cheap halloween party decorating ideas

So this is the year you’ve finally decided to host the big neighborhood Halloween party. You want everything to be perfect for your guests, both young and old. Then my advice is to put your greatest time and effort into your Halloween decorations and create the mood for a really scary party.

This is the one night each year when we look forward to creepy things. And with all the candy that will be eaten that night, gourmet food will not be everyone’s highest priority, especially for the trick-or-treaters! Instead, think of your menu as part of the Halloween decorations.

Halloween Party Decorating Ideas and Tips


What’s Halloween without a jack-o-lantern? Find some stencils to carve or paint scary faces on your pumpkins to add the traditional touch to your party.


Use candles inside your carved jack-o-lanterns to make the faces glow. Put some dark colored candles in creepy candleholders around your snack table for a gothic touch. Use caution with open flames and make sure no costumes will come near them.

Crepe Paper

Use traditional crepe paper decoration to add Halloween colors to your party table and anywhere else you see fit.

Spider Webs

Buying fake spider webs is one of the most cost-effective decorations. They’re cheap and can be found at your local discount store. You can make your own with cotton batting found in the crafts department. Then, you’re going to need spiders. Pick up some creepy, fake spiders to add to the webs. Better yet, add some fake bugs too for your spider’s victims.

Fake Blood

What’s creepier than blood? You can find fake blood in the stores or make your own blood cheap! Using fake blood is better left for outdoor parties if you’re concerned about any messes or staining. If you use it indoors, make sure it’s contained. Click here for some realistic fake blood recipes.


Cut out spooky shapes such as a bat, ghost or cat in some heavy construction paper. Tape it to a flashlight and place it in a strategic position to make your guests look twice.

Sound Effects

There’s plenty of tapes and CDs available with creepy sounds such as lightning, screams, banging and creaking. Use these outside or in an entryway for the element of surprise.

Lighting Effects

Use special lighting to compliment your sounds. Dim lighting is always preferable to set the spooky setting and a strobe light adds a special touch to simulate lightening. A black light sets an unsettling atmosphere and can be found in most party supply stores.


Use your imagination! You can build your own coffin with 6-8 wood pieces and place a dummy in it. Or consider having it closed and place one of those fake arms coming out of it. Add some fake blood to the side for a downright gross affect.


Perfect for the Autumn season, scarecrows are fascinating to look at and add mystery to your yard. Set the atmosphere for your scarecrow by adding bales of hay, cornstalks, and Indian corn — and he’ll definitely get attention. Use our scarecrow instructions for easy homemade scarecrows.


Perhaps one of the creepiest things is a tombstone with the inscription R.I.P. which is reminiscent of old-time graveyards believed to be haunted according to old myths and urban legends. You can find tombstones in the holiday section of most stores around Halloween, or make your own and add some originality!

Fog Machine

There’s nothing like fog around to send chills up your spine. Fog machines are easier to find these days around Halloween and aren’t near as expensive as they used to be. Most fog machines are water based and are simple to use.

Paint it Black

Go gothic with a black party scheme. Choose all black decorations and tableware. Buy some flat black spray paint for items such as vases, napkin holders, pumpkins — anything you can think of. Don’t want black? Try purple, orange, or midnight blue.


Create chills with ghastly grim, black ravens, sparrows, or crows placed on shelves, tables, and unexpected places like on the serving table or in the bathroom. Your guests will get goosebumps at the ominous implications of seeing these mysterious birds indoors.

Monster Footprints

With a magic marker, draw a footprint in a big sponge. Cut out the footprint. Pour washable paint in an 1/8 inch aluminum pan. Press the sponge in the paint and sponge footsteps up your sidewalk to your front door for trick-or-treaters to follow, or around the side of your dark, spooky house. Flip the sponge upside down to stamp the other foot.

Halloween Party Invitations

If your party has a theme, you may want to make a Halloween party invitation that goes with it. For example if you want all your guests to dress up as some kind of famous monster you are planning on being Dracula, your invitation could be in the shape of a Haunted House and the language of the invitation would be as if Dracula were speaking. You can also use some of our coloring pages as a start for making your own invitations. You can also find spooky invitations at Birthday in a Box.

Some creative, homemade Halloween Party Invitation ideas include:

Halloween party invitations can be very simple or elaborate; the only limit is your imagination! If you have the time to make your own invitations, here are a few ideas you can try:

* Ghost Invitation – Place a white handkerchief out on a table, and write the invitation information in a spiral around the edges, making sure to leave the center white. When done, wrap the handkerchief around a lollipop (written side out). Fasten with a ribbon or rubber band at the neck of the lollipop, and dot two eyes with a black felt tip marker. Send your ghost invitation in a padded envelope.

* Gravestone Invitation – Cut a gravestone shape out of grey construction paper. Write R.I.P in big letters at the top. Write your invitation information underneath. Fold your invitation in half lengthwise, sprinkle a little black and orange confetti in the middle, and mail your guests a fun surprise!

* Pumpkin Invitation – Punch a hole in the corner of a card-style invitation, and tie it with black or orange string to a mini pumpkin (available at most grocery stores). Hand-deliver each guest’s invitation.

* Candy Invitation – Hide card-style invitations in small jars filled with candy corn. (Pickle jars or small jelly jars work well.) Hand-deliver your invitations to each guest.

If you are mailing invitations send them out at least two weeks before the party. Hand delivery works well if you are planning last minute, or would like a quicker response on your RSVP. Follow-up with a phone call to those who have not RSVP’d you five days prior to the party. Address any concerns your friends have and try to get a commitment one way or the other. When a friend declines, politely express your disappointment AND understanding. Take note of that guest side list you made in the beginning and fill in the holes.

Halloween Party Food and Refreshments

What would a party be without food? Check out our Revolting Recipes to get some great ideas for things like Spider Cakes, Dracula’s Blood Pudding, and Halloween Hand Treats. You might even let the guests make some of their treats… Unless your party is formal, paper and plastic are probably preferential for easy clean up. Don’t forget to have plenty of party ice on hand.

Here are some other icky Halloween party recipes and food ideas:

* Serve finger foods that come in Halloween colors, such as orange slices, Cheetos, baby carrots, cheddar cheese cubes, Ho-Hos, black licorice, and blackberries. Make fruit kabobs by alternating purple grapes and cantaloupe on wooden skewers.

* Use your favorite Halloween cookie cutters to cut soft sandwiches, such as peanut butter & jelly or tuna fish, into spooky shapes, like ghosts, bats, and pumpkins. You can also use mini cookie cutters to cut pumpkins out of orange cheese slices and ghosts and skulls out of white cheese slices to serve with Ritz crackers.

* Create spider treats by inserting eight pretzel sticks (four on each side) into the filling of Ritz peanut butter crackers. With a dab of peanut butter, set two raisin “eyes” on top. (To accommodate children with peanut allergies, make your own cracker sandwiches using plain or flavored cream cheese as the filling.)

* Prepare chocolate pudding in clear plastic cups. Stick a vanilla wafer “gravestone” in each cup, with one half beneath the pudding surface and the other half sticking up, and draw an outline of the grave in green cake decorating gel.

* Place chips and dips like salsa and guacamole in bowls on the food table. Prop small plastic spiders and rats up on the bowls.

* Wrap one half of cocktail sausages in thin strips of a four tortilla. Place a dab of ketchup on the other end to look like a toenail. Call these “monster toes”.

* Serve a spooky punch like Swamp Juice. Empty a 13-oz. package of Kool-Aid into a punch bowl. Add 1 cup sugar and 8 cups water, and stir until dissolved. Stir in 1 can frozen orange juice concentrate. Just before serving, add 4 cups ginger ale and 3 scoops orange sherbet. This will create a putrid green color that will look awful but taste delicious! Add small plastic spiders or raisins to serve as “bugs” for an extra creepy effect!

For an extra special treat, make each guest a creepy, crawly cupcake! What you will need:

* 1 chocolate cupcake per guest
* Canned chocolate icing
* Chocolate sprinkles
* Red skittles
* Black string lace licorice

To assemble:

1. Frost the cupcakes with chocolate icing.
2. Roll the tops of the cupcakes in chocolate sprinkles to create a “hairy” look.
3. Press two red skittles in the center of the cupcake to serve as eyes.
4. Cut eight 4-inch pieces of licorice per cupcake for the legs. Bend each “leg” in half and crease. Push the end of each leg into the cupcake (four on each side).
5. Serve!

Check out these other fun Halloween recipes:

* Ghost on a Stick
* Ghosts in the Graveyard Cake
* Fudge Spiders
* Orange Ice Cream Jack O’Lanterns

For more spooky treats kids love to eat, check out these great kid’s Halloween recipes from our sister site

Halloween Party Games and Activities

Games and activities are the key to a fun Halloween party. You can put out some printable activities and pencils and crayons for young guests, or might want to supply them with their own Halloween Tic-Tac-Toe Game to customize and play.

Maybe some ghoulish games would keep things moving – if so, check out our page of putrid party games.

You could have everyone gather round in a circle, darken the room, and read them a spooky story, like One Halloween Night (complete with gross props to pass around).

Or maybe you’d like to set up some simple crafts projects – like letting folks make their own ghosts, spider bracelets, or more…. here are some super easy to make crafts just for you…

Here are some more Halloween party games and activities:

Feed the Monster
Your guests try to toss bean bags into the monster’s mouth in this popular game.

Mummy Wrapping Game
Watch as your little monsters turn a guest into a mummy!

Kitty Costume Activity
With simple craft supplies, your guests can create their own cat mask, collar, and tail…

Pirate Hat Craft
Have your guests create pirate hats to wear during the party and take home as favors…

Monster Dash
Your little monsters will love our version of Red Light/Green Light…

Bobbing for Apples

A classic Halloween favorite!

Create a Scarecrow Contest
Test your guests’ speed and creativity with this timed contest.

Haunted Halloween Walk
Guests will love this chilling twist on the traditional cake walk.

Spider Web
Test the players’ teamwork as they try to untangle their strands of yarn to get to their prizes.

Paper Plate Mask
Have your guests use their creativity to create masks of their favorite silly or spooky characters.

Witch Hunt
Send your guests out on a scavenger hunt to find as many witch hats as they can.

Printable Halloween Coloring Page
Your guests will love decorating our Printable Halloween Coloring Page.

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