The most wonderful time of the year is upon us: Halloween. Whether or not the thought of orange leaves, scary movie marathons and pumpkin iced coffee fills you with joy, there’s no denying that October is the unofficial start of the holiday season. As a self-proclaimed autumn-aficionado, the list of things I do to celebrate the best season (argue with the wall, not me) is never ending. Even if you prefer the chill vibes that October brings over the typical Halloween vibes, there are many ways for everyone to enjoy this month. For times sake, I’ve knocked the list down to 5 of the things you need to enjoy your ‘Spooky Szn’ to the fullest. 

Fall Candles

While not exactly scary (unless we’re talking about the ever-iconic skeleton shaped candles), everyone knows that fall has not truly begun until TJMaxx starts putting out their specialty candles. Pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, whatever “fallen leaves” smell like; fall-specific scents are perfect for getting into the spooky season spirit.

If open flames aren’t your thing, the new Bath and Body Works line of fall Wallflower plug-ins are perfect. For my fellow pumpkin lovers, caramel pumpkin swirl and sweet cinnamon pumpkin will be your new go-to room scents. If you want a less ‘my-entire-apartment-smells-like-PSL-and-french-toast’ vibe, you can never go wrong with the classic frosted cranberry or warm vanilla sugar scents.

For fans of milder, earthy scents, an essential oil diffuser is essential. (My personal favorite combination is pumpkin and cinnamon with just a touch of rosemary oil. Perfect.) Once you’ve set the mood with a candle or wall diffuser, it’s time for some Halloween entertainment…

Halloween TV Specials

As nice as it is to smell the distinctly crisp autumn air and watch the leaves turn shades of orange and red, for those of us who have to deal with palm trees and 80 degree weather well into October, an extra boost of Halloween/fall cheer is in order. One of the best aspects of the fall season for me is the nostalgia that comes with it– the energy just screams "It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" reruns and 90s/2000s sitcom specials like Martin’s “The Night He Came Back,” The Parkers’ “Scary Kim” and  Friends’ “The One With The Halloween Party.” No October is complete without a rewatch (or several) of my favorite sitcom Halloween episodes. If those shows weren’t a household staple for you, I recommend giving them a watch; at the risk of sounding like my mom, 90s television just hits different.

Horror Movies

This addition may seem redundant coming on the heels of the previous kitschy vibes of Halloween-themed sitcom specials, but horror movies set a totally different tone. Sometimes, you gotta watch a poor couple get gutted by Jason or Micheal Myers.

I’ve never been a gore-hound, but there’s just something about settling down with a slasher flick by candlelight that just makes my heart happy (even if I have to shield my eyes like a child at the on screen carnage). As sequels to cult-classics like the 1978 hit Halloween and the 2016  “underground” splatter flick Terrifier premiere this October, it won’t hurt to give the originals a rewatch. Be warned, Terrifier 2 has left moviegoers ill and fainting from the over-the-top gore (hence its categorization as a “splatter flick”)– so if visceral images of blood and guts really aren’t your thing, maybe pass on this one. A milder option for the faint of heart and stomach is The VVitch, a 2015 thriller set in 1630s New England; with a foreboding, dark energy, slow-burn plot and a surprising conclusion that leaves you with equal parts satisfaction and “I have a million more questions”, The VVitch is perfect for those who want to celebrate Spooky Season without slashers.

Fall Playlists

Okay, enough about television. If you’re a college student like I am, you know that finding the right homework/study playlist is essential. I don’t think I’ve ever done an assignment in silence– I don’t think I can work in silence anymore ( I’m still not sure if I should be concerned about that or not..). Even as I write this, I’m tuned in to my favorite fall jazz playlist. In lieu of the usual “24 Hour LoFi Study Beats,” my go-to this month has been autumn-y jazz like that of the late Vince Guaraldi, who you’ll recognize from the aforementioned Charlie Brown Halloween special. Something about his music and other songs featured in my favorite jazz compilation helps me relax and focus on my work. I’ve even found myself listening to it between classes or before bed. If you think jazz isn’t your thing, I still suggest you give it a listen– even if you don’t like the examples I’ve listed. Besides, according to PsyPost, people who listen to jazz while studying are shown to see an increase in performance and reaction time. All pros, no cons.

Prepping for the rest of the Holiday Season

Is this list about October? Yes. Can I deny that part of the fun of October is the anticipation of the rest of the holiday season? No.

For me, I tend to lump October, November and December together into the perfect trifecta of good vibes. After January 1, things tend to start to go downhill. From the inevitable abandonment of New Years' resolutions, dirty looking snow and sleet lining the street corners (unfortunate memories from my childhood in the Tri-State Area), and the fact that the next holiday we have to look forward to is Valentine’s Daythe three months that comprise the holiday season truly are the most cheerful of the entire year (again, argue with the wall). Most of my October is spent enjoying my fall faves, but during the last two weeks of the month is when I start to shift into Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas Is You” mode. I’ve already started dreaming about my several low-vibration Thanksgiving plates. 

The beauty of spooky season comes from the fact that even if you don’t care for fall fragrances, Halloween television specials, horror films or jazzy fall music, there is still something to look forward to. For many, Thanksgiving is celebrated as Friendsgiving if family is out of the picture– and December is still a magical time of year even if you celebrate a holiday other than Hanukkah or Christmas (or no holiday at all). And even if none of these things are exciting to you, you can still look forward to the Starbucks menu change. I, for one, will be sipping my PSL and Apple Crisp Macchiato while patiently awaiting the return of the Gingerbread Latte. 

There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy ppooky szn, the most important thing is that you do.