13 Last-Minute Halloween Ideas


Is it October 31? Nothing to fear: It's never too late to add some final touches to your Halloween décor, costumes, treat bags, and more. Turn a pretty braided updo into a fast look that reminds your kids that you have eyes in the back of your head. Hang some spooky bats on your porch as a haunted welcome for trick-or-treaters or Halloween party guests. And these animal X-ray jars are bound to bring a few gasps of surprise if you place them in conspicuous places around your home. When it comes to creating a spooky Halloween atmosphere, small additions like these can go a long way.

Our last-minute Halloween ideas are sure to give you the best Halloween when you're short on time. From Halloween decorations that only require some construction paper, scissors, and glue to easy Halloween costumes that start with a hairdo, you can put together Halloween in almost no time at all. Your home can have the Halloween spirit, and some extra spooky accents, by incorporating just a few of these crafts. We recommend trying them all at least once.

Once you have put together your last-minute Halloween, the only thing left on your to-do list will be organizing the snacks. Pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing will get mouths watering, even if they’re zombies or mummies. And ladies' fingers cookies that look like actual fingers will certainly set the tone for the night. Your last-minute Halloween will be a hit with both the living... and the undead. But don't say we didn't warn you: These Halloween ideas are just the beginning of a fright night to remember.

01 of 13

An "Eye See You" Braided Updo

braided hair updo with doll eyes
Addie Juell

This hair-raising costume is fast, fun, and works with a great pun. Make a few braids, pin some doll eyes into your updo, and you'll remind everyone to beware: You have eyes in the back of your head.

02 of 13

Hanging Bats


Welcome trick-or-treaters in hair-raising style by turning your front porch into a bat cave using just black paper, our bat template, and painters' tape.

03 of 13

Stick-On Art Pumpkins

temporary tattoo pumpkins
Janelle Jones

Temporary tattoos turn pumpkins into real showstoppers—and without carving, they last longer than your average jack-o'-lantern. Pick insect-inspired designs for extra creep factor.

04 of 13

Kids Superhero Costumes


If you have a family of little ones to dress in costume, you and the kids can use templates and paper to craft these speedy superhero costumes in record time. Each of these outfits starts with leggings and a long-sleeve T-shirt (which don't even have to match). Then come the accessories of your choice: eye masks, headbands and belts, alphabet letters, capes with stars and planets, and lightning bolts.

05 of 13

No-Carve Lacy Pumpkins

Courtesy of Aaron Dyer

Don't feel like carving? Use a pair of lacy stockings and a can of spray paint to decorate a patch of pumpkins with instant, intricate designs in a matter of minutes. Stockings cling best to a smooth surface, so look for pumpkins with shallow ridges. A single pair can be used on multiple pumpkins—use the hips section for big pumpkins, and the legs for smaller ones.

06 of 13

Bat Headband

Maura McEvoy

Need a last-minute look for your Halloween party? Craft a spooky headpiece with black paper, craft wire, and our bat template: To start, start and fold two sheets of black paper in half. Enlarge the template, and position it on the fold, trace, and cut out, making two bats. With black craft wire, poke a hole in the center of one bat, holding the end of the wire. Glue a second bat on top, sandwiching wire in between. Wrap the opposite end of the wire around a thin headband (ours was 1/4-inch wide) to secure. Repeat this to add as many bats as you wish to have circling your head.

07 of 13

Pumpkin Balloons

pumpkin balloons

A gaggle of helium-filled jack-o'-lantern balloons hovers near the refreshment table. (Tip: A helium tank is easy to use when inflating latex balloons. To use, slide a balloon onto the nozzle—specially designed to grip the balloon by the neck—fill to desired size, remove, and tie off.) The simple features are drawn onto the inflated balloons with a permanent marker. Choose an assortment of geometric shapes that are easy to create freehand.

08 of 13

Glittered Skulls and Bones

Glittered Skulls and Bugs Halloween

Cover skeletal parts in glue and glitter for a simple, one-of-a-kind centerpiece that's both elegant and eerie. Working over a sheet of craft paper or newspaper, use a craft brush to apply glue to half of a skull or bone. Hold the object over a large shallow bowl or tray, and spoon fine glitter over its glued surface, making certain the glitter falls into all the crevices and sockets. Let them dry, tapping or brushing off any excess glitter, before you apply glittered bugs. Under a glass cloche, they can be displayed year after year.

09 of 13

Bat and Spider Treat Bags

Halloween spider and bat treat bag toppers
Barbara Donninelli

Bats and spiders, eek! Download our printable templates to make a quick batch of grab-and-go goody bags for party guests or the trick-or-treaters. Print template onto 8.5-by-11-inch card stock and cut out. Fold black paper in half. Align dotted edge of template with folded side of paper and trace. Cut out, leaving folded edge intact. Attach them to treat bags with double-sided tape.

To make the tiered stand as pictured here, stack inexpensive Styrofoam cake forms, cover the top with black crepe paper, and fringe side strips and attach them along the outer edges.

10 of 13

Straw Toppers

drinking straw embellishments
Barbara Donninelli

At the party, identify drinks with bat and pumpkin straw sleeves: You can churn out several at a time by tracing and cutting multiple sheets of paper. You can also color-sort cocktails for adults and kids: Both of our drinks—a zesty grapefruit-soda "Shirley Tempest" and a creamy, spiced pumpkin-pie milkshake—can be mixed with alcohol or without. To decorate a basic cocktail napkin, fringe the corner with small scissors, then cut the sides with fringe scissors.

11 of 13

Paper Chain Garlands and Streamers

orange pumpkin paper doll chain black bat paper doll chains
Barbara Donninelli

These paper decorations are done in three easy steps: print the template, snip out with scissors, and unfold. Ours have a certain old-fashioned charm—jaunty jack-o'-lanterns and foreboding bats—that are reminiscent of vintage collectibles. For added color and texture, hang them up interspersed with fringed crepe-paper garlands.

12 of 13

Moth Makeup


A flutter of these eyelashes is all it takes to lure you in like a moth to the flame. For a quick look that's spellbinding, download and print our moth clip-art onto heavyweight matte paper, gently curl the outer edges of the wings around an eye pencil or small makeup brush, and adhere with false lashes. They make a beautiful look on their own or as part of the greater Motha costume.

13 of 13

Creepy Containers

Halloween paper clip-art candle votives
Adam McCauley

Create little boxes of horrors to use as spine-tingling decorations. Place glass votive holders with tea lights inside the containers, or fill them with candy or other little gifts. To make a box, print the template, adhere to construction paper with a glue stick, fold down its tabs to assemble, and—for extra spook factor—punch out centers of eyes to let light through.

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