Halloween is coming up soon. While it is easy to go to your local party or decor store, you almost certainly already have plenty of supplies you can use to make free Halloween decorations.
Most of these fun or spooky ideas require only a few items any DIYer would likely have laying around the house anyway. Plus, your decorations will be unique to you and stand out from store bought gear of other nearby homes.
You can easily make your own streamers in the Halloween colors of orange and black. This will instantly transform your room. Start by gathering wide crepe paper. Fold it into a rectangle. Once you have the shape down, pull on its side to stretch out the paper. Then fold it again.
Cut it in half to create two sections. Cut fringe on both ends by using scissors to cut up an inch or two.
You can use tape and string to hang the streamers where ever you want in your home.
2. Haunted Furniture
Covering your furniture with old sheets, ideally, off-white ones, will give it the appearance of not having been used in a long time. This is sure to creep out your guests, especially if you place spiderwebs nearby.
The sheets have the added benefit of making cleaning easy, especially if someone with body paint on or a drink in hand sits on the furniture.
While spiderwebs may not be an expensive purchase, you can actually make them yourself using either pipe cleaner or yarn.
If you are using yarn, start by cutting three pieces of black yarn. Lay one vertically and two horizontally. Slowly add more yarn by tieing a string from one corner to the middle of the circle.
Once you have 10 of these (or more based on personal preference), you can begin to weave the strands together to create a spiderweb. Start in the middle where your first three pieces are and weave it together in a spiral working your way out.
Using pipe cleaner to create a web is easier but does not get the impressive size of its yarn counterpart. Start by gathering five or six black pipe cleaners. Twist two of them together in an X shape.
The third pipe cleaner will then cross through the center as well. Then grab two or three additional pipe cleaners. For each, twist the pipe cleaner around the existing pipe cleaners a few centimeters from the middle to create a web effect.
Spiders can also be made from pipe cleaners. Simple cross four pipe cleaners over each other to create the spider's eight legs. For its body, you can use an additional pipe cleaner, or a piece of candy for some extra Halloween flair. If you have googly eyes lying around, you can tape these to the body as well.
5. Floating Ghosts
You can transform string lights into ghosts dangling from the ceiling. Simply cover the bulbs with white tissue paper (make sure your string lights aren't running hot—some older strands could potentially be dangerous). Similarly, you can cover them with orange tissue paper and googly eyes to make it appear that the lights are floating pumpkins.
6. Spooky Foods
Wrap some potatoes in the stuffing material from an old cushion and draw some eyes on them, or stick on some googly eyes if you have them to hand. These goofy ghouls land more on the smiley than the terrifying side.
You can get free Halloween mugs and plates with only a Sharpee. Take existing plates you no longer want and clean and dry them. Then grab your Sharpees and create a design. You can do something simple like writing "Happy Halloween" on the plates or attempt to draw a spider or pumpkin. You could also use stencils to create a more intricate design.
Once you are satisfied with the look of your plate, put it in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for an hour. Allow it to cool before taking it out. And there you have your very own Halloween dishware.
8. Creepy Photos
Swap photos currently in your frames for spooky images found online. This is a subtle decor idea sure to surprise and/or unsettle anyone who walks by the images, depending on how disturbing you choose to go.
You can paint old wine bottles black and then add a candle in the opening. This will instantly create spooky candles for your home.
You can add branches found outdoors in front of books, fireplaces, or walls. It's hard to say why this is so spooky, but it is! Maybe it's because it creates a feeling that your house is coming alive. Maybe it's because knobbly sticks remind us of witch fingers or wizard wands. Maybe it's just a festive reminder that the cold of winter is descending on our world. Whatever the reason, twigs and branches are an effective decoration, and they literally grow on trees.
Stuff some old clothes with straw, leaves, or other yard waste to create a spooky yard resident in whatever position you like.
12. Floating Ghosts
Lay out a white or light colored sheet and add a pile of leaves to the center. Then gather the pile into a ball and tie it off to create a head shape. Hang from a tree or porch or anywhere it can swing creepily.
If you have some old wood, cardboard, or foam around, and ideally some gray and black paint, you can set up a somber graveyard scene. Play around with fun names and inscriptions to suit your taste.
Depending on how terrifying you like your decor, you can pick creepy words like "You" or go for fun with names like like "Barry D. Hatchet, "Chivalry" and "Full Fat Butter."
14. Garden Pumpkins
They're a classic supermarket or farm pickup around October, but pumpkins are also easy to grow. They'll sprawl happily out if they have a good garden bed, and they make a smashing lawn ornament.
Even better, they're incredibly healthy and fun to cook with. You can roast the flesh, dry the seeds, or even cook soup inside them.
15. Character Candles
Decorate some candle jars with spiderwebs, cotton, or art supplies to create flickering atmosphere. Tack on some googley eyes for a goofy touch.
For a creepy effect, paste on some printouts of old-timey pictures, but cut out the eyes so they glow with an otherworldly flame.
If you're a more advanced crafter, you can create full scenes with mystical or eerie energy.
16. Bath Tissue Roll Figurines
Hang onto these cardboard tubes for craft projects throughout the year. You can paint them with fun designs to evoke a mood or summon little goblins or ghouls to sprinkle through your spaces.
17. Pumpkin Painting
Carving is the classic, but painting can be just as effective and arguably less messy. Add a fun face, or create a grain sack design with a stripe around the side (you can also get a neat effect like this with Mod Podge and paper).
16. Ghost Bottles
Use some white and black paint to create ghost faces on bottles of any shape. All you really need are two eyes and a mouth.
You can set an intention to go for happy or tortured faces, but you don't have to be too precious about the emotional detail. You might be surprised at how much feeling pops out from even relatively random blobs.
17. Flying Candles
If you have some battery votives and a collection of cardboard tubes from paper towels or bathroom tissue, you can build an effect pretty similar to Harry Potter's dining hall decor.
Paint the tubes white, glue the candles on top, and suspend the combined contraptions from the ceiling. For an even more dramatic effect, you can add some creative design to your ceiling itself, like stars or clouds.
If you're already into embroidering designs, reach for the orange and black fabric and thread. Subjects like pumpkins, cats, and witch hats will get the mood across quickly.
19. Cut Out Candle Bags
Paper bags are cheaper than pumpkins, and they can achieve the same flickering cheer with a candle inside (preferably flameless). Try different icons in fall themes, from pumpkins to leaves.
20. String Art
This cheap, engaging art and craft style is fun to make and look at. Pick a string and background color that set each other off well—white string on a black background pops visually and evokes the classic iconography of spider webs.
Use pins or small nails to set the parameters of your design, and run string between them to fill in the image. Skulls, gravestones, and any other Halloween images can pop right out, but you can use this style all year for any kind of decor.
21. Bloody Handmarks
This one is obviously scary. And messy. But it's also easy.
Pick a surface you're going to paint soon anyway, or hang a tarp or sheets of paper. Then dip your hands in some red paint, and plant them on the wall in whatever way unsettles you.
22. Bats in a Lamp
Cutout bat shapes look even shadier when they're casting literal shadows. Tape them to the insides of lampshades for a more subtle effect than hanging them on the wall.
23. Cameo Cookies
Remember those old fashioned profile images? They look good on baked goods, and they bring to mind an older, deader time. Make the design with dark frosting or sprinkles, then think about your long deceased relatives while you bite through tasty heads.
24. Paper Shape Garlands
String together a series of shapes you like (ghosts, cats, pumpkins, you get the drill) and hang them between two spots you can pin to.
You can get as detailed as you want, or keep it dead simple. If you feel shaky about your cutting skills, start by finding some shapes you like online and printing them out.
25. Ball and Pipe Cleaner Spiders
A black foam ball with black pipe cleaners stuck in the sides can become a giant spider pretty quickly. Make a few of them and set them in a scene, like guarding treats, scattering down steps, or leading trick or treaters up your path.
26. Wreath of Crows
Pick a wreath, paint it black, and add some cutout crows to put the dark vibes over the top.
27. Print Transfer Candles
This one's a bit complicated, but if you're up for something tricky, it's a fun hack to learn.
Cut a piece of tissue paper to fit a sheet of printer paper, then tape them together so you can run them through a printer safely.
Then pick some creepy images online. Search for icons or designs if you're not finding things you like right away. You might want to lean toward complicated imagery, since you don't have to paint or draw anything yourself.
Now print the images onto the combined paper and remove the tissue when you're done. Lay the tissue against the candle where you want the image (lighter toned wax and wider shaped candles work best).
Next, wrap a sheet of wax paper around the candle, covering the design. Secure it with some tape or another kind of fastener. It should press tightly up against the tissue.
Finally, apply some hot air from a blow drier for about 30 seconds. Hold it about two inches from the design and move it consistently throughout. You'll see the image start to melt as you go. You might want to wear a glove if you're holding the candle in one hand.
When you're done, remove the paper layers carefully. The ultimate result should be a crisp picture on the side of your candle, but go easy on yourself if you don't immediately get a perfect result. It might take a couple tries to get a result that makes you moan with dread or cackle with unhinged glee.
Hannah Madans Welk is a writer at the Los Angeles Business Journal where she covers real estate. Prior to joining the Business Journal, Welk was an Associate Editor of doityourself.com, where she still contributes as a freelance writer, in addition to reporting for other publications. Welk has also held roles as a business writer at the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Register. In 2014, Welk graduated from the University of Southern California magna cum laude, with university and departmental honors. She received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Print and Digital Journalism and East Asian Languages and Cultures, and worked as deputy editor at the university news site Neon Tommy.