Our Best Halloween Party Decorations & Ideas

If you want to throw a Halloween party that's slightly campy — but not cheesy — here are some budget-friendly decoration recommendations and simple ideas.

The best thing you can do to insure a successful Halloween party is to make costumes mandatory. People tend to have more fun when they're disguised as someone else or something else. Of course, there will always be people who refuse to dress up, but you can limit those party goers by providing incentives for wearing good costumes. Give out prizes for the best costumes based on several themes like, "Most Frightening," or "Most Clever Idea." The prizes don't need to be expensive or elaborate. In general, people like to win just for bragging rights.

Lighting Ideas
• Replace regular bulbs with black ones.
• Cut out creepy profile pictures, like ghosts, bugs, jack-o-lanterns, from dark paper and tape the shapes inside lamp shades. The silhouettes will be projected throughout the room.
• Wrap red wax candles with sheets of white beeswax. As the candles burn, the interior red wax will drip over the beeswax and look like blood.
• Place candles in old candelabras for a ghoulishly vintage effect.
• Carve apples and small pumpkins and use as votive holders.

Decor Ideas
• Place glow-in-the-dark decals on windows and mirrors.
• Paint plastic serving bowls, pumpkins, candlesticks or anything else with glow-in-the-dark paint.
• Make or buy scary labels for your beverages like "Poison" or "Witches Brew."
• Buy black fabric and use it to cover sofas and chairs. You can tuck the fabric into sofas and loveseats to create makeshift slipcovers. You can also temporarily attach fabric to wood with double-sided tape. (Never put tape on any expensive furniture, even though it will usually wash off with hot water.)
• You can buy or make an image projector and project any creepy photo against a large surface area. Single image projectors can be purchased for as low as $25, or you can do-it-yourself. For the DIY version, you'll need to already own a floodlight or powerful flashlight that can be set-up to project an image onto a wall. Then you'll need to buy color laser transparency film. Next, choose your image and simply print it out onto the transparency film. The size of the image should correspond to the size of the surface of your light source. You can tape the film to the front of the light and it will project that photo onto any surface. (Note, the image won't be crisp, so choose your photo with that in mind). If you want a more sharp DIY projection, tape your transparency into a standing picture frame and place it directly in front of the light source.
Vinyl scene setters are a simple alternative to image projection.
• If you have a large television, play scary movies on it- without sound.
• Dip your hands in red food coloring and touch white decorations, like paper napkins and rags, to create a bloody fingerprint effect.
• Wash plastic bugs and put them in food displays.
• Buy cheap old paintings from thrift stores or garage sales. Then paint (maybe glow-in-the-dark) over the people or landscapes to create scary images.

Food and Drink Ideas
• Add red food coloring to creamed honey for spreading on rolls or other breads.
• Use Halloween cookie cutters on foods other than cookies. For example, you can make make pumpkin or ghost shaped sandwiches.
• Hollowed out pumpkins are watertight for at least a day. You can use them to serve punches or as containers for ice etc.
• Buy dark and sinister-looking appetizers, such as plumbs, blackberries, black grapes and figs. Then place your fake bugs in the food presentation.
• Garnish drinks with an iced eyeball. Trim and peel radishes, leaving a bit of red for a veiny look, then use a melon baller to create a small hole, and insert a cut olive. Place in ice cube tray, fill with water, and freeze.
• Freeze up a few severed hands for the punch bowl. Use disposable latex gloves, washed and rinsed well, inside and out. Fill the gloves with water and tie off tightly with elastic. The shape will turn out best if you hang the gloves upside down. Freeze the gloves for at least one full day. Before the party, run warm water over the gloves and peel the latex off the frozen hands. Place in the punch bowl. It's ok if the fingers break. It just adds to the scary effect.
• Go online to find Halloween drink recipes. Drink of the Week has an large collection, while Martha Stewart has some great looking drinks.

First Row, Left to Right:
Halloween Candelabra at Target.
Orange Martini Glasses at Party City.
Shocktails Black Charger at Party City.
Spider Web Placemat at Target.

Second Row, Left to Right:
Halloween Bottle Labels at Party City.
Halloween Cupcake Stencils and Papers at Crate and Barrel.
Glow in the Dark Ghost Decals at Party City.
Martha Stewart Pumpkin Carving Kit at Macy's.

Third Row, Left to Right:
Illuminated Remote Control Moon at Urban Outfitters.
Totally Ghoul Fog Machine at Kmart.
Totally Ghoul Orange Light Set at Kmart.

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