I have an aversion to chachkis, knick-knacks, and the kind of miniature curiosities that always made a holiday at Grandma's house so much fun.
I am not Grandma. So, I need a little push now and then.
My problem is that I love having holiday parties, especially at Halloween. And when you have a party, you simply must decorate for it. Having a fun-looking house makes it feel like a party, even when it's just cousins in costumes having pizza before we go trick-or-treating.
I have a few cheapie tricks up my sleeve that I use every year.
1. Decorate with things you plan to use on Halloween Night. Every year, I decorate my dining room with useful things like the jack-o-lantern shaped candy buckets my children will hold their candy in on Halloween night or the witch's hat I wear at the front door as I hand out treats. Such things are always bright and make a big statement when our guests walk into the room.
2. Use disposable items when you can. I make a bright display with our Halloween dinnerware to make our party room look more festive. Sure, the plates and napkins will be used and thrown away by the end of the night... but then you won't have to spend time cleaning them up, dusting them or storing them, will you? I also have several rolls of plastic table-cloth in various colors. For Halloween, I cover my everyday table cloth with my roll of black. There is no need to worry about mess, and it still helps the table look nice and spooky.
3. Balloons and streamers are always a hit. I am always amazed at my children's reaction to crepe paper decorations. They ooh and ahh over $1.99 worth of paper and 20 minutes of my time. It cracks me up, but they love it. And we always keep balloons in our party supplies. If you choose the right colors, they are a fun addition to the crepe paper. (Here's a hint: save your breath and blow them up with a bike pump. Even the kids can help with that job!)
4. Never be afraid of homemade. For the last three years, my children have made the decorations for the large picture windows on the front of our house. The first year, we made shadow-shapes that would show black when the interior lights were on. Last year, my children wanted to make scary masks, so they drew them with white chalk on dark paper and we lit the porch with a black light so the scary faces would glow. This year, we grew tiny pumpkins in our backyard garden, so the kids have been drawing pumpkins for a week now. We'll cut them out and tape them up on the windows to go with our many jack-o-lanterns. It is so fun to see the ideas my children come up with; homemade decorations really help to spark their creativity.
5. Cheap and cheesy can equal spooky if done right. Remember the $1.99 crepe paper? Well, it's pricey in comparison to a bag of spider rings or a couple of packages of flossy cobwebs. Dimly lit areas get a little extra spook factor when you scatter them with creepy crawlies or drape them very thinly with cobweb -- just enough to brush a person's face as they walk past. I have seen more adult heeby-jeebies than I can count as a result of the cobweb trick. And when kids come to our doorstep, it is fun to tell them they can venture into the darkness to get a spider ring, if they dare. Some of them really have to muster their bravery to get their prize!
6. Try Luminaries. A great way to make your home more visible is to line your walkway with luminaries. We do it every Halloween, and it really brings the kids to our door. All that's required is some paper lunch bags, each with a shovelful of sand and a small tea light. The total cost for a real wonder of a decoration is about $6. I cuff the top of the lunch bags to keep them open (and to keep the paper away from the flame) and light the tea lights with a butane stick lighter (to keep my fingers away from the flame!) I light the lights at dusk, and by the time trick-or-treating is finished, most of my tea lights are going out. I bring in the bags and turn off the porch light when we're in for the night.
So, if you're like me and consider yourself decorationally challenged, remember: Halloween doesn't have to be gory or disgusting or super-expensive to be fun. I hope you enjoy these ideas, and more importantly, I hope you enjoy yourself!
Have a happy and safe Halloween!