Help me Halloweenify my house!
September 21, 2007 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions on inexpensive, not-too-tacky, fun Halloween decorations for the outside of my house.

Right now, I am definitely making a fake cemetery (yes, tombstones with dorky/funny epitaphs) and carving a few pumpkins, but I want ideas for ways to Halloween-up certain parts of my house.

These are:
- The large living room window that everyone can see from the road.
- The front door and/or the glass panel next to the front door.
- Our mailbox.
- The two small trees in our front yard.
- Something to hang from the arm/bracket thingy next to our front door that we usually hang a plant from (I know they must have a name, but I can't think of it right now.)

Cheapness is a must, and I don't really like store-bought Halloween props (most are either too tacky trying to look realistic or too sloppy), so I'm willing to put some elbow grease into the mix.

I want our house to pretty much look appealing to trick-or-treaters but also give adults/teenagers a chuckle if they stop to look.
posted by catfood to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Scarecrows with pumpkin heads are easy to make.
I have a life-sized articulated plastic skeleton that I drop on a fishing line from my cherry tree, or pull up from a pile of leaves on the ground.
Freaks people out for a sec.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2007

Every year, my mom would make a spider web out of string and put a whole bunch of homemade spiders in it. You could easily do that over your living room window.
posted by Diskeater at 11:17 AM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: I like it when houses are "costumed" as one thing, rather than when a bunch of random Halloween shit is just thrown out everywhere. There was a house in my neighborhood dressed up to look like a pirate ship, for example, which was both original and impressive in its level of detail. So if you're already working on a cemetary, you could get some big sheets of poster board and transform your front door into a crypt/mausoleum entrance (same for the large window next to it), run some spider webs thru the trees and prop a skeleton "cryptkeeper" up by your mailbox. Hang an old fashioned sign with the name of your cemetary on the bracket next to your door.
posted by junkbox at 11:24 AM on September 21, 2007

Definitely check out She's becoming the queen of Halloween decoration.
posted by Ugh at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: Fog makes everything creepier.
posted by jquinby at 11:53 AM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: my housemate last year owned a fog machine already and it was very very sweet effect
posted by gavtaylor at 12:39 PM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: A local florist has a ghost, (i.e. a sheet with a balloon in it or something like that) hanging in their front window. They hit it with a blue light at night, and it looks wonderfully creepy.
posted by chocolatetiara at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: Having someone sit outside in a costume came up in a previous thread. (Link to my response to that thread.) If you have someone who is willing to do it, it really adds to the ambiance.

If you want to go out full-on cemetery as junkbox suggests (which would be a great idea), you could have someone in a Grim Reaper costume which can be done on the cheap if you don't want to buy a pre-made one.

Fog is great, what about flood lights or strobe lights? rubber bats from the dollar store dangling from somewhere and strobe lights flashing, making it hard to be sure of what you've seen would be creepy.
posted by melissa at 12:51 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: Great ideas guys! I am definitely interested in using fog & spotlights around the tombstones, and wrapping some of our trees/shrubs in spiderwebs would also be cool & easy.

Melissa, I loved your story of your sister being the Grim Reaper in a rocking chair, from the other thread. While I don't think I can convince my husband to do that, maybe I can prop a costume up with a scarecrow or something.
posted by catfood at 1:20 PM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: Oh man, I love Halloween!

Find and print silhouettes of witches, bats and ghosts. Buy black posterboard and cut out the shapes. Tape them to the inside of your large living room window. Buy a thin plastic tablecloth from a dollar store in your favourite Halloween-y colour. Tape that behind the black shapes. Put a bright work light in the room, face it towards the window and plug it in. The effect can bee seen here. I used Martha Stewart's Witch Silhouette. It was pretty inexpensive and really effective at creating a spooky atmosphere.

Easy Spider Web
Buy two rolls of cheap white nylon rope from a dollar store. Follow these directions. Here's mine from last year. Hella cheap. You just need a poseable spider and maybe a spider victim.

Ghosts in the Trees
You can put a few ethereal ghosts into your trees using these directions. I bought mine from, you guessed it, a dollar store.

I made an awesome coffin using these directions, using materials that I bought at a bargain building supplies store. I think it cost me about $25 in materials to make.

Use blue and green spotlights in your graveyard, highlighting the really creepy/interesting stuff in red or amber. Foggers are cool but can backfire if its not cold enough to settle over the ground. To create the look of a freshly-dug grave, dye an old towel a dark brown, crumple up newspaper in front of your tombstone and put the towel on top.

One thing I read which would be good for your plant bracket is to make a bone chime. I think I read about it here, actually. One AskMe person's childhood memory of Halloween was taking a stick to "rattle the bones" in order to get their candy. The bones might have been dried out rib and chicken bones. It would be pretty memorable if you were six.

Oh, and creepy music is a MUST.

Go to places like Halloween Forum and the Monster Page of Halloween Projects for more ideas.

Have fun! You've got 40 more days!
posted by KathyK at 1:58 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, Kathy, what awesome advice! I love your ideas!
posted by catfood at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2007

Seconding Ugh's Martha Stewart suggestion...her annual Halloween magazine is on shelves right now and like every other year it's packed full of insanely great ideas. She's such a Halloween nerd; it's totally endearing.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:34 PM on September 21, 2007

I've got a simple but very effective prop -- a bat (or whatever) that drops down whenever you open the door. But only if you have a porch and a door that opens outwards.

Have a small hook placed at the ceiling of your porch where you want the bat to drop down. Attach the bat to fishing line, feed the wire through the hook, then tape the line to the screen door.

Obviously you need to play with the length of the line (and maybe start at the screen door and then the hook), but you get the idea. Then time opening the door right and, depending on how tall the kids are, the bat drops on or near their heads. It doesn't always work, but even if it is still hanging there when they go to turn around (it wasn't there when they came up so they pause) it is a success.

I've gotten a lot of positive comments from parents and the older kids about it. Good luck!
posted by evening at 6:18 AM on September 22, 2007

KathyK's suggestion is great! (i.e. I will be stealing it this year.) What I was planning on was just; take a styrofoam ball, cover with white cloth, tie underneath, hang from tree.

Have you thought of hanging a fake head from the planter?

My past Halloween comments here and here.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:26 AM on September 22, 2007

If you want the fog to hug the ground you need to build a chiller. I'll be building one for my first time this year.

Also something I ran across recently is foam sheeting from the hardware store. It comes in various thicknesses, and a 1.5" by 4'x6' (i think) was about ten bucks. I'm going to use that to make my tombstones. Would work well for any large rigid structures, much cheaper than plywood too.
posted by Big_B at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2007

Big_B - Yes! I got my "planks" from Home Depot. I think they were 2" thick, and 2'x12'. And they have gray faux stone spray paint that works great too!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:32 AM on September 22, 2007

Hi I'm New here and I caught your post on wanting to do Halloween props for your house.
I have been making props for Hollywood and business in The Houston area for some time now.
I'm glad you are into doing Halloween it is my favorite Time of the year. I just Love it.
I am not trying to self promote my business I do very well as it is. But I do Have a lot of helpful tips and how to on My website and I would Love you to have the Best Halloween you can Have. There are lots of tips on how to's and ways to make grave mounds on a budget.
I also belong to the FX Local Union so when you have time if you want to see some really cool stuff that doesn't take a lot of $$$ to make. Please feel free to check it. If you want too. My Website
posted by BlinkyTheHouseElf at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2008

I also have a page you might like on howto make home made mummies.Props that stand up own their own a much more. the mummy cost me about $20.00 bucks to make and it looks so real
posted by BlinkyTheHouseElf at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2008

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