How to create spooky-stylish Halloween decor

If you’re anything like me, Halloween is your most wonderful time of the year. What’s more enjoyable than lying motionless on your front yard dressed as a corpse, and then leaping up and terrifying unsuspecting trick or treaters?

Also — if you’re like me — your yard has been set up like a haunted graveyard since the crack of dawn on October 1. So it’s not too early to talk about decorating for Halloween. Particularly since we missed out on it last year.

In fact, if you haven’t already started, it’s almost too late to achieve the spookiest effect since this is your last weekend to plan for next weekend’s festivities, from trick or treating to costume parties. So let’s get right to it, you don’t have any time to waste!


Decorate the front door

If you aren’t hardcore (ahem, unlike moi), decorating your front entry is the minimum requirement. With every decoration imaginable available from the drugstore to the hardware store, there’s no excuse not to at least hang a Halloween-themed wreath to welcome all those candy-grabbers. Change the exterior light bulb to green or red, and you’re done. Extra points if you set a speaker up behind a carved pumpkin and broadcast blood-curdling screams, rattling chains and the howling of wolves.


Terrify with tombstones

If you have a bit more ambition, try adding larger props to your yard and porch. Sure, realistic tombstones can be purchased at the store, but what’s the fun in that? Create your own easily with Styrofoam insulation. Cut it in the shape you want, paint it to look like stone with black and grey outdoor paint and add a fun saying to it.


Pick your colour scheme

Inside the house, decorating requires a bit more finesse so it doesn’t look tacky instead of moody. Limiting your decor’s colour palette to just a few shades creates a cohesive look. Try black-and-white with pops of various shades of orange. Mixing in touches of metal, like old brass or tarnished silver, amps up the vampire glam. Also, pick your focal point.

Adorn a fireplace mantle with black crepe, spider webs and antique candlesticks and lanterns. Create a spooky little vignette on your kitchen island with a jack-o-lantern and an assortment of creepy-looking gourds. Drape cobwebs and spiders from your chandelier.


Add spooky spiders

Spiders are fascinating and scary at the same time. All those legs and eyes! Make your own small spiders using Styrofoam balls spray-painted black with black pipe cleaners for legs. If you want really big ones for drama, black garbage bags and black Halloween garland wrapped around heavy-gauge wire are perfect. These are also weather-resistant materials if you want to put spiders outside on your front yard or hang them above your entryway to scare visitors before they scare you.


Go batty!

A bat template, scissors and black card stock are all you need to give your front door or interior walls a scary transformation. If you use lighter construction paper, by tacking the bats to the door in the center of their body, leaving their wings free, you’ll have a colony of fluttering bats every time you open the door or a gust of wind catches them. Vary the sizes for extra interest. They look especially great on white walls. Add a few tree silhouettes and a half moon if you feel especially creative.


Create scary window silhouettes

This one is especially eerie if you live in a two storey home. I suspend the silhouette of a hanging man in an upstairs window and set a strobe light behind it to create an eerie lightening effect. But you don’t have to go quite that gruesome for great results.

Using black card stock in the larger sheets, cut out a silhouette of a skeleton, flying witches or a huge cobweb and spiders, and tack those to the inside of your windows. Hang a white bed sheet behind them and then turn on the room’s lights. Do you have a prominent garage with a big white door? That also lends itself perfectly to a haunting scene in silhouette.


Haunt with ghastly ghosts

It’s scary-easy to create a yard full of ghosts. Bend chicken wire into the desired shape and height and cover with inexpensive gauze. You can spray starch over it to keep it stiff, or let the wind move it in eerie tendrils. Just be sure to use thin wire to attach it to the chicken wire so it doesn’t blow away. You can also raise this on a tall pole and drape it down to the ground so
it looms above the heads of trick or treaters. If you have a tall tree in your front yard, like we do, you can suspend the ghost from an overhead branch. Light it up with a spotlight or place an LED lantern directly below each of the shorter ones. Say boo!


For the easily spooked

Do you prefer a less terrifying Halloween? It’s super-easy to make your home look well dressed for the season without resorting to black cats, fog machines, fake blood and the gooey mess of carving pumpkins.

Again, pick a colour scheme and run with it. Set out orange or red mums in black pots and surround them with pumpkins and gourds. Instead of wrestling with sharp instruments, especially if you want to involve children, paint the pumpkins with fun designs. Anything goes! Add metal lanterns with LED candles, and you have a welcoming yet festive front porch.


Do I have your creative juices flowing? It’s not too late or too difficult to create a spook-tacular Halloween display. I can assure you that all the trick or treaters really appreciate the extra effort. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to meet everyone who lives in your neighbourhood in a way that isn’t possible in a shopping mall. Stay scary and safe!

— DG