The Art of Darkness

Celebrate Halloween in April

September 26th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Secret Pumpkin Logo

The main problem with Halloween is that it only comes once a year. By the time April rolls around Halloween is six months in either direction, and those of us with a little ghoulishness in our souls can start feeling a bit bereft. Fortunately, a few years ago the members of a haunt-related listserv to which I belong found a solution.

The Secret Pumpkin gift exchange is similar in concept to “Secret Santa” exchanges, except it takes place in April and it’s Halloween-related. It’s open to members of either the Halloween-L or HOWL2000 listservs, and it’s a lot of fun. Participants list a few of their likes and dislikes, everyone is randomly assigned a “Pumpkin” to gift, then some time between April 1 and April 15 they send an appropriately spooky item to their gift-ee and receive something they should like from their gift-er.

Gifts are supposed to be $20US or less (matches are assigned in plenty of time to take advantage of after-Halloween sales), but many participants like to make something for their Pumpkin instead. Lovely handmade props, crafts, or other items often make an appearance.

I’ve been running the annual exchange since 2004, and it probably should have occurred to me well before now that it might be of interest to readers of this blog, but I never claimed to be quick on the uptake.

If you’d like to participate, sign up for one of the listservs (a lot of mail about the exchange gets sent through them): Halloween-L is a “casual” list, with lots of back-and-forth chatter, and the volume can be fairly high. HOWL2000 is much more stringently kept on-topic and has very low volume. Then, register at the Secret Pumpkin site. (Even if you don’t want to participate in the exchange, you might want to join one of the listservs just to make friends with more like-minded people.)

Non-US residents are welcome to join, with a small caveat: Residents of the same country are preferentially matched with each other, but if there are no other participants from your country you may find shipping costs for your gift to be fairly expensive. (Sending your gift early to take advantage of slower, cheaper shipping might help.)

And please, PLEASE don’t sign up for the exchange unless you’re serious about following through. We occasionally have participants flake out, and their Pumpkins are always sorely disappointed.

So come join us! Getting a little bit of Halloween in April is always a lovely surprise! The deadline to sign up is October 15.

Update: The page for the HOWL2000 list has an old address for subscriptions. To sign up for that listserv, send a blank email message to

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