Decorating your home for Halloween doesn’t have to be scary (unless, of course, you want it to be).
Some home owners go all out in a manner more often reserved for Christmas. David Gugel, for instance, takes Halloween decor to stop-and-gape levels. It’s no surprise to learn that he once designed retail window displays for Disney. About.com featured before-and-after photos of his otherwise typical suburban home transformed into a wild October frightfest. If you’re like us, there’s never enough time to pursue all the wild home styles that people create.
For those of us with less dramatic homes, budgets and taste, a little sweat equity can still bring a delightfully eerie air to your abode. Herewith, some relatively simple do-it-yourself ways to capture the spooky season.
Pumpkins and mums add a classic seasonal touch with minimal effort. They can welcome guests at the foot of a driveway, line a walkway to the front door or gather around a tree. The tree itself could sport eyes, cut from felt and held aloft with environmentally friendly adhesives. The truly ambitious could carve Styrofoam headstones, but the faint-of-heart, beware — that’s a half-day project.
Classy or ghastly? The options run amok. Amazon sells bloody footprints on paper, but why not make your own? A roll of kids’ mural paper from any craft store, some red acrylic paint, a bit of soap for those dirty feet afterward, and before you can say “wrap the body in a rug,” there are telltale prints leading to your door.
Or stick with simple. Hang a witch’s hat on the front door as you would a wreath. Sit the kids down with scissors, black felt and a stencil, and create a colony of bats. Paint Chinese paper lanterns like jack-o’-lanterns and hang them from the eaves — no scooping innards or tossing rotting (gourd) flesh.
Tossing a sheet with eyeholes over a kid’s head and calling them a ghost may be a cliched holiday cop-out, but the same idea can feel almost fresh on furniture. White sheets covering the furniture can lend an air of mystery to a room, as guests (or inhabitants) ponder what goes on underneath. And don’t underestimate the power of low light. If your circuits are on dimmers, you’re ahead of the game, but even candlelight or a well-placed dim bulb can throw unexpectedly fun shadows.
Burn the evidence — but not all of it. Dirt piled where the logs go can host fake bones peeking through. Perhaps there’s mulch left from summer planting? Put it to good use. While it is possible to make your own plaster bone molds, $20 on eBay goes far, too. If you don’t dig dirt, a handful of red glass votives in the fireplace can add a ghoulish air.
For a creeptastic look, think red and black. Yard-sale candlesticks, the more dented the better, covered in high-gloss black spray paint can hold red candles. They’ll give off an eerie glow atop a red tablecloth. Sprinkle plastic bugs around the plates and drape gauze or cheesecloth between the candles and across the table. Watch your guests shudder.
One tip for the frugal: Start thinking about next year now. Come Nov. 1, if not earlier, stores will deeply discount their Halloween offerings. Even if you don’t have the time or funds to spruce up the house this year, some judicious shopping could get you all set for 2014.
If the monsters haven’t gotten you yet, we flipped over some the home styles bursting with gourds and color pictured here — the looks can transfer to any home, even on a smaller scale. But if you want to go big, you have company. Don’t even bother counting the skeletons — of course, there are 13.