Setting the Halloween Scene: Outdoor Decor and More

Just for Fun

This post is part of our ongoing promotion with Oriental Trading Company. All projects, thoughts, and images are my own.

I remember the first Halloween in our last neighborhood when it became apparent we were “that house.” Part of it was the giant pixie sticks we were handing out (leftover from our Toddlers & Tiaras-themed pumpkin carving party) and part of it was our outdoor decorations. That was the first year the witches made an appearance, and we’ve only improved from there. After all, we moved into a 100+ year old Victorian home, we’re practically made for Halloween.


By the time I got everything set up we’d totally lost the daylight, so please forgive my makeshift spotlight! I’m sure passers by wondered what I was doing out in the front yard with a camera and a flashlight at 8pm!

These ladies were the first decorations we put up outside this year, on the grassy, open side of our front yard. They’re made out of plywood in a shape that I designed and Todd cut with a jigsaw back for our Fairy Fest Midsummer party years ago. When Halloween came around I thought it’d be fun to re-purpose them with some black, rip-stop nylon and some witches hats with built-in wigs. Their brooms are made from small branches and parts of a grass skirt table decoration.

For trick-or-treating we’ll set up our electric cauldron in front of them with more of that grass skirt spread around like rushes in a fire bed.

On the other side of the front walk, though, that’s where things get spooky!

Hanging heads, tombstones, and ravens--oh, my!

Hanging heads, tombstones, and ravens–oh, my!

Can you spot the goodies from Oriental Trading Company?

First, we set up our hanging heads using the Day of the Day Bags.

step-by-step shrunken heads

step-by-step shrunken heads

Once I got the gift bags open I realized that the backs of the bags were clear plastic. Since I didn’t want my stuffing showing all willy-nilly, I doubled the bags up, one inside the other, with the printed front of the interior bag visible through the clear back of the outer bag, then stuffed them with plastic bags, bubble wrap, or anything else that wouldn’t compact or get too soggy should it rain over the next few weeks.

My next thought was how to hang them so they’d stay perfectly straight instead of lolling to one side or another. My solution was to thread twine through 1″ buttons and nestle them on top of the packing materials before sealing up the “neck” of the bags with packing tape. I tied the twine into a small loop that I could then thread my hanging string through when I put them in the trees.

How do you say "Peek -a-boo, we see you!" in Spanish???

How do you say “Peek -a-boo, we see you!” in Spanish???

Underneath the tree the heads are hanging from is our first graveyard scene, currently made up of your standard foam decorations. Todd’s working on a beefed up wooden version that we hope to have completed before Halloween.

Spectral orb or ill-placed flash... I'll never tell!

Spectral orb or ill-placed flash… I’ll never tell!

Then, nearer the porch railing we have our other tombstones (again, currently foam, wooden replacements are also in the work for these).

Oops, looks like someone wasn't quite ready to leave!

Oops, looks like someone wasn’t quite ready to leave!

Todd built that ground-buster coffin corner a few years back and it’s always such a nice touch. To really sell it, though, it helps to have some fresh earth to put around it.


Because this side of the yard has more tree cover and less grass, it takes a mixture of sand and potting soil all stirred together to really make the coffin look like it’s part of the landscape.

If you look just above the tombstones, though, you’ll see eyes looking back at you…

Ravens, bats, and cats--the Halloween trifecta, no?

Ravens, bats, and cats–the Halloween trifecta, no?

Perched on our porch railing are some foam and feathered black birds, and from the eaves hang our bat lanterns. I alternated the small and large lanterns, and then hung the purple lanterns we bought from the dollar store, last year, onto the smaller bats, like the bats are carrying them.

Subtle is the name of the game with these silhouettes.

Subtle is the name of the game with these silhouettes. I prepped the rats at the same time, but they’re strictly indoors and will be on the next post!

Finally, you can see the cat silhouettes resting in our windows. I added the red crystals for eyes, flipping half of each silhouette set over to get more “poses” out of each. On the back of the foam cats there’s some printing,  but it’s nothing that a few swipes of a permanent marker couldn’t cure.

Heeeere kitty kitty...

Heeeere kitty kitty…

Could the cat silhouettes stand to be a bit bigger, sure? Especially since our windows are 70″ tall! But I really didn’t want huge. I wanted something there that you’d notice out of the corner of your eye, a break in the pattern, that makes you do a double take, and I think the little kitties did that just fine.

Come to the door, if you dare!

Come to the door, if you dare!

Finally, to come up the steps and onto the porch (which I did make the kids do last year to get their candy, even though I was sitting outside–the screen door is very slammy), you’ll see a Halloween welcome mat we’ve had for years, a wreath that I made even longer ago hanging from the porch eaves, and our skeletal greeters. You can also see another of the toothily-grinning bat lanterns just hanging around.


“Leonard” is a glow-in-the-dark skeleton that we dressed in some old clothes (and stuff with a pillow and extra bubble wrap for support)  The makeshift screen is a curtain panel we purchased last year that I affix to the screened door frame with a staple gun. (Incidentally, that’s also how I fixed the birds onto the porch railing.)

Aside from the props that Todd’s building and a couple of pumpkins for the porch steps, I think we’re pretty much done with the outdoor decorations. Now to get busy on the inside!

Do you decorate your yard for Halloween?

#35 Woodwork | Fairies, and Toadstools, and Witches–Oh My!

64 Arts, Projects

Since I haven’t picked out my new woodworking project yet, I thought I’d show you some projects that Todd and I worked on together in the past.

Our first year living together we threw a Midsummer-themed housewarming party, but it wasn’t exactly what I’d envisioned. So when we moved again and took another shot at our Midsummer Fairy Fest ( not a housewarming party, this time), I shamelessly took advantage of Todd’s willingness to help, and cooked up these little guys.

We made 3 fairies and 5 toadstools from 4, 4’x8′ sheets of plywood and still had some leftover. Of course, lacking a truck, we had the hardware store cut the boards into 4’x4′ squares with the thought that they’d fit in the backseat. Lengthwise, sure, but they were still too tall to fit through the door. Oops! This is yet another reason Todd keeps a bundle of bungee cords in his trunk.

Fairy and toadstool under a lit arch

To keep the shapes workable in our 4’x4′ wood, I drew out my designs on a square of cardstock and then measured out a grid over top. Remember those pages in the coloring books where you’d have to transfer a picture by drawing each square, one at a time? Yup, same thing works here. I laid out a grid over my picture, with each square equal to 6 inches, and then Todd could measure out a grid on the plywood and transfer the picture there. I cleaned up some of the details before he cut the first one out with the jigsaw, and then he used that first one to trace out the other 2.

(If I can ever track down my original pattern, I’ll update this post with it, so you can better see what I mean.)

The toadstools worked pretty much the same, only we could fit 2-3 pieces on each square of plywood and it took 2 pieces for each toadstool–1 with a notch from the bottom, 1/2 of the way up, and 1 with a notch from the top, 1/2 of the way down. The great thing about this was that we could combine 2 pieces to get a 3-D toadstool but take them apart to stack in the off-season.

The fairies were painted white and then sprayed with a bit of silver glitter. The toadstools got a coat of white, a couple coats of orange for the caps, and then white spots painted on. We scattered them around the back yard, nestling some in the camellia bushes on our patio. A white, gauzy butterfly on her hand and it was done.

Fairy and toadstool nestled in our camellia bushes

When Halloween rolled around we really wanted to dress up the yard more and I thought back to the fairies. With some rip-stop nylon stretched over them and stapled in place, a witches hat & wig combo, and a broomstick made of a branch from the yard and some grass table skirt left over from a beach-themed wedding shower we threw ages ago.

I left the wings loose as if it were a cape fluttering in the breeze, and dagged the skirt at the legs. I didn’t plan it this way, but the leg and hand pose fit the idea of sitting across a broom perfectly.

All lined up you can see how we cut the conduit to different heights. On the back of each are two metal conduit straps for each conduit leg and a small cup hook to act as a stop for the conduit so they won’t slide down the pipes or flop around in the breeze.