Easy Halloween decorations
“Make it spookier, Mom.” Famous last words. The last time I took my daughter’s recommendation, I had a jilted bride hanging by a noose off the deck, headless men in water, a two-headed baby strapped to a wall and a myriad of ancient-looking dolls that I’d morphed into something from a Victorian zombie apocalypse. It freaked out the parents probably more than the kids.
Even so, I’m in a new state this year, and that means a whole new community of parents to traumatize. My daughter, being the ripe old age of 11, insisted that her friends wanted spooky, and that the parents wouldn’t mind. I thought: hey, it is Idaho. Rog calls it the “Good luck state.” Practically no laws govern this place…helmuts for motorcycles? Nope. Gun laws? Not that we can find. And driving while talking on the cell phone? Go for it. Coming from the state of Washington, which seems as over regulated as Switzerland, this place is akin to Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns free-for-all.
But I digress. Let’s get back to easy and relatively cheap (as in dollar-store cheap) decorations.
- Scary dolls. I love this! Hit goodwill
or your local thrifts shop. I found half a dozen for about 2 dollars each. I took them home, painted the faces white (used my daughters paint set), then added some black and red. I then used some spray paint we had in the garage on a few just to make the dresses look a little beat up. Lastly, I wrapped a few up in spider web so I can could hang strategically. A few I left out (like the clown) and placed in plants–making them look like zombie dolls rising from the grave. This year, it was wet and we had the party in the outbuilding (e.g. shop, but in Idaho, it’s called an “outbuilding,” go figure), so I hung them within spider webbing.
- Crime scene tape. Rog gets crime scene tape for his hockey legging on line for a dollar. I found the same thing at the dollar store, but I chose Haunted House tape. This serves the purpose of cordoning off areas but also as a marker for down by the gate.
- Black tablecloth for backdrops. At the dollar store, these large rectangular table clothes are a thin plastic-like (but not quite) feel. I put them up anywhere I needed to shield out light, but also give privacy–such as to storage areas. Four bucks and the entire loft area was transformed.
- Window shields. I also used the black tablecloth to darken the windows and put some cracks in the fabric–resembling a rock being thrown through the window–or an old spooky window.
- Old-time windows. I then purchased several web/cloth like pieces of material. These tended to be about 4 dollars each, but had enough in them to cut into 2 pieces. From this, I made spooky window curtains. Hang these up with clear tacks-lots and lots of tacks.
- Webbing. Rule on this: not all webbing is created equal. If you purchase the webbing at the dollar store- it’s really sticky, which will adhere to most walls or wood. However, it doesn’t stretch well and isn’t strong enough to hold anything within. For that, you need to go to Target or Spirit Halloween and for this super-stretchy webbing and spend about $7 bucks on the real
stuff. I get the 30 foot, or 75 foot length, which will stretch entire sections. This stuff is amazing. It will also go about 5-7 feet high, which makes it amazingly helpful. Colors are black, white and green. If you are darkening- go black. If you have a darkroom/house already, go white. I have one of the enormous webs that I stretched from my second floor to the ground–couldn’t find it in my boxes this year (half of which are still in storage) but it’s a super buy & for $24 it makes a great impact.
- Gruesome tablecloth & Spooky pics area. This is one of my absolute favorites. Two years ago, I had a table decoration idea that morphed into a cool feature. The idea was to take a table cloth I found at Goodwill (white, with a lace edge). I took red, grey and black paint and strategically cut slits in the tableclothe. For the party, I then put stands with food within the slits. It was gruesomely awesome! however, I had no such need this time around. As you can see from the picture, I nailed it to the back wall, and put a head through one of the slits and a two-headed baby through the other. When the kids came, they took turns (in groups) putting their own heads through, and they looked like headless people.
- Hands from the grave. Another dollar store find is to get old dolls, skeleton or bone hand, paint it white/grey/red (if needed) and put it within your pots at the house. Also do this with fingers or mice, which are easily and cheaply found (I’m talking plastic or rubber, not the real thing!).
- Transforming spooky pictures. Four years ago, I actually had to pay real money (e.g. 8 bucks) for these things. Now they are 1 dollar at the cheap stores. They are fun to do. For the outbuilding, I adhered them to the walls. When I had an adult party at my home, I used special tape to adhere them to my actual pictures- so they looked framed. It was super cool and it caught a lot of adults by surprise.
- Entryway canopy. The photo of the entryway was a find that I believe I purchased at the Spirit Halloween store years ago. It’s purple with spider webs. I adhere it to the
entryway with either tape or at my last home, tacks. This time around, I put a headless man above the entry way, attached to the light with spider webbing as the holder. You could replicate this same thing with an old sheet, some scissor rips and paint of anykind. Oh! makeup works! Just thought I’d throw that in.
- Large spider webs with our without lights. Over the years, I keep an eye out for super-large spider webs of all kinds. The material varies- from nylon to spiny/rubber-like feel. Some are white, others black but most come with some type of massive spider. I have purchased orange lights from the dollar store, but I always look out for post-Halloween sales to get longer, better made varieties from Target or wherever. Wrapping these around the spider webs really sets off the room.
- the tip on this is to strategically place the spider webs in the corners, for maximum impact.
- another tip is to place a scary doll within the spider web–ideally, with a spider coming to get it.
- Mummies and other hanging ghouls. I picked up a super cool mummy one year that always freaks people out. It twists and turns, and was about $25, so a bit more than I usually spend. It’s only gauze wrapped around wires of varying dimensions, with the shape of feet at one end and a head at the other. It can be made easily enough, but I don’t have that kind of time.
- Jilted bride. One of my absolute favorites. I purchased a wedding dress for $10 at Goodwill, took my scissors to it, then got out my red spray paint and made it gnarly. I then purchased a mask from Goodwill (a really freaky woman). I put this mask on top of a mop (I kid you not. rog thought I was nuts), then used a rope to keep the head on the post. More red spray paint covered parts of the rope, but the whole point was to make it look bloody, which it did. I then strung her up and hung her off the balcony. She greeted everyone. As you can imagine, I didn’t put this up for the 11 year olds (I don’t want to be responsible for future therapy sessions) because it even bothered the adults, who, in true form, said they loved it.
- Odds and ends. Little things like towels, bookends, skeleton napkin holders, hanging menus–these are all available at craft stores or wherever. Just keep an eye out for good deals. My serious Halloween gathering started 7 years ago, and has just been building. Lots of super cool things can be done with paint and a few items from Goodwill.
some kids games are up next. pumpkin bowling, bones in the bin and mummy wrapping.