"Ooooh! What a scary house you have!" If you want praise such as this from trick-or-treaters this Halloween, try a few of these easy-to-make decorations:
* Using black construction paper, cut out large eyes, a misshapen nose and a gaping mouth. Tape these ghoulish features to the inside of your front window. When the lights are on, or the curtains are drawn, it will look as if a big ghost is peering out your window.
You can create the reverse image of this by covering your window in dark paper and cutting out openings for the eyes, nose and mouth. At night it will look like a glowing monster.
* Use white handkerchiefs or squares of fabric cut from an old sheet to make a herd of small ghosts. Wad up a piece of paper or Kleenex and place it in the center of each square. Use a piece of white thread and tie it around the wad to create a "head." With a permanent ink marker, draw features onto the ghost's face. Insert a small safety pin into the head of each ghost and loop string through it so you can hang your spirits from a tree in your front yard.
* Line up a row of tombstones on your front lawn. Cut tombstone shapes from discarded cardboard boxes and spray-paint them white. Write your own spooky epitaphs using a permanent marker ("Hall O. Ween, One scary dude," "Dracula, He loved his Mummy" or "Frank N. Stein, A nuts-and-bolts kind of guy," etc.). Make the tombstones stand up on your lawn by folding the bottom portion of the tombstone under and using long nails to nail it into your lawn. Add a stand, similar to those used on the back of stand-up picture frames and your headstones should hold up in a gust of wind.
* Have your children make ghostly placemats. You'll need black construction paper and white and black poster paint. Use a brush to lather on a thick layer of white paint onto your kid's feet. Have him/her step onto the paper to create a pair of footprints (which will become the ghost's body). When the paint dries, coat your child's thumb with black paint. Place a pair of thumbprints on the heel area (the head of the ghost) of the footprint, and, voila!, you've created a pair of spooks staring up from your placement.
* How about a dismembered hand crawling out from your front door mat? Dress up a plastic work glove with red paint, hair and fake finger nails. Stuff the glove with Kleenex and make it look like it's creeping out from under your welcome mat.
* Welcome visitors with a home-made scarecrow. Gather old clothing to outfit your "man." Dress him any way you'd like -- as a farmer, a hobo, a businessman, a football player, etc. Pin a pair of socks to the bottom of a pair of pants and stuff with newspaper. Pin the shirt or jacket to the pants and continue adding stuffing. Make a head from a paper bag, or use a rubber fright mask. Set a chair by your front door and sit your "trick-or-treater greeter" in it.
* Make spooky potted- plant decorations. Have your children cut out miniature jack-o'-lanterns, black cats or spiders from construction paper. Tape your Halloween images to lengths of wire, chop sticks or shish kabob skewers and poke them into the soil of your house plants.
* Dangle arachnids from your ceiling. Using black construction paper, cut out 20 to 50 spider shapes. Bend their legs for a more realistic look. Tape black thread to your spiders and hang them from the ceiling.
Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. E-mail her at KitDavey@aol.com, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit A Fresh Look.