Decorate your Haunted House

Transform your home into a spooky spot for Halloween with lots of handmade ideas.

Whether entertaining guests for Halloween, throwing a kids costume party or preparing your home for trick-or-treat visitors, a dark, shadowy décor must set the scary mood.

The eerie-themed holiday of Halloween, on October 31, has long entertained children dressed in costumes and trick-or-treating door-to-door around neighborhoods in search of candy. Adults have joined the tradition with increasingly popular, elaborately decorated parties, almost as numerous as those held at Christmastime. Originating in Ireland, All Hallows' Eve precedes Dias de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead, which honors the spirits of dead ancestors. Halloween celebrates the supernatural and spooky.

Witches, ghosts and monsters are typical motifs of this gothicthemed event, along with bats, spiders and jack-o-lanterns. While some people turn their yards into cemeteries with fake gravestones, many decorate interiors with clever, easy-to-do ideas for a haunted house effect created out of common materials that will set a mysterious mood fit for vampires and zombies.

Following is a variety of suggestions for creating a creepy-yet-festive haunted home occasion:


Start with candlelight and shadows for a moody ambiance. While wax or electric candles are usually romantic, on Halloween their flickering adds a frightening feel. Try these ideas for a macabre effect:

  • Melt red candle wax from the top of white candles letting it drip like blood
  • Black candles create an ominous look
  • Place spider- or bat-shaped paper cutouts on votive candleholders or the inside of a lampshade for a wickedly amusing touch


Spiderwebs and cobwebs add to the chilling feeling, especially with plastic bugs:


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  • Tear up a pair of white panty hose into a network of strings
  • Use a hotglue gun on objects like a bouquet of dead red roses
  • Rip apart cheesecloth into a stringy look to drape on furnishings

Serving trays

At a buffet of ickylooking foods, like green slimy soup and bloodcurdling punch, rotten eggs, eyeballs, gummy worms inside a coffin cake, and cheese-stick fingers:

  • Add dry ice (or card ice) to let a smoky fog seep out of a pot or kettle
  • Place a doll’s head or full-size mannequin head wrapped in white gauze on a serving tray of appetizers
  • Create shrunken, distorted heads from apples carved like skulls (soak peeled and cored apples in salted lemon water for 30 seconds, dry and let shrink for a week)


This traditional symbol of Halloween isn’t frightening like bats, rats and monsters but it adds to the mood:

  • Carve scary faces and place candles inside to glow
  • Paint in silver, gold or sparkly glitter paint

Other décor ideas to enhance the haunted transformation:

  • Play harpsichord music in the background
  • Display dead flowers in vases and branches with spiders made of pipe cleaners
  • Add a supernatural sensibility with tarot cards and a crystal ball
  • Cover furniture in white sheets like the closed-off section of a mansion
  • Place silhouettes of cutout people—or parts of them—showing through curtains
  • Make playful ghosts with big black eyes and mouths from sheets draped over tomato cages and lit inside with twinkle lights
  • Snap green glow sticks inside balloons and fill them with helium

Have a frightfully fun night!

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