With more decorating options than ever before, crafting a memorably spooky setting for your gathering can be overwhelming. If you find yourself stuck trying to choose between a disturbing brain in a jar, gruesome severed body parts or just a friendly ghost or pumpkin to decorate your home for Halloween, the solution is to pick a theme and build your Halloween space with a purpose in mind, says Donna Travis, owner of the Party Time store in Baton Rouge.
“When you say Halloween it can be really broad,” Travis says. “You have to break it down and decide whether you want a friendly look or something super-scary. Choosing a theme focuses you and ensures that your overall look is cohesive.”
Whether your goal is to thoroughly creep out your friends or create a whimsical kid-friendly trick-or-treat stop, these five themes will help you haunt your house.
Zombie Chop Shop
The popularity of the zombie-focused show “The Walking Dead” has elevated this type of scary scene in popular culture. To create a terrifyingly fun zombie chop shop for your Halloween guests to stumble upon, Travis says it’s all about the body parts. Severed hands, fingers and ears, along with zombie feet, plastic brains and blood-spattered wallpaper, are perfect accessories to build this twisted environment.
“Everybody loves body parts,” Travis says. “You can always stick a hand, a foot or a leg under a doormat. You can have one coming out of your couch if you’re having a party at your house. People just really have fun with these.”
Party Time also offers zombie masks and a wide variety of blood-splattered plates, napkins, tablecloths and toilet paper to flesh out this look.
Mad Scientist/Insane Asylum
If you’re looking to create a slightly less gory but still unsettling scene, the mad scientist’s lair is an excellent choice. This laboratory gone wrong starts with scientific beakers filled with brightly colored liquids. Drop in a few plastic eyeballs or brains to create a striking scene that will make your guests cringe and laugh in equal measure. A rat, a caged bird skeleton, a lab coat and a mad scientist wig round out this classically eerie scene.
For adult parties, test tube shot glasses are a spooky way to serve beverages for your guests that make them part of the theme. For kids, place peeled grapes or cooked noodles in a box with a small hand hole and invite them to feel the “eyeballs” or “brains” inside.
Immortalized in dozens of scary movies over the years, the haunted mansion makes a perfect setting for a Halloween environment. Start with a Ouija board, some creepy framed photos with eyes that follow the observer and an assortment of candelabras with bleeding candles (try the safer battery-powered variety).
Dark tablecloths and decorative black wall coverings will help set the mood and maximize the eerie glow emanating from the candles you’ve placed throughout your mysterious mansion scene.
A classic Halloween scene, the graveyard look can be tailored for whatever type of guest you’re expecting for your spooky event. Any proper graveyard starts with skeletons — available in a wide variety of styles and creatures, including dogs — along with tombstones, spider webs and a little fog with one of the easy-to-use machines now available on the market.
For a kid-friendly look, decorate your cemetery with one of the more cartoonishly fun inflatables like Frankenstein’s monster or a happy skeleton. “The inflatables are awesome and friendly and not so scary for the kids,” Travis says.
Tombstones come in a wide variety of styles as well, from whimsical and cartoonish to more realistic. There’s even a chalkboard gravestone that lets you write a personalized message for some of your guests.
For a disturbingly ghoulish look, Party Time offers skeletons designed to appear like they’re emerging from the earth. Combine these with a specialized ground fogger to take this scene to the next level and really wow your guests.
Severed ears and bloody zombies aren’t for everyone, especially younger trick-or-treaters who scare easily. Luckily, there are endless ways to get into the Halloween spirit without the gore.
Welcome neighborhood visitors with a traditional orange and black Halloween wreath for your front door, along with a selection of the many whimsical and friendly ghost and goblin decorations available. Travis says some of the more popular traditional items are a tiered dish that holds plastic spiders, a galvanized metal pumpkin candle holder and orange and black crafts for making your own decorations.
Glow-in-the-dark spiders and multi-colored webbing are another high-impact but easy way to create a fun and mildly spooky scene around your house. “Our number one item for Halloween is spider webbing,” Travis says. “It’s a great, inexpensive way to decorate. You can put friendly spiders or more cutesy things around the webbing.”
Stop by Party Time at 3350 Bluebonnet Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70809 for more fun ideas for your perfect Halloween scene.