While cobwebs and plastic ghouls can create a fun, spooky vibe, a more elegant approach to Halloween decor can last the entire harvest season. We asked three top designers to share some of their favorite Halloween decorating ideas that work from Oct. 1 through Thanksgiving.
Bring nature indoors
As the weather cools and people spend more time inside, bring in outdoor touches to represent the season.
“An urn of branches can create just the right amount of Halloween moodiness for your space,” designer Kerrie Kelly said.
Designer Michelle Workman suggests curly willow sticks — gathered with a ribbon and placed horizontally on a table, or arranged in a vase.
And of course, wheat sheaves, bales of hay and dried flowers are also elegant additions.
“You can buy them at any sort of art supply or craft store, and they last from Halloween through Thanksgiving,” Workman said.
Incorporate understated spooky elements
Think of items found in an old haunted house — candelabras, mercury metal accessories or mirrors. They increase the spook factor, but as Kelly explains, they are stylish, appealing and last through the end of November.
“Keeping Halloween designs understated provides versatility,” Kelly said.
Decorate with your food
Your mother may have told you not to play with your food, but it’s perfectly acceptable to decorate with your food — especially around Halloween. Beyond the traditional pumpkin decor, Kelly suggests adding gourds such as butternut squash and even curly-leaved greens, like fennel, to indoor arrangements.
“You can include seasonal goodies from your very own yard,” said designer Garrison Hullinger. “Go outside with some clippers and cut branches of changing trees, pluck some gourds or other seasonal veggies you have growing in your garden. Don’t be afraid to pair your awesome garden findings with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from your local grocer.”
The key to a great centerpiece or porch display is groupings of items, rather than just one pumpkin or one gourd.
“Try to mix things up, so there’s not just pumpkins, but a giant pumpkin, with gourds,” Workman said. “Varying the size is important so you get dimension.”
Classic decor may be your best bet and gives a nostalgic rather than cheesy vibe, explains Workman.
“I love painted wood boards, like of a harvest moon.” she said. “You can also get big tin letters and spell out ‘Boo,’ and it’s cute, not too hokey — just kind of fun.”
Kelly collects vintage children’s Halloween noisemakers and pairs them with old-time candies for a mantle display.
Don’t forget to have fun
At times a porch filled with Halloween accessories is the perfect decorating route to take — especially if kids are in the house, says Kelly.
“We go all out at our house,” Hullinger said. “We have lights, tombstones, ghosts, bats, you name it! After all, you are making an impression by having guests, trick-or-treaters or family over.”