Homemade Outside Halloween Decorations on a Budget

A zombie with a string of lights, ready to celebrate Halloween!
A zombie with a string of lights, ready to celebrate Halloween! | Source

I love Halloween. Every year, I can’t wait for it to roll around. I even splurge on the full-size candy bars—and, no, I won’t tell you where I live.

But while I’m happy to spend a little extra to make the kids happy when they trick-or-treat my house, I don’t want to spend too much decorating it. There are plenty of things you can do to decorate your house without going broke. Most of them you can do yourself, and if I say that, then you should know they’re all super easy because I’m one of the least crafty people I know!

Plan Ahead

If you want some not-so-homemade decorations (like the big inflatable decorations that look so good but cost so much!), then be ready the day or week after Halloween. Buy them and put them away. Most stores will put their seasonal decorations on sale and keep lowering the prices as time ticks by and the new Christmas decorations start encroaching on the space. You may not get the exact one you want, but you can get it at 30% to 70% off if you wait.


Before you go out and buy anything you need for making decorations, check for coupons! Hobby Lobby and Michael's both tend to offer coupons in their weekly sales circular, but they also generally put them up on the website. Take that minute or two to click on the coupon link, and you may be rewarded with up to 40% or 50% for a single item. They also tend to start putting out seasonal decorations early, so you may be able to go back for a few weeks and stock up on whatever you need while using a new coupon each week! Again, plan ahead!

The Dollar Store

My best friend during the holidays is Dollar Tree. Everything’s a dollar, unlike some of the dollar stores, and they have an excellent selection most of the time. Just about everything that I list below can be purchased there unless otherwise specified. It makes it much more affordable to decorate, and for the items that can’t be purchased there, either plan ahead or find those coupons!

How to Make a Pipe-Cleaner Spider


While not entirely homemade, it’s easy enough to buy some “spiderwebs” and a bag of spider rings. If you prefer a big spider in the middle, you have a few options. Sure, you can go ahead and buy one, but you can also create one. The easiest way is to buy some pipe cleaners and go to town. You can twist them up to form the body, and then radiate the legs out. Just don’t forget to give them eight legs or it will look like you’ve been working on a bad horror movie!


To make ghosts to hang from your trees, use twist ties, small plastic garbage bags, paper towels, and, if you’d like, a black marker. Poke a hole in the top of the plastic garbage bag and run one twist tie through it. Then take a wad of paper towels and put them in the top of the bag. Twist the bag around it, use another twist tie to close it off, and you’re ready to hang it from the tree with the twist tie that’s poking out of its head! If you prefer to give your ghost a face—scary or otherwise—use the black marker to draw on the bag. I suggest doing it before you put the paper towels in the bag or the face may come out looking scarier (or just worse) than it would if you do it afterwards.

My husband made this for my son when he was two.  The "blue" pawprint from Blue's Clues was made by gently attaching blue tissue paper with toothpicks on the inside of the pumpkin after it had been cut out.
My husband made this for my son when he was two. The "blue" pawprint from Blue's Clues was made by gently attaching blue tissue paper with toothpicks on the inside of the pumpkin after it had been cut out. | Source

Pumpkin Carving

You can find free stencils for your pumpkin on the Internet or make your own and buy a pumpkin carving kit (safer than using a kitchen knife or pocket knife—trust me on this one; I’m still missing a chunk of a finger from when I was in high school, cutting a pumpkin using my father’s pocket knife) and a pumpkin light from a dollar store. You can even get the batteries for the light at the dollar store. I always suggest using an electric light in the pumpkin; while it’s not that unsafe to use a candle, if you’re in an area that suffers from drought or if you have other decorations around, the candle can cause problems.

To carve the pumpkin, first cut out the stencil, and then mark it on the pumpkin with a pencil or a black pen. Cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop out all the gooey insides (and maybe bake up some yummy pumpkin seeds for later), and then cut out the stencil marks. It doesn’t have to be perfect to look cute or scary. The important part is that you like what you’ve done. Put the light inside, and you’re ready for Halloween! Just be sure to only carve it a day or two in advance or you may wind up with a rotting pumpkin, especially for those of us who live in the south. If you want to make the pumpkin last a little longer, use Vaseline on the edges that you’ve cut.

Zombie gnome is hungry for pumpkin brains!
Zombie gnome is hungry for pumpkin brains! | Source


I could tell you how to make this, but I think this video does a much better job of it!

Making a Tombstone

How to Make a Halloween Wreath


I love making wreaths for the holidays! And the best part is that you can use the same wreath form over and over again. Just make sure to buy a grapevine wreath at a local craft store (although they have smaller ones at the dollar stores), and then you can simply use and re-use it each time you feel like making changes. For the materials on the wreath, hit the dollar store! Most of them sell flowers and holiday decorations, and at only $1 a piece, if you decide you don’t like something, you can always just use it next year instead.

Now, if you’re planning on making it a permanent wreath, you can also use a hot glue gun to hold the pieces in place, but personally I enjoy being able to change things out based on season on whim.

Indian Corn
Indian Corn | Source


If you have a local farmer’s market or a well-stocked supermarket, you may be able to find Indian corn. Indian corn is colorful and can look beautiful if you tie it up with a ribbon around the top. Simply hang it from a light or on your front door. It lasts well beyond Halloween and can help your house look nice all the way up to Thanksgiving.

Window Decorations

Here’s a great chance to show off your artistry (or lack thereof). For those with talent, get some glass markers or paints. You can use stencils or even an overhead projector, if you have access to one, in order to make the decorations look professional, or if you’re good, you can free-hand you own scenes. You can even let the kids get into the spirit of the holiday, knowing that come November first, all it takes is a hose and a little elbow grease, and those decorations disappear.

If you’re not into painting or using markers directly on the window, that’s okay. You can also download and print out different Halloween scenes and color them, which is far more my speed. Once you’ve got them colored, use two sheets of self-adhesive laminating paper, and you have a decoration that won’t get ruined if your windows happen to sweat. Just tape up your pictures, and you’re all set!

Not Talented at Halloween Crafting?

That’s okay! You can cheat. No one will tell, I promise. Check out eBay and Etsy. Both of them tend to have a number of hand-made decorations, and as long as you don’t tell your friends and neighbors, they may believe that you’re the one with the talent.

Comments 2 comments

savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

There's a lot of great ideas here. I like decorating the house for the trick or treaters but don't like to spend a lot of money doing it. Thanks for sharing all of these tips and resources. You've inspired me to try a few new things this year.

CZCZCZ profile image

CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

I love the Zombie Gnome in the picture and the pipe cleaner spider video. Those look like easy to make and would be fun to have around the house to help make give it a little more Halloween spirit. Great ideas for home made Halloween decorations.

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