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Tips and Tricks (not treats)

How We Decorate for Halloween

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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.

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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).

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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.

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White pumpkin, fabric pumpkin, polka dot pumpkin, paper spiders, black jacko-lantern, plaid pillows – all from target, but most only in store at this point.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 …

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  1. I LOVE that you did that for them! I HATE seasonal decorating and have always held back bc my budget is always limited and i need to invest in things that have a longer shelf life. A few years the boys have begged and i have given in and it always makes the whole month more fun and less stuffy! It looks great! Tell your inner child that she is very stylish and festive!

  2. Oh, I agree, decorating is so much more fun with kids! I always decorated for Christmas, but now that I have kids we decorate for Halloween and Easter, too. I limit myself to a certain number of storage containers for our decorating supplies, and most of our stuff gets re-used every year.

    We do ‘pumpkin hunts’ every year, too, where I stash little decorative pumpkins all over the house and the kids have to find them. Just as much fun as an Easter egg hunt! The kids love it.

  3. I love how the decorations fit in with the existing decor!

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  4. Such great stuff! I have never been into decorating for holidays, but when you have little kids, it’s kind of out of your hands!

    Also, completely not relevant to this post – I’m doing a giveaway of a painting, maybe your readers will be interested. Sorry for the self-promotion!
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  5. Even though my kids are grown and gone, I still love decorating for Halloween. Love the giant white spider web, but hope to get it in black since I have a large white area above fireplace. Your house looks great. Especially like the front entry, but sorry about the melted pumpkin.

  6. You know what would be great…is after you move you do a post about the exterior of this home. I remember you saying you redid it but wanted to keep some privacy in your life so you never posted pictures. I think this picture above is the first I’ve seen of your front door and I’d love to see the whole zoomed out exterior! Just an idea, but I’d be great to see! Love all you guys do at EHD!

    1. I have a WHOLE post written, linked up, etc which took me 15 hours but then yah, I realized that I wanted to wait til after we moved out. So don’t worry its coming!

  7. Fall and Halloween are the most fun time to decorate the house for me and I don’t even have kids. Every year, I wait for the end of September (like a child at Christmas!) and then keep it simple (no tacky or scary stuff) with lots of pumpkins and warm colors. It’s just so nostalgic and makes me ridiculously HAPPY! Glad you’ve discovered the joy.

    P.S. We carve a pumpkin (or three) every year too… wouldn’t miss it.

  8. This all allows really cute! I am sure Charlie and Elliot love it.

  9. haha, i’m totally going to redecorate my living room with paw patrol wallpaper… the things we do to make 3 year olds happy! 😉
    And yes I agree – shopping on your OWN without kids and with a coffee is like the most joyful thing in the world! Don’t get me wrong, I love to take my kids places and we do tons of stuff together, but those moments when I can shop alone (like even at a boring grocery store) I feel so zen’d out and almost go into a yogic state of relaxation. LOL

  10. I’ve never Halloween so grown up and neutral. Do you hate orange, Emily?

    1. HA. I don’t hate orange, but I don’t love it either and our house is so full of chaos that bringing in another bright color sounded like a headache for me. xx

  11. Simple, easy, affordable and tasteful! I love when Halloween decorations look effortless and not over-the-top like yours. BTW, where did that gorgeous huge black vase (with the eucalyptus) come from?

  12. GHOULS I can tell you didn’t go to Catholic school. hahaha

  13. As someone who struggles with “stuff” …What i want to know is – what do you (& others) do with all this stuff after halloween (christmas, summer parties …. all those events that = stuff)? Do you store it to use it again or just buy new next year?

  14. I just finished decor my house with many big pumpkins, can’t wait to enjoy it.
    I love the way you decor your home, simple but appealing. If you don’t mind, I will save your photo to my decor list for next Halloween.
    Happy Halloween!

  15. I love this! I have a huge weakness for Halloween decorations (the cute stuff, not the scary stuff) that I’ve had since childhood. My parents didn’t care about the holiday, but they would let me cover the front yard every year in spider web and whatever cheap decorations I could find at the local stores. I’m sure it looked terrible, but it made me happy, and presumably made them happy as a result.

    I’m also really inspired by the way you mix the cheaper, more kitchsy looking artificial jack o’ lanterns with the fancier ceramic and fabric pumpkins. I wouldn’t have thought to do that, but it works really well!

  16. Where did that beautiful wreath come from?

  17. Emily-
    I love your blog! I’m getting so much inspiration for my current master bath project. I just ordered Cle tile because of your cement tile resources post. I had to tell you, I saw your video of the fireplace on Instagram yesterday…I went to Target, (over-bought!) and decorated last night. My kids love it! Thank you so much. I wasn’t really inspired to decorate for Halloween this year and your video totally did it! Thank you.

  18. I love the chunky black vase on your hearth that you style with different greenery all the time. I tried to find a source but can’t. Do you remember where you purchased it from? With my luck, it’s probably discontinued Target or something, but can’t hurt to ask. Thanks, Heather

  19. Love how simple and fun this is! I’m sure Charlie had a blast!

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  21. the Halloween is really wonerfull festival i really enjoy to read this post

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  25. 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.

  26. ou know what would be great…is after you move you do a post about the exterior of this home. I remember you saying you redid it but wanted to keep some privacy in your life so you never posted pictures. I think this picture above is the first I’ve seen of your front door and I’d love to see the whole zoomed out exterior! Just an idea

  27. Even though my kids are grown and gone, I still love decorating for Halloween. Love the giant white spider web, but hope to get it in black since I have a large white area above fireplace. Your house looks great. Especially like the front entry, but sorry about the melted pumpkin.