Past Contest Winners Share Tips, Tricks and Inspiration for Taking Home a Creep Your Crypt Prize
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Most everything looks and feels different in 2020—and Halloween is no exception.
As the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health revealed guidelines and parameters for how to celebrate as the pandemic continues, it became clear that typical celebrations, including parties, haunted houses and more, would have to wait.
One thing that has not changed is the Palisadian-Post’s annual Creep Your Crypt contest, which will again reward prizes in three categories: Creepiest Crypt, Best Theme and DIY-Originality.
For the past seven years of the contest’s history, dozens of community members from all neighborhoods of the Palisades have thrown their hat into the ring to take home one of the prizes.
And now that sign ups are open, we checked in with a few past winners who provided some creepy crypt inspiration and advice for how to be a winner in 2020.
Kimber and Chuck Peil have taken home a prize three years: In 2016, they were awarded Creepiest Crypt, Best Theme in 2018 and Creepiest Crypt again in 2019.
“Have fun!” Chuck wrote. “That’s probably the best piece of advice I can give anybody who wants to jump into the contest if you aren’t having a good time decorating and doing it for the right reasons—which is to create something that kids and families look forward to every year in your neighborhood.”
Chuck touched on the fact that with the anxiety and stress that families across the Palisades have endured the past few months, he shared that Creep Your Crypt 2020 is “more important than ever.”
“Parents, grab your kids and drive around to check out the houses this year—a way to get out of the house and check out the community,” Chuck added.
Entries, which are accepted through October 31, can be found on the Post’s website starting October 22—the date that voting opens this year. A paper ballot with all participating homes will also be printed in the October 29 edition of the paper. So there will be ample time to take a tour of the Palisades and see what neighbors have come up with before decorations come down.
Chuck said that as him and his family have decorated their house every year, one of the things that makes it most fulfilling is that kids throughout the neighborhood will come down weeks in advance to ask if the Peil family is going to decorate and talk about the things they like best about it.
From a creative standpoint, Chuck shared that his best advice is to create a “story” about the decor.
“Last year we added a creepy set of cemetery gates that kids would enter through—calling it ‘Boolinger Crypt’—so the experience that we created followed a loose story or narrative,” Chuck explained. “Now whether or not anybody realized it really didn’t matter—but having a theme or story or basic idea that drives your process is always helpful.”
He said that new and repeat entrants should not be discouraged by homes that “go pretty big”: “From a contest standpoint, there are many categories.”
Lili Geller, who took home the DIY-Originality prize last year, recommended to put your heart into decorating.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be extravagant, but thoughtful is a good approach,” Geller said.
She added that some of her favorite decorations used are skeletons.
Their home was entered by Lili’s son Jonah, a late entry from The Highlands who garnered enough votes in just a few days to collect the prize.
“We were very happy and excited to learn that we won,” Lili shared in 2019. “It was also a big surprise.”
Lili explained that they were inspired by their good friend and neighbor Azita Baffa to enter Creep Your Crypt for the first time last year.
Another first-time entry and first-time winner was the Murphy family in 2019, who took home the prize for Best Theme.
“We actually decided November 1, 2018—the day after Halloween last year,” Michelle Murphy explained after winning. She recommended that the whole family get involved in decorating.
“It seemed overwhelming at first, but everyone chipped in and we were able to get it done over the weekend,” Michelle shared. “If you’re a planner (like me), you can save a lot of money by shopping for everything online the day after Halloween. We bought almost everything on sale for a fraction of the cost. Granted we had everything 364 days early, but we stored it in the garage and didn’t have to buy a thing once it came time to decorate.”
Michelle shared that they kept decorations, like ghosts, bats and black birds, in storage bins in the garage all year waiting for Halloween 2019 to arrive.
She added that her favorite decorations are black crows, which are covered in feathers, so they look real.
“You can put them in trees, bushes or my favorite is to use clear fishing line and hang them across the front yard so it looks like they are flying,” she said. “I flinch every time I walk outside.”
This year, the winners will be awarded an assortment of prizes from local businesses, including K&M Center, Roopa Rao, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, Black Ink, Anawalt’s Palisades Hardware, Patrick’s Roadhouse, CinqueTerre WEST and more. The 2020 contest is being sponsored in part by Fran Flanagan Group.
For more information on the contest rules or to sign up now, visit palipost.com/creep-your-crypt-contest-2020.
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