Over-the-Top Halloween Decorations—No Crafting Required

updated Oct 22, 2020
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Halloween is Apartment Therapy Tour Editor Adrienne Breaux’s favorite holiday. Our New Orleans-based editor jokes that it’s practically mandatory to decorate for the holiday. In fact, Adrienne put her Halloween decorations up before Labor Day this year (and made a convincing case for why you should put yours up early too). While we missed the boat for the early-bird decor, there are a ton of ideas to steal from Adrienne’s stylish, colorful, and downright joyful home. Her seasonal style is the perfect amount of haunted—not too spooky for little ones. Plus, Adrienne relies heavily on store-bought decorations, making her ideas extra-doable for busy parents.

Start building your collection. Adrienne amassed her Halloween decorations over many years, so don’t aim to have this level of decor in Year One. Make it a tradition to pick out one item each year as a family: It’ll be a way to spread the Halloween fun throughout the month—and since kids rarely get to have their say in the decor, they’ll relish the chance to choose.

Decorate in the rooms you use the most. For Adrienne this mean the front room that she works in and the living room, where she and her boyfriend watch television (and horror movies). For your clan, the dining-table-turned-classroom and kitchen might be the ideal spots. Here, a store-bought spider web draped over a chair, a pile of paper lantern jack-o-lanterns, and a couple of foam tombstones leaned beneath a window are exactly the kind of low-lift decorating all of us can manage.

Employ color to signal the season. An orange polka dot throw draped over the sofa instantly makes Adrienne’s room feel more decorated for the season—but because it’s not specifically Halloween-themed, she can used it at other times too. Look for orange and black home items that you like well enough to use any time to build out your Halloween decor. (Pssst… The same is true for red and green accents at Christmas or blue ones for Hanukkah.)

Transform your everyday decor. Don’t just buy stand-alone decorations, think about ways to really weave them into your home. Adrienne displays  spooky glasses and witch hats on a collection of mannequin heads, but you might put them on your child’s largest stuffed animals. A spiderweb table runner makes a plain table into the focal point of the room.

Create spooky vignettes. You don’t need to decorate every surface; instead choose a few flat surfaces for composed moments. “I used other everyday items from around the house to make some spooky vignettes,” says Adrienne, who collected all her spookiest books and displayed them on a filing cabinet next to a store-bought haunted house. She also gathered some elements from nature and a simple, white pillar candle to make a “witch’s altar” (above right).

Craft a simple illusion. If you’re game for a little DIYing, try this idea: Adrienne bought simple black witch hats and strung them up with fishing line between two rooms to make it look like they’re levitating. (She says, “I absolutely stole the idea from Pinterest.”) The floating candles were a Walmart find designed to be hung like this, but you could try to recreate the look with battery-operated taper candles and more fishing wire.

Pillows are a quick fix. If you’re stumped about where to start Halloween throw pillows are one of the fastest, easiest ways to make a living room feel spooky. Look for zip-off pillow covers in the same size as your existing pillows on Etsy. (Then all you need to store is the flat fabric case!)

Shop secondhand. After the holiday has passed, scour yard sales and thrift shops to pick up affordable additions to your stash. Adrienne’s favorite decor moment was a hand-me-down find. “I got two heavy concrete gargoyles for free from a neighbor cleaning out their garage. My boyfriend and I spray-painted them black (they were gray and chipped) and I painted the eyes a creepy red,” says Adrienne.

You might ask whether doing all this decoration work is worth it. After all, Adrienne will have to take all of this down come November (and find a place to store it for next year). But she says, “I can say unequivocally that yes, it’s worth it. These decorations have been up for a few weeks now, and I still smile every day when I wake up and stumble into the front room to start work. Seeing my Halloween-themed backdrop pop up on Zoom calls is making work meetings much more enjoyable.” Maybe next year we’ll all start decorating even earlier—no point in letting these good decorations collect dust for nine months of the year, right?

Wondering where Adrienne found the rest of her cool Halloween gear? She shared her sources: “Drape-y” things from Amazon;  bats to stick on the wall, a light-up pumpkin from Target, a vintage-looking paper skeleton (bought in-person at Walmart), a cute neon bat light, a light-up haunted house, and a stack of neon skulls.

For more All Hallow’s Eve inspiration, check out these other inspiring Halloween-ready homes on Apartment Therapy: