While outdoor decorations tend to get all the attention, indoor adornments are just as fun for getting into the Halloween spirit. But if you’ve spent your budget on costumes and candy — or animatronics and inflatables for the yard — there may not be much left for haunting the inside of your home.
That’s where easy do-it-yourself projects that don’t require a lot of time, materials, or money come in. Fortunately, even if you aren’t a DIY pro, anyone can put together spooky indoor decorations that rely on repurposed household materials or supplies you can pick up on the cheap from the dollar store, thrift store, or craft store (don’t forget the coupons). And that can help you save significantly on your Halloween decorations.
But saving money isn’t the only reason to DIY. Making your own decorations means you can tailor them to your theme, whether that be witches, vampires, zombies, or weird science. And you can make them to suit your personal style preferences, from cute or sophisticated to spooky or terrifying.
So whether you’re planning to throw a Halloween party or just want to deck out your home for personal enjoyment, inexpensive DIY decor makes it possible to haunt your house, even on a tight budget.
Cheap DIY Indoor Halloween Decorating Ideas
Whether you’re aiming to celebrate the holiday by adding a few Halloween decorations to your fireplace mantel or bookcases or you’re planning to deck out the house for a Halloween party, there are DIY projects for all skill levels, personal tastes, and celebratory aspirations.
Many enjoy the holidays by adding some seasonal flair to their fireplace mantels. It’s one of the top indoor spots for adding decorations, no matter the holiday. And if money’s tight this year, there’s no reason to skip it. A few simple, inexpensive crafts help you get in the Halloween spirit.
1. Crystal Ball Candlesticks
Victorian-looking crystal balls are the ideal mantle addition for a witchy theme. Start by printing some eerie images on inkjet transparency film. Then light a candle and use it to smoke the inside of a clear glass ball ornament to give it an air of mystery. Once the bulb is cool, roll up the transparency image and insert it inside the ball. Use pliers to position it so it lies flat across the ball’s diameter with the bottom of the image toward the ornament cap. The image will look like it’s floating. Then glue the bulbs cap side down onto antique-looking taper candleholders. (Check out a thrift store for these.)
Get the full instructions on Flamingo Toes.
2. Potion Bottles & Specimen Jars
Finish your witchy display or enhance a mad scientist theme with some potion bottles or specimen jars. To make them potion bottles, pick up some interesting-looking bottles and jars from the thrift store. Fill them with liquids, powders, or other materials and use witchy labels to make them look like they contain magical ingredients. For example, use water-thinned silver glitter glue for unicorn blood, green food coloring-tinted water for snake venom, or green gumballs for eye of newt. Print your labels on self-adhesive sticker sheets or opt for plain printer paper and use dishwasher-safe Mod Podge to make them long-lasting and moisture-resistant. Get a set of free printable potion labels on World Label.
Alternatively, fill your jars with “specimens” like plastic spiders, bats, or eyeballs. Fill the jars with water so the specimens will float, and add a drop of food coloring to make it appear as though they’ve been soaking for a while. Get free printable specimen labels on Frynes Designs.
3. Severed Head
This severed head is more haunting than gory. Start with a Styrofoam head and some cheesecloth. Dye the cheesecloth with coffee. While the cloth is soaking, add shadows to the head where the natural contours would be using a paintbrush and black ink pad (it’s kind of like contouring makeup). Dry the cheesecloth, and then coat it with some fabric stiffener. Drape the head with the cheesecloth, pressing the cheesecloth into the contours of the face. Use twine to secure the cheesecloth to the neck. Then use some Mod Podge to start gluing the cheesecloth to the head. Arrange the cheesecloth excess cheesecloth at the base however you want, and once you have a look you like, let it dry.
Get the full instructions on Crafts Unleashed.
4. Bones Display
Bone-white skeleton parts look hauntingly elegant under a cloche. Purchase a whole plastic skeleton and take it apart or get a bag of bones. Spray-paint whichever bones you want to use white. Then tuck them into a cloche and display them.
Get the full instructions on Earnest Home Co.
5. Skull Candleholder
Use plastic skulls and terra cotta saucers to create a spooky Halloween candleholder. Start with an upside-down saucer, and then hot-glue several skulls on top of each other to make a pillar. Slightly vary the angles and directions they’re facing so it looks somewhat accidental. Top the pillar with the second saucer, right side up, making sure to use a lot of glue to adhere it to the pillar firmly. Then just spray the whole thing with black or dark gray spray paint.
Get the full instructions on Endlessly Inspired.
6. Vintage Image-Transfer Halloween Candles
Make your own pillar candles for your holiday displays with whatever images suit your theme and personal style. First, choose an approximately 3-inch-by-6-inch image (or any size image that will fit your candle). Then print it on the shiny side of white tissue paper. It helps to tape the tissue onto a piece of regular printer paper so it can feed through without tearing or bunching. Cut around the image as close to the edges as possible. Use a glue stick to attach your image to a white or off-white pillar candle. Then wrap the whole thing with a sheet of wax paper. Use a hair dryer to melt the wax paper. Once the wax is fully melted, lift off the paper. Your tissue paper image is now sealed into the candle with a layer of new wax.
Get the full instructions on Melodrama.
7. Bloody Candles
Another easy, inexpensive craft, these bloody candles nevertheless add dramatic flair to your Halloween decor. Buy some white pillar candles and a red taper candle. Light the red candle, and slowly drip the melted red wax over the white candles, letting the red wax drip down the sides. It will harden in rivulets to make the white candle look as though it’s bleeding.
Get the full instructions on DIY Network.
8. Halloween Marquee Letters
Purchase some paper mache letters to spell out a Halloween word of your choice, like “Boo” or “Eek,” and some orange holiday mini-lights. Remove the front top of each letter so you’re left with a hollow letter. Paint the inside of each letter purple and the outsides black. Use a pencil to make marks on your letters where you want the bulbs to go. Then use a craft knife to cut tiny holes big enough to get the bulbs through but small enough so they’ll fit snuggly. Then thread lights through all the letters and plug it in for a fun way to brighten up your Halloween mantel.
Get the full instructions on Lolly Jane.
Fireplace mantels are the perfect place to drape festive garlands full of Halloween shapes and colors. A few to try include:
- Candy Corn Garland. Love it or hate it, nothing says fall — and Halloween — quite like the look of candy corn. Add the classic orange and white colors to your holiday display by stringing them into a decorative garland. Thread some string onto a needle and pull it through the candy corn pieces one at a time — just like stringing cranberry or popcorn garlands at Christmas. Get the full instructions on Good Housekeeping.
- Paper Garland. Make a Halloween version of a paper doll chain by drawing spiders, witches, ghosts, or skulls onto paper folded accordion-style, ensuring at least one (preferably two) folded edge remains uncut (as they would with paper dolls, in which each doll is holding hands with the next). Then cut them out and unfold the paper. Draw your own or download one of the free templates on Martha Stewart.
- Paper Banner. For a more traditional look, make a paper banner that spells out “Happy Halloween” in classic orange and black. Just print the free download from HGTV, and cut out the bunting shapes. Then use a craft knife to cut a slit in each corner and string them onto some twine.
Dinner Table Decorations
Tables are another familiar spot to add seasonal decorations. Centerpieces are a staple of any party, and they also add a festive touch to elevate daily dining.
10. Skull Vase
Get the Halloween vibe for your tablescape by turning a Styrofoam skull or pumpkin into a vase. Spray-paint your desired form in a chosen color, such as black glitter paint or orange glitter paint. Find a glass cylinder or cup small enough to fit inside your pumpkin or skull. Use a craft knife or foam cutter to trace a circle around your vase in the center of the skull. Then use the circle as a guide to hollow out the skull in the same diameter and depth as the vase. Once you’ve made your hole, set the glass inside, fill it with water, and add flowers. For something less spooky, you can do the same craft with a Styrofoam pumpkin.
Get the full instructions on Persia Lou.
11. Black Paper Flowers
If you need flowers for your skull vase, no need to invest in an expensive arrangement that’s doomed to die in a few short days. Instead, fold a paper bouquet. To make it, pick up some black crepe paper streamers and floral wire. Cut an 18-inch piece of wire, and then bend it in half. Wrap tape five times around the bent end. Hold the end of the streamer, still attached to the roll, over the end of the wire. Then wrap the streamer around the wire four times to make an inner bud. Gather the paper at the flower’s base so that the “petals” fan out at the top, and continue wrapping until you’ve made a full bloom. Finish it by cutting the streamer and securing it to the wire with floral tape. Keep making more flowers until you have enough to fill a vase or bowl.
Get the full instructions on Country Living.
12. Hanging Bat Branch
This floating centerpiece hangs over the table, so it won’t get in the way of your Halloween spread. Gather a branch from your yard and buy some clear nylon bead string, cheesecloth, black spray paint, black felt sheets, faux fur, and black plastic spiders. Spray-paint the branch black. Then cut out bat wing shapes from the felt with legs attached for hanging. Make furry bodies for them using the faux fur. Wrap the wings around the bodies and secure them with a dot of hot glue. Glue the bats onto the branch so they hang upside down. Then stretch some cheesecloth over the branch to resemble a spider web. Embellish with the plastic spiders. Hang the finished branch from the ceiling using the clear string.
Get the full instructions on eHow.
Other than mantels and tabletops, another place to sneak in some spooky decorations is the bookcase. It’s the perfect place to nestle creepy figurines or magical spellbooks.
13. Haunted Figurines
These frightening figures will have guests doing a double take. Raid your attic or check out the thrift store to gather up a handful of ceramic figurines. Then spray-paint them a glossy black. Once dry, dot some red paint over their eyes.
Get the full instructions on Sadie Seasongoods.
14. Vase of Skulls
This “floral arrangement” is a suitably creepy Halloween decoration for setting on a shelf. To make it, purchase small, white plastic skulls, a tall cylindrical vase, and some Spanish moss. Then simply fill the vase with the skulls and moss. This DIY is deceptively simple. It doesn’t take much to assemble a creepy knickknack to tuck into the corner of a bookcase.
Get the full instructions on DIY Projects.
15. Bookshelf Critters
A bookcase is the perfect hiding place for sneaky critters. Make some paper mouse silhouettes by tracing a template onto black construction paper or card stock. Cut them out and position them all around your books. Alternatively, tape them around baseboards or on stair steps.
Get the full instructions and free mouse templates on Martha Stewart.
16. DIY Spellbooks
Tuck some spellbooks in with your other books to liven up your daily reading. This craft requires you to ruin the old covers of a few books, so recycle old books you never plan to read again or pick up a few super-cheap books from the thrift store. Then cut spooky shapes — like skulls, spiders, and bats — from craft foam. Glue your shapes to the book covers. Above the shapes and on the spines, spell out titles using 3-D letter stickers. Hot-glue around the edges of the shapes. Then coat the entire cover with Mod Podge and lay a sheet of crumpled tissue paper over the top. Spread more Mod Podge over the tissue paper, and let it dry. Then spray-paint the book cover black. Once it’s dry, dab silver paint around the raised edges of your letters and cutouts to highlight the shapes. When you finish, it will look like a weathered old book full of magical mysteries.
17. Gold Skull Bookends
A pair of gold skull bookends is just the thing to organize the modern witch’s bookshelf. To make them, first slice a Styrofoam skull in half. (Note that the tutorial says to use plaster, but styrofoam is cheaper and works just as well.) Then hot-glue each skull to a metal bookend. Paint the skulls and bookends with two coats of metallic gold paint. Let it dry completely, and then use them to prop up your deluxe set of spellbooks.
Get the full instructions on Martha Stewart.
Your usual wall art just won’t do when you’re aiming for a thoroughly spooky house. Instead, fill your walls, frames, and mirrors with ghosts and other creepy denizens.
18. Haunted Gallery Wall
Instead of the usual cheery family portraits, opt instead for a gallery wall worthy of the Adams Family. Have your family pose for portraits — no smiling allowed. Then use an image editor to age the photos with black-and-white or sepia tones. Find some antique-looking frames from a thrift store to slip the portraits into. And then hang them unevenly and crooked on your wall.
Get the full instructions on Stacy Risenmay.
19. Paranormal Portraits
Make family portraits even spookier with glowing red eyes. Print family photos in black and white on card stock (or make black-and-white copies and glue them to card stock). Then use an X-acto knife to cut the eyes out of the photos. Remove the glass from dollar store picture frames and fit the family portraits inside. Then poke red LED lights through the eye holes using a set of holiday string lights. Drape the photos with some cobwebs, and then switch on the lights.
Get the full instructions on Country Living.
20. 3-D Ghost Faces
Terrifying ghost faces trying to escape their picture frames are sure to scare your Halloween guests. Gather some inexpensive picture frames — either from the dollar store or the thrift store. Remove the glass and backing from the frame. Then cut a piece of cardboard to fit the frame and paint it white. Cut the back off a foam head, just behind the ears, so it will lay flat. Cover the cardboard with wax paper, coat the foam head with petroleum jelly, and lay it flat on the cardboard.
Cut 10 pieces of cheesecloth 5 inches bigger than the cardboard. And then drape the cheesecloth — two layers at a time — over the head. Spray each layer with liquid starch, and smooth the fabric so it gets into all the contours of the face. Let dry, and then carefully remove the head. Trim the cheesecloth to the size of the board, and place it inside the picture frame. It will look like it’s trying to break free.
Get the full instructions on eHow.
21. Message Mirror
Ghosts can also break into this world by leaving creepy messages on a mirror. To get the effect, cut letters from newspapers to spell out a message. Stick them onto the mirror using double-sided tape. Then spray the mirror with a matte-finish spray. Peel off the newspaper letters, and only the message will remain. To clean up, simply use glass cleaner to wipe the spooky message away.
Get the full instructions on Woman’s Day.
22. Haunted Mirror
Make a haunting 3-D mirror image using any frame with glass. Print two ghostly images — the original and its inverse (mirror image). To print an inverse image, use your computer’s photo-editing software and select “flip horizontal” from the editing menu. Remove the frame’s glass, and tape the inverse image facedown on the front of the glass. Flip the glass over and spray the back of the glass with Krylon Looking Glass paint, avoiding the area where your ghost shows through. The paint turns your glass into a mirror. Discard the image and let the mirror paint dry. Once dry, replace the glass in the frame, and put the original image inside the frame, positioning it right behind the unpainted area of your mirror. Then replace the frame’s backing. Instead of looking like a flat image, your ghost will appear to have depth.
Get the full instructions on Country Living.
23. Bat Colony
All you need to turn your home into a bat cave is some black construction paper, a pair of scissors, and a bat template. Start by printing the template from your computer. Then cut out the template and trace it onto black construction paper. Cut out as many bats as you have wall space for, and then fold them to look like they’re flying. Tape them in a wave pattern on your wall to make it look like you’re in a bat cave.
You can also use flying bats as an outdoor decoration. Have them swarm across your front door or hang them from trees. For outdoor bats, use the same template and technique, but cut them from sheets of black craft foam, which will better survive the weather.
Get the full instructions and bat template on Made Everyday.
24. Image-Transfer Wood Plaques
This decoration has a stylish, understated look despite its creepy subject — spiders and bugs. To make them, purchase some wooden slices and a blender marker. Then print some black-and-white bug images, and place them facedown on the rounds. Rub with the blender marker to transfer the image. Then staple loops of ribbon to the backs of the plaques to hang them on your wall. Note that you don’t have to use bug images. You can follow the same technique with any images you like, such as skulls and bones or bats and mice.
Get the full instructions on The House That Lars Built.
25. Skeleton Hand Wall Shelf
Need a helping hand to hold your things? Craft one just right for Halloween from skeleton parts. Buy one or more small wooden plaques along with some skeleton hands. Spray-paint the wooden plaques black. Cut the hands so the wrist ends are perfectly even. Then drill pilot holes through the wooden plaque and skeleton wrist for mounting. Screw the hand to the plaque so the hand is perpendicular to it (the fingers are pointing toward you). That way, when you mount the plaque to the wall, the hand acts as a shelf. To mount it on the wall, use a picture hanger or removable picture-hanging strips. For an extra-eerie effect, put something dead or icky in the hands, like dried flowers or cobwebs with spiders.
Get the full instructions on Ctrl + Curate.
26. Yarn Spiderweb
Weave spider webs from yarn to add a Halloween touch to your home without going over the top. Using skeins of black yarn, string, or rope, weave spiderwebs by taping an X shape (your first two “spokes”) to the wall. Lay more spokes by crisscrossing additional lines of yarn across the X and taping those down as well. Next, weave a spiral around the spokes, leaving several inches between each loop of the spiral, looping the yarn around each spoke to imitate the look of a spiderweb. Finish the look with some plastic spiders.
Get the full instructions on Crafty Lumberjacks.
Though not for everyone, haunted houses are a staple of Halloween. And if you’re planning to invite guests to enjoy yours, you can ramp up the fright factor on your own haunted house with a few creepy DIYs.
27. Dangling Dolls
There are few things creepier than broken old dolls. Get some old-fashioned-looking ones for cheap from the thrift store. If you can find any already broken, all the better — they’re perfect for this craft, and you’ll be able to talk them into offering you a discount since broken merchandise isn’t salable. Regardless, you want to rough up whatever you find. Slash and destroy their clothes, mess up their hair. And give them a grungy, dirty look by adding some brown paint mixed with lots of water to a spray bottle and spraying them all over with it.
Pick up a grapevine wreath form and some rope. Tie three or four lengths of rope to the wreath, and join them in the middle to make a hanger. Then tie the dolls up with the rope, and hang them so they dangle from the wreath like a macabre mobile.
Get the full instructions on Epbot.
28. Zombie Boards
Are you going for a zombie theme? Make planks of “wood” to board up windows against the undead by cutting cardboard strips from your recycled delivery boxes. Then use a black permanent marker to draw wood grain lines and knots on the strips. Tape them across your windows and doors.
To enhance the zombie effect, trace your hands and arms onto black construction paper and slip them in between the boards so they look like they’re trying to break through.
Get the full instructions on Jay’s Cup.
29. Life-Size Zombie Prop
If you’re planning to haunt your house for a party, you need a few scary monsters and ghosts ready to spook all your guests. Purchase some PVC pipe, PVC elbows (curved pieces), and PVC tees. Use the elbows and tees to connect the pipes and make a stick-figure body minus the head (don’t forget the neck). Wrap the body with chicken wire so it will look filled out when you dress it in old clothes. Alternatively, dress the zombie in the old clothes first, and then stuff the clothes with packing material, crumpled paper, other clothes, or bedsheets. Slash, dirty up, and paint the clothes with red paint to imitate a gruesome, bloody corpse. (Note the tutorial uses a zombie costume, but repurposing old clothes saves you money.) Use an old pair of gloves (gardening gloves work well) to make the hands and duct tape or pin them onto the arms. Cut a hole into the bottom of a Styrofoam head, just wide and deep enough to affix it to the PVC pipe neck. Attach the head. Tape on some plastic eyeballs, and then complete your zombie by covering the head with a rubber zombie mask.
Get the full instructions on Hungry Happenings.
30. Crime Scene
This easy DIY is perfect for a murder mystery party. To make it extra fun, set up the room with all the clues guests need to solve the “murder.”
Partially adapted from The Procrastibaker on Instructables.
- Cheap white bedsheets (or white tablecloths)
- Red acrylic paint
- Plastic plate
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Red and blue food coloring
- A paintbrush
- Masking tape
- A friend or family member
- A murder weapon
- Clues to “whodunnit”
- Lay your bedsheets in the yard or string them up on a clothesline.
- To make fake blood, squirt some red paint onto the plastic plate. Add 2 drops of red food coloring and 1 drop of blue. Mix it in, and add more food coloring as needed until it resembles a light bloody color. (It will dry darker.)
- Add in a little bit of isopropyl alcohol until it reaches a good “splatter” thickness. It should drip a bit without being too runny. It may take some trial and error to get the consistency right.
- Using the paintbrush, gather a large amount of fake blood. Then fling it at a bedsheet. Repeat until you reach your desired blood-splatter pattern. Repeat until you have the desired number of “bloody” sheets.
- Allow your bloody sheets to thoroughly dry (at least overnight), and then drape them over the furniture in your murder room.
- Have a family member lie on the floor, arms and legs bent in a random position. Use their body as a guide, and lay strips of masking tape on the floor around them to make a body outline.
- Decide on a murder weapon. It can be anything as long as you’re willing to destroy it — a plastic prop knife, a piece of metal pipe, or a candlestick holder. Paint a small splatter of the fake blood on it and set it somewhere in the room.
- Set other clues around the crime scene that tell the story of a murder, such as a picture of the victim with their significant other, a mysterious letter, or an open safe. For inspiration, use an episode from your favorite TV crime show or mystery novel as a template to come up with potential clues.
This idea works well as a standalone decoration for a party — especially if you make the clues as obvious as possible. But it also makes the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery party. To learn how to set up a mystery party — either virtual or in person — visit Real Simple.
31. Abandoned House
Furniture covered with clean white bedsheets can also give your house a haunted feel. It instantly makes any room in your home feel old and abandoned — perfect for a spectral haunting. To take the look even further, stretch fake cobwebs all over the room — across the furniture, over picture frames and windows, and between knickknacks on tables and bookcases. Gather some skinny branches from your yard, spray-paint them black, and place them in vases around the room. Or use real dead flowers. Pick up some inexpensive ravens from the dollar store and perch them around the room. They’ll instantly up the creep factor. Or use the free templates on Just Halloween Crafts to cut some raven silhouettes from black construction paper, black craft foam, or textured black card stock. Tape them on the walls around the room or set them in your dead tree branches or cobwebs, as if they’ve made their home in your abandoned home.
See what it could look like on PopSugar.
32. Fake Smoke
Nothing says Halloween quite like fake smoke drifting from your haunted house. And while you could drop a lot of cash on a fog machine and liquid fog to fill it, you can make your own for relatively cheap. All you really need is a plastic bucket, plastic duct hose, a small battery-operated fan, some dry ice, and some warm water.
Pick up a 5-gallon bucket and the plastic hose from your local hardware store. Cut a hole in the side of the bucket near the top, and feed your hose through it.. Attach the fan to the lid so it blows air into the bucket to move the smoke. Then fill the bucket with warm water and dry ice.
Caution: Always wear gloves when handling dry ice, as it can severely burn your bare skin.
Replace the lid and turn on the fan. Your fog machine will now produce fog worthy of any haunted house.
Get the full instructions on Our Pastimes.
Lighting is a key component of Halloween decorating. It has a powerful ability to set the mood — even without any other decorations. Blue light gives a room a spooky feel. The warm glow of candlelight can make it cozy — or even creepy if the other ambient light is dim enough. Green light can be macabre or ghoulish, ideal for a mad science lab. And red light can make a room feel instantly terrifying. For more on color theory and lighting, visit CX Network.
Aside from changing your lightbulbs, a few craft projects let you add some interesting decor that doubles as lighting.
33. Eyeball String Lights
Repurpose ping-pong balls by painting them to look like eyeballs. (If you don’t have any on hand, you can get some super-cheap from the dollar store.) Once the paint’s dry, cut a small hole on the opposite side as the eyeball using a craft knife. Then fit the balls over a repurposed string of holiday lights.
Get the full instructions on HGTV.
34. Floating Candles
Make your ceiling look just like Hogwarts with a collection of floating candles. Collect paper towel and toilet paper tubes. Then use a glue gun to make drips around the tubes to look like melted candle wax. Spray-paint the whole tube white. Then glue a battery-operated LED tea light in the top of each tube. Hang them from the ceiling using clear nylon bead string or fishing line. The “invisible” string will make them look as though they’re floating.
Get the full instructions on Nifty on Buzzfeed.
35. Pumpkin Fireplace
Pumpkins are a staple of outdoor Halloween lighting, but you can also bring them indoors to cast that same autumnal glow. Carve a set of pumpkins using a flame stencil, then stack them in your fireplace. When lit, they’ll cast the illusion of a flickering fire. Avoid any literal fires, though, and keep Halloween safe by opting for LED tea light candles.
Get the full instructions on Country Living.
If you enjoy celebrating Halloween by decking out your house, you’re in good company. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2020 annual survey of shoppers, the majority of those who plan to celebrate the holiday will do it by decorating — more than those who plan to trick-or-treat.
And while you may opt to DIY your decor because of your budget, saving money isn’t the only reason to do it yourself. DIY decorations have a unique advantage in a year when an ongoing pandemic is keeping many families from participating in the usual activities, including Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. If you’re looking for safe family activities to celebrate Halloween this year, making stuff is definitely one of them. Crafting can bring families together as they use their combined creativity to plan, make, and display their homemade decor. And fortunately, there are plenty of DIY projects suitable for all ages, which means it’s easy to get the whole family involved.
Do you make your own Halloween decorations? What do you plan to make this year?