely never seen before, just like almost everything else on this page. These items are simple, straightforward and not particularly shocking or outrageous, yet they offer a lot of subtle, respectable innovation. They're all novel in a way that's just humble enough to almost overlook.
But if you DO want something more openly absurd...
He's a skeleton, he's a pumpkin, he's a spider, he's a SKUMPDER! With a dapper ensemble and a pose that's TOTALLY tap-dancing! I daresay this would almost be the ultimate combination of Halloween's most fundamental possible symbols, exceeeept...
This less humanoid entity may lack the fancy shoes and the cane, but it adds little bat wings and even a witchy hat to the TRUE ultimate chimera of Halloween mascots. And sure, they could have easily fit some vampire fangs, devil horns and Frankensteinian stitches on here, but I think that would have really been overdoing it, and you will note that those are specific monsters.
Skeletons, spiders, pumpkins, bats and witches are broader icons of the season, if not the definitive top five alongside "ghosts," and I'm sure this would technically count as a ghost even if it doesn't visually indicate one. Maybe I've said this before, about other beings, but this is absolutely an avatar form Halloween itself would take, and there was simply no way it wasn't coming home with us.
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