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My Spooky (And Super Simple) Kid-Approved Halloween Decor


You know what is scarier than that 5′ spider? The “holiday extreme” version of me because I’m going to decorate for ANY holiday this year. This is only “stage one” because the month is long and I am desperate to stretch it all out and have any excuse to decorate, craft, and DIY with the kids and makeup/implement lots of new “seasonal rituals”. We really NEED the holidays this year and because we can’t celebrate them like we usually can with friends/kids, I feel excited to find new ways to make this feel special for all of us. If you are on the fence about doing these things early trust me that when we brought out our Halloween bins last week it really changed the energy in the house, in a really good way. Even Brian Henderson suggested starting early and was met with 3 enthusiastic YES’. And since it looked pretty dang cute (and the kids were so proud of their DIYS) Sara popped up and shot it with me (safely).

So this year for Halloween decorations we have a combination of using what we’ve already had for years, some super easy DIYs, and added a few new affordable pieces that had high impact (hello 5′ spider). Here we go.

We Kept It Neutral

You might be like my daughter who innocently asked, “but mama where is the Halloween orange color?” and my answer felt as pretentious as it still does – I just wanted it to be more calm, tonal, and neutral. The truth is I live way better on a daily basis with less bright colors around, a truth that I’m not sure has only to do with this house, or me forever. I figure once we go get real pumpkins that should satisfy her traditional holiday values (layer 2, near the actual holiday). I brought in a lot of black (spiders, birds, branches) and white (webs and pumpkins) but since we were living with it for a month I didn’t want it to be a Halloween explosion because my “clutter body disorder” would rear its head (which can be VERY scary).

We used the white spider webs that we’ve had for years (but are still available) on the big A-frame windows (with clear command strips). It is so high impact (and covers such a large amount of real estate) for $10. Over the years we’ve figured out how to hang it the easiest, but I still miss Emily Bowser helping me do it.

It’s “Kid-Friendly Spooky” (But Not Scary)

What does “kid-friendly spooky” mean? Well, it’s embracing spiders, ravens, skeletons, candles, and pumpkins, but not blood and gore and stuff that actually scares the crap out of them (mostly so they don’t wake us up with nightmares). The white fabric on the mantel is called “spooky fabric” and it does the trick pretty fast (for a party you could throw it over all furniture like a haunted house). We’ve had those light-up pumpkins for 4 years now and love bringing them out every year (and they are plug-in so you can leave them on without running out the battery). The glow at night is a great ambiance.

Birdie and I spray painted sticks for the coffee table and the mantel arrangements – SO EASY. If you wanted to go one extra step (or say if we were to have friends over for Halloween) I would put spiderwebs on the branches with spiders. But I felt that this was enough for now. I also spraypainted the broom black (it had cute autumnal tones on it, but I wanted it to be simpler).

Repeat Motifs (To Reduce The Chaos And Make It Easy On You)

As you can see almost everywhere there are spiders, webs (or fabric), skeletons, and black sticks. SO EASY, and everything thus far is really affordable.

Go For High Impact Pieces That SCREAM Halloween

That huge spider is AMAZING. It wasn’t super cheap ($30) but it was so easy to hang (command strip and fishing line) and immediately gave it that graphic punch that the room needed. The big white web on the A-frame windows is great (but quiet) so I love how this spider acts like a huge Halloween sculpture on the wall (and I think it looks awesome breaking up a window or even art).

On the table, we have a footed black bowl (no longer available from West Elm) full of eyeball candies (of which the kids beg for all day every day and I’ve GOT to put them away) and a skeleton hand. And yah, I switched out some of the pillows, books, and throws to be in our color theme.

Easy And Fun DIY Spiders

Sweater | Jeans | Vans

I saw these on the Pinterest and was like, “yah, those look easy” and they really were. The kids helped with them and all we had to do was paint 6″ styrofoam balls with black acrylic paint, then shove in black pipe cleaners in “leg shapes”.

We got better and better with every single one (HOT TIP – Make the legs first and uniform. Then shove them in on the lower 1/3rd of the “body” -and pretty close to each other).

Overall I LOVE how the living room turned out. I know it’s more than most people would do (and less than a lot of people would do) but it’s extremely livable, fun and definitely feels like Halloween. THE KIDS LOVE IT.


In the entry, I leaned a huge dead (and spray painted) stick in the corner for a sculptural effect. I then of course, added our skeleton “Boris” (my friend’s french bulldog) which I find hilarious that he’s waiting at the door so patiently and to finish off, covered the mirror in spooky fabric, a bird and some large googly eyes. Again, if you want to amp it up throw some web on the stick, but once I took in the full room I just felt like the spooky stick was enough (this is how I end up over decorating, by considering each vignette before the whole space).

It was pretty darn easy.

Hot Tip

Cover any mirror with spooky fabric or web - so easy and cheap and says Halloween immediately without adding barely any clutter.


Skelly is saying hi so I guess we should introduce her.

I decorated the front door with the rest of the pumpkins that I already had (that pumpkin “ottoman” is new) and made a hanging “wreath” out of sticks and another skeleton hand. I put Skelly on one of our outdoor chairs and I’m KICKING myself that I didn’t put a witches hat on her head or dress her up somehow AND I forgot to make her wave in this shot. It’s hard to be up in the mountains with less access to stuff (but it also makes me spend way less money and I do zero returns).

There she is. She is $40 at Target and well worth the splurge. I wanted to put her everywhere in the house (and she has been out since September 25th so she’s sat in a lot of chairs). Those pumpkins do light up but we didn’t have a black extension cord so I’m going to get one before Halloween.

Again, I made that “wreath” from dead manzanita sticks, spray painted black tied with a black zip tie, and then added in the hand. We just hung it on our wreath hanger (but a command strip would work, too).

It’s only almost poked out Brian’s eyes like 4 times now, but he’s just got to learn to open the door wider 🙂


I’m pretty surprised at how much I like this. That gauze cloth “chandelier” really engages the space (and we just hung with command strips on the ceiling) and then that huge spider is so graphic and creepy, but just one thing. SO EASY.

We added more painted sticks as our arrangement, some black candles, holders and finished it off with a big skeleton snake. I added some pillows back to the niche and I kinda LOVE how it turned out.

The snake comes in big and small versions and its pretty great.

I’m excited to put a TON of either candy or baby pumpkins in that bowl but just didn’t have anything on hand. This tablescape has stayed up for the week and it’s pretty easy to maintain.

The Halloween decor is helping our daily excitement level for sure. It’s making me so excited to do some more DIYS, have an outdoor Halloween movie night, carve pumpkins – all the things that we usually have to “fit in” to our busy school/social/work schedule and now get to look forward to. Thanks for tuning into our family and I hope you got some “spooky but not scary” tips. xx

Em’s outfit: Sweater | Jeans | Vans

**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Fin Mark


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Very cute and festive, although I must say I’m in Birdie’s camp for more autumn colors (or just colors in general…Christmas is not Christmas for me without a hint of red) ☺️ — To each their own! Off topic, but it looks like the area above your fireplace is a bit gray from smoke – would love to know how people clean this (and a general seasonal cleaning pre-fireplace checklist would be a good safety review!). Thanks and enjoy the holidays


I was also going to ask about the chimney! Was that a one-time instance or does it generally not draw well? We have a chimney that will only pull if it’s under a certain temp outside, lesson learned the hard way. No more mood-fires when the outside temp is slightly warmish.
P.s. decor is adorable!

hi! we are actually very confused by it because its gas so there is no smoke…. should probably get that checked out 🙂


Could be the air blowing out of the gas blower that is pushing out residual soot (from when it was presumably wood burning)? This happened to me except construction dust from a reno…



I know lots of repairmen are busy these days, but you really should get it checked as soon as possible. Even gas-burning fireplaces make a kind of “smoke”. And if using the fireplace is causing discoloration on the surrounding stone you likely have one of two problems:

1 The heat is causing the surround to discolor; if so that means the materials are failing. You may wish to replace them and check if they are still within some kind of warranty. You will also want to look into whether these materials give off any fumes that are bad for you as they fail.

2 The gas is giving off particulate matter when burning. Even smoke-free, unvented gas systems give off something, but it’s supposed to be such a small amount that it doesn’t cause problems. However, if yours is doing this it is creating too much air pollution. It can definitely lead to respiratory health problems, especially for children.


I truly love almost all of it. Seriously lovely b/c it is tonal, subtle, and yet festive. I’m down to my last 5 at home and can hardly wait for the grandchildren to start coming so my home can be as memory-making. I even love your entire outfit (orange/black/checks) in the doorway…I love orange in clothes and pillows but not for Halloween. Weird. I don’t know why, but I have a visceral reaction to orange pumpkins. I have 40 some mini-orange pumpkins on my front steps b/c my kids planted them this summer, but they are not my favorite. I used to be anti-halloween decor. a decade ago or so I started to change…I’m getting old so I am slow with change. 🙂 My change is based on a quote and the history behind it that was painted over the 13th century Carthusian monastery I lived in while studying in Austria 26 years ago….Frater, Momento Mori – “Brother, Remember your death.” It creeped me out at first, but as I get older, and as I have lost beloved family and friends, and as I desire to live NOT in a state of fear of death so that my children see… Read more »

oh wow. thanks for your comment and get that quote going! would love to see it styled out for halloween (and year round). xx


If you can afford it, find someone on etsy to embroider or cross-stitch it for you. You can get a really cool gothic frame, it would look great.


Looks great! Where is the plug in sconce in the entryway from?


I believe it’s from HumanHome!


Love this and how high-impact but simple everything is! Hitting Target today!

My real question though: how did you break in your Vans? I recently bought some and they’re killing my Achilles!

oh its super easy. leave them in the living room overnight near two puppies and they’ll chew them right up! the back of the heels are totally chewed, but i’m going to wear them til they are DONE. 🙂


Wet them and use a shoe stretcher to push the top of the heel area back. Flats always chew up the back of my ankles too.

this looks great! we also do what i call “friendly spooky” because i hate gore and of course, who actually wants to scare their kids? All the giant spiders look awesome. VERY graphic and cool! i think i need to steal that idea for next year (or maybe this year if i can squeeze it in). the spooky cloth is great and a favorite over here too! so easy. I do have to say though, I need the orange in my life to make it really feel like halloween. but i do think it feels chaotic for a whole month. So maybe doing less chaos early on and then build on throughout the month? i just love seeing what other people do. we always decorate on 9/30 or 10/1 to kick off the holiday season. the kids LOVE pulling out the decorations too. i save all of our projects from over the years and set those out. It’s fun to see that stuff again.
last thought: i’m so obsessed with your vintage 3-legged side table in your living room! ack! i need that in my life. : )

I think i will add orange around actual halloween, just not yet (and there weren’t real pumpkins out yet when I styled it). excited to get to carving 🙂


Where did you get that plug in wall lamp in the foyer?? Can you send a link please?

Erin Dae

Very cute! Hot tip on the “kids asking for candy that is sitting in the bowl” – tell them they can have two (or whatever number) each day and they can decide when they have them, and if they have both at once or space them out. If they don’t follow the rule and try to sneak more, then the candy goes away. Teaches them to make decisions they are happy with, gives reasonable boundaries, and gives you the perfect answer if they ask. The fact that they are already asking instead of just diving in gives me confidence this would work for you.

that’s a great idea! we let them have one (just not first thing in the morning which is their preference) but maybe i’ll just loosen that up. I mean, i get it. they are kids and love candy more than virtually ANYTHING and its 2020 so lets give them some joy!!!


I find candy/sweets early in the day, when they are running around and able to burn off the sugar rush, better than after dinner (i.e. before bed). And it makes me look like a rock star mom for letting them eat candy in the morning!


Apparently our bodies process sugar better earlier in the day, but I totally get not wanting it to be the FIRST thing they eat. 🙂

Lena Waldon

Can we please get the details on Emily’s sweater? It’s so cute!

here you go! i got it last year, but still wear it all the time.

amazing interior <3


I love the neutral black and off white theme. I’m firmly in the minimal less visual clutter camp. Those cute pups just don’t look scary enough though! You should have swapped them out with my black Belgian Sheepdogs! 😉 Also, a fun tip I learned off another blog a few years ago is dipping different shapes of dried leaves in black wax and hanging them from thin thread over the dinner table. It’s so lovely and quiet I do it every year. Then I set the table with black candles and dried flowers over an old linen tablecloth. Creepy in a quiet way.

ooh that sounds super pretty and totally up my ally. i want to see!


Thank you for this post. It is exactly the fun we need to get inspired for our own happy memories… and that last wonderful photo–Henderson family, party of six!


Our kids were eager to start early this year too! Looks great Emily! For our kid-friendly spooky we like black cats, owls, and some bats besides some cute ghosts.


Source for the art on the mantel?

its a vintage lithograph I got at the flea market 🙂 OH DO YOU REMEMBER FLEA MARKETS????? I can’t WAIT 🙂


You, Henderson Family, are sooooo darn cute!!! All 6 of you!!!
You all look so gealthy, vibrant, alive and (like, the word does not suffice, but) happy!!!

These pics made my day. I clicked, opeed and couldn’t stop smiling.

Ahem…. now the decorations? Skeleton Boris cracked me up big time, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. The huge spider is fabulous. All so fun.

Only the Styrofoam balls got me (Styrofoam is sooooo bad for the environment at every stage naking it and disposing of it…it lasts in micro bits for thousands of years. My conscience made me say it).


I bet you can do the same project with papier-mâché balls. I think you can buy them at any craft store. You’d have to use glue to attach the legs, or carefully poke holes into the balls, which are stiffer than styrofoam. Target also carries quite a few papier-mâché pumpkins opposed to the foam or plastic ones. You just need to check the materials.


Yes! Great idea! 😍


Maybe just ball up some newspaper and smooth it with painters tape before spray painting. Then you don’t have to buy anything (besides the paint).


I LOVE every single thing you did! Inspires me to get busy. Also love the photos of you guys. Miss you!


I have black spray paint and a pile of sticks out front, so I’m going to try that diy. The spiders are also so cute, too. I look forward to seeing more diy projects with the kids.


I’m just here for the doggie pics 🐶 💜


My son is looking over my shoulder and loves the “two-headed dog” in the last picture! Haha.


In lieu of styrofoam balls for the spiders, I recommend looking up The Gold Hive’s “trash pumpkin,” and then adapting it to make “trash spiders.” (Basically use any plastic you’ve collected stuffed into a saved plastic bag to form the body, paper mache over it, then paint black.) We made a huge trash spider last year that looks very similar to the 5′ target one and just put it back out yesterday. My husband ended up using balloon animal balloons for the legs (paper mached over), but for small spiders the black pipe cleaners would be perfect! They end up looking really organic.


This was a fun post!
Where is that cute “hello” doormat from?


LOVE THIS! We decorated big time for Halloween this past weekend. I agree – given the “blech” that this year has been, it’s worth pulling out all the stops to make each holiday feel more special – especially for the kids. I feel that giant spider calling my name. Our brick fireplaces is covered in web right now and a ton of those small plastic spiders (a la Arachnaphobia…). My 5 year old periodically goes over and moves them around. 🙂


I also wanted to share an idea we came up with instead of trick-or-treating. We are doing a “monster egg” hunt in the yard. I re-purposed my plastic Easter eggs and painted them to look like monster eggs and then sprayed with glow-in-the-dark paint. This way my kids and two nieces can still get some candy and go run around (the yard) and enjoy the festivities safely.

There are so many good ideas! I have never been one to decorate beyond pumpkins on the front porch for Halloween, but my kids are begging to this year. Faux spiders here I come!


The dogs have made themselves quite at
home. (I imagine costumes are coming)
Everything is fun and Very Halloween-y
But by November 1- you will be happy to have Halloween done but wait- –
Then there’s Thanksgiving!

Yanina Markova

Lovely. Nice to see the dinning room too. Do you guys use the banquet to eat at every day? How comfy is it? I know there was discussion about the sliding in and sliding off etc. when you were deciding to go for it. Would love to hear how practical it’s turned out in real life.

Sloane's Mama

Love this! I’m now in love with the leather ottoman bench in your entry. Can you please provide the source for it?

Gretchen Hansen

Not sure what happened to EHD. When you did designlovefest’s living room everyone felt it was a real wow- so fresh and inspiring. I still remember that turquoise sofa. This is not in any way inspiring- anyone could do this. I would stop playing it safe.


Respectfully, that is your opinion and I have to completely disagree. To me, I LOVE this room and how it’s decorated. This room is aspirational and I love that the decor gets you in the spirit but doesn’t overwhelm the beautiful elements of the room from shining.

I am inspired to do the same at my home. Additionally, regardless of the pandemic; the content here has been diverse, exciting and useful.

I just need Emily to launch her own line at Target now 🙂


You sound like you are having fun crafting with your family! That’s awesome. 🧡


It looks like you are having so much fun crafting with your family. That’s awesome! 🧡


Love it! So simple and “spooky chic.” Just a heads up, I have this year’s version of the light up pumpkins from Target, and they are now battery operated. Annoying to replace and I don’t like the waste of batteries, but it IS nice to have more freedom of placement in a house with so few outlets!


I was so confused by that comment. I have these too and it’s just a battery with switch! Didn’t realize they were different before. Thankful for the battery.


I would love to snap my fingers to transport all of your Halloween decorations directly into my home! It looks great, thank you for sharing.
Quick question, where is the 3-arm black LED candelabra from that is on your fireplace mantel? I’ve been on the search … and that is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks in advance!


LOVE that this works for the whole family. Beautiful and fun!

Do you have a post that mentions that couch? Would love to know where it’s from. Thanks!


Hi Emily could you please share the link for the grey rug in your family room? Its looks really kid friendly and cozy!

elizabeth docouto

LOVE those DIY spiders. How did you stick them to the wall?

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