For the price of a toilet paper inner cardboard roll to cheesecloth, scrap cardboard, light bulbs or secondhand store baby dolls, make some amazing decorations cheap!
What to do with cheesecloth?
Paint roller extension pole into the ground - drive a styrofoam ball into it. Drape with cheesecloth. Take fishing wire or thread and tie the ends of cheesecloth to make arms tied to tree above. Now, take fabric stiffener in a spray bottle and spray and soak the entire thing. (or see recipe below for fabric stiffener made with cornstarch and soak fabric and drape over wet) When dry, remove the pole and ball and tie the head to the tree too so it dances. draw a face on it with paint or marker.
Secondhand store baby dolls?
Glow stick and toilet paper cardboard?
What can you do with a simple toilet paper cardboard inner roll? Cut eye holes out and slip a glow stick inside, place in bushes and trees.
Cardboard, black paint, colored light bulb?
Take cardboard, black paint, and a colored light bulb and make any window haunting. Put light bulb (blue, red, orange, green) in a lamp with no shade about 4 feet from the window. Place between the curtain and window pane, a cut-out in cardboard painted black as a silhouette - anything that you think scares - giant eyeball, giant spider, witch, killer with a kitchen knife....
Leftover water jugs?
(These ones above, I floated in my pool during a party with a green lens on the pool light and giant spiders on the wall made out of black painted 6 inch styrofoam balls and black pipe cleaner legs on lots of webbing)
(Materials - empty water jugs, one bottle green fluorescent poster paint from craft store, printer and tape, styrofoam balls, black pipe cleaners) If you were to stack up the toxic jugs at the base of a tree and have spider webs with giant spiders dangling, you'd have a serious arrangement. Print out another hazard symbol and tack to the tree trunk and then put yellow caution tape around it and you have a memorable thing for the kids to have to walk past towards the house.
Empty jars and candles/glow sticks?
Paint the jars with thin layer of orange paint, leaving strips for the pumpkin seams or use orange tissue paper and glue. If you use tea lights inside, punch a hole in the lid. Otherwise, consider a glow stick or battery-operated tea lights.
Garage with windows
Do you have a garage with windows? Some cardboard? Black paint? A light inside the garage? Pretty straight forward!
(Materials - cardboard box about 2 foot x 2 foot in size, large bottle Elmer's glue, toilet paper, light and dark gray paint) Take a cardboard box and cut out a headstone shape on one "wall" of it and cut out a stand out of the bottom of the box, so you have a headstone with a right angle floor behind it (you will put a weight or rocks on this to help hold up the headstone). If you cut this right, you can make 4 headstones from a nice-sized box, say one that is 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Take toilet paper and tear it into fluffy bits and put in a mix of half Elmer's glue and half water. Work this onto the headstone surface until you get a nice texture. Let dry. Paint it charcoal gray and then when dry, dry brush some light gray on it to make the surface bumpiness show and look stone like, with a medium gray, write wording on it.
Using a plastic dry cleaning bag, you can make a killer's splatter plastic. Take the plastic bag and cut open and tape to the entrance to a doorway in your home so it's level with your body. Now, you gotta get messy. Paint red acrylic paint on your face, press your face to it. Now, your hands, part of your arm, part of a leg, your hip - Just walk into the plastic and let the red press into it. You can get someone on the other side to press if it's not imprinting well. Now, go wipe down and get a shower. Let it dry. When you're ready put it in your window on Halloween night and a flashing strobe behind it would be a nice effect, but make it a random lightning strobe setting so it shows up now and then and startles folks as they approach. Play a recording with screams on it and maniacal laughing.
Get some nice royalty-free creepy music to play from an open window - here.
Killer in the house
(Computer or ipod with music on it of thunderstorm, battery-operated strobe light, cardboard, black pain) Use a battery-operated strobe that does a random lightning setting and play this from YouTube at an open window - (if you add a cardboard cut-out of a killer with a knife in his hand and paint it black and put in the window, letting the lightning strobe blink behind him, it'll have much more effect and if you add a sprinkler set near the window, you've got the mood!)
- Cheaper homemade alternatives -
Fabric stiffener: 1 Tbsp, 1/4 C cold water, and 1/4 C boiling water. Dissolve 1 Tbsp of cornstarch in 1/4 C cold water. Meanwhile, boil 1/4 C of water. Slowly, add the cornstarch solution to boiling water and whisk and boil until the solution bubbles. Take the solution off the heat and cool to room temperature before using. The consistency is thick, like Tapioca pudding. It is translucent and dries clear. Since it’s cornstarch, there is no concern whether it’s toxic or not.
Plaster of Paris: 6 cups water 4 cups flour mixed until no lumps. You can add more texture with torn-up toilet paper.
Elmer's Glue (best substance!):Makes great clear peel-away zombie skin.
Mix it with torn toilet paper and it gives you wound texture on your skin.
Mix 1 c. with ¼ c. water and it can stiffen cheesecloth for ghosts to stand up on their own
Mix 6 c with 3 c. water for plaster of paris texture for headstones and such.
Black construction paper?
Corrugated cardboard and orange lightbulb in a lamp?
Old white sheet?
An old white sheet can become an aged tattered curtain or tablecloth with tea staining and some work. Cut the edges of the sheet all around and take scissors and make tiny little random notches in the cut edges. Now, grab and pull them, let them tear. If you want to make it even more nasty, take a rock with jagged edges and put the cloth on top of another jagged rock and hammer at those frayed edges to wear them down. You can cut some moth holes in the fabric as well. Now, take and fill a sink with hot water and add tea that you made very strong in a pot and pour that pot of hot strong tea into the hot water in the sink and dip the cloth into it. Let it sit, don't stir it around. You want the color to vary. Soak until it's the color you want and rinse it out. A variation of this is to get secondhand store sheer curtains or lace curtains and do the same thing to age them.
Plastic Jack O'Lantern?
Pretty straight forward- slice the back open and hang it over your porch light!
Apples and lemon juice?
Martha Stewart had a good idea here - the old fashioned shrunken apple head, only cut the core from underneath, leaving the cap on top. Now, carve the face out of the apple, removing all peel. Now, soak the head in lemon juice with a tablespoon of salt for only 30 seconds, then pat off and let sit and dry out for a few days. Stick a stick inside the apple and make an arrangement in a vase or stick in the ground.
Cheap glass frame and looking glass spray paint?
You can find a variety of ready-made haunted mirrors for sale in my Etsy shop - Madam Curio.