Charlie and I were on a walk and he saw another house decorated for halloween. His face lit up in a very almost 3-year-old-toddler-way that makes you want to rethink all your design decisions and wallpaper your living room in Paw Patrol and remove furniture in exchange for lifesize Robyn Hood and Little John’s. The joy and excitement was absolutely addictive. Last year at this time I had just had Elliot (10 days before Halloween) so understandably I didn’t exactly make our house haunted or build a maze on the deck. But this year, because of his reaction, I decided to make it feel festive and fun for the kids (and us) but with as little effort, money or time as possible.
So, early on a Saturday morning. I went to Target, where I made eye contact with other moms at 8am and we had the isn’t shopping early in the morning with coffee, without kids just the best thing in the world???? They agreed. I shopped and then I brought my treasures home and we decorated after naps. I overbought and then returned some that we didn’t use in true Emily style.
So here is how you do halloween with big impact, but little effort.
1. Pick a theme and sprinkle it throughout the main living areas. Our kids are too young for scary stuff so skeletons, goules, dead body parts, blood, etc, aren’t part of our plan. We went with pumpkins and spiders – just a teeny spooky but mostly friendly. I bought the stretchable web and put it on the fireplace, in the back of the dining room and even outside in a few places. So cheap and easy (and very easy cleanup). We bought paper sticker spiders (again cheap/easy) and 20 different pumpkins (candlesticks and black tray).
2. Create little vignettes throughout your home. I stored my pretty things from the credenza and coffee table in our cabinets and used these surfaces to bring in the holidays. Most of these can actually last through fall, too (just remove spider and jack-o-lanterns but the pumpkins and fairy lights can stay). Per usual I stuck within a color palette – we did black, white and gray, and we mixed up the materials (fabric, porcelain and that big resin plastic guy) and patterns – some solids, and lots of patterns. I think as the kids get older I’ll incorporate more color and kitsch, but for now this was a great solution.
I clustered them together so each vignette had different shapes and sizes. The ones that are lit, simply plug-in. Loving the way the white porcelain/gold pumpkin, black jack-o-lantern, fabric pumpkin, small white pumpkin all work together.
I had that eucalyptus leftover from a shoot and it added a lot of warmth and color to the more neutral palette – plus it dries so beautifully (we got it from the flower market but you can easily order it from your local florist). The spiders are all paper with a big sticker in the middle and we pasted them throughout the house.
3. Keep the theme going from room to room – it makes it look cohesive and its frankly way easier to conceptualize and decorate. Spiders and pumpkins – thats it! The more graphic spider web (above) created such a good impact and yet didn’t make those shelves feel even MORE busy than they already are. They have it in black, too, which I think would look awesome in most people’s homes, but we went with white so it looked cleaner and fresher (and less scary for the kids).
We styled out the front door which makes me surprisingly happy. It really does give all of us a bit of a perk when we get to the top of those 30 steps and immediately gets you into the fall and halloween spirit.
We kept the theme going with pumpkins, spiders and then added some fairy lights (battery operated). We carved some jack-o-lanterns over the weekend (way more fun than I remember it – again, this kid thing is really wakening up my inner kid) and mixed them with the other store-bought ones (like this carveable one).
Turns out that if your jack-o-lanterns are in 90 degree direct sun for a couple days they look like a post-apocolyptic prop from a horror movie. We shot this on Monday and I had to get rid of the real ones yesterday because they were horrifyingly scary and melted. But the ones that we just put in the window inside are great.
We kept it simple, but it still feels really fun and got us all excited for fall.
All it took was one store, in one afternoon to halloween our house. I bought a ton more but then returned it – so don’t go through that hassle and instead listen to the tips above. I continued the theme out on the deck where we had a little pumpkin carving party, but then it poured the night before we shot it so we couldn’t shoot out there (the decor held up, but the deck was a disaster and to be fair maybe we didn’t clean up from the party before we went to bed so maybe raccoons got into all the food and dragged 1/2 carved pumpkins all over the deck).
I’m shockingly into halloween now. I don’t remember us decorating for holidays growing up, besides Christmas, but my mom had six kids so, I get it. But it’s just so fun to do with the kids and really does bring a fun spirit into the house. (I also bought this light-up cat, this candy jar, and these triple pumpkin lights)
Get into it. Target has all the scary stuff, too, if that’s more your speed, but these friendly pumpkins and simple spiders are doing the trick (or treat*) with my kids. Watch this video if you want to see it in action.
Happy Halloween, folks. Now to figure out what I want to be. Charlie wants me to be cat-woman (as he is obsessed with super heroes) but I kinda want to be Tanning Mom …