12 Clever Ways to Display Your Halloween Candy for Trick-or-Treaters
Halloween is the sweetest day of the year for most kids. But while they gobble up treats, the burden falls on us—the hostess—to conjure up a memorable display for when they come knocking on your front door.
Our best ideas will both scare and delight those little costumed trick-or-treaters and their parents. Upon approach, your indoor decorations or outdoor decorations—with autumnal wreaths, carved pumpkins, and hauntingly beautiful floral arrangements—are all a big part of your seasonal display. Still, it's easy to say that candy is the ruler of the day: Kids and adults alike seek to collect hordes of sweets that'll satisfy that annual hankering and because it is the ultimate treat, why not put it on the pedestal it deserves?
There are so many ways to go about your Halloween candy display from wacky and playful to downright frightening. Reward guests with treat bags and favors by presenting them with a foreboding challenge: by reaching into a rotten log of bugs or a round of Pop! Goes the Pumpkin. Think up ways to turn some of your favorite party games into kid-friendly displays: a pirate's bountiful treasure chest or a set of whimsically labelled jars. Skipping the sweets? You'll also find ideas that can work for alternative, allergy-friendly treats. Elevate (literally) a basic bowl by making it appear to levitate from the table while conjuring up a spell of airborne candy. Prank guests in ways that'll not only give them a scare, but also make them question, "How did you do that?"
Whatever you decide to do, Halloween is a time to be creative without restriction to costumes and decorations. Browse our best ideas that will scare some sense into those little goblins—and their parents.
Scary "Gotcha!" Halloween Candy Bowl Prank
To cement your reputation as the scariest house in the neighbor- hood, assemble our patented "nobody's home" fake-out: Chalk the details of a door on black kraft paper and tape it to your real door's interior frame. Cut a hole in the middle that’s just big enough to fit your arm (covered in mummy tape or a werewolf paw), and place candy below. It'll look like a mere prop—until it playfully slaps or grabs the fingers of anyone sneaking an extra treat.
Trick-or-Treating Treasure Chest
If you want to take the kids out trick-or-treating without jilting the rest of the neighborhood, leave a candy bounty on your porch. Fill a chest to three inches from the top with pillows, then pile on the Rolos, chocolate coins, and other foil-wrapped goodies. Top it off with beads, plastic skulls, and other spoils from the high seas.
To serve shivers with your sugar, put candy in a hollow "log" that trick- or-treaters have to stick their whole arm into. There are lots of wood- covered containers out there, from vases to umbrella holders, so this slithering scene is easy to pull off. For the top, cover a piece of foam board with wood-veneer paper and cut a hole in the middle. Empty a bag of moss around the bottom, and add some creepy crawlers. Then issue a playful warning: This bark may bite.
Jamali Garden Tree-Bark Vase, 8" by 20", $55, jamaligarden.com. Upredo Brown Oak Wood-Grain Adhesive Vinyl, 15.8" by 79", $13, amazon.com. Super Moss Preserved Reindeer Moss, in Chartreuse, $14 for 4 oz., amazon.com. Brandon Super-Realistic Black Rubber Snake, 52", $7.50, amazon.com. Oriental Trading Vinyl Realistic Snakes, $10 for 48, orientaltrading.com. Oriental Trading Realistic Bugs, $10 for 144, orientaltrading.com. Spirit Halloween Black-Widow Spider, 6", $4, spirithalloween.com.
Step inside, and take a closer look at the darkened, murky glass. This one shows way more than just your reflection. It's a pair of spectral hands! Spooky right? Even spookier that they seem to reach out coincidentally when your trick-or-treaters reach for the candy bowl.
Grandin Road Halloween Posable Snakes, in Black, from $9 each, grandinroad.com. Chelsea Textiles GUS 043-02 Bureau with Diamond Carving, in Antique Black, $1,922, chelseatextiles.com. Avery Sticker Project Paper, 8½" by 11", in Glossy Clear, $14 for 7 sheets, amazon.com.
Pirate Ship Pumpkin
Maritime legend has it that the Flying Dutchman is a fearsome ghost ship, which never returns to safe harbor and is doomed to sail the seven seas forever. In our version, it serves as a haunting addition to your front door decor and doubles as a server of treats—mainly pearly white gumballs and candy gold doubloons.
Speedball Lino Set No. 1, #40203-1009, $9.55, dickblick.com. Nautical Cove Treasure Chest Keepsake, in Medium, $25, nauticalcove.com. Party City Gold Chocolate Coins, $10 for 72, partycity.com. Economy Candy Pearl White Gumballs, $5 per 1lb., economycandy.com.
Scary Bird's Nest Candy Dish
Others might see birds as friends and toss them crusts of bread, but you see them in a more sinister, Hitchcockian light. Why not disarm the foul fowls by turning some of them (and their nest) into a frightful candy holder for Halloween? Our bird's nest is constructed with grapevine wreaths and filled with Spanish moss, tea-dyed eggshells, and birdseed-like sesame candy. Just as a tea bath can make paper look antique, it can make eggs look brown, old, and creepily rotten. The birds themselves are faux pheasants, with heads painted an ominous black.
Grapevine Wreaths, 10" to 18", from $2.39, egrapevinestore.com. Large Predrained Goose Eggs, $4 each, beverlysgoosehatcheryinc.com. Beverly's Goose Hatchery Duck Egg, $1 each, beverlysgoosehatchery.com. Joyva Sesame Crunch, $4 per pound, economycandy.com. Feathered Pheasants, 12" to 30", $93.70, hankenimports.com.
Candy Artifact Display
Tempt your guests with an array of candies masquerading as botanical or nautical artifacts. Fill large glass jars with sweets, and then mark each jar with a label that sounds convincing—the meringues are "jellyfish skeletons"—while being completely made up. Create your own cabinet by arranging the jars in wooden cubbies; we painted these a deep slate gray.
Studio Wood Cubes, $14 to $28 each, areohome.com. Anchor Hocking Glass Kitchen Storage Jars, from $13, westelm.com. Blackberries And Raspberries Gummy Candy, $15 for 2 lb., vermontcountrystore.com. Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherries, $35 for 1lb., harryanddavid.com. Coconut Meringue Cookies, $5.75, laduree.goldbelly.com. Dryden & Palmer Candy Rock Candy Crystals, $24.50 for 5 lb., candywarehouse.com.
A selection of sunny sweets is even more tempting when displayed in glass containers. Cheerful labels announce the jars' contents: "Pretty Little Pumpkins," "Good Witch Gumballs," and "Tantalizing Treats" (guaranteed to deliver sweetness). Photocopy templates onto self-adhesive paper, cut out, and affix each one to the jar's front. Encourage guests to help themselves to candies in shades of orange and white—swirly sticks, giant gumballs, squishy jelly pumpkins, yogurt-covered pretzels, and more.
Pop! Goes the Pumpkin Game
A classic carnival game becomes an explosion of fun as this Halloween party game. Fill balloons with confetti and candy for little ghouls and ghosts to pop and find the treats hidden inside.
Halloween Candy Bowl Pumpkin
This decorating idea has no tricks—just treats. Entice your visting ghouls and goblins (of all ages) to grab a handful of sweets from this carved candy display. To start, use a craft knife to carefully cut a hole approximately 4 1/2 inches in diameter toward the top center half of the craft pumpkin. Paint the outer surface of the pumpkin (ours was done in black), and the edges of the opening in another color (ours was purple); let completely dry. To stencil the pumpkin, cut apart the silkscreen stencil letters to spell out your message, adhere silkscreens to the pumpkin's surface, framing the hole, and pounce gray paint over the stencil. (Tip: Blot pouncer onto a paper towel before paint application.) You can paint and stencil an additional Halloween pumpkin to pair with your candy bowl.
Ashland Cream Craft Pumpkin, 13", $12, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint, 2 oz., $2.49, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Craft Knife, $8.49, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Crafts Silkscreens Stencil, in Striped Alphabet, $19.19, amazon.com.
Grab-and-Take Goody Bags
Set out a pumpkin covered with goody bags, and kids can help themselves. Decorate small, plain, flat paper bags with rubber-stamped designs; fill with treats; and attach to a pumpkin with thumbtacks. Then leave a note inviting kids to take one. (Be sure that the tacks are pushed in firmly so they don't come out when little hands tug down on the bags.)
Levitating Table of Treats
Trick or treat? This witch appears to have both at her disposal. Ghouls in her good graces can help themselves from an urn of candies. But get a little cheeky and the treats won't be the only thing to go flying. In reality, this photograph involves no trick at all—the illusion is entirely physical. To make a table and its treats levitate, first, buy a round table kit and a large cardboard tube (available at home centers). Spray-paint the tube black to make it less visible. Cut the tube on an angle at the top to the desired height for your table. Nail three 1-by-1-inch blocks of wood to underside of tabletop, spaced to fit just inside the tube, to hold it in place; anchor the tube's bottom with sandbags, and then place tabletop. For a candy chain, enlarge the template to desired size, and trace onto .005-millimeter-thick clear acetate; cut out. Hot-glue candy onto acetate; adhere one end to the inside of an urn and attach other end to ceiling with filament and a screw eye.
Southern Enterprises Sebastion White with Antique Brass Round End Table, $180, homedepot.com. Martha Stewart Matte Finish Spray-Paint & Primer, in Beetle Black, $8, michaels.com. ArtMinds Square Wood Blocks, 1", $13 for 5, michaels.com. Office Depot Brand Jumbo Mailing Tubes, 10" x 36", $160 for 8, officedepot.com.