We always get excited when we start seeing our newly released AtmosFX Decorations in the wild. But that level of excitement approached stratospheric levels when we saw how Matt Howard and his family chose to display the Halloween Window Decoration.
To be sure, this Halloween display is spectacular in every way – it’s not limited to this stunning presentation of Halloween-themed stained glass. Matt, along with his wife, Brianna, and their two daughters, Natalie and Sophia, have built a full-blown Harry Potter-themed experience at their San Jose, California, home.
As you can see from the video, one of the things that the Howard family does so well is that they identify clever ways to incorporate existing AtmosFX Decorations into a theme they are already working on. It started two years ago when Matt and his family discovered Jack-O’-Lantern Jamboree Decoration Collection. “Could these be used as magic pumpkins to compliment their Harry Potter theme?” they asked themselves. “Of course they could!”
Soon, they were seeking out additional decorations that would complement their theme, such as the insects from Creepy Crawlies 2 and, later, the friendly ghosts that roam Hogwarts through the use of Boo Crew, Ghostly Apparitions and Macabre Manor decoration collections.
Of course, what makes the entire experience so compelling is the level of detail. That’s obvious when you look at the gothic-style windows in which they display Halloween Window. Matt first projected an image of the windows onto plywood, where he traced the outline. After he cut the plywood, he added two layers of foam to create the look of stone blocks, cutting and shaping them with a soldering iron, a heat gun and the like. Then, a couple layers of paint was applied by the entire family. (Matt says the family works together on all of the props and displays.)
Since the creation of the windows, the family embarked on a larger project: the entrance doors to the Hogwarts Great Hall. It will be the largest set the family has yet to create.
Matt and his family have found themselves creating larger displays this year, in part because they know Halloween trick-or-treating likely will be much different this year. “Rather than being a walkthrough with new surprises and details around every corner,” Matt says, “the focus will be on laying out the display in a way that will be visually easy to see by families as they drive by.”
With that in mind, Matt has been working with other families to create a map of all the houses in the neighborhood that will be showcasing Halloween displays. “This will help families know the best places to drive by and still experience some Halloween fun with their kids,” he adds.
Pretty impressive, given that the Harry Potter House is only in its third year. In fact, the Howards have only been decorating for Halloween since 2017, when they decided to do so to help entice more trick-or-treaters to the neighborhood. It worked! Two years ago, the first year of the Harry Potter House, it attracted more than 200 people. “Even after everything was shut down at 10 p.m. on Halloween, cars kept driving by,” Matt says. “Many of them drove over from neighboring cities to come see it in person. That was when we knew we were on to something special.”
Special, indeed. Last year Matt says more than 300 people visited the display, many coming back more than once, and many staying as long as 45 minutes. No doubt, the Howard family and their fellow neighborhood decorators will have even more visitors this year.
What an incredible team effort, Howard family!
To learn more about the Howard’s Harry Potter House, including where to find it, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/HarryPotterHouseSJ.
Does your Halloween display have a really cool theme? If so, we’d like to see it! (Heck, we’d like to see it even if it doesn’t have a theme!) Send us your photos and videos using this easy submission form and inspire other decorators just like you!