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So here's the deal. I will have a budget of 200 dollars this year for new stuff, and I would love to know what advice you guys would give to a beginner decorator. What would make the biggest impact on people that isn't expensive while also not being trashy-looking?

I have a low-lying fog machine, 5 small tombstones, and a bag of skeleton bones. I made a spiderweb with spiders for the garage door. The front doorstep is really nicely decorated with a cauldron I made myself and some witchy stuff—BUT, my front yard is a desert when it comes to decorations.

I want to fill out the space (a yard about 25' x 25'). I could invest in one impressive prop, but I don't want it to look lonely in the middle of the yard. I thought of tons of tombstones, but they aren't my favorite thing, though they can look good if done well.

I would love to learn some of the mechanical and pneumatic skills on the props page, but I am a beginner to that stuff.

What do you guys think? :D
 

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I would suggest starting with a theme - what look do you want to create in the yard? Once you have that, it becomes easier to know if an item would go with the theme or not.

I would also start hitting the thrift stores, like Goodwill, and see if you can find anything that would add to your theme. I've been able to find things like statues, HW decorations, urns, and all sorts of old stuff that can work in various HW themes.

Some cheap suggestions might be groupings of corn stalks, scarecrows, scary "trees" (bare branches), a few tombstones, a groundbreaker, some skulls, hay bales, pumpkins (lighted to unlighted), candles (fake ones), spider webs, maybe a packing tape ghost or two, and most importantly, colored lights.

Since a picture conveys more than words, I quickly went through Pinterest and cobbled together a board for cemetery ideas. Nothing too special, just some easy ideas or images to consider:
https://www.pinterest.com/prepcast/halloween-cemetery-ideas/

I think you should also consider the long-term picture on what you want your yard to look like 5 years from now, so you can work and build towards that each year.

I really think you can give your yard the Halloween look with colored lights. Placing the lights so it lights up your decorations and darkens the rest of the yard can change how your whole yard looks.
 

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You could make a lot of creepy Pumpkinrot style lighted creatures for $200. All you need is monstermud, here is a tutorial from our forum
https://www.halloweenforum.com/tuto...ster-mudding-unorthodox-chimera-tutorial.html.
They are really awesome, and the lighting makes it really dramatic. And you don't have to make creepy creatures either. The technique is super versatile. You could make gargoyles on pedestals with a plywood cathedral facade in the background. Or you could a group of wraiths/reapers and some smaller floating ghosts. There's a whole lot you can do with it. Sit down with your favorite beverage and a pad and pencil and have fun sketching and making notes and then go for it!
 

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Oak Lane Cemetery
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Don't be overly ambitious and feel you have to do as much as you can with what little money you have. Make or buy one or two quality props and build it up a little each year. Spread your expense out over the entire year instead of budgeting it in a month or two beforehand. I keep an eye out year round for anything I can get for free and also build year round to spread out the expense. You would be surprised by how much you can grow a display in a few years. Mine for example...

2007...

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2010...

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2013...

DSCN5881.jpg

2015...

DSCN9711.jpg

2017...

DSCN5232.jpg
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It's better to have patience and grow slowly, while learning to make new props at the same time. You will have better, more original props and not spend nearly as much money in the process. Of course, that's just my opinion
 

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I sympathize. Budget is always a obstacle for me. But there is a big difference between what $200 will buy now and what $200 will buy November 1!!! If that is your total for this year, I would wait for the half off sales. I am a big fan of using what you have and garage sales. Tree limbs painted black are a regular for me. When I use them inside, I spray them with bug spray before I paint them. Boards from free pallets can be signs or the pallets with red lights underneath (use Christmas you probably have) can hide a fiery pit with hands coming out. Four years ago, I found some three foot metal rods which I spray painted black and used as a fence posts for the cemetery. I just used "plastic chains" for the fence which I attached to the top of the posts. Take stock of what you have already. Not everything will work, but sometimes some even better ideas will come from a failed try.

I know you are worried about things looking trashy and I am suggesting things that might actually come from the trash ? That is one of the things I love about Halloween! It doesn't have to be perfect to look perfectly spooky! Flaws are ok and sometimes even better. Black paint, spider webs, and creepy cloth can cure most everything!

Good luck and have fun?
 

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I've found that I really got the biggest bang for the buck with lights on the house. The Gemmy Fire and Ice lights are great and create a great effect. Look for them on eBay, last year I found a seller that was selling them for 10.00.

Also, this Gemmy spotlight is great as well. I found one at Home Depot last year for I think for around 30.00.
 

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I agree with everyone else.
I usually spend a thousand each year on Halloween decorations mostly small stuff like lights projection lights etc all the big stuff I wait until right before Halloween for example Lowes a couple years ago had 75 percent off Halloween on Halloween day anyway I was able to buy a lot of stuff extremely cheap more lights, extension cords and in 2016 Home Depot had 90 percent off Halloween I think because of the election.
I was able to by anything I wanted really it was so cheap but my point is to wait for sales of any type also if you’re buying from Lowes there is a site called renovo power. It’s a site for coupon codes. Good luck I suggest looking at party city too they always have great stuff cheap usually in the beginning of fall.
 

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Effective lighting is a good investment that holds up well over the years and can make your props really look good. It doesn't have to be expensive if you make some LED mini spots.
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Paper mache, thrift store, dollar stores, & Craigslist are your friend!
 

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I do almost everything on the cheap. Paper mache and tin foil are great materials for working on a tight budget. I'm half way through making a giant spider just using 2 plastic bags filled with shredded paper for the body and rolled newspaper for the legs and tin foil details after which I'll paper mache over.

Cereal/cardboard boxes and things similar are also your best friend for things like tombstones, pillars, grandfather clocks etc .

There are an absolute ton of amazing Halloween tutorials on sites like youtube and instructables that you could probably kit the house out on half of that amount.
 
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First a theme first is a great idea... it helps to keep the ideas in check and on track. Don't want to make something for a clown scene if you are really into wanting a witches scene.

I agree with everyone home made can be cheap just look over all the tutorials here for ideas. It's amazing what one can do with cardboard, newspaper, glue and paint. Monstermud is pretty cheap and easy to work with. My Haunt partner Frog Prince has an easy to follow tutorial on how to use a car's wiper motor.

Craigslist for freebies, there are real treasures there.... besides pallets and paint there are crates, fence, clothes, plexiglass, mirrors. Foam board for making more tombstones... baby cribs make great cages, even old Halloween decorations. We snagged a bunch of painted plywood haunt walls from a pro haunt that was closing down. Got a bunch of other made props from another pro haunted they was closing up shop and moving and couldn't take it with him.

Home Depot usually has a spot in the back with unwanted lumber they sell for 70% off. It's far from perfect but who cares about a warped 2x2. Also while the prices have gone up over the years OOPS paint whereever they mix paint can be had for under $10 a gal. Garage sales are great got a homemade wood coffin for a few bucks and oversized blow mold pumpkin for a couple of bucks. Harbor Freight has endless 20% off coupons in the paper to use for things like packing tape (for packing tape ghosts). Two years ago we purchased canvas drop clothes on coupon and using free paint from craigslist and a coupon discounted air paint sprayer did a number of carnival freaks banners.

After holiday sales are the time to buy retail. Watch for coupons if you have to buy before the holiday most places will have some kind of deal early on, got the Big Lots dragon last year with an early 20%off weekend sale and an online coupon added on. Had a friend who worked Home Depot who got me the skelly pony fell off the truck discount.

Think out of the box other holiday decorations can be turned Halloween with just a little paint or revamping. I got a bunch of 90% off Easter egg light strings for my dragon's nest. Same sale I got a number of metal arrows with little lights poked in them.. they said eggs this way or some such thing got some reflective paper from Dollar Tree and cover over the writing and had arrows to mark my midway for our Carn-evil haunt. Dollar tree pool noodles can bulk out arms and legs, be cut to look like coral reefs, cut up then covered in melted black plastic to look like tree roots or branches or covered with cheese cloth, painted and little pipe insulation rings glued on for tentacles with suckers. Attach them to a goodwill found back massage and you have moving tentacles.

Cheap ideas are so numerous that one could go broke trying to do them all.
 

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Thrift stores, garage sales, and Habitat For Humanity stores are great places to find inexpensive material for building your own props.

Get some PVC pipe and you can build numerous cool things. You can build body forms/mannequins and create witches, or grim reapers, or scarecrows, or zombies, or...etc. You can also make graveyard fencing.
Styrofoam wig heads, pool noodles and wire coat clothes hangers come in handy as well.

Paper mache or paper mache clay can be used to form faces on wig heads or make a myriad of other things.


Here is one witch head I made with a wig head and paper mache. Because we get snow and rain I made sure to paint it with drylock first, then latex house paint and then went over it with Spar Urethane for outdoor use to seal the mache well. I made the hands with a chunk of 3/4 inch PVC pipe, wire clothes hangers and paper mache. I also painted them the same way I did the head.
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The head attaches to a body form made with PVC pipe. I used pool noodles on the shoulders and arms of the body form/mannequin and used some clothes purchased at garage sales to dress her. Chicken wire or stuffed plastic bags can be used to fill out the torso.

Here is one of my witches (I made 3 last year) all dressed
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I bought a cheap witch's hat at Dollar Tree and put it on her head to finish her off. I also dyed the skirt a bit darker.

If you want to build an animated prop, a cheap, easy and good one would be Monster In The Box. You can use pallet wood to create the box. You can usually get pallets for free.
Here is just one DIY video to show you how to create it. There are more on youtube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4zFLg_p8Zw

Gravedigger might even be another easy and cheap animated prop to build. This one uses a skeleton, there are tutorials on how to make them just using PVC pipe.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI7R4E8FqXs

A tombstone popper would also be another cheap and easy animated prop. Here is but one of many tutorials on how to make them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiY54FR7Ihk

Lots of things you can make on the cheap without looking trashy. Like others have said pick a theme and build on it. I started out my first year of decorating with a giant spider I made with paper mache and wire clothes hangers and some webbing. I just kept adding to my yard year after year things that worked together. 2nd year I added a graveyard and a grim reaper. Last year I added three life sized animated witches surrounding a giant cauldron. This year I'm making a haunted forest. Good luck and happy Haunting.
 

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Back in 2010, everything I owned was destroyed in late August when a storage shed collapsed, and I had already spent most my budget, winding up with $220 left for the year.

$60 in pumpkins, and $160 in lighting later, it remains one of my favorites. (the corn stalks and reed grass used for most the decor were free)




So, I'd say spend on lighting first. It's not only important, but less likely to break than props.
 

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I just posted on your thread regarding how to attract more people. In it I mentioned TOT's need to see your display and know it's worth their time heading down your cul-de-sac to come to your place when your neighbors aren't participating on Halloween.

Adding affair bit of volume to a 25 x 25 front lawn on a budget is feasible if you have access to some free materials.

If you can get access to tree branches and some used wood to use as bases I would bundle the branches together to imitate creepy dead trees and use these to fill height and space in your front yard. Stretch some dollar store spider webs in the branches and light from below. Some of the dollar store battery LED's are bright enough to throw the light high enough and can light up your tombstones as well. For a tinge of colour cut up some thin plastic sheet covers from the dollar store and tape them on the LEDS. Get some cheap black weed barrier and cover the wood base. You could use black garbage bags and re-use them as garbage bags after Halloween, and this way they would count towards your home budget and not your Halloween budget right?!

A lot of companies throw out white Styrofoam when they receive various shipments. See if you have any friends/relatives who work in a warehouse or at an appliance or department store where you might get some for free. Check and post on Craig's List / kijiji etc for Styrofoam, lights, and other materials. If you can get some for free make a few more tombstones to fill areas under and around your new trees. These don't have to be perfect right away. Another filler is white crosses made from scrap wood.

Spend some money on decent lighting as well so your display is easily noticed at the end of the cul-de-sac. Lighting draws attention and enables TOT's to see your display. In my area halogen flood lights are still a lot cheaper than LED's. Starting out I would buy coloured halogen floods even though they don't have quite the same brilliance as LED's but do consider a Fire and Ice light to add some "motion and ambiance" to your display for a lot less than an animatronic.

If you have access to borrow a projector from a friend/work/relative then you can do a nice rear projection using a frosted dollar store shower curtain or table cloth in a windows or doorway . (Don't tell anyone but there are some AtmosfearFX torrent downloads on the internet that can be had for free, if you don't mind downloading torrents.)

Build on detail from year to year and have fun along the way.
 

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I agree with the lighting! It makes a huge impact. Right now, Grandinroad has a rotating spotlight on sale for around $6. I also found red, green and purple lights on Amazon for around $8 each. I try to uplight my trees in front of my house which makes scary looking shadows at night.
For ghosts, I purchased several foam heads from Michaels, some spray on glue, and several yards of cheesecloth. I lightly sprayed the heads/faces and molded the cheesecloth over them. I then took the hook part of regular wire hangers and poked it through the heads so I had something to attach the ghost to. I hang the ghosts from tree branches and shepherd’s hooks in my yard.
 
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