Halloween on a BudgetI just found out that a frenemy of mine has bought a fog machine for her yearly Halloween décor-gy. Well, good for her. Meanwhile I’m replacing the zipper in my daughter’s hand-me-down Minnie Mouse hoodie and juggling bills, but who’s counting?
Anyway, not to be a BPP*. I’m still planning on dressing up our house for Halloween -- but doing it in a way that doesn’t stick its fangs into our bank account to drain it dry. Are you also looking for Halloween décor that doesn’t make you shriek with sticker shock?
The great thing about Halloween is that things can look sloppy. I mean, did you ever see a neat, pristine haunted mansion or abandoned graveyard? Cobwebs and decay rule the day. So just by virtue of being neglectful homeowners, you could have a fabulous haunted house! Hardy har. Here are some actual ideas for low-cost Halloween embellishments.

*bitter poor person

halloween decoratingMummy Door
Paper mache and mummies: perfect together. The long strips used to create paper mache look just like mummy wrappings, and if you’re not so great at it and it unravels a bit, that just looks even mummier. Get a huge piece of cardboard (maybe from an appliance store) the size of your door, cutting notches for the doorknob and such, and use paper mache directions from the web. When you’re done, you can paint it white and maybe even emblazon it with warnings to stay away.

Haunted Portraits
These are so hilarious, it’s scary. Do a Google Images search for “Oil Painting Portrait” or  similar, and find something that will look somewhat spooky in the right environment. Download the image, blow it up as big as you can, and print it out. Don’t worry if it’s blurry, poor-quality, or uneven: That just adds to the effect. Use spray mount to stick it onto cardboard, and make a fake-fancy gilt frame to go around it (gold spray paint topped with Sharpie details, easy-peasy huggy-squeezy). This original post directs you to create glowing eyes out of LED lights; I’m not that advanced, but if you’re full of the spirit, go for it and let me know how it works out. Hang these portraits in your newly haunted mansion… so spooooky!
Hanging Ghost
Summer’s over, and your beach balls are sad and deflated. Reflate them. Hang a sheet over the top, run a line of twine through a hole in the center of the sheet (if you can, push out the “bellybutton” of the ball to create a nub you can tie your twine to), and hang the whole deal from a tree or the top of your front porch. You can give him “arms” with balloons and more twine, but I think he’s plenty scary on his own, with that big ol’ beach-ball head. Might need some eyes, though. Woo!
Mad Scientist Specimens
I know you, like me, have many large plastic toys of dubious origin. If not, there are loads of them at Goodwill or recycle shops. Pop them into glass jars, fill the jars with water, and add green food coloring. Put them in front of a spooky light source for maximum scary effect.
Zombie Trees
Head out to the woods and get some great branches, especially ones that have enough appendages to look like trees. (Note: Do not kill a tree to do this! There should be plenty on the ground!) Drag them home and stick them into buckets, planters, or other big tub-type containers filled with sand, rocks, or dirt to keep them upright. Spray paint the branches black and drape them with cobwebs. Or make them gray and hang creepy ornaments on them -- eyeballs, hands, whatever suits your fancy. So scawwy!
Construction Paper? Phooey!
I really can’t be bothered with orange construction paper. Seriously. A trip to your local Home Depot or Lowe’s can provide you with better-value and stronger stuff for your dollar. For instance, you can get wallpaper and paint samples for $3-$5, and sometimes they’ll have a clearance bin with odds and ends that are even cheaper. Wallpaper is great because it’s so much stronger than construction paper, comes in bigger sheets, and offers textures and colors more likely to spark your imagination. Paint chips are also free, and are perfect for details (like eyes), and for mobiles, garlands, and wreaths.

Clothes Circuit
Every other house has old clothes stuffed with newspapers, set to look like a zombie sitting on the porch. Yawn. But what if you tacked those clothes to the walls of your house so they looked like ghostly people standing in the shadows? What if you had them dancing with each other? What if you had a black dress that you draped onto a mannequin and then stood in an upstairs window, back-lit in red with parasol in hand, like a headless widow searching for her long-lost husband? (I have no idea how she lost her head. Let your imagination run wild.)
Go Crazy
Crafters around the Interwebs have come up with genius decorations that blow my mind to bits. For instance, this crafty couple created a dirt-cheap “pumpkin luminary” (apparently that’s fancy-talk for “thing you can light up with a candle or, preferably, an LED light that won’t make anything catch on fire”) and a festive fall door-hanging made to look like a paint chip (just click, it’s really cute). Google “DIY Halloween” for even more fantastic and festive ideas.

Do you do your Halloween decor yourself? What are your favorite decorations?

Image via Gavin Mackintosh/Flickr