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Do It Yourself This Halloween: How to Decorate for Halloween on a Budget

Updated on September 5, 2015
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie is a huge fan of Halloween and loves everything that is ghoulish. You can often find her reading or writing horror stories.

Low-Budget Halloween

This year, you can decorate for Halloween even if you are feeling a little stingy. Don't think you have to skip Halloween this year because you are on a budget. You can still decorate for Halloween for little or no money. Sure, you may not have an Animatronic monster dancing in your front yard, but you can have other Halloween decorations.

Get ready to dig through your old stuff, look for bargains, and have some awesome Halloween decorations this year. It is possible you won't have to spend any money at all. Get ready to be crafty and thrifty!


Dig Through Your Garage

If you've decorated for Halloween in the past, dig through your old stuff. You might be surprised to find some old stuff you did not remember existed. Sure, you probably have last year's stuff in a closet somewhere, but don't stop there. Go through things in your garage, attic, basement, shed, etc. You'd be surprised at how much stuff you probably have and did not remember.

A lot of what you have probably just needs a little extra attention. Dust it off, or wipe away the cobwebs (or keep them if it adds the right mood), and maybe wash some of the decorations that look a little worn. After all, it is Halloween, so it does not need to be perfect. If your graveyard decorations look old - that is fine! It only adds to the mood. You can often combine broken items to make a super-creepy monster no one has ever seen before until now.

Also, keep in mind just because you find it cute doesn't mean it won't terrify everyone else. Old dolls and old stuffed animals can be pretty creepy looking. Do you have some old dolls? Sit them around your house. How about a stuffed animal that sort of looks possessed anyway? Prop Teddy up in the living room, put some fake spiders on him, and scare people with him!

Shop at the Dollar Store

If you insist you need to buy new decorations, check out the dollar store. They will have plenty of silly and cheap decorations. They may not light up or jump out at your guests, but the dollar store often has inexpensive and cute Halloween decorations.

Do you need some spiders for a centerpiece or a skeleton to hang on your front door? No worries. You will find it at the dollar store. Perhaps you are just looking for something to set the creepy mood. Dollar stores always have candles, and usually battery-operated candles as well. You can also find craft supplies at the dollar store to make your own creepy decorations.


Make Your Own Ghosts

Last year, I decided to go low-budget and create some ghosts to hang outside. If you happen to have balloons and cheesecloth at your home, you already have enough to make some ghosts. If you don't have those items, a run to the dollar store or local discount store should have what you need.

All you have to do is blow up a white balloon, draw a face on the balloon with a marker, and then put the cheesecloth over the balloon. You are all set! You can make the face as creepy or as friendly as you'd like. When they are blowing in the wind at night, they will surely scare the neighbors even if you don't bother to draw a face at all.

Want to make them a little creepier? Buy some glow sticks while you are at the store. All you have to do is light up the sticks and put them inside the balloons as you blow them up. Want something a little different? Experiment with different balloon colors and different lightweight fabrics, such as a small black t-shirt. You can be as imaginative as you'd like with this project.

Create a Dead Body, Zombie, or Mummy

Back in the day, my mother enjoyed terrifying all of the neighborhood children for Halloween. One of her best do-it-yourself decorations was pretty simple to make. She would take some old clothes, an old pillow or two, and an old mask.

Basically, you stuff the pants and long sleeved shirt with other old clothes or pillows. Once you have a good solid body, you need to find a "head" for your monster. My mother happened to have an old styrofoam dummy's head (not sure why... I never questioned it). She would put an old wig on it and a Halloween mask. On Halloween night, she'd prop it in a chair, put on a sound effects tape, and let the fun begin. Of course, you can use a variety of things to make the head - a pumpkin, a balloon, a pillow, a large old stuffed animal, etc. Add a super scary mask, and you are set to scare all the kids on Halloween night.

Create a Giant Ghost

Another one of my mother's low-budget favorites was pretty easy. If you already have a small folding ladder, you are set. If not, you could borrow one from someone else. Basically, you set up the ladder in front of your house, and then put an old white sheet over it.

I will admit, this is not a terrifying look during the day. However, at night, if you put it in a dark, unlit area in your yard on Halloween night, it is truly scary. When the wind blows, the sheet moves slightly and looks as if something really is lurking in the yard. We had some kids tell us their friends were too scared to walk up our driveway to get treats that year because of our "ghost."

This is another decoration you can take to a whole new level if you feel like it. You can draw a face on it or sew a mask on to it. You could add lighting underneath the sheet if you want to run a power cord to it. This is an especially helpful Halloween decoration if you don't have a lot of treats to give out and you want to scare off some kids before they even make it to your door.

Dress for Halloween at Work Everyday at a Halloween Store!


Work at a Halloween Store

If you don't feel like making your own scary decorations or repairing old decorations, and you are looking for something more elaborate than what the dollar store offers, I recommend working at a Halloween store this year. Even if you have a full-time job somewhere else, Halloween stores are often looking for someone to help out at nights or on weekends. If you've got the time, they are likely to have the jobs.

Halloween stores are only open from the end of September to the beginning of November. Sometimes the job is frustrating because you are working with a lot of temp workers without any experience, but it is not a difficult job. Most of all, you can get a generous discount. If you are looking to make a few extra bucks and you desperately want to have the scariest decorations on your block, I recommend giving Halloween store employment a chance for a while. Trust me, it is better than working as a temp worker during Christmas!

Even better, at the end of the season, you might find you can take home some of the cardboard displays. No, they never give away any costumes or decorations they can sell next year, but some of the cardboard decorations used in the store might be able to come home with you. You just need to be patient and make sure to ask before taking them.

Hopefully, if you take some or even ALL of my advice, you will be on your way to having the best Halloween decorations in your neighborhood... and all while being low-budget. Happy Halloween!

Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle


Submit a Comment

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    You are right. It is funny how things that look homemade are trendy and expensive, but you can do it yourself for much cheaper... and feel good about what you created.

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 2 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Before crafting stores started selling premade decorations for high prices, we all crafted as kids. You can still find traditional and affordable stuff at the crafting store, but notice how all the pricey stuff is sitting at the door before you walk in. Paper mache jack-o-latterns are fun to make.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    FlourishAnyway, I was never a fan of Barbie, so maybe I should do the same. It could look like a haunted Barbie tree!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

    One idea I'd like to try is to shop Goidwill for old Barbies and hang them from a tree. Creepy.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks so much, drbj. I never doubted you meant it in good way. ;-)

    Those ghosts sound really great, bravewarrior. That sounds simple and low-budget... my two favorite things! Thanks for the tip. :-)

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

    I haven't decorated for Halloween since my son was little. Some people really go all out to make their properties look scary as hell - literally!

    One year we made little ghosts on a rope and strung them up across the front of the house. All we did was take white linen napkins, grabbed them by the middle and stuffed the heads with tissue paper or paper towels. Use fishing line to secure the head closed and draw a face on each one. We then attached the ghosts to a rope, using fishing line and strung them up at the entry way. We used those over and over again. I'm sure they're still in the attic somewhere.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

    I like the idea about the white balloon with a scary face under some cheesecloth. That would scare me for sure. Thanks for sharing these 'creepy ideas.' I mean that in a good way, of course.