NEW YORK — Holiday creep, it seems, is here to stay, and it's spookier than it used to be.
The blending of holiday traditions — think Hanukkah bush — now kicks off with Halloween in a variety of ways.
Here's a peek at the holiday bleed:
ELF ON THE SHELF
That little guy in the Santa suit comes with a rhyming book. He's a stuffed "scout elf" that mysteriously moves around the house and can't be touched as he reports on who's naughty and who's nice between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Kids are encouraged to name their elves.
Well, meet the new Switch Witches of Halloween.
They've got their own kit with a rhyming book and a black-hatted witch doll. Not-so-oddly, the rhyming structure is a la "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and kids have a little space in the back where they can name their witch.
The book, "Switchcrafted: The Story of the Switch Witches of Halloween," instructs kids to leave the witch their candy hauls in exchange for a healthier toy. Unlike the elf, Switch Witches can be touched — and they're not spies, said co-creator Audrey Kinsman, a mom of two boys in Denver.
"Absolutely," she said when asked if the elf inspired the Halloween newcomer, which costs $29.99 and was launched a month ago. "We have the elf and we love our elf."
Kinsman has Celiac disease, and she has a 4-year-old with a severe milk protein allergy. Candy isn't all that fun, but Halloween is just as magical as Christmas, she said.
"There are no strict rules," she said of the witch. "The Switch Witch goes to the grocery store and takes the kids to school and sits in our kitchen. My boys play with her and hang her from the light fixtures and wrap her onto my dog's collar. It's supposed to be more interactive."
The folks at Festified.com are thinking, hey, why not Halloween? There's a sweater dress there, a vest and leggings in orange stripes with pumpkins and bats.
Mike Golomb, owner of Uglysweaterstore.com, is not only all about ugly sweaters for Christmas, Halloween and just about every other occasion but he sells only VINTAGE ugly sweaters that he buys by the 1,000-pound bale.
For Halloween, there's a black sweatshirt that has a pumpkin exploding with fireworks, and a vest with smiley pumpkins and candy corn.
"Christmas is still our biggest holiday, but we have Easter sweaters, Halloween sweaters, sweaters for teachers with apples and pencils on them," said Golomb, in St. Louis. "We've seen increased sales in all the sweaters, especially any holiday."
Golomb sells his ugly sweaters for $30 to $300 each.
"To us, the tackier the better," he said. "Sometimes I think Halloween sweaters are more tacky than the Christmas sweaters, with the candy corn and bats and everything."
The Easter tradition of decorating eggs in pretty pastels has morphed into spooky or playful takes for Halloween.
Consider this pumpkin egg project that landed on a 2004 cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine: A centuries-old Ukrainian dying technique called pysanka was used to draw a design with wax. The eggs were then dipped in dye and held close to a flickering flame so the wax melts away to reveal the decoration.
The little pumpkins were placed in a cozy nest of hay and twigs.
Decorating eggs is most definitely not just for Easter anymore, said Hannah Milman, the editorial director of crafts and holidays at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
"Iconic imagery like an egg, a tree, things that are very familiar to people, are very easy to translate into another holiday by changing the color," she said. "The egg is an everyday object that everyone has. Everyone can buy one. I think it's a love of the shape of natural things."
These days, Christmas trees aren't just for Christmas, or even Hanukkah for that matter.
Look no further than the Halloween display at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, which touts itself as the world's largest Christmas store.
Founded by Wally Bronner in 1945, Halloween and the fall harvest mark the official start of the holiday season at the store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. The store has a 98,000-square-foot sales floor nestled on 27 acres in the state's Little Bavaria region.
A religious man, Bronner wasn't one for ghouls and goblins, but Halloween is hard to get around these days.
"In the past few years we've gotten more and more Halloween ornaments and trims. People love Halloween. It's a tremendous holiday," said Sarah Schlegel, Bronner's decorating coordinator.
Her staff decorated a 4-and-a-half-foot tree with round orange pumpkin and white spiderweb ornaments.
So is the calendar just one big holiday now?
"You know it really is," Schlegel laughed. "People will take a tree that size and decorate it all year round for the seasons and different holidays."
Trick or Peeps!
The sugary, marshmallow chicks — once the delight of Easter alone — have been reinvented for just about every occasion, including Halloween.
One box of five green chicks comes with a plush, five-inch "witch chick" with a black hat. Orange pumpkin Peeps can be had as singles or in a 24-count tray, along with white ghost-shaped Peeps. There are chocolate-covered Peeps and cats in the flavor of chocolate mousse, said Matt Pye, vice president of corporate affairs for Just Born, the company that owns Peeps and is based, where else, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Halloween Peeps account for 8 to 10 percent of sales, he said, behind No. 1 Easter and No. 2 Christmas.
"It's a small part of the business, but it's growing," Pye said.
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