Skip to main content

9 Must-Have Halloween Decorations

Jayme has been an online writer for over six years. She is an artist, blogger, and freelancer. She often writes about DIY home projects.

Halloween doesn't have to be expensive to be fun!

Halloween doesn't have to be expensive to be fun!

What Halloween Decorations to Buy?

Over the years, there are a few store-bought Halloween decorations that I have found to always be worth the money. They are multi-purpose, affordable, and can be used to create a great Halloween party atmosphere or just give your home a few holiday touches.

I am all for crafting and designing as many spooky, fun decorations as possible, but that doesn't mean I don't like some of the wonderful decorations offered by stores. Every year there is always something new and fun to look at, and of course, I want it all.

However, I have to do some budgeting for this holiday and buy things that will go a long way. So what are some of the best store-bought decorations to purchase? How about inexpensive, versatile, and fun items that can be reused for years in different manners, and then later re-purposed into crafty, new decorations?

Whether you are a first-time Halloween decorator looking for a place to start, a seasoned spookster looking to pad out your supplies, or have grown children and only want a few props for the trick-or-treaters, here are nine great Halloween decorations everyone should have.

Clings are simple and mess-free.

Clings are simple and mess-free.

1. Halloween Window Clings

Window clings are a great invention. They give you a quick pop of Halloween ambiance in places that might have been left bare and neglected. They were invented for windows, but why stop there? They stick to mirrors, glass cabinet doors, the microwave, and sometimes to the refrigerator.

They are easy and mess-free to use too. Just clean the glass and apply static cling. Repeat three times a day until the holiday is over!

Just kidding on that last part. But yes, they don't always cling as well as promised. When they do though, they look fabulous. They come in an array of designs, from fun to downright gory, and a lot of stores carry them for only a dollar a sheet.

If you have more clings than you have windows and mirrors, try this.

Take some old picture frames and cut down orange, black, or white construction paper to fit inside. Clean the glass really well and assemble the frame. Then place static clings on the glass to create Halloween art. This is cheap but can provide a large wall piece if you have enough frames.

After the holiday is over, you can simply disassemble your frames or change out the colors and clings for the next holiday. Good luck getting the clings back on the sheets they came on though. I usually give up and store mine in a sandwich bag.

Vacuum fodder

Vacuum fodder

2. Halloween Novelty Toys

These are the super-cool, vacuum-clogging plastic junk toys that I am addicted to. They are just as exciting now as they were when I was six. Only now, I get excited for a different reason. Craft projects!

Most of these are soft plastic or rubber that can be easily punctured with a warm needle. This means they can be strung as miniature tree decorations, or strung together to make garlands. They can also be glued to wreaths, baskets, jars, picture frames, wooden shapes, vases, and other objects to turn them into seasonal decorations.

Use smaller toys for creating some unique Halloween jewelry. They can easily be attached to earring hooks or turned into bracelets and necklaces. Glue a spider or skeleton to the center of a flower for a lovely brooch—perfect for complimenting any costume.

Challenge your patience by taking all those plastic spider rings and stringing them on fishing line to make a beaded curtain for your hallway or entryway. Use the miniature treat bags or buckets as tree decorations filled with goodies. Punch holes in these small pumpkins and slide over a strand of clear Christmas lights for a cheap alternative to store-bought Halloween lights.

Does he glow in the dark?

Does he glow in the dark?

3. Plastic Skeletons

These skeletons are especially great if you want a few decorations that go a long way. They are quite tall and come in several colors. They are cheap too, one to three dollars depending on where you shop. Why are they so fun? Well, they can be posed in several ways, which brings a little whimsy to the room. Since they are tall and skinny, they fit into those narrow places between door and window frames.

They are also lightweight, so pushpins are all that are needed to hang them on walls and doors. Or, since they come with hanging loops, they can be suspended from tall ceilings, or in corners. If you have a long, fairly bare wall, a series of these dancing skeletons can quickly cover the space without hanging out over the furniture or cluttering up the room.

Don't forget that they make great outdoor Halloween decorations as well. They can be tacked to the side of the house, hung from porches or trees, lined up on a clothesline, or tied to stakes in the flower bed.

A pumpkin

A pumpkin

4. Cardboard Party Decorations

Party decorations usually come in packages with several different characters. They are perfect for filling in the blank spots between other decorations. All it takes is a little masking tape to hang them, and if stored properly they can be reused for years.

Randomly sticking these to the wall isn't usually appealing, But if you spend some time thinking about the arrangement, they can be quite satisfying. For instance, if you buy two or three packages of these, you can hang matching characters in a row, with garland looped around them.

Hang a set behind candle sconces so that they look like backdrops, hang several down the wall in a row, or tape them close together around the room like a wallpaper border. They hang well in windows, (they are usually double-sided) and can even withstand some outdoor areas that are well-protected, (such as under a porch).

Want to get crafty? Use a double-sided cut-out and punch a hole in the top to hang it over the table. Punch more holes around the bottom and hang curling ribbon or novelty toys to create a unique Halloween mobile.

Trick-or-treat pumpkin buckets. Just a few from the collection.

Trick-or-treat pumpkin buckets. Just a few from the collection.

5. Plastic Trick-or-Treat Buckets

Think these are only for candy? No way! These are one of the most versatile decorations available! They can be set around the house as candy holders, lined up in windows or on porches for color, or stacked up to make jack-o-lantern columns.

Now that they come in so many bright colors, you can light the path to your door with them. Just weight them down with stones or sand and throw in some battery-operated lights for some eye-catching luminaries.

These can also be made into windsocks to hang from trees. They look great placed on steps, especially with potted, autumn flowers set inside of them. Use them to make a head for your scarecrows too!

If you are throwing a children's party, consider setting a pumpkin at each place with candy and party prizes, rather than making gift bags. Bags will just get thrown in the trash later, but children will most likely hang on the bucket. Especially if you include a light so that they can decorate their room later with their own glowing jack-o-lantern.

Miniature pumpkin buckets on my plants!

Miniature pumpkin buckets on my plants!

Halloween garland

Halloween garland

6. Halloween Garland

This is usually one of the pricier items you will find, even at the dollar stores, but it is usually under $3. Depending on what is in stock this year, you can find an interesting selection of styles. I like the "fuzzy" garland with Mylar ghosts or pumpkins, personally, but there are many other styles.

Where do garlands look best? Halloween garland looks good anywhere that Christmas garland looks good. On fireplace mantels, over windows, in doorways, looped down hallways, or stretched around the top of the room.

Wrap it around columns, table pedestals, and mirrors to bring unexpected touches of this black-and-orange celebration into the room. Some of it can be used outside on porches, trees, and fences.

For outdoor stuff, I recommend the plastic ribbon tape that has sayings such as "BEWARE" printed on it. It isn't technically a garland, but it can be used in place of garland in many instances. The plastic tape also looks good inside, and after it becomes worn and ratty, it can be cut down to make Halloween bows.

Craft-wise, garland and tape can be wrapped around wreath forms for a nice cheerful wreath. The garland can be wrapped around a conical shape to create a tree. Glue it to picture frames, (maybe those frames with the static clings?).

Small sections can be looped around the edge of a table if you don't want to use a tablecloth, or placed on the front of shelves to create a little trim for your Halloween figurines. Long strands of garland can be hung from a doorway to create an interesting curtain, and you can hot glue some to a dog collar if you want to decorate your pet without buying an expensive costume.

Halloween tablecloth

Halloween tablecloth

7. Vinyl Halloween Tablecloths

Up until a few years ago, stores like Walmart used to stock sets of Halloween tableware for parties. Tablecloths with matching towels, mats, placemats, towels, potholders, cups, bowls, etc. Every year we bought more tablecloths and accessories so that our parties would have a different theme.

Soon we had enough to decorate the side tables and buffets as well. You really can't have enough of these tablecloths. Throw one over every table in your home. Large tablecloths can be cut down (serge or zig-zag stitch the edges) and made to fit any smaller tables. They can be cut down to make placemats too.

Want to add a lot of Halloween fast? Fold a tablecloth and lay it over cabinets and buffets to make runners. Drape on over your fridge. Spread one outside or over the sofa for the family Halloween portrait.


8. Crepe Paper

Halloween-colored crepe paper finishes off the look of the decorations. For a few dollars, you can have several rolls in different colors (with balloons to match, of course!). Even if you aren't throwing a party, a little crepe paper is always fun.

There are many great ways to hang crepe paper. You can canopy it, weave it, twist it, or cut it in strips to make fringed curtains for doorways. It can also be made into wreaths, flowers, or piñatas.

Since it is lightweight, it can hang in places where garland and other decorations may not be practical. However, it does sag pretty quickly, so it is best to hang crepe paper at the last minute.

9 Must-Have Halloween Decorations

9 Must-Have Halloween Decorations

9. Stretchable Spider Web

As promised, I am ending the article with that other Halloween prop that I love to look at but hate handling as they are stretchable web. With a little twisting and shaping, this stuff makes any spot look creepy.

Every year I buy several bags when they go on clearance. Make sure you look closely to see if it is "stretchable web". If not, you are just buying expensive Poly-fil, which is only good for stuffing Halloween pillows and plushies. The stretchy stuff is slightly higher in price, but it can be reused for years.

If you use it outside, be aware that it will catch more bugs than real spider webs, as well as leaves, twigs, and other debris. The dirty, windblown stuff doesn't need to be thrown away after use, though. Next year it will look even more yucky and realistic. If it is too stretched to hang back up, you can cut it into sections to drape on trees and shrubs.

Indoors it can be stretched over and around displays, windows, or doorways. Place lights behind it for a great C-grade horror movie effect. Use a few bags of web to create tunnels or canopies down hallways, over tables, through porches, or down paths.

It does have a few drawbacks. For instance, the bugs I mentioned earlier. Also, it takes a special kind of person to see how to shape it to fit certain areas, and I am not that person. It takes hours for me to hang it.

it also sticks and snags on everything, which makes un-decorating a nightmare. Remember those cool Halloween lights behind the web? They aren't so fun to un-tangle from the web after the party. As for getting it back off of the trees and shrubs . . . well, let's just remember that the effect was worth the work.

9 Must-Have Halloween Decorations

9 Must-Have Halloween Decorations

Happy Decorating!

These are just a few of the fun, useful decorations available. Halloween doesn't have to be expensive to be fun. Supplement these affordable selections with some more elaborate props, such as shaking ghosts, motion-activated skeletons, and flashing lights, as well as hand-crafted items to make your home a spooky showplace.

Don't forget to include your kids in the decorating. Encourage them to think up creative ways to hang or use these ordinary things in new ways, and have fun creating Halloween together!

Halloween Inspiration


Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on October 30, 2013:


Thanks for publishing these great Halloween decoration suggestions.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 30, 2013:

Spooktacular ideas!!!

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 02, 2012:

@lovedoctor-the skeletons are so much fun. The white ones glow in the dark too which really adds to the special effects!

I bought some of the pumpkin and ghost garbage bags for the yard, but they don't like to sit still in this Oklahoma wind. Next year I may weight the bottoms with kitty litter! I love them though, they really brighten up the yard!

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on November 02, 2012:

@Linda-Yep! Party is over and I am kicking myself today for using six bags of stretchable web. It might still be hanging up for Christmas!

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 29, 2012:

@Jamie-Cutting the buckets to make lighted pumpkins would be awesome! I think the buckets go down to fifty cents after Halloween, and there are always plenty of orange ones left. I'm thinking this year of using them to hold chips and crackers for the Halloween buffet table. :)

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment!

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 29, 2012:

@Lipnancy--Thank you! Yep...and every year when I take the Halloween decorations down, I swear I am going to just do a simple Christmas with just a tree. And every year the whole house is stuffed with Christmas decorations because I think of "One more thing I could make". Thanks for your comment!

lovedoctor926 on October 27, 2012:

garbage bags (correction)

lovedoctor926 on October 27, 2012:

These are very creative ideas. From this list, I like the dancing and plastic skeletons. We also buy orange and black garbage backs for decoration.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 25, 2012:

Well it looks like we both have the same type of Halloween decorating in mind and we both swear we won't do it again, yet we do! Haha!

Jamie Brock from Texas on October 25, 2012:

I love all of your awesome Halloween decorating ideas! I love the plastic treat buckets you can get.. and I agree, could be used for some many other things other than just holding trick or treat candy. I thought about cutting the eyes, nose and mouth out and making a few of them into candle holders.. just like the real pumpkin except plastic. I couldn't believe they were only $1 a piece at Wal-Mart. Love the small toy ideas for jewelry and using Halloween tablecloths for décor... all of these are fun! Thank you for sharing :)

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on October 24, 2012:

Wow Sharkye11, it looks like you do as much Halloween decorating as Christmas. The pictures are wonderful.

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 21, 2012:

@sgbrown--That sounds like fun! I am really looking forward to being able to add some of the big props like that along each year. I hope you get some of your other decorations up...that poor Reaper will be so lonely otherwise! Thanks for stopping by and the lovely comment!

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 21, 2012:

@Bill-Thanks for stopping by! I do the same thing with people's Thanksgiving decorations. I like to see what they have done, but every year I just put out the same cornucopia. :)

Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on October 20, 2012:

@kj force--The carwax sounds like such an awesome idea! I've never heard of doing that before but it sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on October 20, 2012:

Since we moved to the country and all our kids have families of their own, we haven't decorated for halloween for several years. However, we went to Lowe's today and hubby bought a motion acitvated "Grim Reaper". He is having so much fun with it! But now I can get him to get all my old decorations out of the barn. Hooray! This is a great hub, lots of good ideas! Voting up and useful! :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 20, 2012:

Halloween has never been a biggie for me when it comes to decorating, but I love seeing what other people do with their homes. Great suggestions here my friend!

kjforce from Florida on October 20, 2012:

Sharkey11..thanks for sharing..good hub..and interesting, I too like adding to my collection year after year..last year we took car wax and added food colouring ( red ) and the G-C made handprints on the windows..and footprints..( gives a 3-D affect)..each drew a scary picture with the mixture ..just hose off afterward..

Happy Halloween.....