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The Only Outdoor Halloween Entertaining Idea Post You May Ever Need: Emily “BOOswer” Does It Again

Hi everyone! It’s been a minute. How are we all doing? I know. It’s been a year(s). Good news, I’m here for some uplifting creepy-crawly Halloween content made 100% because I thought it would be fun and EHD was up for it. 

Backstory: My husband’s favorite store is Halloween Town in Burbank that is open all year long. He wears gross t-shirts with monsters and murderous characters DAILY. He has a podcast called The Untold Hour and has over a million followers on TikTok as a Satanist character, Onyx the Fortuitous. I KNOW, IT’S A LOT.

Let us never forget…

I mean, I lived with this and it still leaves me speechless. 

Do you have Google remind you of photos taken “a year ago today” with a musical slideshow of about 20 pictures that all more or less look like this?

Couple of questions one could ask here: Why are these on my phone? (“you have a better camera”) Where was I when this was happening? (“sleeping” – uh. what.) “Who is this masked person?” Actually, WHO IS THIS MASKED PERSON INSIDE OF MY LIVING ROOM DURING A PANDEMIC…WHILE I WAS SLEEPING?? A question I’ll have to ask later. You get the point though – we have different…interests? My husband literally owns a TV/VCR (Gen Z – google it) and has horror movies on loop 24/7 in his garage and I consider ET too scary. Let’s just say our algorithms couldn’t be less the same.

HOWEVER. One thing we can agree on is we like the cozy nature of the festive season, which Halloween really kicks off. We’re both from Maryland and miss the weather changing in September so I try extra extra hard to make our home feel like fall and cozy (even though it was 92 degrees outside today – AGH). For the loving sake of my husband, I’ve embraced Halloween, in a cozy (and a teeeeny bit creepy) way the past few years without breaking the bank, here’s how I’ve done it:

I Use What I Have

These Jungalow for Opalhouse plates are the singular thing that made me decide to shoot a last-minute Halloween party in my backyard. They are NOT Halloween plates but when I saw them next to a display of Target’s Halloween product I could not unsee the possibilities. I threw them all in my basket and 10 minutes later Marco Polo’d Caitlin from the parking lot and was like, “remember how I said I absolutely don’t have time to pull together a Halloween shoot? Yeah, never mind. LOOK HOW CUTE THESE PLATES WOULD BE ON A HALLOWEEN TABLESCAPE” – I had to see it through.

Black Plates

Ok, I understand that’s not exactly “using what I have” although, I now DO own these plates and it is using something that could be used any other time of the year. 

Side note: this is generally how I start on any project, there’s a smaller idea or product that I then build off of, who else works this way? I like to have that *spark*. These plates were my spark – thank you Justina Blakeney and team – and from that spark, we ended up here:

I love it. Sara came over and shot everything in a couple of hours as the sun was setting. It was true speed styling, and she was able to capture a real creepy, moody vibe.

Cat Plates | Candlestick Holders | Table Runner | Cloth Napkins

This year it was new for me to bring in more color. I usually stick to mostly black and white because we only live in 860 square feet and that keeps the space a bit calmer with all the extra stuff. However, when I brought the party outside (a much safer situation in these times anyway), I really wanted to make it pop more with orange. Besides, these ADORABLE app plates from Target convinced me a rusty orange was perfect. 

Glasses | Flatware

Going back to using things you own (or I guess things you could buy and use again and again), let’s take a look at where we landed for the tablescape and talk about how little of it is actually specifically Halloween. The dinner and salad plates from Jungalow’s line, with their spiky edges, look a little sinister (like a chainsaw edge possibly?) here, but in every other photo where I’ve seen them styled out, they are cute and flirty. The candlestick holders are a staple and VERY helpful with their wax catcher because drippy candles add to the ambiance (and to the amount of wax that you will inevitably ingest because those are EXTRA long candles and by the end of the night half of it is in your wine). I broke out my black cutting boards to use for the savory and sweet boards. Both the circular and rectangular ones are still available. The black vase is an oldie from H&M Home, but I also own this one from CB2 which honestly is a great vase and would have worked as well. The runner is actually 2 stacked for length as you can easily see because, as I mentioned, we were speed styling/shooting. I think it could be used for most of the year but easily through fall. I considered using these glasses before Sara said she would bring her vintage amber wine glasses over. The cloth napkins are Hearth & Hand and could be used any time of the year and obviously, so could the flatware.

Woven Chargers | Chairs | Wave Concrete Table

We *may* have had a smoke machine for this shoot and it was SO FUN. Because we had very limited time, Andrew got to man the smoke machine and honestly, I don’t know if he’s ever taken a job more seriously. The “seat pads” are actually woven chargers that I’ve put on some old outdoor stools/side tables (similar) I’ve owned for years. I have these amazing Blu Dot chairs (on sale now!) on the other side of the table but I was still waiting on the rest to show up (lead times! Amiright??)

The table is the Wave Concrete Table by TOV it’s about 400 lbs (not exaggerating), it’s one of the only pieces of furniture I’ve bought for the patio (which is why this isn’t a reveal and we are not showing the whole space). The tile I used for the patio is from a San Diego-based company called Tierra Y Fuego and it’s the Circle and Cross Tierra High Fired Floor Tile. I very much paid for all this, which is why I haven’t finished my space! Won’t stop me from enjoying what I have though 🙂 At the moment, there’s just some potted plants on the other side of the patio. The lanterns are vintage Target and I honestly love them so much but they are not made anymore. This is what I will say about lanterns though: unless for weather reasons it makes more sense for you, I love that these don’t have glass. They are so much easier to just spray off with the hose and about once a year I give them a coat of black spray paint and they are good as new. You could totally do that with lanterns that have glass, but I find it is a lot more annoying. I think these lanterns from Pottery Barn are what I would buy if I couldn’t have these.

Bar Cart | Drink Dispenser | Vase | Large Bowl | Cloth | Spooky Fabric

Moving over to the bar cart area, let’s first address the most important thing, PUCK WEARING BAT WINGS. Ok, back to business, I like for guests to be able to help themselves as much as possible when having a get-together because I’m usually too busy with prepping food. This bar cart is Project 62, it is made for outside but could be used inside – it’s that chic. I’ve used it here as a serve-your-own drink station with a “Perfect Pear Punch” in a drink dispenser I’ve owned and loved for years (they sell dispensers and stands that all work together!). In this context, the large bowl, that is holding cold beverages, looks like a cauldron. Both the bowl and dispenser are from Crate & Barrel. I piled up all the throw blankets I have in the color palette for guests to grab if they get chilly – fire pits are not a thing right now (or maybe ever again?) in LA. The Jungalow vase also takes on a bit of a Beetlejuice vibe in this space, but again, seeing it styled for Target, you would never think of it as a Halloween-specific vase. The vase also has a really nice size opening for arranging flowers, I didn’t have to use any floral tape or any fancy florist trick for this arrangement.

Side note: it has a very pretty pitcher counterpart that didn’t end up having a spot in this shoot but I did use it to style my extra flowers (beware: unedited iPhone pic below)

If I had a much larger table (or any surface really) I would have used this extra-large pitcher.

I Buy (And Keep!) A Few Versatile Halloween-Specific Decor Items

I keep 1 big bin in my garage for Halloween decor and space is PRECIOUS in my garage my friends, so I try to make it count. 

The jumbo “creepy cloth” was used under the runner like a tablecloth, with the smaller white “spooky fabric” draped over the bar. Creepy cloth and spooky fabric are my favorite Halloween staples. FYI creepy cloth is thinner, with smaller holes and spooky fabric is thicker with larger holes. I have a lot of them in both black and off-white. You can throw them on a table, over your window treatments, draped on a chair, etc etc. They are easy to style, big impact even though they are very compact to keep and very reusable (throw them in a gentle wash and hang dry).

I know you are going to want a link for the bowl with claw hands. I think I bought it 3 years ago from Michaels and the bowl it came with broke and that’s just a random white bowl I had that fit. I found this one that is similar for you all.

Fake Spider Web | Felt Spiders | Skeleton Hand | Serving Dish

My glorious hedge was made even more glorious with a 10-foot fake spider web – didn’t know that was possible did you? (if you’re new to me – I’m obsessed with the hedge that I planted with my OWN TWO HANDS in 2018 that are now 12 feet tall and showing us all what it is to THRIVE IN AN ACTUAL DESERT). I’ve reused the same spider webs for years, but they’ve always been inside. I’m curious if I will be able to use this again with it being in an actual tree, my guess is it will be gross so maybe I would say that was not the best decision, but maybe it can be reused outside at least a couple of times? I’ll report back.

Speaking of easy-to-store decor, these hanging felt spiders are new to me this year. They are a pretty large scale, so the impact is high, and very lightweight so hanging them from fishing line is an easy thing to do to creep up the space. Before anyone asks, was it risky hanging them directly next to burning candles? YES. Yes it was, but I risk my life and home for all of you. Luckily it was not a very breezy evening, but if it had been I would have also connected them to fishing line going to the table, possibly weighted with a nut or something small to keep them from blowing into the candles. Could be cute hanging on the inside of your windows with fishing line and a small command hook, or you could easily connect them to the fake spider web. Here, mine are attached to the bistro lights directly above. I didn’t use any outside, but a similar product is decorative (well obviously not real!) bats that are cheap, can be used over and over, and take up practically no space in storage. Mentioning them because I’m sad I didn’t add them to my flower arrangement on the table like Royale did for her Halloween tablescape

My light up pumpkins are from a few years ago, but Target still has similar ones, this smaller one and this larger one (only found in some stores).

HOT TIP: I noticed they have a lot of orange light-up pumpkins this year, if they only have ones in stock that are orange (or another color you don’t want), you can spray paint them. The larger one pictured here was actually black to begin with, I sprayed it white myself because they were out of white a few years ago. I just taped the eye holes from the inside so the paint wouldn’t go inside and taped over the stem. Easy peasy.

The skeleton hand and the spider serving dish are weirdly so versatile in how you can style them. It’s a weird sentence but it IS true. Place the hand on a pile of books on a shelf or up the creep factor on your charcuterie board. Use the spider dish for Halloween candies (or pistachios, pictured here), or put it on your coffee table to hold your matches and collection of pretty rocks you found on a hike (specific and personal obviously).

I really wanted these snake napkin rings from CB2, but remember, I decided to shoot this like 3 days before, so there was no time for shipping. I found these skeleton hand napkin rings instead from Amazon and they do the job, I’ll totally use them for years to come. Also new to my collection this year, ALL the Target Halloween app plates. I bought one of each style (only $4!)

I brought in metallics with the flatware and the owl figurine. The skull glams up the space while tying in the yellows in the flower arrangement and the translucent nature of the amber glasses.

The bat glasses are a new addition to my Halloween collection. They are not as easy (fragile) or space-efficient to pack up each year but the classy simplicity of them got me. Same for the simple tray they are on from Target (sad it’s not better pictured – speed styling). The skull drink stirrers are vintage Target 🙂 but look how cute these ghost ones are on Etsy. 

Hanging Skeleton

I spray painted the hanging skeleton from Target black so it would pop off my white house and used a couple of command strips to bend his arm. He folds down very flat and fits perfectly on top of everything in my Halloween bin but still manages to make a big statement. The branch situation over my window is Crate & Barrel from a couple of years ago but you can get the same effect from spray painting sticks in your backyard – like the branches I found in my local park and spray painted a few years ago for this post 🙂

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: 10 super easy + affordable halloween decor ideas

Fake crows – I have owned them for years, attach them to every surface in my house and it never stops being funny watching my cats try to figure out how to get them.

Movie Night!

Having movie nights outside is something we started during the pandemic as a safer way to get together with our friends. We set up chairs in clusters, some would relax on the ground with blankets and pillows. We own 4 CleverMade Tamarack Chairs which are great because they are comfortable and fold up to be stored easily. 

Rust Stripe Pillow | Maze Pattern Pillow | Boucle Pillow | Oversized Neutral Pillow (similar) | Rust Blanket (similar) | Lounge Pillow | Tamarack Chairs

Our tiny yard is on a slight incline which is actually very nice for snuggling up with your cats on a bunch of blankets and pillows. I’ve found that the ground can get damp as the evening progresses though, and for that reason I like to have a large (mine is 9×12) canvas dropcloth to help reduce the moisture. It also helps keep the blankets/pillows/cushions I put on top from getting overly dirty, which is good because I like to use indoor pillows/cushions/blankets so everything feels a lot more cozy. I used blankets (similar) and thick vintage fabric I’ve gotten from flea markets. Daffy is loving the new addition of Jungalow’s lounge pillow and floor cushions. Luckily the other pillows from my home already fit the vibe. 

Lights | Portable LED Light | Bistro Lights

The ghost lights! I’ve had these for years. I think I put some in Emily’s yard back when I was an assistant and bought them the next day because I thought they were so cute. I also love our portable LED light, it can change colors and comes with a remote. Our bistro lights are tried and true, we have had them up (properly with wire and everything) since 2018.

Projector Screen And Stand

Because some of you will be interested in the ins and outs of outdoor projection, here’s that info for you: We spent a little more on our projector in order to have better quality. As you can see here, all of the lights are on and you can still see the screen clearly. We have the Miroir M220 HD Pro LED and it’s $100 less than we bought it. There’s an HDMI port on the back and we usually end up just attaching our Fire TV Stick and playing movies from there. I’m not a projector connoisseur or anything, just letting you know my experience. The projector can sit on a small table, my husband attaches it to a tripod (it has a hole at the bottom for that purpose). We got a simple projector screen and stand off Amazon, which breaks down easily into a small duffle bag. I do recommend having sandbags or something (we use large stones from our garden) to hold the stand down though, it’s a little top heavy. Andrew would like to point out that we have not perfected the sound situation yet. The projector has speakers that aren’t great, so we attach some pretty basic laptop speakers that are completely fine but my husband said he would still not recommend so, there you have it.

Basket Tray | Black Circular Tray | Spider Bowl | Skeleton Jenga

Let’s Talk About Food!

I can’t believe I’m actually allowing this photo to be shown because obviously it’s missing drinks on the coasters (similar) but I guess this is the only pic we got of the sweet board?? I would yell at Sara but she’s currently honeymoon-ing (RUDE). ANYWAY, I digress, I made a sweet board with some themed cookies from Target (because who has time to make and ice their own cookies while also setting all this up?). The board was simple and straightforward because I always forget being a food stylist, prop stylist, and florist are three separate jobs for a reason. My house was an EXPLOSION of all three of those things by the end of the night. I kept meaning to take a pic of how insane it was so I could be like, “Hey! Not everything is pretty all the time!” but I literally kept forgetting to because I didn’t sit down for 16 hours. Take my word for it, everything is harder than it looks and behind every styled photo is a very messy room.

My advice: make it a room with a door so you can shut it when the guests come over. Also: put anyone you can grab in charge of something you don’t need to do. Case in point: I made my husband make the rounded “ghost” baggies of popcorn while we were shooting the other side of the space.

Oh the plans I had for this savory board! You know, I would not recommend looking at @ainttooproudtomeg’s instagram feed after looking at this because you will find me less impressive than you already do. However, I would recommend looking to get your own inspiration – or what I like to call it – “what can I do that’s shown here in, oh, 15 seconds?” I cut brie to look like a coffin and tried – unsuccessfully – to write RIP on it. Ha! Wiped it off and turned it over to hide the attempt. I stabbed my goat cheese and used jelly to look like blood. And my final creepy endeavor was to make “eyeballs” out of some peppers, mozzarella, sliced olives, and capers. You know what? Anyone who is actually hosting, I’m here to say, it’s ok to be mediocre. Also, ghost veggie chips and caramelized onion jam fixes a lot, it’s all your guests will talk about anyway.

OK, y’all. I think that’s it! Let’s talk in the comments. Here’s to me becoming independently wealthy so I can fully reveal the front and back yard to you all soon! Xo

*Designed and Styled by Emily Bowser
**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
***Cat Models: Daffy and Puck Bowser

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okay. this may be my favorite halloween decor post ever. i seriously love everything you did. your cheese/sweet treat boards look great to me (i haven’t ever attempted one, but i will this year). i can’t believe that hanging skeleton is from target! i saw it in white on someone’s instagram and i thought they made it! since they are now sold out though, i think i may try to make one out of cardboard with the kids and paint it! it looks pretty simple! yay…. project!
i seriously loved all of this and am totally stealing some ideas from here 🙂

2 years ago

I would look in store! I’ve seen a bunch around here! Or DIY, I’ll be super impressed!

2 years ago

I’m so inspired by this post. I love Halloween, and everything looks so spooky and cozy and beautiful. Also, that “before” pic is still my absolute favorite. OMG, it makes me laugh so hard and will never get old.

Tina Schrader
2 years ago

Emily! I love all of this! Fantastic job. And the part about you finding ET too scary, hahaha. (Thats not mean laughter, by the way. I think it’s cute-funny.) 🙂

2 years ago
Reply to  Tina Schrader

in all fairness I haven’t seen it since i was little (because it’s too scary!)

2 years ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

We watched it a few years back with our daughter, and it is still scary! Spielberg was really into jump scares! Seriously, why would a nine year old kid walk out into a dark shed in his backyard in the middle of the night by himself?!

2 years ago

WOW!! Absolutely phenomenal! This was as stunning as it was entertaining! Love it all!

2 years ago

I’ve never really been into Halloween but I loved looking at what you put together. And Puck wearing batwings, well, that’s just adorable. 😀

2 years ago

FABulous job! The gold owl stole the show for me–I have a “thing” for gold. And, the skeleton jenga. Sooo many things <3!

Roberta Davis
2 years ago

You are such a great stylist! Everything just comes to life. I love your use of color in this post. I wish I could get that skeleton, too.

2 years ago

Where are those awesomely tall candles in the black candlesticks from? Tons of wax aside, they’re gorgeous!

2 years ago
Reply to  Kate

the candlestick holders are Target, should be linked above. I get candlesticks from this random place in the valley, but Yummi candles, which you can find on amazon sells dripless ones that are 18″ and I highly recommend them for real life use (no wax in your wine).

2 years ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Thank you!!! Can you share which store in the valley? I’m an Angeleno..

2 years ago
Reply to  Kate

It’s called the Candle Factory Outlet on 6863 Beck Ave

2 years ago

adorable – love it all. “behind every styled shoot is a messy room” is so good to remember

2 years ago

This line had me stifling laughter at work: “Do you have Google remind you of photos taken “a year ago today” with a musical slideshow of about 20 pictures that all more or less look like this?” (P.S. Love this post so much!)

2 years ago

Emily, I LOVE everything! Your kitty, with batwings, wins the internet today! Quick question, I had that bar cart in my cart this spring after seeing it in the store. But I just couldn’t pull the plug. I would use it outside in a 4 seasons area, and just not sure if it would survive the winter. I have no room to store inside. Is it holding up? I Wonder if covering it up over the winter would help. It is so simple, but funky and cute. Such decisions.

2 years ago
Reply to  Betsy

So far so good but understand I’m in LA and don’t have extreme weather. That said, I can’t see how it wouldn’t be fine? Seems to be constructed out of metal and powder coated. The top and bottom have slats so that rain and snow can melt through them.

2 years ago

I’m pinning this post. Love that your cats were the perfect not-sold-in-stores accessories.

2 years ago

All of this looks very spookybeautiful. SARA GOT MARRIED?!?!?!?! Congratulations Sara!

2 years ago

I love this! Especially the 16 hours on your feet part. I’m not a stylist, but I’ve thrown some extensively themed parties, mostly for my kid, but also for my partner and some others. I always make a huge list of what I want to do, and I prioritize it. I know some of the items on the bottom of the list probably won’t happen. Knowing what to outsource is essential, to professionals or to friends, and being okay with something less than your vision. I’ve found people are always impressed by the effort and result. I’ve done less as my kid has grown, but I’m definitely pinning some of these great outdoor ideas for an outdoor movie night in the future. The tarp layered with comfortable inside pillows and throws is such a great tip! Thank you and it was great to see you over here for a visit, Emily B!

2 years ago

i love seasonal decor that’s a hit for both children and adults, and this post nails that intersection.

2 years ago

“You know what? Anyone who is actually hosting, I’m here to say, it’s ok to be mediocre.” Great advice! … Says the mom who just threw a family birthday party for my six year old, attempting (and failing, Pinterest-fail style) to make a rainbow cupcake pull apart cake. This all looks so fun!

2 years ago

I’m not even into Halloween decorating but this post may have won me over. So many fun ideas!

2 years ago

Three things:
👍Bowser your work ethic is clearly over-the-top. Now write that darned book!
🐈 Those. Kitties!!!
😳 SARA GOT MARRIED?!?!? Where are the photos?!?!?

2 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Thanks! Today is one week since the wedding, I’m sure they’re not edited yet 🙂

2 years ago

Thank you for the inspo! i love the vintage amber glass!! any link?

2 years ago
Reply to  K

They’re vintage, Sara collected a bunch of colored glass for her wedding and said she got a lot of it at thrift stores and etsy

2 years ago

WAIT. Your husband is “Notice me Senpai?” Do you know how often I quote that? like sarcastically? My internet realities are colliding.

2 years ago
Reply to  Janelle

Andrew says “you are noticed” 🙂

2 years ago

Canadian reader here! I really really wish posts like this would be tagged in the title as TARGET or some such—not because of any assumption of sponsorship/association (although of course that exists with EHD), but because there are quite a few posts on EHD that highlight ONLY Target products, whether officially an affiliate thing or not, and that means that 100% of the recommendations within aren’t accessible to 100% of your international readers. It sucks to get drawn into something I’m super interested in (HUGE Halloween gal over here!) but feel let down and left out. Does that make sense? Big love from Ontario as always! All of this said kindly!

2 years ago
Reply to  Terra

I completely disagree… I’m from Europe so hardly any shop is relevant to me (especially beauty brands, they’re so different!) But I love posts like this for inspiration.

2 years ago
Reply to  Terra

Hi Terra – that seems really annoying to not have Target – sorry! This 100% was not sponsored, I guess I mostly got things from Target because around here 1. they are affordable and 2. they are available to buy in stores and this was a very quick shoot. Other than Target – World Market, Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn are my favorite big box, quickly available stores to buy from in person that have seasonal decor. What stores do you have in Canada?

2 years ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Hi, Emily! Gosh, no need to apologize—like I said in my comment, I knew this wasn’t a sponsored post, so no worries about that. I just wondered if there was a way to disclaim the limitation in product choice for folks elsewhere. But Siel makes another great point above! So take what I’ve said with a grain of salt. It’s just something that often comes up on EHD for me because of the volume of products purchased at Target (per your note about the accessibility and affordability of their products)—and my comment wasn’t one of frustration so much as deep envy! A jealousy over Target is no small part of the conversations my friends and I have about design and clothing, haha. For what it’s worth, we don’t have World Market, either—and no Lulu and Georgia, while it’s on my mind. We do have Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn and Etsy, although that can be dependent on which sellers ship to Canada (though I prefer to shop Canadian anyway). And on that last note, this is all to say nothing of the many amazing independent businesses we have here! I’m so lucky to be in Toronto where many are,… Read more »

2 years ago

how do you keep your cats from running out of your yard and getting lost? Are they already indoor/outdoor kitties?

The cat with the bat wings was **soooooo cute***.

2 years ago
Reply to  anon

They are indoor/outdoor. Puck does what he wants and roams the neighborhood if he so desires. He was an extremely unhappy indoor cat, especially when he was a bit younger. Specifically he would pee on everything and as soon as we let him outside he stopped doing that. It took us a couple years to figure out and ultimately decided his (and our) sanity was worth the risk. Now that he’s a bit older (he’s only 6) he actually doesn’t need it as much but probably goes out once a day for an hour or so but otherwise is asleep in the house in one of his spots. Daffy is a dream boat who likes to bake in the sun and has literally never left our yard. She literally can’t jump our fence (she’s not the most nimble) but also she doesn’t really care to, so that’s worked out nicely.