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35 DIY Outdoor Halloween Decoration Ideas That Are Cheap & Easy

It’s scary how much money you can drop on Halloween. Aside from the cost of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat candy, there’s the price of admission to haunted houses, hayrides, and corn mazes. And then there are all the decorations required to transform your ordinary yard into a haunted field. Depending on how spooky you want it to look, it’s easy to spend hundreds on foam tombstones, life-size plastic skeletons, and bubbling witch’s cauldrons.

But if you do it yourself, you can save a ton of money on your Halloween decorations. In fact, you can accomplish many Halloween DIYs using repurposed household materials like cardboard boxes and plastic milk jugs. And most of what you can’t repurpose for free, you can buy inexpensively at the dollar store. Plus, most projects require only a few simple tools — like a glue gun, staple gun, scissors, or paintbrushes — which many people already have on hand.

And even if you’re not a DIY pro, there are tons of do-it-yourself options for all skill levels, including projects perfect for kids. These include decorations that cover all the bases — from cute to spooky to downright terrifying — so you can slay whatever theme you’re going for this Halloween.

Whether you’re planning to create a fun display for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters or just want to give your front porch a seasonal touch, you can decorate on a budget and still have the most impressive house on the block when you DIY your outdoor decor.

Cheap DIY Outdoor Halloween Decorating Ideas

Halloween is all about enjoying the outdoors: haunted hayrides, telling ghost stories around the backyard fire pit, or haunting your yard for a Halloween party or trick-or-treaters. And with a few simple homemade Halloween decorations, you can add a festive touch to your front porch or turn your entire yard into a frightening display.

Lawn Ornaments

Halloween Decoration On Lawn Ghosts Tombstone Pumpkins

There’s no need to drop hundreds on giant inflatables and life-size animatronics to create a spooky yard. A few inexpensive homemade decorations let you scare your neighbors without wrecking your budget.

1. Backyard Cemetery

Have you recently received a bunch of deliveries in cardboard boxes? Recycle them into a backyard cemetery.

To make a realistic 3-D tombstone, cut two matching tombstone shapes from cardboard and fashion a support piece to keep it from folding in on itself. Then cut a strip of cardboard long enough to enclose the sides of the tombstone. You may need to cut several strips, but that’s OK since you’re going to glue everything together and paper mache it. Hot-glue the sides to the two tombstone shapes to make one 3-D tombstone. Leave the top open so you can drop in some weights. Paper mache the top of the tombstone to enclose it, and paint the tombstone gray. Cut letters from more cardboard, paint them black, and glue them to your tombstone to spell out names and dates or spooky phrases.

Get the full instructions for life-size tombstones on eHow. Or you can make 3-D gravestones from repurposed cereal boxes using a similar technique with the instructions on Soap Deli News.

2. Realistic Ghosts

Add some realistic-looking ghosts to your cemetery display using just packing tape and plastic wrap. This craft requires a lot of both of these, so buy them at Walmart or a warehouse club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJs, where you can get larger quantities for the lowest price. You’ll also need a friend, since it’s virtually impossible to wrap, tape, and escape on your own.

Once you have your buddy and supplies, wrap one of your bodies — arms, legs, fingers, and all (except your head) — with plastic wrap, and cover that with tape. Have the wrapper use scissors to cut the person who acted as the mold out of the tape suit. Then use more tape to seal the seams and attach all the body parts together.

Caution: Do not wrap your head, as that’s extremely dangerous — you could potentially suffocate. Instead, use a styrofoam head. Although it’s an extra cost, you can reuse it later to make 3-D ghost faces bursting from picture frames or a haunting severed head to display on your fireplace mantel or bookcase.

Once everything is together, you’ll have a life-size transparent body. Use it to haunt your lawn on Halloween night. And for an extra spooky effect, light it up with cool-toned battery-operated fairy lights by winding them throughout the head, arms, torso, and legs to make your whole ghost glow at night.

Get the full instructions on Instructables.

3. Mummy Ghost

Haunt your yard with a ghost made of cheap cheesecloth and a styrofoam head, plus a few other inexpensive materials, including brown craft paint, brown distress ink, clear nylon string, scissors, a threaded hook, and a paintbrush.

Cover the foam head with a layer of cheesecloth, then tie on several more layers to form the ghostly body. Slash the bottom edges with scissors to make it look even more ragged. Add aging effects using the brown paint and ink. Twist the hook into the head, and hang from a tree or your front porch using the clear fishing line so the ghost looks like it’s floating.

Get the full instructions on Crafts Unleashed.

4. Hanging Cage

Add some creepy prisoners to your yard with this dollar store craft. Get two small plastic laundry baskets, some plastic chain links, black zip ties, and some skeletal occupants — like bat, rat, or human skeletons.

Cut the rims off the baskets, and then spray-paint the baskets black (Walmart is usually the cheapest place to get spray paint). Put one of the skeletons inside and use zip ties to secure it in the basket. Then stack the baskets on top of each other and use more zip ties to connect them so they look like a cage. Hang the baskets using the plastic chain.

Get the full instructions on The Navage Patch.

5. Zombies Rising

Pick up a free or low-cost wooden shipping pallet from your local lumberyard or hardware store. Lay it in your yard and arrange several fake severed hands between the planks so they look like they’re trying to break through. At night, toss in some red glow sticks. The red light creates an extra-frightening effect. But you may want to save this project for an adults-only Halloween party since most trick-or-treaters are young children who will find this display too scary.

Note that the tutorial recommends you dig up the yard to sink the pallet into the dirt for a better illusion. However, it’s not a necessary step. This DIY will still be effective even if you don’t want to tear up your grass.

Get the full instructions on Wood Pellets.

6. Barbie Zombies

Repurpose some old Barbies (or any doll) or buy some cheap Barbie knock-off dolls from the dollar store to turn into zombies. If you want to stand them up in the yard or garden, pick up some wooden dowels to act as stakes. Remove the doll’s clothes and use a combination of clothing dye and paint to dirty up and age their clothes. Tease the dolls’ hair. Then spray the dolls with gray spray paint. After they dry, put their clothes back on and splatter-paint them with some red paint to make them look bloody. Embellish your work with black, red, and yellow paint pens to make them look as undead as possible. Insert the stakes through the back of their clothes, and plant a swarm of them on your lawn.

Get the full instructions on Crafts By Amanda.

7. Glowing Monster Eyes

Turn your bushes into monsters by giving them creepy, glowing eyes. Pick up some black duct tape and glow sticks and collect some toilet paper tubes. Wrap them in black duct tape. (This technique will make them blend into the bushes better at night.) Cut eye shapes in the tubes using an X-acto knife. Then, on Halloween night, crack some glow sticks and put one in each paper tube. Place the paper tubes in your bushes. At night, all passersby will see are the glowing eye shapes.

Get the full instructions on Practically Functional.

8. Giant Bloodshot Eyes

Give beach balls leftover from the summer new life as Halloween decorations. Gently rough up the surface of the inflated ball with sandpaper so the paint will adhere. Then spray-paint the entire surface white. Trace around a bowl with black paint to make a pupil, and fill in the outline with more black paint. Let the paint dry, and then paint a blue circle around the pupil to make the iris. Next, paint squiggly lines with red paint to create a bloodshot effect. Once everything is dry, spray it with a clear sealer.

Get the full instructions on HGTV.

9. Giant Googly Eyes

Less creepy than cute, this DIY is easy, cheap, and perfect for little ones. Buy some small, black plastic dessert plates and white plastic dinner plates. Glue the black plates onto the white plates to look like eyes, then hang them in your trees and bushes to transform them into fun monsters. Get the full instructions on Paging Fun Mums.

10. Garden Witch Legs

Repurpose a pair of striped socks and worn-out black boots into witch’s legs. If you don’t have these on hand, keep costs down by buying stockings from the dollar store and black boots from a thrift store. Then stuff the stockings with crumpled paper, packing peanuts, pool noodles, or any other repurposed material. Note the tutorial instructs you to stuff the stockings with pine shavings, but you can use any material you have on hand. Stick wooden dowels (which you can get from the dollar store) through each leg, and then plant the legs upside down in your garden or in a planter on your front porch. Top with the boots.

Get the full instructions on HGTV.

11. Gigantic Garden Spider Web

Weave a giant spider web to decorate an entire corner of your yard. Just pick up some cheap white rope, some rebar or tent stakes, and an eyebolt. Screw in the eyebolt wherever you want to attach the web to your house. Then put the stakes in the ground, parallel to each other to form a triangle with the eyebolt as the top point. Tie a length of rope between each point of the triangle. Tie another length of rope straight down the center, and then make an X across the middle of the triangle. This structure forms the frame for your web. Now you can start weaving more rope in a circular pattern — starting at the center — and working outward until you’ve filled in the web.

Get the full instructions on Instructables.

For added effect, decorate the web with a large spider.

Front Porch Displays

Young Girl In Costume Sitting On Porch Halloween Broom Pumpkins Spider

From carved pumpkins to cornstalks to potted mums, decorating the front porch is a rite of autumn. This year, deck it out in style without a special Halloween display, decorated door, or festive wreath.

12. Broom Parking

Set a couple of brooms on your front porch with a sign that says “Broom Parking,” so all the neighbors will know who came for a visit. You can buy cheap brooms at the dollar store and spray-paint them black for a cohesive look. Or for a more traditional witch broom look, collect fallen branches and twigs from your yard. Cut some twine, and gather up several small twigs. Tie the handful of twigs to a large branch, which becomes the handle. Wrap the twigs with enough twine to secure them to the handle, and then tie off the twine.

To make the sign, start with a wood plaque or a piece of cardboard cut to look like a plaque. Paint it your color of choice, such as orange, black, or purple. Then use letter stencils or glittery letter stickers to spell out “Broom Parking.” Then deck out your sign however you want with glitter, wooden cutouts, and cobwebs.

For inspiration, see an image of what this could look like on Pet Scribbles.

13. Raven Porch

Collect fallen branches (or finally trim that tree in your yard). Then set them upright in front of your house using porch planters or a few pumpkins to hold them in place (or just lean them against your house). Then just add some faux ravens, which you can pick up at the dollar store. This DIY is deceptively simple. There’s not much to it, but the creepiness of dead branches and ravens creates the ideal, spooky Halloween effect.

For inspiration, visit Create Craft Love.

14. Headless Horseman

Repurpose or thrift an old black shirt, pants, and shoes to create a creepy headless horseman for your front porch. Start by screwing a floor flange (where you want the right shoe) into a square of MDF (medium-density fiber) board to make a sturdy base. Attach a 4-foot galvanized pipe, which holds down the body when you’re done, into the flange. Then make a hole in the right shoe, and slide it down over the pipe. Fill a black garbage bag with crumpled paper and roll it into a log shape to approximate a leg. Next, place the right pant leg over the pipe and fill it with the garbage bag leg. Screw the left shoe onto the board and stuff the left pant leg with another garbage bag leg.

Then, to make the top of the body, screw a galvanized T connector to the top of the leg pipe and screw two shorter pipes into either end to make arms. Untwist two wire hangers, and feed them through the arm pipes. Fill two more trash bags with crumpled paper, this time making them arm-shaped, and secure them to the wires with painter’s tape. Make a torso from another stuffed black garbage bag. And then cover the form with the black shirt. Finally, attach hands made of stuffed black gloves. Bring the hands together and secure them so they can hold the “head.”

To finish the figure, make a cape from a square of black fabric, and set a faux jack-o’-lantern in his hands. Or use a plastic pumpkin candy bucket so you can fill it with candy for trick-or-treaters.

Get the full instructions on HGTV.

15. Pumpkin People

Worn-out or thrifted clothes can make all sorts of creepy front porch denizens. Just stuff the clothes with found materials — like crumpled newspaper, scraps of fabric, or even more found clothes. To give them a scarecrow look, fill the clothes with hay. Then insert a long tomato stake through the form’s center. Prop a carved pumpkin on the stake to give it a head. And then glue a hat on top of the pumpkin.

Get the full instructions on Woman’s Day.

16. Jack-o’-Lantern Topiary

Turn cheap, light-up pumpkins into a festive and elegant black-and-white display. Start by painting five pumpkins — three white and two black. Then drill two 1-inch holes in each pumpkin on opposite sides of the pumpkin, except for the top pumpkin, which only gets one hole in the bottom. Drill the holes so they’ll each be slightly tilted toward alternating sides when they’re threaded onto a 1-inch diameter wooden dowel. Then stick the dowel into the dirt of your planter and stack the pumpkins on it. Use an extension cord to plug in all five pumpkins so you can light them up at night.

Get the full instructions on Tater Tots and Jello.

Door Decorations

Skeleton Coming Out Of Door Witch Pumpkin Ghost

Decorating your front door is one way to give your house some extra Halloween pizzaz. Give it a creepy touch or make your house come alive with a monsterfied front door.

17. Mummy Door

Turn your front door into a mummy with this decorating idea that’s especially fun — and doable — for kids. Tape strips of white crepe paper across the front of your door to resemble mummy bandages. Then cut large circles out of white poster board and smaller circles out of black poster board to make eyes. Secure the eyes to the door with tape.

Get the full instructions on This Grandma Is Fun.

18. Monster Mash Door

Turning your front door into a furry monster is another fun — not scary — idea for kids. Frame the door in strips of taped-on faux fur. Or for a cheaper alternative, opt for feather boas from the dollar store. Give the monster pointy fangs by taping styrofoam cones above the doorframe, and make eyes by cutting a styrofoam ball in half. Paint black circles on the ball halves to make them look like eyes. Then wrap the outsides in more faux fur or feather boas. Attach string to the back to hang them over the door using wall hooks. Finish the look with silly eyebrow shapes cut from black foam board.

Get the full instructions on Woman’s Day.

19. Glittering Witch Door

Cut a witch silhouette from black matte vinyl. On the hat just above the brim, paint a 2-inch wide band of glue, and then sprinkle it with silver glitter to make the hatband. Cut a buckle shape from a scrap of the vinyl and paint it gold. Glue it over the top of the glitter band. Attach the witch to the door with double-sided mounting tape. Then make a cape from shiny, silver fabric. Tape that onto the witch. Cut star shapes and a crescent moon from foam board. Paint them with glue and sprinkle silver glitter over the glue. Buy an inexpensive decorative broom small enough to fit the front of your door. Spray-paint it gold, and attach it to the silhouette using velcro strips.

Get the full instructions and the witch template on Good Housekeeping.

20. Magnetic Spiders

If you have a metal front door, add a creepy Halloween touch with a super-simple and inexpensive DIY. Just glue some round magnets to the underside of black plastic spiders, which you can buy from the dollar store. Be sure to test the magnets on the door first so you know which side should face the door. Wait until the glue is fully dry, then make patterns of spiders attempting to wind their way inside.

Get the full instructions on Karin Jordan Studio.

Door Wreaths

Pumpkin Wreath Fall Zucchini

A door wreath is a more understated way to decorate your door, although no less festive. Even better, when you make your own, you can save significantly over comparable wreaths sold in stores — especially since it’s easy to put together one that looks high-end using mostly dollar store materials.

21. Flying Bat Wreath

Make a copycat of Pottery Barn’s flying bat wreath for under $25 using inexpensive materials from the craft store.



  1. In a well-ventilated area, lay out your newspaper, cardboard, or a drop cloth. Lay the wreath on top and spray-paint it black. Allow it to dry completely, then flip it over and repeat on the other side.
  2. Meanwhile, print the template and use it to cut 5 to 10 bats of varying sizes, as many as you want on your wreath, from the craft foam.
  3. Cut lengths of string sized to double the length you want the bats to dangle from the wreath, around 12 inches to copy the Pottery Barn one exactly.
  4. Fold a piece of string in half, and then use the glue gun to attach the loose ends to the back of a bat. Repeat for as many bats as you have.
  5. If desired, weave a strand of battery-operated string lights between the branches, making sure the battery box dangles at the bottom of the wreath where it won’t show. To ensure it stays in place, after you’ve inserted the batteries, use zip ties to affix it to the wreath firmly. (You can cut the ties off and add new ones whenever you need to change the batteries.)
  6. Hang the bats in an attractive pattern on the wreath, using the Pottery Barn original for guidance if desired.

22. Raven Wreath

Another copycat, this raven wreath looks similar to a $70 Williams Sonoma wreath, but you can pull it off for under $10. Plus, it’s simple to put together. Buy a grapevine wreath form, some Spanish moss, and a black raven figure. Then pick up some cheap black spray paint. Spray-paint the wreath black, and glue on the Spanish moss in a clump to form a nest at the bottom. Finish the wreath by perching the raven in the moss nest.

Get the full instructions on Bren Did.

23. Wriggling Snake Wreath

This snake-laden wreath is sure to spook your neighbors. Better yet, it does so for next to nothing since it relies on mostly dollar store materials. To make it, buy a grapevine wreath form and some plastic snakes. Spray-paint the wreath and all the snakes black. When everything’s dry, coil the plastic snakes around the wreath. Use floral wire or hot glue as needed to attach them to the wreath. Repeat until you’ve filled up the wreath with rubber snakes.

Get the full instructions on Martha Stewart.

24. Black Skull Wreath

This haunting wreath is the perfect mix of scary and glittery. And you can also make it using mostly dollar store materials. Make your own large wreath form by gluing together Styrofoam layers and cutting them into a wreath shape. Or buy a smaller wreath form and some black feather boas, black creepy cloth (it’s like gauzy cheesecloth), floral wire, and two or three black, glittery Styrofoam skulls. Wrap your wreath form in the feather boas. And then use the floral wire to “pin” the strips of the creepy cloth wherever you think it looks good. To finish the wreath, use more floral wire (or hot glue) to pin the skulls in various places around the wreath.

Get the full instructions on The Art of Doing Stuff.

25. Monster Wreath

This cute, kid-friendly wreath is another easy dollar store DIY. Pick up a Styrofoam wreath form and some feather boas in a bright color (like orange, green, or purple), floral pins or floral wire, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes in all sizes. Wrap the wreath form in the feather boas until you’ve completely covered it, and use floral pins to anchor the boas onto the form. Twist pipe cleaners into coils, and then attach each googly eye to the end of a pipe cleaner using a glue gun. Use more floral pins or wire to attach the springy eyeballs to the wreath.

Get the full instructions on Happy Go Lucky.


Carving Pumpkins Jack O Lantern Diy

Whether you go all out for Halloween or prefer only a few holiday touches, pumpkins are a universal symbol of fall. And that makes carving a jack-o’-lantern a Halloween tradition for many families.

But while a visit to the local pumpkin patch may be an annual tradition, it’s often not a budget one. At our local pumpkin farm, for example, the average pumpkin sells for $20. As fun as it can be to visit the farmers market, to save the most money on your pumpkins, buy them at the grocery store, where they’ll cost half or less.

Once you have your pumpkins in hand, you don’t have to spend a lot — or go to elaborate lengths — to carve them. A few simple (and cheap) tricks will turn your pumpkins into a stunning Halloween display.

If you opt to carve your pumpkins, don’t forget to preserve them so all your hard work will last. On average, a carved pumpkin lasts only five to seven days. But preserving your pumpkins slows rotting, which helps you get a few extra days. To help your pumpkin last, after carving, give it a bleach bath by adding two-thirds cup of bleach to a bucket filled with enough water to submerge the pumpkin completely. Submerge your pumpkin and leave it there for 24 hours. Then take it out and “seal” the cut edges with petroleum jelly to lock in moisture.

Additionally, to keep the neighborhood squirrels from eating your pumpkin, Catseye Pest Control recommends spraying it with hairspray every few days. Squirrels don’t like the sticky stuff.

26. Stenciled Pumpkin

If you’re eager to carve an impressive pumpkin and don’t want to attempt doing it freeform, carving with a stencil is the way to go. Start by downloading a free stencil like one of the beginner-friendly ones from HGTV. Then cut off the top or bottom of the pumpkin (your preference) and scoop out the insides. Use transparent tape to anchor your stencil to your pumpkin. Next, use a pushpin to “trace” the design onto your pumpkin by punching small dots along all the stencil lines. Once you have all your lines traced, remove the paper. Use a pumpkin-carving knife to cut out the negative space from the image. The negative space is the area around and between your images where you want the light to shine through and is often denoted on pumpkin-carving stencils as a gray area.

27. Drill Bit Pumpkin

Potentially the easiest way to carve a pumpkin is with drill bits. After hollowing out your pumpkin, use different size bits to make random polka dots. Or get fancier and make a fretwork pumpkin like the ones on HGTV.

Alternatively, you can make a shape out of dots, akin to a Lite-Brite, like the crescent-shaped moon New York City stylist Paul Lowe made with his pumpkin. While Lowe used an awl to punch holes in the pumpkin, you can also imitate his design using drill bits.

Get the full instructions on Country Living.

28. Cookie-Cutter Pumpkin

Using cookie cutters — like star or leaf shapes — to punch designs into your pumpkins is almost as easy as drilling. After hollowing out your pumpkin, place your chosen cookie cutter where you want it and use a rubber mallet to pound it into the pumpkin’s flesh. Note this will probably require a lot of banging to get the cookie cutter all the way in. Also, it likely won’t go all the way through the pumpkin, so you’ll need to use a knife to trace along the edges of the cookie cutter to get through the last bit of pumpkin wall. Yet this method is easier than freehand carving and produces pretty or cute results.

Get the full instructions on Modern Parents Messy Kids.

29. Painted Pumpkin

If you prefer not to carve at all — or have little ones at home who want to decorate their own pumpkin — go with paint. There’s no risk of cutting a finger, and (as a budget bonus) uncarved pumpkins last longer. Many types of paint work well on pumpkins.

  • Poster Paint. Use kid-safe, nontoxic paint to freeform your own designs or just pile on layers of color — whatever you want. Stay on budget by picking up basic craft paints from the dollar store.
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Paint. Nothing says Halloween more than a glow-in-the-dark anything, and pumpkins are no exception. Use it to paint secret words or designs that reveal themselves when the sun goes down. Check out Tulip for some examples.
  • Chalkboard Paint. Chalkboards also have a distinctively Halloween look. Turn your pumpkin into one by spray-painting it with chalkboard paint. After it dries, use a white chalk marker to add Halloween words or designs.

30. Glitter Pumpkin

Another no-carve idea perfect for small kids involves covering pumpkins in shimmering, sparkly glitter. Use spray adhesive to cover the pumpkin’s surface, and then spoon on glitter in your color of choice like they did on HGTV. Alternatively, use school glue to draw Halloween designs — like a creepy spider and spider webs — on the pumpkin. Then shake black glitter over the glue lines, which HGTV also explains in full.

31. Plastic Prop Pumpkin

Plastic pumpkin prop kits with pieces you can push into a pumpkin to create a character — like Batman, Cinderella, or Jack Skellington — are a lot of fun for kids. But these kits are typically expensive, often retailing for $10 at the average store. But you can find similar pumpkin decorating kits at Dollar Tree for only $1. And while they don’t carry these in licensed characters, they do have kits to turn pumpkins into vampires, witches, bats, and monsters. And that means you can turn 10 pumpkins into Halloween characters for the price of one.

Outdoor Lighting

Bats Decorative Lamp Lights Halloween

Halloween gets its spooky ambiance from autumn’s short days and long nights. And it’s not until the sun goes down that the party usually gets started. Thus, ways to light up the night are a staple of Halloween decor.

32. Ghost-Lit Walkway

Line the path to your front door — and the bowl of candy — with a walkway lit by friendly ghosts made from repurposed milk jugs. Collect as many empty plastic gallon, half-gallon, or quart milk jugs as you can. Rinse and dry them. Then use a black permanent marker to draw ghostly faces on each jug. Drop a glow stick inside each jug. Fill them with water to keep them from blowing around in the wind, and then screw the lid back on to keep the water inside in case they accidentally get kicked over. Use them to line your outdoor walkway.

33. Floating Witch Hat Luminaries

If you want to do more to light up your front porch for trick-or-treaters than just turning your lights on, make some floating witch’s hat luminaries. Pick up several cheap witch hats, some glow sticks, and clear nylon bead string. Using a needle, poke a length of bead string through the top point of each witch hat. Tie the opposite end to a safety pin to keep hold of it and pull the string through. Then take a glow stick, push one of the caps that come with them onto the end of the glowstick, and tie the safety pin end of the clear string to the glow stick cap. (At this point, you can remove the safety pin since you no longer need it to hang onto the string.)

Once you’ve strung glow sticks inside each hat, attach them to the ceiling of your porch. The invisible string will make the glowing hats look as though they’re floating. Note the tutorial uses Command hooks, but buying a lot of these can get expensive. So if you’re on a tight budget, just use tape.

Get the full instructions on Polka Dot Chair.

34. Glowing Hanging Ghosts

Spook the trick-or-treaters while lighting up your yard or porch with some easy and inexpensive glowing ghosts. Do this project on Halloween night right before it’s time for trick-or-treaters, as glow sticks only last a few hours.)



  1. Crack a glow stick so it lights up, and then work it into a balloon.
  2. With the glow stick inside, blow up the balloon and tie it closed.
  3. Tie a length of clear sting to the knotted end of the balloon.
  4. Cut a square of cheesecloth large enough to cover the balloon, and leave enough hanging to create a ghost body.
  5. Poke the free end of the clear string through the cheesecloth’s center and pull it through until the cloth drapes over the balloon.
  6. Tie your glowing ghost in a tree or tape the clear string to the ceiling of your porch.

35. Tomato Cage Ghosts

Create a set of luminaries for your front porch with two glowing ghosts made of tomato cages. Recycle these from your summer garden or pick them up cheaply from an end-of-season sale on garden supplies. Turn both tomato cages upside down, and gather the stake ends together and bind them with a rubber band or hair tie. Then press a 6-inch Styrofoam ball down on top of the gathered tines. Wrap the cage with a set of holiday string lights. If you plan to place them someplace that’s not near an outlet, you can buy battery-powered lights. Secure the lights to the cage wires using zip ties or twisty ties. Then throw a white sheet or tablecloth over each ghost form. Cut ghostly faces (mouths and eyes) from black felt. Then use tacky glue, a glue gun, or spray adhesive to attach them to each ghost. Set one ghost on either side of your front door to light your porch.

Get the full instructions on Thrift Diving.

Final Word

Participating in outdoor fall activities is a big part of Halloween. And decorating your yard and porch is the perfect complement to all those things we do to enjoy those last few days outdoors before the cold weather sets in. Piling pumpkins and cornstalks and hay bales on our porches highlight the colors of the changing seasons. And haunting our yards with glowing ghosts helps light up the longer nights. Plus, it’s a ton of fun.

So if you have the Halloween spirit, but you don’t have a budget — don’t worry. A lack of cash doesn’t have to keep you from the Halloween fun. It’s possible to trick out your house and yard without spending a lot of money. All it takes is a little creativity and ingenuity — and projects that rely on a few inexpensive materials, many of which you can buy from the dollar store.

Do you make your own Halloween decorations? What do you plan to make this year?

Sarah Graves
Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

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