23 of Our Best Outdoor Halloween Decorations
On Halloween, the slightest wisp of the imagination can transform otherwise ordinary critters—whether raucous backyard crows or peaceful garage spiders—into terrible, hair-raising monsters. Therein lies the thrill of trick-or-treating.
Sure, candy is important. But what lasts in memory is not the sweets so much as the setting in which they were offered—especially when trick-or-treaters take to the streets and come knocking at your front door. Outfit your porch or entryway with beastly birds and oversize arachnids, then watch the costumed creatures descend in droves.
Your home will welcome trick-or-treaters approaching the threshold for candy and other favors; for friends and family gathering for a Halloween party inside, there's plenty of opportunity to show off your creative side. Make your home stand out with tools in your crafting toolbox to turn some store-bought supplies into unique crafts and decorations that will certainly put your house on the map.
Take your Halloween décor staples to the next level with our jack-o'-lantern guides and inspiration; we're sharing a few of our most inspiring pumpkins, like our autumnal owls, which are made entirely out of gourds. Plus, there are jack-o'-lantern lookalikes that are worthy of your time. One project even involves creating a waterproof variety that will continue to flicker even in rainy weather. Accentuate the rest of your outdoor space with original pieces that you can't buy in a store: dried fall flowers, flickering lanterns, and eerie lawn fixtures that will greet all who dare to cross your threshold.
Most of these ideas can be put together in an afternoon or less, so even if Halloween is just around the corner, you still have time to create a truly spooky landscape just outside your front door. For a truly impressive display, tackle a few of these projects in the weeks leading up to October 31—they're also a great way to get the kids excited for Halloween.
Black Corn Clusters
What has nine ears and a limitless amount of rustic charm? Your next fall craft project, of course. To begin, soak ears of corn and their husks in water for about two minutes, then the attached husks around the stem of each ear. Wrap a paper towel around the husks on each ear; secure with tape. Working in a well-ventilated area, spray-paint the corn with your choice of black paint before letting it dry completely and removing the paper towels.
Next, wrap one end of wire roll around the stem of one ear of corn. Using sections of husk from that ear and two other ears, braid husks around wire to all three ears. Add three additional pieces of husk to continue the braid; continue adding husks and braiding until the braid is a couple of inches longer than an ear of corn. Finally, add three more ears of corn by braiding sections of the husk from each ear around the wire. Continue the braid with additional husks, then repeat with one last round of three ears of corn. Wrap the end of the final braid into a loop and secure it with wire.
Pass over perfect-looking pumpkins and opt instead for those with cracks and unusual shading. You'll need to secure felt-roof deck protection (also known as tar paper), which keeps it weatherproof in the outdoors; first, reduce or enlarge our template as needed and then print it out. Attach it to the pumpkin with clear tape; using an awl, pierce holes along the perimeter of the shape. Remove the template, and use a narrow-bladed linoleum cutter to remove the skin.
These are not your typical scarecrow—their expressions are made using unique produce that could work as facial features, hair, and props, too. Start by thinking about the expression you'd like to create, and keep in mind that as these foods dry and wither, the look will change (and may become even more interesting!). Adhere white beans and a tangle of Spanish-moss hair to your chosen pumpkin "head" with hot glue; secure heavier vegetables with wooden skewers, and lighter vegetables with toothpicks. Choose T-pins if you decide to pin leaves onto the pumpkins, as these prevent them from blowing away.
Then, cut two wooden pieces down to size at a lumberyard or hardware store; the vertical piece should have a point on the bottom. Create a cross, laying the shorter wooden piece horizontally across the longer one, about six inches from the top. Drill a hole through the center of the cross—before you join the two pieces together with a wood screw, place the vertical piece into a shirt, and pull the horizontal piece through the sleeves. Stuff the shirt with hay, and pulling a pant leg through the bottom of the vertical stake, stuff the pants with hay to finish up. You should finish by driving the scarecrow's head through the top of the vertical stake.
Tombstone Decorations for Your Lawn
Set out a few tombstones in your yard and let them work the graveyard shift on Halloween. These are made by trimming gray paper bags. They bear an eerie resemblance to real gravestones when lit with mini lights.
Using styrofoam mannequin heads, which are sold at wig shops, you can create free-floating ghosts that can stand on their own—but suspending them allows the cloth to flutter in the wind.
Wriggling Snake Wreath
Hang this jet-black wreath wriggling on the front door to make your guests' entrances memorably creepy, just in time for Halloween.
Gotcha! Halloween Candy Bowl
To cement your reputation as the scariest house in the neighborhood, assemble our patented "nobody's home" fake-out. To begin, 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.
Owl Night Watchers
These watch guards are eerily silent; to make their perches, you need only a few bare branches from the yard. Paint the branches black and wedge them into place; enlarge our owl template to your desired size. Cut out the template and trace onto black card stock or poster board—you can also flip the template for a second owl to make a symmetrical pair. Cut out the owl shapes, including the eyes, and secure them onto windows on either side of your door by taping a paint stirrer to the back of each owl.
Hanging Paper Bats
Made out of craft paper, these fluttering winged critters are a great way to welcome trick-or-treaters in hair-raising style by turning your front porch into a bat cave.
Fairy House Pumpkin
Black Magic Halloween Wreath
Goth has never looked so good: This ebony wreath of eerie elegance will fit into any cobweb-and-spider porch display. To begin, lay out a dried grapevine wreath onto a flat work surface; using wire cutters, snip your choice of faux flowers from their stems. Arrange them onto the wreath and hot glue them into place. Finally, spray the entire wreath with black paint and let it dry completely before displaying.
Some houses ooze charm; come October, yours drips blood. A minimal but macabre touch, this horrifying hemoglobin is actually just colored hot glue. Squirt the red stuff right onto the edges of your digits, blowing on it to accelerate cooling and help control the drops. This scare tactic also works on mailboxes and letter slots. When November 1 rolls around, simply peel off the evidence, leaving no trace of evil behind.
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Ravens in Waiting
Decorate your porch with a flock of ravens and crows who swing on perches made from cardboard tubes. Use our template to make a hook-beaked bird, or create a species of your own design.
Broom Garland Doorway
Two brooms wired together form an unwelcoming decoration on the witch's front door, which also has a border of little broom heads (bundles of raffia). To begin, cut raffia into 7-inch lengths and gather into small bundles; wrap one end of each bundle with masking tape to secure in a broom shape. For the garland base, cut three pieces of one-half-inch-thick sisal rope: two pieces should be just longer than the door's sides and one just longer than its top. Then, wire a "broom" to the end of one of the long ropes with 24-gauge brass wire on a spool, and without cutting the wire, continue adding and overlapping brooms until you reach the end; repeat with other long rope.
Spider Egg Sac
Add a creepy touch to your doorway with this globe-shaped incubator filled with spiders. Make several sacs and suspend them at various heights.
Kids will love re-creating their own family in the form of stacked pumpkins.
Pirate 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. Here, we filled a chest 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.
Witch and Cat Lawn Ornaments
This sinister sorceress and her trio of menacing felines are in a black humor—all the better to give guests a start when they arrive at your home for the festivities.
The owls' extra-large eyes are made from halved miniature pumpkins and gourds. Their feet and ears are curved pieces of pumpkin.
These multi-legged creatures rise up from the damp earth and moss to skitter across cold stones.
This Wicked Witch of the Feast creates a steaming cauldron with modern tricks. Begin by gathering long, straight branches from your backyard to hang your cauldron; then, cut the top off a large pumpkin using a serrated knife. Hollow the inside of the pumpkin, and drill 3 holes equidistant from one another, about two inches below its opening. Prop the branches in a teepee shape, and secure them at tepee top with 20-gauge wire; thread the wire inside the top of the pumpkin to create an S hook. Conceal the visible wire with sisal rope.
Then, cut three different lengths of sisal rope to hang the pumpkin; tie one end of each rope to an eyebolt. Push the eyebolts through the holes in the pumpkin, securing with washers and nuts on the inside. Knot the rope ends together, and hang from the S hook. If you'd like to create a "fire" effect, cover an outdoor stake light (equipped with a yellow or orange lightbulb) with twigs inside the pumpkin.
A trio of creepy-crawly spiders with plump balloon bodies and spindly legs hovers over unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. To begin, inflate two round balloons, one slightly less than the other (the larger will be the abdomen and the smaller will be the head). Tie the balloons together at the ends with thread or monofilament; using a balloon pump, inflate four long, skinny balloons, leaving a 3-inch "tail" at the end of each.
Make one set of legs: Starting a few inches from the neck, twist a balloon, holding it place, and move about 1 inch along the ballon and twist again. Bring the two twists together, and grab the resulting bubble with one hand and twist, which should lock the twists together. Move up another few inches, and repeat to make another knee. Repeat twice more to make four short segments and four knees, with one long section in the center, since air will shit into the tail as you work.
Repeat this process with three more balloons. Then twist one set of legs in the center of the longest segment; hold it in place, and twist a second set in the same place. Place the two sets together, with twisted centers interlocking; the balloons should hold. Finish up by repeating the process with two more sets of legs. Tie these legs to the body, and hang the spider on string or monofilament outside.