Decorating for Halloween: Keep it Fun and Safe

Decorating for Halloween

When it comes to decorations, Halloween is one time of the year when you can let your imagination run wild. Ghosts, ghouls, goblins, pumpkins, bats, witches on broomsticks – it’s all allowed, and in fact, celebrated!

When planning your spooky Halloween décor, you might want to start with a theme. That gives all your decorations (inside and outside) continuity, and allows you to change the theme each year to keep your deco fresh. Popular themes are ghosts and graveyards, famous monsters, Halloween nature themes (bats, rats, cornstalks, etc), witches or a horror movie motif. You might also consider a color scheme to carry throughout your decorations and lights: pumpkin orange, blood red, smoky purple, ghoulish green, or black of course.

Considering exterior decorating, lighting is the single most important element to add drama to the scene as well as keeping trick or treaters (and their parents) from stumbling over lawn tombstones, coffins or each other. You don’t have to climb on ladders anymore to have lights all over the house.  Spotlights on the ground can now cover the house with hundreds of small “firefly lights” moving over your house like an endless cloud of lightening bugs.

Your front door is the focus for arriving guests be they big or small, so a garland made of real branches with Fall plastic leaves/flowers added, can frame it. Add a string of lights to add visibility to the porch. Put an orange lightbulb in your porch light fixture to add a spooky glow.

It’s best not to have lawn decorations that are an obstacle course. Kids do not stay on paths. So, decorate the front and sides of the house or hang decorations high enough that they don’t trap wandering kids and adults.

Pumpkins are now manufactured to look just like the real thing – this brings the added advantage that kids won’t be as tempted to smash them. That goes for the big blow-up creatures that, while stunning, usually get destroyed by little vandals. Skip candles and use light sticks or battery-operated candles instead in your real or fake pumpkins. That way, no one’s costume will accidentally get set on fire.

If you are anticipating trick or treaters, line the path to your front door with luminaries. These are brown paper sacks with sand to weight them down and lights inside. Use glow sticks or battery-operated candles for safety (and they don’t blow out.)  The brown paper bags can have jack-o-lantern faces, bats or other Halloween characters cut into them if you wish.

As guests enter, they can be greeted by a side table with ghosts and treats or a stand-up animated figure (butler, witch, etc.) Leave plenty of room as folks in costume take up more space than regular clothes and you don’t want them knocking things over or tripping.

Set your interior mood with lights. As mentioned before, use bulbs, electric or battery operated, as real candles burn out too quickly and can be a fire hazard, especially with children.  Keep electric cords taped against walls so they don’t trip you up.  Don’t get too scary though as those motion-activated spiders and ghosts can seriously frighten both children and adults.

It’s best to decorate walls, windows, tables and mantelpieces and not have decorative objects on the floor where they can be stepped on or tripped over. If you are having a party, visualize where people will gather and the flow of traffic so you don’t obstruct it.

Have a focal piece for your dining room table. Depending on whether it’s kids or adults, your centerpiece can be a fold-out paper and foam scene (from any craft store) or something fabulously freaky that you construct yourself. Check out the hundreds of possibilities on Pinterest and Martha Stewart Living.

Take care when using focal pieces and decorations that are made out of candy and food items.  Increasing numbers of children are highly allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, milk, and other food products.  Keeping your walkways, front porch and dining table free of major allergens will keep these children safe and ensure a Happy Halloween for everyone.

Pets: Halloween night is exciting for us but it can be terrifying for pets. Strangers coming onto their turf, weird decorations, especially those that look like people or animals can cause them to become aggressive. Do your pets, your guests and yourself a big favor and keep them in a safe, quiet part of the house on this night of all nights.

This can be the best Halloween ever. The possibilities are endless, especially, if you plan for safety as well as fun.