Are you planning to dress up for Halloween? How long do you typically plan your costume? Do you keep it a secret?
Totally dressing up for Halloween. I've worn the same costume for almost tweleve years, and I've gotten great use out of it. I dress as an executioner. I have this mask that's partially a heavy, black executioner's hood and partially an ugly rubber lower face, worn and scarred. I wear a long gray robe and carry the scariest-looking fake axe I can find. Since I'm female, and fairly overweight, I wear bulky clothes under the robe and hunch way the hell over so no one can tell I'm a woman. I braid and pin my hair up on my scalp so I don't give myself away by having hair sticking out the back of my mask, and I rarely talk. Scares the ever-looking bejesus out of kids that come to my house.
Last year my husband and some friends friends got into the act. Mr. Chat dressed as the Headless Horseman, and two buddies of mine dressed as pirates, completely with practice weapons (they're in a SCA-type group). Since Mr. Chat and I don't talk when we're in costume (though I might this year if I can find a cheap vocal distorter), our pirate buddies are the ones to scarily encourage reluctant children to get candy. I always put the candy bowl right next to me and between me and the Headless Horseman, so the kids are always thinking we're going to growl and pounce. We never do, but we had some great moments last year where kids were inching up a fraction at a time to get the candy, and Mr. Chat and I had to hold our poses without shifting or talking for many long minutes, or the kids would have fled like scalded cats. I got cramps in interesting places, but the moment the kids were gone we were laughing so hard!
We decorate our yard with fake tombstones and flickering candles on each of the "graves." And I carve the pumpkins to resemble severed heads, including one that I carve sideways and save some of the pumpkin guts to look like bits of the spinal column spilling out. Guts without blood, it's fun for the whole family!