DIY Halloween Decorations. Creepy, Elegant & Haunting.

These are my best Halloween decorating ideas to date. Easy (ish) DIYs for haunting the hell out of your home.

White marble tulip table covered in skulls beneath an antique chandelier covered in thin cobwebs for Halloween.

I would like to take a moment to officially voice my disdain over the latest kind of Haunted Houses up and running for Halloween.  I feel it’s my civic duty to bring these abominations to your attention. Like that time I told you about the ill conceived 1980’s invention: the Cherry flavoured potato chip.

Your community might have one of these horrors in your midst this very moment and you don’t even know about it so I encourage you to seek them out and protest them.  They’re Haunted Houses … that aren’t haunted.

That’s right.  They are unHaunted Houses.  This is such a grotesque and appalling distortion of what Halloween is supposed to be that it sickens me.  You know what Halloween without the haunt is??  It’s Easter.

I was listening to the radio the other day and there was an advertisement for one of these attractions.  According to the soothing sound of the announcer, it was a family friendly Haunted House that wasn’t scary at all.  So, um.  That’s just a house, right? Am I missing something?

We are literally taking the scare out of scary because we’re scared of scaring someone.


The whole point of it is to be scared. And might I add, if a child can learn to confront their fears and walk past a dark corner that may or may not be hiding a Zombie with teenage acne, they’ll be able to confront even more terrifying things later in life.  The ability to overcome fear is one of the most important qualities we can instil in children.  We are currently raising a platoon of kids whose greatest fear is their iPad battery running out mid-YouTube video.

Which as everyone knows is only scary if you’re in the middle of a hair tutorial.

So today I bring to you the opposite end of the Halloween spectrum. My idea of Halloween.    Unnerving.  Disturbing. Creepy.  But beautiful.

It’s Pretty Grimm.

Indoor Halloween Decorations

A lot of my Halloween decorations have been collected over the years like the realistic skulls, but even more of it has either been DIYed or just taking things I already own and presenting them in a creepy way. But classy! Creepy but classy halloween decorations.

In other words, there’s no fake barf or disembowelled anything.


Chicken and turkey bones.  When I make stock after Thanksgiving I save the bones, clean them, bleach them and then put them away because nothing comes in handier around Halloween than a box full of bones.

Wreath made out of chicken bones displayed over white lacquer buffet with mummified cat sitting on it.

The Bone Wreath was the first thing I made out of real bones.

Read the tutorial on How to make a Bone Wreath here.

The bone crown is another way to use bones. You can wear it (carefully) or just put it out as a decoration.

Crown made out of bones with jewels sits atop Karen Bertelsen's head.

Honestly it’s just a bunch of bones glued together but you can get the details and tips for how to make it in this bone crown tutorial.

I like it just sitting out on a table or on top of one of my 40 bazillion skulls.

Gold skull topped with a homemade crown made of chicken bones for Halloween.

Finally, if you can’t be bothered to DIY anything out of your bones, you can just pile them on a table.

A black candelabra with bones scattered around it.

Learn how to clean the bones in this how to make a bone wreath post.

Antlers are part of the bone category AND the creepy category so if you have them, use them.

A lifelike skull with deer antlers glued to the top sits beside a pile of bones set into a crib formation.


An antique portrait print from the 1800s in an ornate gold frame dripping with cobwebs.

Flea markets are perfect places to find Halloween decorations. I got this frame and portrait locally for $10.  I didn’t have to do a thing to it other than put the creepy thing on display and add a few cobwebs.

To make bagged cobwebs look good you have to pull it and stretch it apart so it becomes very fine threads. As fine as cobwebs.

A black leather saddle sits on an cobweb laden antique saddle stand in front of a bookcase with mercury glass pumpkins and a framed taxidermy bat in it.

Cobwebs.  Let’s have a little lesson on that right now.  When I drive around neighbourhoods at Halloween the #1 mistake I see is people doing their cobwebs wrong.  They’re too clumpy and thick. Now, I happen to have a lot of experience with real cobwebs so that’s why I might be a bit more of an expert than the rest of you.

When you buy spider web it comes in a bag in a clump.  It needs to be pulled apart, separated and teased until you don’t think it’s going to hold together anymore.  THAT is the perfect spiderweb.  Something so fine it seems breakable.

One bag of spider webbing should do your entire house, not just your front door if you’re using it right.

Dried bag displayed in a bookcase with cobwebs.

Like the taxidermy bat?  Me too. 

I can’t teach you how to make a taxidermy bat but I can tell you where to get one.

You can get a dried hanging bat on Amazon . It comes without a display box but you can hang it from anything anywhere!.

You can get a taxidermy bat with a display box on Amazon for between $50 and $78.

Witches broom

The Witches Broom is one of my favourite Halloween DIYs from the past few years.  This time of year there are branches falling down all over the place, which makes it the perfect time of year for scrounging materials for this.

A witches broom appears suspected on a painted white brick wall with a large spider climbing towards it.


You can use a DIY witches broom for decorating indoors or outdoors.

A DIY witches broom made with twigs and branches rests on an old porch.

Read the tutorial on How to Make a Witch’s Broom here.

Black gauze

The black fabric is just cheap cotton Halloween fabric from the Dollar Store and you can put it ANYWHERE and it’ll look good.

Black gauzy material swagged over large gold framed mirror, spilling on the floor below.

Just add gold spiders.

Gold sparkly spiders crawl up a swath of black gauze amid white pumpkins.

You can use black gauzy fabric on the back of your sofa like a throw, hanging down like curtains or over your dining room table like a tablecloth.

Doll parts

I said there wouldn’t be any disembowelled things, there are however dismembered things.

An antique straw-filled doll with porcelain head displayed next to a doll's torso under glass on a dining room table for Halloween.

If you missed my first post on these vintage doll parts you can read it here and see alllll the photos.  If anyone has ever looked at your Halloween decorations and proclaimed “Oh, that’s CUTE!”, then you will probably not like this.  But I *do* know of an unHaunted house you might be interested in.

Red hardcover book opened up to reveal two blue eyes bulging out of the pages.

With a couple of doll parts you can DIY a regular book into an impressive Halloween decoration. Actually the eyes in this book are from dollar store rings now that I think about it. But doll eyes would work too.

If you want to learn how to make one you can learn how to do that in my Book with Eyes tutorial.

Hands can be stuck out of anything and look disturbing.

A dirty, plastic doll hand sticks out of the side of a white pumpkin sitting on a bale of straw.


One ball of yarn and a roll of two sided tape and you’re on your way to a spiderweb big enough to trap a mature gazelle.

A huge spiderweb made with yarn fills an entire wall with a large black widow type spider in the centre of it.

Learn the tips to making a good wall web here.

Not enough yarn? Use a single thread to hang a big spider from something.

A large fake spider hangs upside down on a thin thread from a chandelier.

Pumpkin Diorama

You know your Halloween Decoration has met the pinnacle of Halloween decorations when Elvira reTweets it. And she did.

A hollow foam pumpkin with an entire graveyard scene including skeletons and bats inside.

The Die-O-Rama

The Die-O-Rama is hands down my most popular Halloween DIY among readers.  They like it when they see it during the day …

A hollow foam pumpkin with an entire graveyard scene including skeletons and bats inside all lit up.

… but they love when they see it lit up at night.

To learn How to Make a Pumpkin Diorama click here for the full tutorial and tips.

Glow in the dark

It’s easy to find glow in the dark paint at Halloween, what’s hard is finding a place where it’s dark enough that it’ll actually glow.

The outline of a skull glows in the dark in a dark staircase.

This skull has been painted on my staircase for SIX YEARS and it still glows. Yes I should have washed or scraped it off but no, I never bothered to do that since you can’t see it during the day or if the lights are on.

It STILL shows up thought when the lights are all off.


Outdoor Halloween decorations


So you need a wreath because in recent years every holiday has a wreath. Easter? Hang a wreath. Christmas? Hang a wreath. Your kid lost a tooth because they were spinning and circles with their eyes closed while wearing boxes on their hands? Hang a wreath.

A Halloween wrath made of feather boas and skulls hangs from a black front door.
A Halloween wrath made of feather boas and skulls hangs from a black front door.

This one is made entirely from stuff from the dollar store. Black feather boas, black gauze, sparkle skulls and probably a real life bug or two.

I’ve had it for 10 years and it still looks as good (bad?) as the day I made it.

Here’s how to make your own Halloween wreath for outside but if you want to go the super-simple route, just wrap a styrofoam wreath form with black feather boas. Done.


You don’t have to carve them.

A black front door with black feather boa wreath and garland blanked by 2 black stools holding orange pumpkins.

No seriously, just don’t. I used to spend DAYS carving pumpkins into 3 dimensional creative pieces of art. You can see some of them here.


You’re lookin’ at it. I add a few sparkle lights and that’s it.


Contrary to what popular culture might have you believe sheets aren’t the best material for making ghosts.

The very BEST material for making ethereal ghosts are gardening supplies.

Ghost bride made with foam pumpkin, a fan and garden netting blows in the wind on a front porch.

This ghost that flutters and blows with the help of a fan behind it, is made out of lightweight gardening row cover and insect netting. The lighter the fabric the more fantastic the flutter.

Watch the video of how to make this ghost bride here.

This year above any others I think I’m going to go all in with my Halloween decorating.

It just feels like that kind of year. Where you need to do something BIG.

A dining room featuring a white brick wall showcases doll parts under glass cloches all along the centre of a harvest table.

Only in 2020 could filling your house with horrifying things be a guaranteed way to cheer yourself up.


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  1. Kris Wilson says:

    Love your post, as usual!
    Another goulish addition to your “dec-horr” would be a Book of the Dead.
    A memento mori. Common in Victorian times. First learned of this in the movie The Others with Nicole Kidman. One if my favorites for this time of year👻!

  2. Janice says:

    I think you meant “disdain” in your first sentence, not “distain”…

  3. Tracy Martinez says:

    I totally agree with you on the cobwebs. I see houses all over that just do the clumping thing. You really need to stretch them out thinly and they go along way. I decorate very similarly to you for halloween so I LOVE all your stuff.
    Thanks for the Halloween inspiration.

  4. Megan says:

    And for some really really cool Glam Spook check out this stained glass spider webs. Just stick them in a doorway for some instant decor. There are more than one type and color. I really love this shop!!

  5. christine Hilton says:

    OMG! Let me know if you find a place to take the taxidermy course.I am so in.
    Today would be a good day to order that tongue from the butcher for Halloween night.A big old hunk of liver will do in a pinch.Just lie in on the steps and apologize for the mess.It is hard to tell who is more horrified,the kids or the parents.

  6. Erika says:

    A Bridget Jones’ chick-lit shelved near Ayn Rand?! Are. You. Mad?!?

    That skull & bone wreath is really cute though. I’ll have to do that with this year’s deer carcasses.

    • Karen says:

      That’s gonna be one big wreath. And yup, I read it all and expect my books to be neighbourly and tolerant of each other. So far there haven’t been any scuffles. ~ karen!

  7. Mary C. says:

    My favorite holiday and I love over your take on it. We don’t do cutesy here either.

  8. Brenda says:

    Now THIS is how you decorate for Halloween. Thanks for being so creative and sharing it with us. I might be borrowing several ideas in the future!

  9. Al says:

    Karen, found this on Amazon today. Thought you might want to add it to your Halloween collection.

  10. Carol Hogan says:

    What about the mummy cats (Not the real one in the window)? Tell, tell.

  11. Alena says:

    And if you are really into Halloween, this light fixture is a must!
    Very spidery.

  12. MindyK says:

    Ah-mazing. I love the subtlety of it–truly adds to the creepiness.
    I generally do overall autumn decorations (leaves, mums, scarecrows, rusty objects), then add a few ghosts, witches, and jack o’lanterns for Halloween. When that’s over, I turn the jacks around to be plain pumpkins and trade the ghosts and witches for pilgrims and turkeys so it’s appropriate for Thanksgiving. That way I can decorate in September and be good ’til December. If only Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, and Easter were so thematically cooperative!

  13. Alena says:

    I completely agree on the spider webs. They have to be thin, and most people leave them on too chunky.
    The word that comes to my mind is hauchdünn.

  14. Marilyn says:

    I wish I liked Halloween ..great job Karen …

  15. Jenny W says:

    Can’t wait till Friday! But please tell me you are recreating your Fan Ghost this year – It was awesome, and I hope to make it this weekend :)

    • Alena says:

      Me too, Jenny, I am only hoping the row cover I ordered from Amazon will make it here in time. It supposedly shipped a week ago, so I wonder if took a detour via Hong Kong?

    • Karen says:

      If I have time I will. This is a very busy time of year getting the garden put to bed, putting away the outdoor furniture etc. I’ll try! ~ karen

  16. Emma Metson says:

    Thank you for sharing this house tour Karen. I’m a new reader, and I think this is a pretty good post to start on haha!

    I’ve always loved the Halloween decorations that you come up with across the pond. In the UK, we don’t tend to go so big on decorating the house (or is that just me who doesn’t?). However, I enjoy reading about what our American and Canadian friends come up with at this spooky time of year.

    Those mummy cats are especially creepy!

    Also, I must commend you on your vast use of spider webs. That right there, is dedication. Having never used them myself, I must ask: How easy are they to clean up?

    • Mary C. says:

      If they are outside and have been stretched across bushes and shrubs, impossible! That’s why I don’t use them outside anymore. But in the house, it’s very easy to just pull them off.

      • Emma Metson says:

        It sounds like you may have had some trouble in the past getting webs off bushes and shrubs Mary! I can imagine that must have been very tough.

        At least they’re easier to deal with inside!

    • Karen says:

      Very easy to clean up Emma. As long as you don’t have them draped on something rough that really grabs at them, they just pull off of whatever you have them hung on. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And welcome to The Art of Doing Stuff. ~ karen!

      • Emma Metson says:

        Oh that’s good then! At least you can go wild with webs and still have peace of mind that they won’t become a chore later on :)

        And thank you Karen! I look forwards to reading more of your posts.

  17. Ev Wilcox says:

    Diorama, bone wreath, book with eyes, beautiful white pumpkins, and oh yeah-the cat in the window. You need to touch up with black paint, though….
    Happy Halloween Karen!

  18. Susan says:

    Thank goodness I don’t have to clean up.

  19. peg says:

    forgot all about the book with eyes, need to do ASAP! nice decor ~ classy and creepy at the same time!

  20. Lindy says:

    As soon as I read this sentence: ‘when you buy spider web it comes in a bag in a clump’ I knew for sure I’m from another planet. We don’t do Halloween here in deepest rural France! I feel like an anthropolist stumbling on the weirdest of weird tribe who boil bones, drape webs and stick eyeballs in books.

  21. Alberta Karen says:

    My Hallowe’en wreath. Based on a previous post. Now saving chicken bones!

  22. dana says:

    I still love that bone wreath! We were eating fast food the other night and I almost told hubby and daughter to save the bones. I might need to make one. Why no moving porch ghost this yr? Or haven’t you gotten to the porch yet?

  23. Kathleen says:

    Love it! The gold spiders & skulls? Brilliant!

  24. Patti says:

    Oh that bone wreath is the bhhhhest! But I don’t know that I’ve seen bones that big on a turkey! I’ll have to buy a much bigger bird this Christmas and start my own collection! My son once collected pork ribs and made me a huge heavy necklace! Damn, I wish I still had that disgusting thing! Thanks for being grossly inspiring!

  25. Robert says:

    I think actually the scariest thing is whatever device you’re using dieing in the middle of writing a comment.
    If you were thinking of leaving a link for the dismembered dolls in this post you forgot to actually put it

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