Halloween isn't just for kids. Many adults want to make the second pandemic Halloween spook-tacular by going all out when it comes to decorating this year.
“Last year, there were no parties; you couldn’t get together,” says Karen Michela Parziale, an interior designer in Hoboken, New Jersey. “Now is a fun time, people are getting back together and celebrating with family.”
More than half of consumers age 50-plus plan to celebrate Halloween, spending an average of $83 on the holiday, according to data from the National Retail Federation. And whether you want to create a haunted house or just add Halloween colors to your decor, you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly home trimmings at dollar stores like 99 Cents Only Stores, Dollar General and Dollar Tree.
“For the bargains you’re getting, you can’t go wrong,” says lifestyle expert and event planner Michelle Madison in Miami. She suggests using dollar store items as a starting point to create your own Halloween style. “The more out of the box, the better.”
Keep in mind that some items cost more than $1 at dollar stores, especially on their websites where you may have to buy in bulk to get a lower price. Last month, Dollar Tree said it will start adding some products priced up to $5 at some locations.
Here are 11 ideas to create Halloween fun using products found at dollar stores:
1. Creepy entrance
Welcome guests with a spooky Halloween wreath or spider web on the front door. Madison decorated her front door with candy bags strung across a plastic background of gray bricks. It can make your door stand out if you live in an apartment or residential building, she notes.
2. Day of the Dead theme
Decorations for the Mexican holiday Diá de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, are extremely popular, says Jane Rolfe, vice president of Party & Seasonal for 99 Cents Only Stores. You’ll find sugar skulls, tall candles, serving plates and placemats in black or white with colorful calaveras designs.
3. Outdoor decorations
People like to decorate their front yard because that’s what visitors see first. Decorate the trees with garland, ornaments and string lights. Go crazy with pumpkins – unadorned or carved into scary silhouettes. Pumpkin carving also is something you can do with friends or grandchildren.
Laura Bianco of Novato, California, was enchanted with hanging witch ghosts she found at her local Dollar Tree store and bought 10 to decorate doorknobs and her front-yard trees. “I decorate for my grandkids,” says the 80-year-old. “I can splurge here. It’s affordable.”
4. Indoor Halloween tree
Yes, trimming an indoor Halloween tree just like a Christmas tree is a thing. You’ll find everything from garland to faux chains to Halloween ornaments at some dollar stores.
5. Skulls and skeletons
Madison likes to take skulls, spray paint them white and add faux gems to create a glam skull. To see how she does it, check out her DIY glam-skull video on Pinterest. “Some people go for the gore, but others love the tongue and cheek like ... skeleton flamingoes here in Florida,” Madison says.
6. Spider webs
Nothing says spooky like spiders and spider webs. Spray goofy string or hang fake webs across doorways or hallways. Scatter plastic spiders for a truly frightful sight.
7. Mood lighting
Halloween-themed lights — indoors or outdoors — are a big trend this year, says Rolfe of 99 Cents Only Stores. String lights and LED tea lights come in various designs like ghosts, pumpkins and skulls. For a DIY candle project, Parziale suggests scooping out the inside of mini-pumpkins and inserting tea candles to decorate indoors or illuminate outdoor walkways.
8. Terrifying tables
Whether it’s a cozy dinner for two or a small party, go all out with Halloween-themed tableware or Halloween colors, such as black plates and orange napkins. Dollar stores sell ceramic, plastic and paper plates, bowls, cutlery and wine glasses. Use colored silk ribbons as napkin holders, Parziale recommends.
9. Chilling centerpieces
Top off your dining or coffee table with a Halloween centerpiece made with a black-lace table runner or velvet pumpkins for $1. “One of my favorite things to do for Halloween is to put candy corn on the bottom of a glass bowl and add a white candle, then tie a nice gauzy ribbon around the outside of the bowl,” Parziale says.
10. Boo in the bathroom
Expand your decorating to an often overlooked room: the bathroom. Add a black cat or witch throw rug ($3.99 each at 99 Cents Only Stores) and complete the look with orange or black hand towels for $1. For DIYers, Madison suggests buying a set of bathroom accessories for $1 each and spray painting them a Halloween color. You can even glue on eyeballs or spiders.
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11. Cackling-good crafts
Some dollar store websites even provide Halloween decorating ideas. Dollar Tree offers free printable bats for DIYers and craft ideas like how to make critter hatchling ice cubes. Family Dollar’s Halloween party decor tips include choosing a color theme and how to use cobwebs.
Sheryl Jean is a contributing writer who covers aging, business, technology, travel, health and human-interest stories. A former reporter for several daily metropolitan newspapers, her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News and on the American Heart Association's website.