Your Guide to Last-Minute Halloween Prep
Spooky details for the study: Whether you choose to go with one big statement — like this skeleton in an armchair — or to casually place a few spooky details, such as books re-covered with “spell book” covers, it doesn’t take much effort to create a Halloween mood in the house.Materials: Skeleton decor, available at seasonal Halloween, party and drugstores; optional paper and markers for making “spell book” covers. Prep time: If you already have your skeleton decor and don’t want to make creepy book covers, this can be a five-minute project.
Subtle Halloween decor for adults: If your Halloween party is for adults, you have the luxury of using (real) candles if you like. A table filled with candles of all shapes and sizes creates a spooky atmosphere fast. White tapers are a classic choice; go with black tapers if you want to bump up the spook factor. Protect your surfaces by placing candles on heatproof trays or platters. A tin of candle adhesive is a must if you plan to adhere candles directly to a tray; it can help stabilize candles in holders too. Just add a dab to the base of each candle and press into place.Caution: Candles placed closely together create more heat, so watch your displays carefully and give individual candles more room if needed. Never leave them unattended. And if you do have kids or pets who will be attending the party, stick with flameless candles.Materials: Candles, candleholders or heatproof tray. Prep time: 30 minutes or less
Photo by Garrison HullingerBubbling witch’s brew: When it comes to bang for your buck, a classic bubbling witch’s cauldron wins every time. It’s not difficult to set up, but you will need to take a few important safety precautions. Dry ice, which creates the steaming effect as it melts, is solidified carbon dioxide — a substance much colder than regular ice — so you’ll need to use tongs to carefully move the pieces. Fill your pot about halfway with hot water, then slowly lower in a few pieces of dry ice (using tongs). And always keep kids and pets away from the cauldron.Materials needed: Large pot or watertight witch’s cauldron, dry ice, tongs, styrofoam cooler for transporting dry ice home from your local grocery or general store.Prep time: 30 minutes, plus the time it takes to track down dry ice at the store. The shelf life of dry ice is limited, so pick that up after everything else is ready.Prepare Your Home for Trick-or-Treaters...
One giant spider, creatively placed: This is all about the surprise factor, so pick a spot that’s within view but unexpected. The top of a chandelier, as shown here, is perfect for a party held in the dining room. Other places to consider: perched at the top of a stair banister, sitting on the back of a dining chair, creeping out from behind the TV or guarding the bar.Materials: Spider decoration, tape and stepladder, if needed.Prep time: 10 minutes
Elegant Halloween tabletop: This lovely setup comes together in a snap, no carving or crafting required. Simply line up pale-hued pumpkins of various sizes down the center of a table runner, and fill in gaps with tea lights and sprigs of greenery. Materials: Assorted pumpkins in pale colors, tea lights and tea light holders, sprigs of greenery.Prep time: 30 minutesSee how to make this harvest party centerpiece.
Haunted terrarium: You can make this from scratch (complete with carnivorous plants), but if you already have a terrarium there’s no reason you can’t add a few spooky details to it and call it done. Nestled among the plants in the terrarium shown here is a moss-covered branch, a craft owl and spider and a few battery-op tea lights.Materials: Terrarium with plants, flameless tea lights, craft spider or owl. Prep time: 10 minutes if starting with prepared terrarium; about an hour if starting from scratch.Houzz DIY: Halloween Terrarium
Artful Halloween mantel: Kohlrabi under a glass cloche, pale gourds, a vase of black feathers and scattered tea lights give this mantel an elegantly spooky vibe. This is quite flexible, so feel free to add or subtract items to make this work with vases, jars and other materials you have on hand. The important part is to choose items that fit the color palette of purple, black, white and gold.Materials: Root vegetables, glass cloche, tea lights, black feathers, white pumpkins or whatever strikes your fancy.Prep time: 10 minutesA Brooklyn Mantel Dresses Up for Halloween
Ghostly art makeover. Replace a few of the framed photos on your walls with spooky images printed from an online source, and your art wall will seamlessly transition to part of the party decor. You can also adorn photos of family and friends with paper cutouts — of vampire teeth, mustaches, ghosts, knives — taped right onto the glass.Materials: Paper cutouts or spooky pictures, family photo wall.Prep time: About an hour
Spooky checkers: There’s no need to paint your own game board for the craft pictured above if you already have a chessboard or checkerboard; just add candy corn and mini Halloween goodies as the game pieces. Materials needed: Chessboard or checkerboard, bag of candy corn, plus a dozen toy skulls, eyeballs, or other Halloween-themed shapes. Prep time: 10 minutes
Classic kids’ Halloween party activities: If you have kids coming over for a pre-trick-or-treating party, it’s smart to have a few games and activities up your sleeve. You may already have materials on hand to do one or more of these classics:Bobbing for applesDoughnuts on a stringPin the tail on the cat (or pin the spider on the web)Decorate a mini-pumpkin with googly eyes and glitter glue (or whatever else is lurking in your craft stash)Halloween-themed bingo or Mad LibsMaterials: Apples, large pot, doughnuts, string, mini-pumpkins, assorted craft supplies, bingo or Mad Libs printed from online.Prep time: About an hour, plus time to gather your supplies.Throw a Calm, Happy Kids’ Halloween Party — 5 Tips From a Mom
Photo by Garrison HullingerHalloween night checklist:Pets safely indoorsPorch lights (and mood lighting, if using) turned onSpooky soundtrack cued upJack-o-lantern carved and lit (with flameless candles for safety)Costumes onCandy in the candy bowlPrepare Your Home for Trick-or-Treaters
Build on Halloween decor from year to year: If you’re just starting out decorating for Halloween, chances are you don’t have a huge stockpile of fake tombstones and orange string lights to pull from — and that’s OK! Instead of fretting over having the spookiest house on the block this year, focus on choosing a theme (the spooky abandoned house; the Harry Potter themed house?) you’ll be happy to build on, year after year.Tell us: What’s the most memorable Halloween house decoration you’ve seen?More8 Easy Halloween Decorating IdeasLow-Boo Halloween Decor for the Little OnesFind holiday season decorations