How to decorate for Halloween

Finch Shewfelt and Tony Mateos

Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone’s favorite part (of everyone’s favorite holiday) has got to be the decorations. The first question you should ask yourself as October begins is What will my decorations be like this year? Although we can’t totally answer that question for you, we can give you a place to start.

The beginning of every good Halloween setup is a theme. For example, you might just make some ghosts out of sheets, or you might want to turn your home into a werewolf den. However you do Halloween, there will be something for you. You can find a great theme easily. 

First, choose a desired effect. Your desired effect is how you want passers-by to feel after seeing your decorations. Then choose a method—what reaction are you seeking from your audience that will help convey your desired effect?  (ie .if you want someone scared, you could first surprise them, if you want someone to feel happy, making them laugh).

Once you’ve decided on a theme and method, you’re nearly there. All you have left to do  is to find the decorations. With a near endless supply to choose from, it can seem overwhelming at first, but if you remember your theme and plans, it’ll be a breeze. You need to know your own budget, but cost is not the only factor to success. We recommend Spirit Halloween as a go-to for spooky props. Being one of the very few Halloween-only retailers, Spirit tends to come with a heftier price tag, but you get generally good quality for the cost. If you want a similar scale, but for less, Amazon is a good option, although when you shop online, quality is not guaranteed. If you’re trying for an autumn theme, some top picks for decorations include Halloween colored lights. Orange and purple are a great choice, as recommended by student Tyson Clark, these lights will really bring an area together, and help to grant your house some visibility to trick-ortreaters in the dark. Another popular seasonal choice are pumpkins.  They can come in many different colors, and with fake foam pumpkins, you can reuse them year after year. Two of the season’s most iconic markers are leaves on the ground, and the color orange. A recommendation from student Terrance Stevenson: “orange leaves are a top tier pick for seasonal halloween decor,” (although, we recommend sticking to paper cutouts if you don’t want a house filled with crumbled leaves in November). 

If you want to make your audience feel fear, scary decorations are the name of the game. A classic option for the creepy side of things would be jack o’lantern figures. Like a scary older brother to the previously mentioned pumpkins, jack o’lanterns and jack o’lantern figures are scary, but also fit the season well by maintaining their roots in the pumpkin theme. Another recommendation from Clark is Anamatronics. Animatronics are moving decorations. They usually come in somewhat human shaped designs, and can vary in size greatly, but share the common theme of moving. A moving decoration will always be just a few notches up from a still one. It’s a completely different kind of terror. Lastly, for topping off, or starting up a theme, smoke machines, or flashing lights should be your go to for bringing your decorations up a notch.