Halloween decorations to die for

October 31 is creeping closer. Here are eight great ideas to set the scene for celebrations this Halloween

Whether your style is a light-on-fright pumpkin patch for small kiddies or a (fake) house of horrors, it couldn’t be easier to gear up your home for a ghastly good time. The following ideas are easy to implement with just a few props and lashings of creativity. Let your imagination run wild and get ready for a spook-tacular night!

1. Spooky buffet
Set up your table like a cabinet of curiosities, with tablecloths of velvet and ripped tulle topped with treats: think sweets in a fake skull and tasty morsels under glass cloches. Vintage apothecary jars can be used for premixed cocktails or lollies – make (or download) your own labels with appropriately gruesome names. Black candles in candelabras will add to the ambiance.

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2. Good gourd
Nothing says Halloween like a display of pumpkins – no matter what hemisphere and season you’re in. Cluster gourds in a range of shapes and sizes, carve out faces and fill with LED candles for a fire-safe alternative to flames. You can turn the leftovers into pumpkin soup (throw some sweet potato into the pot for an extra kick or roast the pumpkin first for a lovely, caramelised flavour) or make a salad with roast pumpkin, roast tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket, parmesan and asparagus. If you’re not so handy with a knife, try sourcing small pumpkins, spray-painting them white and using a black marker to draw on eye cavities and mouths.

3. Weird science
Bring out the Bunsen burners! Create a laboratory, where science meets science fiction, with a buffet of cocktails in beakers and test tubes, and jelly set in Petri dishes. Set the scene with fake brains (try eBay or prop stores) suspended in yellow-tinted liquid. Use oversized chemistry flasks to hold flowers, and make sure someone dresses up Frankenstein’s lab assistant Igor, who will make a humble-but-creepy drinks waiter.

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4. Frightful florals
They’re not the most obvious Halloween decoration, but flowers can create a wonderfully dark display. Try wilted roses in a matt black vase or a fake skull; spray-paint bare branches black to create spooky silhouettes; suspend seed pods or flower heads in specimen jars of tinted liquid; or keep your flowers fresh, but festoon them with creepy-crawlies.

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5. Feathered fiends
Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock both knew it: birds are scary. Check out eBay or Amazon for artificial (but eerily realistic) ravens. Cluster in branches around the front door, or perch them in or on top of birdcages.

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6. Creepy critters
Turn your home into a creepy house of crawlies by draping cobwebs from every surface – lengths of cheesecloth, cut and torn, look great; freeze plastic bugs in ice cubes; and glue wool in web patterns around glass jars for spooky votives. Don’t forget mammalian critters, too; download a bat template, cut the shapes out of cardstock and tape a colony of bats over the ceiling.

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7. Día de los Muertos
Trade the usual Halloween spook fest for a vibrant Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta. Characterised by wreaths of marigolds and sugar skulls – highly stylised and often made of sugar – this is a joyous, colourful celebration. Create the look with a flamboyant juxtaposition of skulls and flowers. Think garlands of blooms (real or paper), sugar skull biscuits or even a buffet full of colourful lollies – the brighter the better! Add a piñata for fun.

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8. Pumpkin carving

For those with spectacular knife skills, pumpkin carving is a sure way to create a ghoulish centre piece or decoration for the house. Even better, you can bake a pumkin pie at the same time from the filling and decorate it with with white cobweb icing.