Good Cryptkeeping: Wreck The Halls Edition
Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year (and we all know it’s the ‘naughty’ option, you little devils), there’s no denying that blissful time of year is upon us. The music, the bright colors, sitting on a strange man’s lap to tell him what your heart desires… it’s all here, and sometimes it can be hard to maintain your spooky nocturnal persona when Mariah Carey and Wham! are everywhere you look. But never fear, my little gremlins; I’m here to provide you a foolproof shopping survival guide for the holiday season, featuring awesome independent shops and artists. What better way to stick it to The Man and give a clawed middle finger to mass consumerism than supporting the mom-and-pop organizations of other horror fans and getting some awesome, unique gifts for your pack in the process?
If you’re like me, decorating can be one of the most daunting tasks for the holidays. Everything is red and green and gold and sparkly, and it can feel a little overwhelming when you’re awash in a sea of expensive trees, cheerful ornaments and twinkly lights. This year was the first with me and my fiancé Freddy, which meant we were starting from scratch with our traditions. We found a black tree on sale on Amazon for $45 with free shipping, and for adorable tree skirts there are countless out there. Whether you like a classic pumpkin pattern or a more gruesome skull motif there are affordable handmade options for everyone’s holiday display. If you don’t like any of those, they’re super simple to make yourself by snagging some great Halloween fabric and draping a few yards around the base of the tree. When it comes to ornaments, the artists out there have the market cornered. A few years ago, Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments were created for many major film franchises in the horror genre, including multiple variants of Aliens, Predator, Jaws and more. These can get quite pricy on the secondhand collector’s market these days, however, which is why it’s better to keep your money in small businesses. For example, LeftHandAsylum has Gingerbread men based on all kinds of nerdy figures, but my personal favorite is their Lament Configuration box ornament. At an affordable price point and available in various sizes, you can adorn your tree and summon the Order of the Gash at the same time. Win/win! Meanwhile, Sunny’s Ornaments hand-sculpts amazing Nightmare Before Christmas inspired ornaments including homicidal wreaths, a Zero tree topper and more, as well as this precious Sam ornament from Trick ‘r Treat that just makes my little heart melt.
With the development and accessibility of 3D printers, home artists can now bring even their most niche visions to life with ease. LB3D Design has amazing 3D ornaments of everything from Jason masks to Valek the Nun from The Conjuring series, and of course everyone’s favorite Mogwai, Gizmo.
Even holiday cards have taken a dark turn for those of us who aren’t all about elves and reindeer; artists have drawn up everyone from Jigsaw, Chief Brody, Belial and Freddy Krueger to wish our loved ones a festive season. Shop GOREnaments have some fantastic cards, including my favorite of Michael Myers peeking from behind the tree in an homage to his famous shrub scene. YeaOh Greetings also has some phenomenal offerings, from the slasher greats to The Shining, “Twin Peaks” and even some more mainstream pop icons for your less spooky friends. My favorite is this Jason card, where you tell your friends exactly what might be in store for them this year. They also offer great bundle sales, so you can pick out multiple cards for an awesome low price! If you like things a little more subtle, check out this haunting Xenomorph print by Dave Pollot, which features the Queen herself spreading a little holiday cheer.
When it comes to holiday stockings, you’d be hard-pressed to beat VooDoo Willy with their handsewn socks featuring everyone from Leatherface, Chucky and Captain Spaulding to Twisty the Clown, Pennywise and a zombie Santa. (Just a word of warning, inquire about the size before you order; these run a little smaller than standard stockings and may not hold all your goodies if you went extra this year!). For other unique stocking offerings, try Sew Me by Elizabeth who has a bit more family-friendly fare; for kids who like entry-level creepiness like Goosebumps, ET, Nightmare Before Christmas or The Walking Dead she has you covered with tons of nerdy niche fabric and a quick turnaround time.
One of my all-time favorite shops I’ve discovered is Portable Magic by Vroni, which is based on a quote by the incomparable Stephen King. If you’re a King fan, there’s probably no better shop on Etsy for unique and cool gifts, and if you have a Constant Reader in your life this is a one-stop goldmine. From a Stephen King stocking to pillows and earrings made of vintage book cover designs, this is the Castle Rock gift shop of your dreams, and the quality and uniqueness can’t be beat.
Once you’ve finished with the décor and you’ve spent all your hard-earned cash proving your love to the people around you, you have the fun (read: exhausting) task of wrapping those gifts to make them presentable. But why go to the store and snag rolls of paper with sparkly snowflakes, those weird Minion things, or Paw Patrol on them? If you ask our friend Leatherface, presentation is just as important as what’s underneath, and the more layers you wear the better! That’s why I was delighted to discover Skelly Paper Company, an amazing independent paper artist who designs some of the most jawdroppingly beautiful spooky wrapping paper imaginable. They have paper, gift tags, stickers, bows, ribbons and notecards influenced by Nightmare Before Christmas, The Haunted Mansion, and classic creepy designs, as well as traditional sugar skull, Memento Mori and more. Their customer service is phenomenal and quick as well, eager to help you find the right packaging for your project, combine shipping, or meet a strict deadline. Each roll of paper is much higher quality than anything you’d find that the local drugstore, and the surefire way to make sure your offerings to the dark side stand out at the annual White Elephant party.
Speaking of amazing holiday gift ideas, the indie company Grave Before Shave is one of the greatest finds this holiday season. If you have a hairy person, this is the shop for you. Grave Before Shave specializes in facial hair care, and their retro horror/psychobilly designed packaging, high-quality organic products, and amazing customer service will win over even the most grizzly werewolf in your life. They have SO much stuff, from beard butters and oils to hoodies, shave towels and travel toiletry bags showing off their awesome art designs, and you can buy sample packs of many products just to try out the various scents if you can’t make up your mind. Their beard brush features soft, sturdy bristles to make the fuzz lay flat after you moisturize it with one of their awesome products, and everything has plenty of product to last a month or longer with regular use. There’s a huge variety of scents to pick from; my favorites were Gentlemen’s (a bourbon and sandalwood blend) and Aphrodisiac (musky leather and cedarwood), though Cigar (tobacco and a hint of vanilla) is delicious as well. My good friend Matthew was lucky enough to sample their line of products from the amazing Travel Pack which contained a little of almost everything, plus a few extras they threw in for us to sample. The beard wash left his face feeling refreshed and clean, and makes sure there’s no residue or soap build-up in your luscious face-mane, while the beard balms, oils and butters he tried kept him looking smooth and neat for the holiday photos that always pop up this time of year. He loved the cool black bag everything came in, and it was so easy to stash under his bathroom sink to keep his grooming products organized and in easy reach. I love this company, and it only makes me jealous that I don’t have a beard to utilize their stuff myself. They also feature great promo codes, sales and coupons on social media, so make sure you’re following them if this is of interest to you.
If you live in Texas like we do, ‘winter’ isn’t exactly a snowy wonderland, and one day you might be wearing shorts and the next scraping frost off your windshield. But I’m not only a member of the undead, I’m severely anemic (no matter how much blood I drink, it just never seems to warm me up) and the only way I can stay cozy this time of year is with more blankets than you can count. Luckily, Creepy Company has me covered; they developed gorgeous minky (one of the softest, cuddliest fabrics imaginable) throw blankets with some of our favorite horror designs, from a VHS Halloween replica to the cover of one of my favorite Goosebumps novels, and they’re the perfect size to cover your legs and feet for a marathon viewing of your favorite holiday fright flicks. They aren’t full-sized blankets, which is the only thing that could make them better, but with designs like this they’re definitely conversation pieces when they’re draped over a couch or the foot of your bed and they make amazing gifts for the cuddlemonsters in your life!
While you’re bundled up in your new blankets, maybe you’re like me and just need a big steaming cup of cocoa (or… whatever other warm liquid you like, I won’t judge) to heat those bones. Mombie’s Morgue of Mugs has some of the cutest vessels to hold your drink, with quotes from Hocus Pocus, Addams Family and more. My personal favorite is a matte black affair with a Rob Zombie quote, but to each their own! Patrick Bateman fans will find themselves delighted if they sip a cup from Teapot Robot, which features a great blood-splatter pattern and iconic quotes by our favorite Wall Street darling!
However you celebrate this season, or if you choose not to acknowledge it at all, remember this one thing; this time of year isn’t about the eggnog, the gingerbread haunted houses, or that mysterious (screaming?) wrapped package under the tree. The memories you make are yours alone, and whether you follow old traditions or create your own, only you decide what makes a ‘perfect’ end of the year. 2018 was a wild ride for all of us in so many ways, but we all made it through together. So put your copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night or Santa Slays into the DVD player, throw another log in the fire, and ignore that rattling clatter on the roof. I’m sure it’s just some reindeer. I’m sure of it.