Five Decorating Hacks for Halloween Weekend

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It’s here! The Halloween weekend is upon us.

Whether you are spending it with family and friends or just wanting to decorate the home to make it fun for those stopping or passing by happy on Halloween night, there isn’t much time to get things done.

I was reminded by a text the other day in October “races by at 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.” Fortunately, I’ve been “panic decorating” for years, and I have a couple of quick Halloween hacks for this season that might come in handy.

Use Your Old Books or Movies

Stack old paperback horror or science fiction books on shelves and coffee tables. It looks really cool and also can encourage visitors (and your kids) to pick up a fun spooky story they might not otherwise have read. Also, old VHS tapes and DVDs are like having little movie posters around, and they can be placed around to add atmosphere.

I personally love the classic horror novels and original Universal Monsters, which go hand-in-hand with decorating. One of my old collections had a few bonus “movie poster” postcard-size prints, so I took advantage of those as well.

Book Stack
A scary book stack surrounded by some familiar faces. Images: Lisa Tate, except where listed otherwise.

Print Out Horror Movie Signs for a Retro Look

Thanks to fan art catalogs there are plenty of “innocent” looking hotels, camp, or roadside markers that scary movie fans will get. The Overlook Hotel sign, Hawkins City Limit sign, Camp Crystal Lake, or Sanderson Museum of Witchcraft are fun examples. Print them out. Cut them out. Hang them together on a wall. Find out how many people recognize them. I hung them among my vintage-style road signs and added a bunch of plastic mid-century design masks. I almost want to keep them up year-round. I like the way it looks so much.

If you are planning to do this every year, many seasonal catalogs and Halloween shops (like good old Spirit) have pre-made signs you can use again and again, but if you’re short on time and have a printer, this works great.

Horror signs and vintage masks are hidden among the everyday signs. Can you find them?

Upcycle Old Costumes Into Porch Decorations

Store-bought costumes can be expensive, and many of us might have a few costumes from past Halloweens or pop culture conventions that are itching to be used again. Dress up an old plastic skeleton, or fill them with newspaper or towels, and set them on the porch for a life-size prop. Our neighbors did a Michael Myers from an old costume, and with the new Halloween movie out this year, he has been getting a lot of “photo op” attention. He is also, I have to admit, a little frightening to walk past, although he seems to be pretty comfortable just hanging out and enjoying the day.

A neighborhood Michael Myers watching over things. Image: Rick Tate

Make a Lantern or Votive Out of Drink Containers

I love some of the cool lanterns and votives out there for the haunting season, but these can also get unnecessarily pricey. A good tea candle (real or flameless), some battery-powered miniature lights, or even a glow stick placed in jars, bottles, or glasses can make for a beautiful lighted display.

You can also use old cans (including soda cans), plastic candy jars, small paper party cups (with flameless lights only), or another container that might look nice as a light holder. Look around and see what you can find.

jar lights
Mugs, bottles, jars, plastic candy tubs, and cans can all be turned into spooky lights.

Carve Out the Bottom of Your Pumpkin

If you’re carving pumpkins this year, leave the top alone. Cut the big hole in the bottom. This saves time because it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can just set the jack-o-lantern over the candle or light on top of a more stable, flat surface. It also helps the jack-o-lantern stay nicer looking because there isn’t a wobbly top that could fall inside of it.

This is one many people may already know, but I just learned this hack in the past couple of years. I am still mad at myself for not knowing this one sooner.

Fear not this Halloween. There are many spooky and creepy elements to this time of year, but, hopefully, with these hints, decorating with your family won’t be one of them.

Carve the hole at the bottom of the pumpkin. It’s quicker and keeps things looking neater.
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