Setting the Halloween Scene: Outdoor Decor and More

This post is part of our ongoing promotion with Oriental Trading Company. All projects, thoughts, and images are my own.

I remember the first Halloween in our last neighborhood when it became apparent we were “that house.” Part of it was the giant pixie sticks we were handing out (leftover from our Toddlers & Tiaras-themed pumpkin carving party) and part of it was our outdoor decorations. That was the first year the witches made an appearance, and we’ve only improved from there. After all, we moved into a 100+ year old Victorian home, we’re practically made for Halloween.

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By the time I got everything set up we’d totally lost the daylight, so please forgive my makeshift spotlight! I’m sure passers by wondered what I was doing out in the front yard with a camera and a flashlight at 8pm!

These ladies were the first decorations we put up outside this year, on the grassy, open side of our front yard. They’re made out of plywood in a shape that I designed and Todd cut with a jigsaw back for our Fairy Fest Midsummer party years ago. When Halloween came around I thought it’d be fun to re-purpose them with some black, rip-stop nylon and some witches hats with built-in wigs. Their brooms are made from small branches and parts of a grass skirt table decoration.

For trick-or-treating we’ll set up our electric cauldron in front of them with more of that grass skirt spread around like rushes in a fire bed.

On the other side of the front walk, though, that’s where things get spooky!

Hanging heads, tombstones, and ravens--oh, my!
Hanging heads, tombstones, and ravens–oh, my!

Can you spot the goodies from Oriental Trading Company?

First, we set up our hanging heads using the Day of the Day Bags.

step-by-step shrunken heads
step-by-step shrunken heads

Once I got the gift bags open I realized that the backs of the bags were clear plastic. Since I didn’t want my stuffing showing all willy-nilly, I doubled the bags up, one inside the other, with the printed front of the interior bag visible through the clear back of the outer bag, then stuffed them with plastic bags, bubble wrap, or anything else that wouldn’t compact or get too soggy should it rain over the next few weeks.

My next thought was how to hang them so they’d stay perfectly straight instead of lolling to one side or another. My solution was to thread twine through 1″ buttons and nestle them on top of the packing materials before sealing up the “neck” of the bags with packing tape. I tied the twine into a small loop that I could then thread my hanging string through when I put them in the trees.

How do you say "Peek -a-boo, we see you!" in Spanish???
How do you say “Peek -a-boo, we see you!” in Spanish???

Underneath the tree the heads are hanging from is our first graveyard scene, currently made up of your standard foam decorations. Todd’s working on a beefed up wooden version that we hope to have completed before Halloween.

Spectral orb or ill-placed flash... I'll never tell!
Spectral orb or ill-placed flash… I’ll never tell!

Then, nearer the porch railing we have our other tombstones (again, currently foam, wooden replacements are also in the work for these).

Oops, looks like someone wasn't quite ready to leave!
Oops, looks like someone wasn’t quite ready to leave!

Todd built that ground-buster coffin corner a few years back and it’s always such a nice touch. To really sell it, though, it helps to have some fresh earth to put around it.

jvanderbeek_groundbreaker_coffin_setup_halloween_decorations

Because this side of the yard has more tree cover and less grass, it takes a mixture of sand and potting soil all stirred together to really make the coffin look like it’s part of the landscape.

If you look just above the tombstones, though, you’ll see eyes looking back at you…

Ravens, bats, and cats--the Halloween trifecta, no?
Ravens, bats, and cats–the Halloween trifecta, no?

Perched on our porch railing are some foam and feathered black birds, and from the eaves hang our bat lanterns. I alternated the small and large lanterns, and then hung the purple lanterns we bought from the dollar store, last year, onto the smaller bats, like the bats are carrying them.

Subtle is the name of the game with these silhouettes.
Subtle is the name of the game with these silhouettes. I prepped the rats at the same time, but they’re strictly indoors and will be on the next post!

Finally, you can see the cat silhouettes resting in our windows. I added the red crystals for eyes, flipping half of each silhouette set over to get more “poses” out of each. On the back of the foam cats there’s some printing,  but it’s nothing that a few swipes of a permanent marker couldn’t cure.

Heeeere kitty kitty...
Heeeere kitty kitty…

Could the cat silhouettes stand to be a bit bigger, sure? Especially since our windows are 70″ tall! But I really didn’t want huge. I wanted something there that you’d notice out of the corner of your eye, a break in the pattern, that makes you do a double take, and I think the little kitties did that just fine.

Come to the door, if you dare!
Come to the door, if you dare!

Finally, to come up the steps and onto the porch (which I did make the kids do last year to get their candy, even though I was sitting outside–the screen door is very slammy), you’ll see a Halloween welcome mat we’ve had for years, a wreath that I made even longer ago hanging from the porch eaves, and our skeletal greeters. You can also see another of the toothily-grinning bat lanterns just hanging around.

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“Leonard” is a glow-in-the-dark skeleton that we dressed in some old clothes (and stuff with a pillow and extra bubble wrap for support)  The makeshift screen is a curtain panel we purchased last year that I affix to the screened door frame with a staple gun. (Incidentally, that’s also how I fixed the birds onto the porch railing.)

Aside from the props that Todd’s building and a couple of pumpkins for the porch steps, I think we’re pretty much done with the outdoor decorations. Now to get busy on the inside!

Do you decorate your yard for Halloween?

42 thoughts on “Setting the Halloween Scene: Outdoor Decor and More

    1. Scraps says:

      Thank you! Some did, some were a little scared by it (poor things), and we try to give out good candy (don’t want to be egged, after all!).

  1. logancan says:

    I LOVE the cats in the windows! So cute! The witches in the front yard are also very cute! Our neighbors just put a witch around their tree and it is adorable!

  2. Terri Ramsey Beavers says:

    You are making me wish I had a lawn to decorate. I live downtown in a store converted to apartment so I do have a covered area I could decorate although it’s small. Thanks for the ideas, I’m going to see if I can use some of them in my tiny outdoor area.

  3. Lois Alter Mark says:

    Love it! Halloween decorations are so much fun, and we always used to buy from Oriental Trading Company when my kids were younger.

  4. Addie says:

    Your decorations are the best! I’m keeping it fall-themed this year, but I remember the days of decorating like this, though you have done so on a more grand scale! I love it!

  5. Kristie W says:

    Your front yard is looking awesome!! I hope you will share follow up pictures as you add to the scene. We decorate for fall all over but skip outside with Halloween stuff. We usually go to my parents and don’t want kids expecting something if our house was decked out.

  6. Shelly's Cabaret says:

    Ah, how fun! I did my indoor decor already, but have yet to do the outside. One fun thing I always do when we pass out candy is loop Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” really loud on a speaker. Kids and adults usually do a bit of dancing when they get near our house 🙂

    P.S. I’m so jealous! I’m practically begging my husband to let us purchase one of the old Victorian homes here. He’s hesitant cause we watch so many haunting shows, where 85% of the unfortunate haunted houses is Victorian. Haha.

    1. Scraps says:

      I love the idea of having Thriller playing! I have a Halloween playlist that I might just need to set up to play for trick-or-treating. (And, yes, our house does have a couple of resident spirits but aside from when we first moved in, there’s been no activity that makes me uncomfortable.)

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