Creative Halloween Decorations
I just stepped outside and took a deep breath and then another one and another one. No I don’t have a breathing problem or anything. It’s just that for the first time in months, I don’t feel like I’m breathing in an aquarium. The air is crisp and cool and that means fall is here.
At one point in our lives, that would have been the signal for us to haul out boxes and sacks full of Halloween decorations and go to work. It would usually take us at least a month to put everything out. We were one of those families who would put out a "monstrous" (Ha!Ha! No pun intended) display.
We literally had hundreds of people drive by our home just to see our decorations. It really was a lot of work, especially because back then you couldn’t buy much to use for outside Halloween decorations. We had to use our imagination and make our own.
We like to have fun at Halloween and not scare the wits out of everyone, so we try to keep our decorations cute and funny looking. To us, Halloween is a time for children to dress up and for one night a year be what they always dreamed of being, whether it’s a fairy princess, a ballerina, Superman or even a robot. They get to be on the "stage" for one night to show everyone how beautiful, strong or funny they look. And to end a perfect night they get tons of candy, bags of candy and did I mention, a whole bunch of candy??
Here are some ideas of things we did to have a whole lot of fun for very little money. You can use these same basic principles for any holiday decorating.
- You don’t have to have a lot of decorations for your display to look nice. I drive by one home every year and each season the owners put out one simple something. For example, in the summer they have one beautiful pot of flowers sitting on their porch. In the fall a pot of mums, for Halloween, one pumpkin with a smiley face and at Christmas one pretty lit up wreath on the door. It’s never a lot, but I always get pleasure when I drive by the place and see their one simple decoration.
- We work all year buying things at garage sales or thrift stores for our decorations. We started out with about 25 plastic pumpkins to set out for a pumpkin patch. The next year we added another 50 and drilled holes in the bottoms so we could put lights in them. After a few years we had 200-300 of them that we had collected. We never paid more then 5-10 cents for them. If you want to have a big display, start small and just add a little bit more to your decorations each year.
- If you see something in a magazine or somewhere that you think is cute but too expensive, try to copy it and make it yourself:
- I saw a cute rake in a magazine that I loved. It was an old rake that had a few silk flowers tied on it and a sign that said "Free leaves, rake all you want." I just happened to have a dead 50 year old rake in my shed I was going to throw away, so I pulled it out, found an old board and some paint (I could have used a marker too), painted on the words and tied on a couple of stray silk flowers that I had and voila! I had a cute rake and saved about $25.
- It takes nothing to stuff some old clothes with plastic bags and make a scarecrow family.
- If you are a little handy, put your talent to good use. My husband took an old metal trash can and motorized it so that the lid moved up and down and when it opened it popped out a Sylvester the cat.
- We found decorations in unusual places. Once we went to the grocery store where they had a gigantic pumpkin. The thing was about 8-10 feet across. We asked the manager if they threw it out at the end of the season and he said no. We told him what we needed it for and discovered that he had seen our display and liked it. He said "Come by on Halloween morning and you can take it to use and then bring it back." It doesn’t ever hurt to ask about anything. Most people aren’t mean and hateful, but are usually kind and helpful
- Get more bang for your buck. Buy things that have a big impact but cost little. A couple of bags of spider webs and plastic spiders can cover a lot of area and look "cool" but cost very little. I use spider webs for everything. They’re great to use to cover throw pillows for a party, put in your hair, hang on the lights or wrap around the handles of silverware. You just can’t have too much.
- Use what you already have around the house.
- We were having a Halloween party and to add to the effect, we dug out some black sheets and covered all the furniture. It changed the whole look of the room.
- Another year, my husband found some 10 foot long, thin metal rods. We stuck them in the ground, added styrofoam wig heads to each one and hung some large pieces of sheer fabric I had gotten for free from a friend over the tops of the heads. Everyone loved them. The sheer material had a much more realistic see through look then just a sheet. At night, you couldn’t see the rod so it looked like these ghosts were floating 10 feet up in the air.
- Start the day after Halloween to prepare for next year. If your kids get a bunch of plastic spiders when they go trick or treating, save them and add them to the decoration box. If your child dressed as a pumpkin this year, save the costume, stuff it next year and set it out with the decorations. Try to think of ways to incorporate any old costumes into your decorations.
Another cheap and easy Halloween decoration is to take ping pong balls and draw on them with permanent markers to look like creepy eyeballs. I purchased both of my supplies at a local dollar store, so it’s very cost effective. You can stick them in the bowl of candy, or string them up to hang on the porch.
Thank you for the nice letter. It is a real blessing. We are doing our best to live frugally and still have some fun.
I found a couple of old witches hat a few years ago at a yard sale for 10 cents a piece. these were the old (maybe made in the 50’s) the hats peak actually stand up by them self’s so I put them in my bay window along with some blinking lights draped around them and believe it or not I put my cats run around mouse under them. cut it on and in the dark and from the road the hats look like they are moving by themselves! The mouse runs on batteries and you just cut it on and it runs under the hats! It looks like something you would buy in a store! you just have to think of something different and fun for the kids.
I have to know how and where you store 200+ plastic pumkins. The only thing that keeps me from doing all of these things (besides the work itself) is having a place to store all of it when I’m done!
Leah, we had a large 19 17 old house at the time although I didn’t have much room because the upstairs, basement and part of the main house was used for our business. My husband was very clever at find strange storage places for out stuff though. We had a large open front porch with a over hang across all of it. My husband cut a hole in the ceiling of it added a hinged door which blended in. When we were done with the decorations (Christmas or Halloween) we would put all of the pumpkins in super large bags and since they were plastic we didn’t have to be careful of them and just toss them up there.
It worked really good because it was all right there by the front yard and we didn’t have to drag them very far.
Jill, I love the idea of finding storage space under the porch roof. More people should do this. After all the porch roof is usually just “dead” space. I’ve seen people on TV shows finding storage space in the “dead” spaces of their homes. I wonder how long before we see this idea on some home improvement show.
I do too Jamie. My husband was an expert at finding these little areas. I had all kinds of cubby holes (with doors added) cut into the space between the 2×4’s in my walls in my kitchen and bathroom. There was a wall behind where the kitchen door swung open we could do nothing with and he cut a place there from floor to ceiling and I kept all of my can goods in it. It was so cool and one of the few places I could see all that I had at a glance and didn’t have to unload a bunch to get to something else because it was all 1 can deep.
We had a claw foot tub in the bathroom with very high ceilings and he put cabinets above it for me to store things I don’t use often. He also cut doors into the walls of our second floor where we store things under the slanted eves (sp) of the roof. He did such a good job too no one hardly knew they were even there.
I forgot to mention I did have a husband and kids at the time to help. I couldn’t do it now by myself either especially being sick. That is why I have my wicked witch of the west and her bucket of water just dumped in a corner of my porch instead of hanging her up.
Thanks for the newsletter. Due to some convictions our family has, we don’t participate in Halloween, but that doesn’t mean that this newsletter was devoid of information for our family.
We do still like to have a few fall decorations and I loved your idea about the rake. It was too cute! And of course scarecrows are fall fun (and since we live in Illinois “corn country” are particularly appreciated as a nice decoration).
So for those who, like our family, don’t observe Halloween, do not completely discount this newsletter, there’s info there for us too!
PS- This wasn’t an inviation for others to start the Halloween debate. It’s not my desire to cause discord. I merely wanted to point out that there are ideas for all in this newsletter.
Kim yours was one of the nicest posts we have had on a subject that like you say could cause a debate. I do wish all of our readers who don’t agree on things would post things as nice and kind as yours was. People don’t always understand I don’t have any problem with people posting things which don’t always agree with what I post it is the attitude and the way they say it which I have problem with. As you said we don’t want our web site to be one to debate issues but just to give ideas and info.
Wish everyone would use your post as the perfect way to disagree. Thank you veryyyyy much.
Everytime I change jobs and the uniform is mine I keep it in my dress up box. I have worked as a Lab tech, Great lab coat. I worked in a factory with a tool belt I had to buy and a hard hat. So I kept it MANY costumes can be made from stuff you have arround the house. I also have in that box a cowboy hat my dad didnt want anymore and a pair of overalls he thought were worn out. multiple scarfs that my mom thought were tacky my Grandpas old cain and pipe.
I have one place to put things so I can always have an outfit…and I have dressed up many of my friends kids and took them out with me when their parents told me they didnt have the money to BUY a costume…I was in shock. To think that people BUY costumes lol
I am like you Cerrin, I am always shocked when someone says they can’t do something because they can’t afford to buy a costume. I have never bought a costume before and not just because of the expense but because of the fun of coming up with something different. The costumes don’t have to be complicated either.
My son is a superman nut so one year we knew he was going to come to our party dressed as superman of course. Well he got all of us. He dressed in a suit and tie. He came as Clark Kent. : ) He even had one of his superman shirts under his white shirt in case he had to fly off during the party and save the day. HA!HA! My son in law as a joke on my son painted himself green and dressed in green and came as Kryptonite man. It didn’t cost anything but we sure got a laugh out of both of them.
Love the idea of saving the uniforms. We have always had a costume box too and I tell you we use it all the time and not just at Halloween. If the kids have to dress in a 50’s outfit for a school concert or something we just go to the costume box. Thanks for the good idea.
Kim, The Church I go to doesn’t like Halloween the way the world celebrates in either. Because I go to a Catholic Church, what they do is celebrate “All Saints Day’ by having everyone dress up as a Saint or Bible character. The pumpkins are even carved with very elegant religious symbols. The first time I saw the pumpkins carved with Nativity symbols and other Christian things, I was really impressed. Then with a candle burning inside they are absolutely beautiful. Halloween means “All Hallows Eve.” Which, like in the Lord’s prayer, Hallow means “Holy.” So on Halloween my Church has a costume party, so the children can remain safe from the ugliness and occultish things the world turns Halloween into. And everyone brings something good to eat so there is no cost to the Church. It is fun and holy.
When I was growing up my Mom & I were always going out together on Halloween night trick or treating while my Dad stayed home handing out (more like eating) the candy. Mom & I dressed as clowns one year, hobos the next complete with charcoal stained face and clothes for that dirt effect, a witch (yardsale costume), bullwinkle the moose, a ghost, a punk rocker, a cat, an old woman. We always walked around with a group of friends and had a good time. The best part: the popcorn balls! I carried a pillow case for the candy I got. The costumes were always imaginative or came from second hand, never new. Great memories. Nowadays I don my black witch’s hat with feather trim, put on bright green eyeshadow and glow in the dark nails, and walk around with my 5 year old son. He picks out his own costume ideas since he has been 3. My hubby dresses up too (construction worker, doctor, football player).
Yeah, Every year I go as a Witch. I get dressed first thing in the morning and wear my costume all day long. The kids get a kick out of it for the school Halloween party. I’m the only parent who ever dresses up!
I love all the halloween tips! thanks for sharing all of your ideas!
I enjoyed reading all you do for this event, & would like to see pictures of your decorated home that people love to drive by to see. Thanks
June I haven’t put them out for a bit though Tawra does a bunch now but she called in a panic yesterday and said she forgot she had to get the decorations out and didn’t know what to do this year because they are going to be out of town for more then half of the month which isn’t norm. I don’t know if she has pictures from last year or not but will mention it to her.
I loved the Halloween party ideas, especially the little octupi! (sp). This past Sunday I made my own sign with the rake and I would love to show everyone. How do I post a picture? thanks, Denise
Denise I don’t think you can or we not sure how you can. If you have a web site or a blog we could maybe do a link some how but other wise we aren’t sure. Which is a shame because I would really love to see it. Have you put it outside yet? When I first put mine out I got more people commenting on it and laughing at it and I was wondering if the same has happened for you yet. Sorry about the picture. If we figure something out we will let you know.
Hi Jill, I know I can send as an attachment to a regular email to you but I see you only use contact forms not a direct email address on the site. THen you could easily put it on the your site. Is there an email address to reach you? I would love to send it..I don’t currently have a site of my own. If not maybe I can get it on facebook?
I do have it outside, but we live on a cul de sac with only 3 other houses on it. No one turns down our street unless they are lost so I keep going outside and looking at it myself. 2 of the 3 neighbors said they thought is was really cute!
If I could just caution everyone this year? I’m hearing that here in the mid Atlantic and Northeast, that the pumpkins are going way up in price due to all the horrific rain we’ve had. So I just want to remind everyone to check their pumpkins carefully for mushy spots and mold, so you don’t pay top dollar and your pumpkin goes bad quickly.!
I’d also watch for sales on the cannced pumpkin about now, cause I’m betting the price will go up if a lot of farmers had a damaged crop!
Have a beautiful fall to you all!
I love autumn. Today I found a good buy on acorn squash and added other colorful squash to put in a basket as a centerpiece until we eat them.
Last year at a lady’s group we had a Halloween party where we could wear costumes if we wanted to. I have a dark fleece cape and hat that I just wrapped with garlands of silk autumn leaves around the collar and on the hat. I won the costume prize!
Grizzly Bear Mom
If you don’t celebrate halloween you can certainly celbrate All Saint’s day and dress up as the one of your choice. We once had our youth gorup celebrate this and I wore fatigues and carried a cross as a Christian solider. The kids’ costumes were imaginative. Three came as Pete, James and John asleep in the garden. And that was in a liberal Prebyterian church! What ever you do remember its your holiday. Make it what you want!
Love all the ideas I get on the Living on a Dime site & newsletter…but would really appreciate a few more photos on articles like this one. A picture is worth more than a thousand words. Like to see more sample pictures instead of so much explaining.