The Biggest Mistake People Make in Decorating for Halloween…How to Pull it All Together: Helpful Hints & Tips

What sets a well-decorated home apart from the rest? You know it when you see a well-done house, it just looks good. But what is it that sets it apart? There are a few things that tie together a good Halloween house, but the Biggest Mistake is…

Mistake #1: Throwing up the Halloween decorations on top of the everyday decor. (This goes for every holiday, not just Halloween!)

It’s messy. It’s cluttered. It’s hodge-podge. It looks thrown together, like you didn’t care. It looks like “Why did they bother”? The best way to get a good look for your Halloween decor is to put away the everyday stuff (at least some of it) and create holiday vignettes where you want the decorations to shine. (Usually the best places to go all-out are where people will be gathering: The porch or patio, the front entry, the dining room. I have a huge antique trunk in the dining room. This is where all the “every-day” decor and tchotchkes are carefully stored away for the holiday season (Halloween-New Years) so I can get crazy and look good for the holidays.

Mistake #2: No theme.

All kinds of stuff, from different eras, tossed randomly around the house. It doesn’t really work. Organize your spooky goodies into themes, by area. I have all sorts of different goodies that I’ve collected over the years from thrift stores and yard sales, but I make it work by grouping by color, era, or subject matter. Do you have an awesome collection of vintage pumpkins? Group them on a table for a delightful vignette. Have a bunch of cool skulls? Display them together on the mantle. Collections have a much greater impact than objects placed individually. Have a bunch of miscellaneous Halloween stuff that’s just all orange? That works, too. And lastly, if you are into the scary stuff, keep that together as well. Cute and scary don’t get along so well in the same space. Try creating a theme in each room, or at least in different areas of the same room. In my main room, I have several different vignettes: The white and black stuff is together on the tall cabinet; the Devilish stuff is on, in or near the short cabinet, and a skull collection resides by the window. All my Dia De Los Muertos decor is grouped on the front porch.

Mistake #3: No unifying factor.

The unifying factor is what pulls it all together. It’s what makes the eye flow easily from one space to another. My unifying factor is sheer black fabric. It goes with every vignette in the house, and even though the displays may be different in the room, the use of the black flowing from one to the other pulls it all together.

Here are a couple examples:

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BEFORE: the Tall Cabinet

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AFTER: the Tall Cabinet

I removed the purple glass collection and grouped all the what and black items here, with some of the “unifying” sheer black fabric.

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BEFORE: the Mantle

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AFTER: the Mantle

Again, all the regular every day decor has been packed away for the glory of Halloween.

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BEFORE: the Small Cabinet

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AFTER: the Small Cabinet

All the “devilish” things are in this corner. I cleared out the cabinet and put my devil head in there with some red lights. Instead of packing away the candles, I decided to just use them differently. You can never have too many candles, they create a great atmosphere. You’ll notice the sheer black fabric repeated here as well.

See all the Halloween decor here: The Front Room, The Entry & Stairwell, and Outside.

Victorian Gothic Halloween, A Home Tour: Part 2: The Entry & Stairwell.

As promised, here is the entry and stairwell, all set up and ready for this year’s Halloween shenanigans…

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This year I brought all my old crow decoys inside the house (see the Front Room decor HERE) and I love the way they look on top of the newel posts, so dramatic! Attaching them was challenging, but I figured it out using zip ties. (Look below to see how I attached them.) I also used zip ties to attach the garlands and lights to the railing. So quick and easy, and super fast to take down. That’s our regular Dogvacay guest Cleo the Weimeraner at the top of the stairs in the second photo. Oh, I almost forgot the mice. Good ol’ Martha Stewart mice, from Micheal’s craft store. I’ve been using them for about 4 years now.

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Here is how I attached the crows with zip ties. I then used sheer black fabric to cover up the bases and the zip ties. I also did the lights a little different this year. Instead of just stringing the tri-color and amber lights along the railing, I gathered more of the sheer black fabric around them, and draped more of the fabric down from the railing here and there. I like the look. On top of that I wrapped in my old fake fall leaves garland. (All of the garland was purchased at the thrift store years ago.) After Halloween, I’ll remove the black fabric, tri-colored lights, and crows and just leave the amber lights and leaves up for Thanksgiving.

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Here is the landing at the top of the stairs. I put a couple of those fun blinking eye shoe boxes here under the chair for a little ghoulish surprise.

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Lastly, here is the front entry at the bottom of the stairs. I used more of that sheer black fabric to drape the mirror (over a string of purple lights), the pedestal, and the chair. The skull on top of the pedistal “smokes” and changes colors. These are also from Target a few years back. I also added some little black bats across the front door. I just printed them off the computer, cut them out and attached to the wall. The graphic on the door is also just a printed image on glossy photo paper. The fun ghoul portraits on the walls next to the front door I bought at Target about 5 years ago, half-off the day after Halloween of course 😉 My vintage “trick” light at the bottom of the stairs is still one of my favorites. It was purchased at a garage sale over a decade ago for a few dollars.

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I promise to post a video tour of the Halloween decor within the week. Happy Halloween everyone!

Victorian Gothic HALLOWEEN!!!!!! A Home Tour: Today, the Front Room. Decorating on the Cheap DIYs, Tips & Tricks.

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Did I happen to mention I LOVE HALLOWEEN! I live in an old “Denver Square” Victorian home, so our decorating tends to be a sort of  “Victorian Goth” style. Today we’ll tour the Front Room, where most of the Halloween Magic happens. Everything you see is either DIY, found, reused, or picked up cheap at the thrift store. This year the only things I spent actual cash money on are a couple of pumpkins, the little gourds, and of course the candy. The biggest splurge was a giant 20 pound white heirloom gourd. It was just too cool to pass up, and I’ll use it for Thanksgiving too. TIP! The trick to keeping your Halloween decor fresh is to use your old stuff in new ways. Move it to another room, create new combinations, or paint it.

Let’s start with the table shall we? (See picture above). Most everything on the table I’ve had for years. The candy jars and beakers I’ve been collecting from the thrift store whenever I find them, usually about $3-5 each.  Even the candy corn is “reused. (I put it in the freezer after last year’s celebration ;-). Those plastic bones were leftover from a cheap “Bag of Bones” that we used pieces from for our voodoo costumes last year. TIP! The awesome big skull, the black tablecloth, and the skeleton salad tongs were purchased half-off at Target years ago. The day after Halloween they mark everything half-off. That’s the time to stock up!

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The Mantle. TIP! The mass of sheer black fabric is what makes the look. I happened to get the fabric as free hand-me-downs from a previous large event I decorated, but you can find it cheap. The fabric is simply knotted and draped over the mantle, with red lights underneath. The red string lights serve double-duty for Xmas. The “Happy Halloween” garland I made last year. (See the DIY HERE). The pumpkins and gourdes are from the grocery store, and the glitter skulls came from Target a few years back. The pumpkins-and-crows graphic I printed out on the home printer last year and reused. See if you can spot the “ghost dog” in the second photo 😉

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For the cabinet to the right of the fireplace I created a new vignette by putting all the white decorations together there. These are all things we’ve been using for Halloween for years except the mask. It’s been hanging in our closet for a couple years and I decided to add it into the mix for Halloween this year. (we have a thing for masks 😉 And there’s more of that sheer black fabric. You’ll notice it all over the room, used as a “unifying” factor for the decor. Knotting it adds interest.

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For the cabinet to the left of the fireplace, we had a little fun. I emptied the cabinet and created a little scene in there with a few “devilish” items we had elsewhere in previous years, keeping it fresh by moving things around from last year. The top of the cabinet is the same as last year (See a DIY on those candlesticks HERE) There is nothing new here, just the old stuff “re-purposed”.

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Remember those ghoulish blinking eyes that were outside last year? Here they are, moved inside. This is just 3 of the shoe box eyes stacked on top of each other and covered with the sheer black fabric. The black glitter sticks that were outside last year have been placed behind the eyes this year, and I removed the regular art on the wall and replaced it with a couple vintage dime store masks I’ve also had for years.

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The Window. I love how this looks. These are my old crow decoys that I usually put outside. I brought them all inside this year and put two of them in the big pots. I added some more of the sheer black fabric and some black feather boas to create a “nest’ for them and cover their bases. There’s that giant gourd I mentioned earlier. The skull collection inside the black and white display is actually there year-round. There’s a reason why our  friends call us “Gomez and Morticia”!

Here are a couple more pictures for you to enjoy. I hope you’ve been inspired! Next time: The Entry and Staircase.

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That’s our pug Emma in the first picture, and our “guest” Miss Cleo the Weimeraner in the second. (we dog-sit through Dogvacay) What hams!

Halloween Decor, Dia De Los Muertos Style! or…What I did outside the house this year…DIY

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I love Halloween!!! I go a little nutso decorating every year, but always on a budget. Most of our things we’ve been reusing for years, (like the fake pumpkins and crow decoys, though we do add a few new things here and there from yard sales, thrift stores, even dumpster-diving. I try and change it up a bit every year by moving things around and using things in different ways. I acquired these “hand-me-down” Dia De Los Muertos skull graphics from a big party I helped with a couple years ago, so they were Free! And I love them. It’s because of them I decided to go all Day of the Dead-ish outside this year. I used a unifying theme of hot pink fabric. (all leftover from other projects) Here is all I did, step by step:

The Front Door. This was probably the easiest thing I did. The Katrina image I printed out on my computer, the old frame I had laying around, as well as the leftover silk flowers and neon flagging tape. I little hot glue and about 3 minutes and it was done. A fun change from the typical wreath.

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The Skull Altar. The silk flowers I’ve collected from thrift store, usually at about $2 a bunch. The dish I’ve had for ages, and the candles were another hand-me-down from that party of yore. (they are about $1.50 each at many grocery stores). The skull was a failed experiment from last year that I found another use for here. It is cello clay (fine Paper Mache) in a skull cake form from Wilton’s that I purchased on Ebay a couple years ago. I spray painted it white, was not happy with it at the time, and set it aside. I found it in the Halloween storage boxes this year, added a little stain to age it, and now it looks like a concrete skull. Great for the theme! I hot-glued it onto an old ceramic plate along with the silk flowers. I put some hot pink fabric scraps over the existing patio table, added a few of the candles and one of the big skull graphics* and voila! The Skull Altar.

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The Patio Table. The patio table is very simple, Just some leftover hot pink fabric (It’s acetate lining fabric originally from Distinctive Fabric that I got for about $1.50 a yard on sale), one of the old fake pumpkins, some of the silk flowers tied in a bunch with an orange ribbon, and a couple of the candles. One of things that makes it look good is that I knotted the fabric in a few random places. (the succulent garden has been on the table all Summer, I just moved it to the chair.)

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The Main Patio Display. The big display next to the door is also very simple. I draped some sparkly hot pink fabric over a string of pink lights, and added the skull graphics* on top of them. I also added a second string of pink lights behind the big skull to illuminate the tissue eyes. I put another fake pumpkin on the existing pots and added a few more of my silk flowers. (the white wrought iron things are always on the porch I just moved them to be part of the display.)

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Crows & Pumpkins. I love my crow decoys. I’ve had them for about a decade and use them somewhere every year. This year most of them are inside, but I played with the two outside ones and came up with this. The holes in the bottoms of the crow just happen to fit perfectly over fake pumpkin stems. I added a little hot glue to hold them there and then glued on a few of the silk flowers, and this is the result. I like the way it turned out.

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The rest of the yard. I placed the rest of the fake pumpkins around the yard, and the two I have that are missing their lights went on the plant stakes in the front pots. I kept it simple this year 😉 If you look closely, you can see a couple more of the big skull graphics in the upstairs windows.

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Here are some more pictures of the front for you. Enjoy!

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* The Skull Graphics. These were made by having Day of the Dead skull images (that were purchased from istock.com) printed out at about 2′ x 2.5′. These were attached to foam-core board with spray adhesive and cut out with an Xacto knife. I also cut out the eyes on a few of them and taped colored tissue on the backs so light could shine through.

How I Did My Yard for Halloween This Year…And it’s All on the Cheap, of Course.

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Halloweeeeen!!

Did I mention I LOVE Halloween? Here’s a look at our front yard this year…

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The Front Gate. The 2 pots are changed out every season. This year I simply added fake Fall foliage and my beloved Crow decoys. All my Fall foliage was been gathered over the years at thrift stores for a couple bucks a piece. I scored all my crow decoys on Ebay. I’ve had them for about a decade and still love using them every year. They are indestructible! I added a little orange sparkly ribbon this year. The sign on the gate was an alley find: Free!

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To the left just inside the gate is the “Ball Garden”, where I’ve added a few fake pumpkins. To the right, more fake pumpkins, and more foliage and crow decays in the tall pots. A little trick with the fake foliage: I fill the pots with real Fall leaves (we have no shortage of those this time of year!), then add the fake stuff. It helps fill in the pots visually. OK, I hear many of you purists scoffing at my fake pumpkins. Believe me, I’d have real ones if I could, but the ravenous army of squirrels around here would eat their faces off within 24 hours (unfortunately I know this from experience). So faux pumpkins it is! We’ve been collecting these over the years from various thrift stores for a few bucks a piece.

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I continue the faux pumpkins up the steps (I still need to tape down the extension cords) and onto the porch (I do like a solid theme, I guess you’d call mine “Crows & Pumpkins”). The two pots up on the stoop are also changed out for the seasons, and these I wrapped in translucent black fabric with a little orange ribbon, and there are strings of orange lights in the pots just under the crow decoys. This year I added the Glittery Black Sticks to the pots. They sparkle like crazy! The columns on either side of the stoop are simply wrapped in more orange light strings and sheer black fabric, and topped with a little of the orange ribbon..

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On the left side of the porch sits another fabulous alley find table, awaiting a paint job. I dolled it up with more of the black fabric, some old dried out gourds (I save and dry out gourds every year, after they have been used fresh on the mantle inside), and of course, another crow decoy.

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To the right of the door sits this white column, done up in similar fashion. The door itself is surrounded with more orange string lights draped over with more of the translucent black fabric. I snagged the Fall wreath at the thrift store, and added a bit of the black fabric and orange ribbon (after Halloween, just remove the fabric and ribbon and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving!) The image above the door is just vintage crows and pumpkin clip-art I printed onto gloss photo paper on my home printer. (The porch is covered, so no moisture can get at it)

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My favorite part this year are my home-made Monster Eyes that blink at night. They look great! We always save one of the faux pumpkins for the porch light, using a compact florescent of course so there is no fire risk. Here are a couple more night shots:

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Almost everything in the yard came from the thrift store or is home-made. The only things I bought this year are the spool of orange ribbon and the sticks and glitter paint. Everything can be reused for years to come.

Next time, the inside of the house!

How did you decorate for Halloween? I’d love to hear about it in the “Leave a Reply/Comment section below.

 

 

The Eyes Have It…Spooky Halloween Goodness that is. A Cool & Easy Ghoulish DIY with Shoe Boxes

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Spooky blinking eyes! Everyone who comes to the house comments on these. Easy, cheap, and high-impact.  You can hang a few or a ton of these. Last year I did a massive wall of these (about 25) for our Fantastic Hosts Halloween event (what are the Fantastic Hosts?) and it was a huge hit. I’m using a mere 6 of them on the front porch this year.

 

Because I made them last year, I do not have the usual step by step pictures, but I will talk you through it…

Supplies:

Shoe Boxes

Black Spray Paint

Black Duct Tape

Clear packing Tape

Tissue Paper

A string of Xmas lights

An Exacto knife

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Step 1: Spray paint the boxes black, tops and bottoms (you don’t have to paint the inside).

Step 2: Draw your eye shapes on the bottom and cut out with an Exacto knife.

Step 3: Use tissue paper in the color of your choice (I like “monster-y” colors like red, green and yellow) and tape a layer inside the box behind your eye holes.

Step 4: Put your string lights inside the box, and use your clear tape to attach the string down along the bottom of the inside of the box. (otherwise you’ll see the little bulbs through the tissue, and we just want to see the light.) NOTE: If you have a very long string of lights, you can light up two or three boxes, just use electrical tape to douse the light from the bulbs that wind up outside the boxes. (the ONLY light we want to see is through the eyes.) Be sure and cut a little notch in one of the back lower corners for the cord, and dangle the plug out of the box.

Step 5: Put the top of the box on the back and use your black duct tape to seal up your box. The key to this is making sure no light comes through any cracks in the box, so do plug in your box and cover any escaping light with the black tape.

A Note on the Light Strings: Your light string comes with extra bulbs, one of which has red on the bulb. This one will make your light string blink when you replace the first bulb in your light string with it. Do this on a couple of your boxes, and then it will look like some of your goulish eyes are blinking. It looks great! I have 3 out of 6 blinking in my arrangement.

Time to Hang the Eyes!

Pick a spot that is dark, against a dark wall is best, and hang your eyes in a random pattern. To hang them, make a “tab” or a “loop” out of the duct tape, tape it to the top/back of the box, and I used a staple gun to attach the tab to the brick on my porch. I would use those 3M Command Adhesive strips with a “loop” if you don’t want to damage the walls, inside or out. Now plug in the lights and see how they look. The final step is to cover over the lights with a somewhat translucent black fabric, even “cheap” (low thread count) black sheets would work. (Here I used my trusty staple gun again) This is a great effect, and covers the edges of the boxes so you just see the lights of the eyes. There are several ways you can do this. I like to sort of blobishly bunch the fabric around the eyes. You could get a single monster effect by draping the fabric in a more ghost-like way over one box of eyes at a time. You could also place these in bushes (be aware that rain/sprinklers will ruin them) or in dark little cubbies under stairs, furniture, wherever it’s dark.

Here’s the spot BEFORE: (every year we put one of those fake pumpkins over the porch light…)

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And here’s the process of hanging the lights and fabric:

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And at night:

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And here’s a sneak-preview of the whole front porch at night:

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There’s more Halloween Goodness to come! Next time, I’ll show you the whole front yard.

Fabulous Black Glitter Halloween Sticks DIY – Spooky Gothic Glamour (and some Cool Crows too)

Sticks!

Yea, I know, sticks usually are not so exciting, but these are! Cheap and easy, too.

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I always try and do something interesting with the two pots flanking the porch for Halloween, usually involving my crow decoys.  Side Note: I LOVE my crow decoys! I stole the idea from the lovely owner of 5 Green Boxes here in Denver, one of my favorite places to shop and explore (actually there are 2 5GB stores, one for home and unique handmade furniture and one for clothing, etc., the Big Store is my favorite, it is a hot-bed of great ideas). I went to a big yard sale (imagine that, me going to a yard sale ;-)) one Fall years ago and saw she had used crow decoys in purple pots on her fence posts. I was immediately smitten, and ordered a bunch online that very day. I’ve been using them every Halloween since. They look great and are virtually indestructible. This year I got the idea to add some sparkle, hence the glittered black sticks.

This project was easy as pie (I’ve always wondered where that expression came from, pie actually isn’t all that easy…). I bought a bunch of clean birch sticks (of course you could collect your own as well), spray painted them with gloss black spray paint, then sprayed them with Rustolium Glitter Spray Paint in silver from Home Depot.

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First I laid the sticks out on my trusty painting tarp.

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Then sprayed them black, just one coat on each side. You don’t need to be crazy about this, no one is going to notice if you missed a spot or dripped a little paint, unless you drip it on your shoes like I did…

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It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but this stuff shimmers like the dickens. I got a little carried away and sprayed a few small pumpkins, too. A note on the glitter paint: You want to try and use it all at once, as the sprayer tends to clog, and you’ll want to shake the can every 10 seconds or so. It works great! I’m sure I’ll be finding many more projects to glitter-ize.

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When it was all dry I just stuck them in the pots, and voila’, glamorous crows. There are a ton of things you could do with these sparkly black sticks: centerpieces, pots, stick them in existing plants inside or out, add them to your spooky mantle, tie them to the chandelier…the possibilities are endless, and these sticks will last for years to come.

Stay Tuned! There are many more Halloween Posts to come! Next time, the “Eyes” have it, and then I’ll show you my whole Halloween house, inside and out! I’ll be doing a couple fun tours of some amazing local houses as well. FOLLOW this blog and you won’t miss a thing!