Here in the desert, fall and the Halloween season are quite different from many other places in the country.
Growing up in Colorado, I had to plan my childhood costumes around my parka as Halloween seemingly always saw snow. Here, kids can trick-or-treat in tank tops, and heavier costumes might have them sweating through their suits.
Beyond costume planning, the harshest effect of the Arizona heat on Halloween may be how it wilts jack-o'-lanterns. While they're rarely month-long decorations, carved pumpkins see an especially short lifetime in the desert heat.
If you want to avoid seeing your hard work turned to mush, here are some alternative options for Halloween decoration:
1. Paint a pumpkin
Painting can be as creative an experience as carving out the pumpkin, and it can be more forgiving of mistakes.
Sure, you won't be able to put a candle inside to make it a true jack-o'-lantern, but there are more options in terms of color, and you won't have to worry about working so much with negative space as you do when carving.
Plus, if your porch is lit, a painted pumpkin may be a preferable visual to the carved one with the light washed out by the porch lights.
2. Make a squash array
Instead of buying and carving one pumpkin, you can lay out a few different types of squash.
This creates a different visual experience for trick-or-treaters while maintaining the harvest focus of fall and Halloween.
Plus, buying smaller decorative squashes may be less expensive than getting carving pumpkins for your family, and it's easier clean-up too.
3. Use pumpkin push-ins
Treat your pumpkin like a Mr. Potato Head.
These decorations get pushed into the pumpkin and turn it into a character from a cartoon or other movie or show.
Some options from a quick online scan include Spider-Man, Minnie Mouse and Darth Vader.
4. Give your pumpkin a costume
Have an old football helmet? Boom -- pumpkin linebacker.
Top hat and bowtie? Slap a beard on that bad boy and call it Abraham Pump-coln.
Black wig? Draw a face with candy corn for teeth and you've got a Squash Dracula.
5. Skip pumpkins altogether
Look, Halloween's long since changed its focus from produce to costumes and candy.
There are plenty of options to decorate your front porch, door or yard if you don't use pumpkins. Stick with the scarecrow and fake gravestones and don't risk a rancid pumpkin mess.
Copyright 2016 KPNX