Five Tips for Simple and Spooky Halloween Decorating

I love Halloween. Growing up, it was by far my favorite holiday. It wasn't just the candy (although, that was definitely part of it), it was the surprises that waited for you around every corner. The weather was starting to become crisp, the leaves began to glow, and you never knew what to expect after you rang the doorbell.

Now that we have a house, we've discovered that our neighborhood is Halloween central--they actually bring in busloads of kids from around town to trick or treat! Last year we were ill-prepared, barely making it to Costco for giant bags of candy. This year, I want to do it up right, so I've been looking for ideas--here are some great ones:

1) It's all about the lighting
It's amazing how changing a light bulb can alter the entire feel of a place. Try replacing your porch light with a red or green bulb for a spooky glow. Backlight bushes and trees to cast shadows. You can grab some colored gels from your local craft or hardware store and use your regular landscape lighting to beckon trick or treaters forward. And of course, you can change the light bulbs inside the house to get that Amityville Horror feeling.

2) Try multiples
One pumpkin is great, but imagine 10! Part of the Halloween feeling is chaos and surprise, so try picking one thing to grab multiples of--jack-o-lanterns, skulls, spiders, will create a layered look and in the dark people will linger to make out all of the details. Thrift stores are putting out plenty of Halloween supplies this time of year, so getting a lot of one thing can be fairly easy and inexpensive.

3) Use texture
No house should be without a bit of layered spiderweb, gauze or cheesecloth. As kids we loved our task of rubbing it into the dirt to give it that cobweb authenticity. Be sure to let a bit of it hang down near the doorway to freak the kids out when they feel it brush against their hair.

4) Old tricks are the best tricks
You don't have to go out of your way for a great effect. Grab some old mason jars and fill them with a little bit of water, dirt and food coloring (or whatever else you can thing of) and drop in some odd specimens like fake spiders, old masks, or even eggs or rocks. Pile them outside of the door or on your windowsill so everyone can see what happens to naughty children (or parts of them, anyway).

5) Don't forget the inside!
Even if no one will be in your house, seeing your husband in the background watching television on the couch really breaks the Halloween mood. Grab a cheap piece of cloth (black is best) and cover the view into your house from the front door. It adds to the mystery.

The great thing about decorating is that you can change it up and have fun. So please do!


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