31 of Our Best Outdoor Halloween Decoration Projects

murder of crows above door frame
Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo

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.

Cast a spell over your entire neighborhood with these outdoor Halloween decorations, which are designed for front porches, backyards, sidewalks, and driveways.

01 of 31

Heirloom Pumpkins

outdoor pumpkin Halloween display on stairs
Ngoc Minh Ngo

You're never limited to the sugar pumpkins found everywhere this time of year. Opt for ones in all shapes and sizes: Brighten your front steps with a tumble of heirloom pumpkins: This ombré array includes peachy Porcelain Doll, mottled Kakai, and blood-orange Cinderella Rouge varieties, plus green-dappled Lakota winter squashes.

02 of 31

Googly-Eyed Plants

halloween eyes for outdoor planters
Seth Smoot

They're watching you from every corner—it's these googly-eyed accents that make plants in every nook and cranny come hilariously to life. To recreate this gawking greenery, coat a pair of gourds or avocado pits in white craft paint and hot-glue the "eyeballs" onto wooden stalks. Nestle them into the leaves, and they're bound to make anyone look twice.

03 of 31

Black Corn Clusters

black corn garland
Ngoc Minh Ngo

What has nine ears and a limitless amount of rustic charm? This 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.

04 of 31

Unearthed Jack-o'-Lanterns

Ngoc Minh Ngo

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.

05 of 31


DIY spooky scarecrow decoration
Ngoc Minh Ngo

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.

06 of 31

Tombstone Decorations


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.

07 of 31

Cheesecloth Spirits

cheese cloth spirits

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.

08 of 31

Wriggling Snake Wreath

Ditte Isager

Dark, tangled vines are all you see upon first glance. Come closer and the snakes lying in wait become clear, and the whole wreath springs terrifyingly to life. Make one with nothing more than a grapevine wreath, plastic snakes, wire, and black paint.

09 of 31

Gotcha! Halloween Candy Bowl

Scary Halloween Bowl for Trick or Treating

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.

10 of 31

Unlucky Numbers

Haunted Numbers on Front Door for Halloween
The Morrisons

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.

11 of 31

Pirate Treasure Chest

Halloween Treasure Chest
Aaron Dyer

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.

12 of 31

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.

13 of 31

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.

14 of 31

Fairy House Pumpkin

fairy house pumpkin
Ngoc Minh Ngo

It's straight out of Cinderella—we've transformed this pumpkin into a cozy hollow that is more inviting than anything else. If you love to carve pumpkins, this project is for you.

15 of 31

Black Magic Halloween Wreath

halloween black wreath on door

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.

16 of 31

Millipede Pumpkins

white pumpkins sculpted to be a millipede
Patricia Heal

By day, these insects hide under rocks and leaves, but at night they skitter around, fearsomely free. Our millipede is made of big "Blue Hubbard" squashes for a body, six gigante-bean eyes, lotus-pod antennae, and army of okra-pod legs. "Blue Hubbard" squashes are naturally soft, so you can easily push in okra-pod stems to give this insect his many limbs. Do the same with lotus pods for his antennae. Misnomer alert: These insects don't have a thousand limbs—more like 30 to 330. But four per pumpkin are plenty to send shivers up the spine of any humans who stumble upon this one.

17 of 31

Who-Ville Pumpkins

white pumpkins sculpted to be owls
Patricia Heal

Owls have long been folklore's spooky and ominous messengers. But our take on these glowing nocturnal birds is more friendly than foreboding. Grab two pale white pumpkins—"Lumina," "New Moon," and "Casper" cultivars will all work. Stack a squat one on a taller one for an adult; give the babies bigger noggins.

18 of 31

Wasps Nest

decorated gourd as hornets nest
Johnny Miller

A wasps' nest in close quarters is the stuff of nightmares. Create a harmless one for the holiday by wiring clip-art wasps to a hollowed-out Blue Hubbard squash "hive." For stiffer decorations, mount onto card stock (join the layers with spray adhesive), cut out, then bend the legs and wings for a realistic appearance.

19 of 31

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.

20 of 31

Broom Garland Doorway

Witchy Welcome
Lucas Allen

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.

21 of 31

Creepy Crates

Lucas Allen

Assemble a tableau straight out of a spooky movie. The animals in this witch's latest shipment seem to have escaped their crates and are inhabiting these ghostly green pumpkins.

22 of 31

Spider Egg Sac

Thibault Jeanson

Add a creepy touch to your doorway with this globe-shaped incubator filled with spiders. Make several sacs and suspend them at various heights.

23 of 31

Gourd Family


Kids will love re-creating their own family in the form of stacked pumpkins. Gather some natural objects for decorating and for facial features: We used almonds, carrots, pear berries, pear leaves, pine cones, oak leaves, and more for eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and hair.

24 of 31

Witch and Cat Lawn Ornaments

witch and cat lawn ornaments
Gentl and Hyers

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.

25 of 31

Owl Pumpkins


The owls' extra-large eyes are made from halved miniature pumpkins and gourds. Their feet and ears are curved pieces of pumpkin.

26 of 31

Spider Squash


These multi-legged creatures rise up from the damp earth and moss to skitter across cold stones. Black-green squashes, such as 'Table Ace' acorn, are carved with a linoleum cutter, which removes only the outer flesh.

27 of 31

Witch's Cauldron

witch's cauldron outside decoration

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 three holes equidistant from one another, about two inches below its opening. Prop the branches in a teepee shape, and secure them at the 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.

28 of 31

Peacock Walk

Victorian garden backdrop with peacocks for Halloween
Simon Watson

Having a peacock—a spectacular example of natural beauty—in a Victorian garden was a kind of status symbol. These birds, a colorful departure from Halloween's crows and ravens, bring an element of mystery to a party. Hang small birds in cages handmade from wire hardware cloth, and let larger peacocks (a splurge, but worth the investment for their drama) roam free. To make the black-and-white backdrop, we had photos enlarged and printed onto vinyl.

29 of 31

Block-Printed Luminaria

block printed luminaria
Ellie Miller

A menacing trio of jack-o'-lanterns makes a thrilling centerpiece on a party table. All three are carved with graphic Halloween icons—witch, screeching cat, and unfurled bat—then their raised surfaces are painted black. The technique used to create them produces bold, dramatic imagery that's perfect for block-printing onto paper and fabric. We used the bat image to print a whole branchful on a pair of white gauze curtains. Owls, vultures, and wicked witches, all well-known symbols of Halloween, adorn luminaria and help set the stage for an eerie outdoor party.

30 of 31

Balloon Spiders

balloon spiders decorations

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.

31 of 31

Scary Birds


Set an ominous scene with these monstrous birds, who greet visitors in the form of window silhouettes.

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