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5 DIY Halloween Decor Ideas

Cover your mantle with friendly pumpkins. Since this kind of jack-o'-lantern involves no carving, kids can tackle it solo. See more Halloween pictures.
Riser/James Baigrie/Getty Images

If it's October in America, the best-case scenario is "scary and gross," a home that repels, frightens, maybe even disgusts if the look is truly successful.

You can go out and spend hundreds of dollars on pre-fab Halloween decorations from a hobby shop or party store or big-box for a city of perfect plastic pumpkins and ghosts and haunting, glow-in-the-dark cat eyes. Or, you can make a crafting project of it, spend a lot less money and some quality time with the kids, and then give those kids something to work on while you take a nice, long bath.

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It just takes some time and planning to do your own Halloween decorating. Here are some easy ways to prepare your home for All Hallows Eve. Go with a single theme or pick a couple of ideas from each to give your trick-or-treaters a holiday thrill.

A little dose of arachnophobia is a good start…

Spiders on the floor, spiders on the ceiling, spiders on the wall and on the lampshade…

Spiders scream "Halloween," and it's easy enough to make your own out of black cardboard, felt or fabric.

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If you can draw, by all means go freehand; otherwise, pick up some spider stencils at a hobby shop or make your own using tracing paper and a picture of a spider. The Internet will have plenty -- try Country Living's Halloween Templates or FreePrintable's Spider Stencil. The only other things you need are scissors and a pencil, and you've got yourself some spiders.

Pair them with store-bought spider webbing or some torn-up gauze for a full-on spider theme. Hang them from a chandelier or a mantle, trail them up a banister, or stick them on a wall, a lampshade, the floor or the door.

If you laminate them, you could even stick them on the walkway to your door to give approaching trick-or-treaters a scare.

Or, you could go the supernatural route…

These ghosts are made from tiny pumpkins and gauze.
Alexandra Grablewski/Botanica/Getty Images

Sometimes, you've gotta go Old School. Ghosts are one of the most traditional Halloween spectacles, and they're also one of the simplest to pull off.

If you have a throwaway white sheet in your linen closet, you have a free ghost.

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If you have a thrift store nearby that sells linens, you have a very cheap ghost.

Using some string and a big-eye needle, hang the sheet at several points from a tree in your front yard. Drape it over a coat rack or standing lamp inside. Draw on some eyes to give it some extra character (and include a smile if your ghost is friendly). Glow-in-the-dark paint can be a nice touch here, especially if you'll be placing your ghosts outside.

If you want to go small, use tissues instead. A dozen tiny tissue-ghosts hanging from the ceiling or even from the front porch is a nice effect.

Or, go with another childhood fantasy -- be the house where she lives…

Some pumpkins and hand-painted signs combined with an antiqued fence make for a pretty spooky haunted trail.
Some pumpkins and hand-painted signs combined with an antiqued fence make for a pretty spooky haunted trail.
Sean Locke/The Image Bank/Getty Images

If your childhood neighborhood had a house no kid would go near, you know what it looks like: It's dark and overgrown, and there's a broom by the door.

Dark and overgrown might be tough to pull off, but brooms and other witchy paraphernalia are a DIY cinch.

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Wrap some string-lights around a bunch of broom handles and plant them on either side of your walkway so trick-or-treaters can see where they're going (make sure to run the extension cord out of the way of little feet). Use some sturdy twine to hang a flying broomstick from a tree. Up-end one in a planter on either side of the door for a witchy entry -- you can even stick some fall-colored flowers into the brush if you're going for that kind of Halloween.

And for that iconic, cone-shaped witch hat, cut a rectangle of black cardboard and roll it into a cone, putting a few staples into the overlapping edges to keep them together. Hang a few from a tree, upside-down, using string and fill them with candy for a great surprise when the kids come by. Or arrange a bunch of gourds and tiny pumpkins around the base of a hat for a spooky centerpiece. Or cut some tiny holes in a few of the cones and use them as lampshades.

Speaking of glowing…

Pumpkins and gourds are the workhorses of the holiday.
Pumpkins and gourds are the workhorses of the holiday.
Photo courtesy of GrapevineTexas.gov

Those pumpkins from your hat centerpiece have a much more traditional role in Halloween décor: as the glowing, spooky jack-o'-lantern welcoming your Halloween guests.

Pumpkins and gourds and all sorts of autumn produce are the workhorses of the holiday. Carve out a bunch of giant gourds, fill them with apples or candy corn and stack them in each corner of the room. If you're a gourmand, bake sweet pumpkin mash or mix up pumpkin soup and serve it in tiny gourd tureens. Line up a string of mini-pumpkins along the mantle. Put a jack-o'-lantern (with an electric candle, of course) in each window of the house, facing passersby.

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To really catch some glances, build a giant, stacked-pumpkin pyramid in the front yard. You can paint on silly or scary faces, and maybe even prop up a scarecrow to watch over the patch. Don't forget to venture outside of the orange color range -- pale pumpkins or bright gourds will stand out from your more traditional jack-o'-lantern.

The creativity is really just beginning, though. Remember, this is your Halloween…

The Nixon White House took advantage of the inherent creepiness of mirrors to turn a stateroom into a funhouse.
The Nixon White House took advantage of the inherent creepiness of mirrors to turn a stateroom into a funhouse.
Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

There's no limit when it comes to Halloween decorating. Love glitter? Use handfuls of orange and black glitter to make faces on pumpkins rather than carving (a much more kid-friendly project).

Create frightening "specimen jars" using mason jars, water with yellow-green food coloring, and creepy, floating "specimens" - a doll head, an action figure, a yellow squash, a rubber snake -- and line them up on the mantle or the dining room table.

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Make use of the inherent creepiness of mirrors by painting eyes on one in the entryway. Plant some cardboard or foam-core tombstones in the front yard.

Halloween can be pretty, too. A wreath of fall blooms and berries becomes a Halloween wreath when you tie a black bow on it.

If it makes you think of Halloween and it's safe, it goes. With some scissors, glue, tape and a quick trip to a grocery store, you can give your house some full-on Halloween spirit. And give yourself some free time while the kids stick spiders all over the floor.

For more Halloween decorating ideas, check out the links on the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

  • Friedman, Michael Jay. "U.S. Children, Adults Celebrate Halloween." America.gov. Oct. 30, 2008.http://www.america.gov/st/peopleplace-english/2008/October/20051028160422jmnamdeirf0.9446985.html
  • Halloween. DIY Network.http://www.diynetwork.com/topics/halloween/index.html
  • Halloween. HGTV.http://www.hgtv.com/topics/halloween/index.html
  • Halloween DIY Decorations. Quick and Simple.http://www.quickandsimple.com/how-to/make-decorate/halloween-house-decorations-2
  • Halloween Party Decorating. Country Living.http://www.countryliving.com/cooking/entertaining/halloween-decorating-1005
  • Harris, Tom. "How Halloween Works." HowStuffWorks.https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/halloween.htm
  • Spooky Decorations for Halloween. Better Homes and Gardens.http://www.bhg.com/holidays/halloween/indoor-decorating/halloween-spooky-decorations/

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