DIY Halloween Décor Kids Can Make

Get your kids revved up for Halloween by designating them the official decorators of the season! Not only will it save you the trouble of having to hang, glue and paint all by yourself, but it will also give your kids the chance to create spooky décor they’re proud of. Plus, they’re much less likely to be afraid of Halloween decorations they’ve made themselves. Here are a few fun and wallet-friendly DIY Halloween décor ideas your kids can make:

Pumpkin Painting

Let’s be honest: Carving pumpkins is a mess that also requires sharp tools. Skip the carving this year and focus on painting instead. For a fun twist, paint the pumpkin canvases black or white. Or skip the spook altogether and go for glitter! Once dry, you’ll have pumpkins that are more chic than shriek.

Haunted House

Planning on having company over? Let the kids give your home a haunted house feel. Covering furniture with white sheets is a silly, fun and mess-free activity. It’s also a quick and inexpensive way to decorate big for your guests. First, remove any items from chairs, tables and couches, then have the kids cover them with sheets. Be sure to place items back on your furniture to keep your “haunted” house functional.

Cheesecloth Ghosts

Here’s a clever way to make ghosts that seem to just float in place! This project requires a little more prep on your end, but the end result is worth it. All you need is two cups, a small ball, cornstarch, water and cheesecloth. 

Dangling Spiders

Perhaps the most flexible of all craft ideas (pun fully intended), pipe cleaner spiders hanging from their webs makes for impressive entryway décor. Give your kids some black pipe cleaners and show them how to twist and bend them into spidery shapes. You can dress them up with googly eyes and glue or a construction-paper top hat. When you’re done, hang them on your walls with dental floss.

Skeleton Art

Get rid of old pasta by letting your kids use noodles to create skeleton art -- skulls, mandibles, rib cages and more. To start, print out pictures of skeletal systems for inspiration (and a sneaky science lesson!). Then have your kids recreate the skeletal parts by gluing pasta on black construction paper. Once they’ve labeled each system with the correct scientific name, hang up the art around the house.

Like with any art project, have your kids sign the bottom to boost their decorating pride. And who knows … all the DIY décor fun just might help take their minds off the candy that’s to come!

Speed Clean Your Pantry

This season, your kitchen is probably starting to get a lot more action -- and a lot of mess. One place that needs a little extra TLC: your pantry. Out of sight, sticky shelves, unsightly spills and expired food are all too easy to leave behind and forget about. But for a healthy, germ-free kitchen, take control of the messes hiding in your pantry with this easy speed-cleaning routine.

Step 1: Set a timer.

Once the timer is ticking, don’t do anything else but the task at hand. “You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you eliminate distractions and add a timer,” says Becky, cleaning expert and blogger at clean mama. That means no calls, no computer: just clean. Or try another tactic. “Clean a little bit every day. It’s less overwhelming and you can speed through it in 15 minutes a day,” she says.

Step 2: Purge and donate.

“Start by throwing away any expired food items,” says Becky. Then, gather the canned goods you don’t want or won't eat any time soon and bring them to your local food pantry. Be sure to keep boxes and trash cans next to your pantry while cleaning, so you don’t spend time running back and forth.

Step 3: Disinfect.

Once you’ve gotten rid of expired or non-essential items, remove all other items from your pantry and set them on the kitchen table and counters, says Becky. Place spices, pastas, breakfast items, snacks and more together, so they can easily be placed back in practical places together. Once your pantry is empty, use a fresh-scented multipurpose cleaner to clean shelves. Crumbs come up more easily with a wet paper towel. Spritz an air freshener to freshen up your pantry and eliminate any odors. Replace all items, keeping the ones you use the most in the easiest-to-reach places.

“Once you’ve completed a large cleaning project, it’s important to maintain it,” says Becky. This means always putting items in their proper place, cleaning small messes right away and going through your food items before grocery shopping to make sure you won't be buying items twice. “Get other family members involved in returning things to their proper place as well,” says Becky.  

Aromatherapy Scents Around the House

When you step over the threshold of your front door, the first thing you notice is the smell. Your home is a sanctuary, and your peaceful place should smell fresh and clean -- not like the tangle of sneakers near your door!

“Smells possess an incredible power,” says Dr. Christian Moretti, an expert in molecular aromatherapy. The chemical properties of certain scents send signals to your brain, influencing behavior and mood. The right aroma can help you to think more clearly, eat slower and fall into a deep, satisfying slumber. Each smell creates a unique effect, so to truly maximize the benefits of aromatherapy scents; each room of your home should contain a different scent.

Scents for the Bedroom

The deeply rich scent of mandarin oil may help you fall asleep, according to Dr. Moretti. This oil, which is extracted from the rind of the mandarin orange, assists in calming nerves and promoting relaxation. The warm and exotic scent of the jasmine may also encourage sleep.

Create your own pillow mist by combining water and a few drops of mandarin or jasmine oil in a spray bottle. Take a warm bath with several drops of these essential oils mixed into the water. Or freshen your sheets with a bedding refresher spray in scents like lavender or jasmine.

Scents for Your Pets

Does your dog go crazy every time you leave the house? Infuse the air with the scent of lavender: A light, floral aroma that has been used for centuries to aid in relaxation. Add a few drops of the oil to your pet’s bedding, or plug in a scented diffuser into an outlet near your dog’s crate.

Scents for the Dining Room

For your next dinner party, Dr. Moretti recommends scents such as patchouli, sandalwood and rose. The sensual, warm scent of earthy aromas like patchouli and sandalwood help calm and ground; deep floral scents like rose help stabilize mood. To create a calm dining atmosphere, look for candles in scents such as sandalwood or floral rose.

Scents for Smelly Spots

To reduce odors, Dr. Moretti uses a citrus mix of grapefruit, lemon, bergamot and sandalwood oils. These scents neutralize bad smells while infusing the air with a light perfume. Shake a few drops of these essential oils in the bottom of the trash can or place an odor eliminator in a clean citrus scent by the litter box.

Home Sanctuary Décor Ideas -- for Less

No time for a spa day? No problem. It’s easy -- and budget-friendly! -- to transform your home into a calming, stress-free haven. Simple changes can help relieve tension and welcome serenity, even with little ones running around. The benefit? You’ll notice a positive boost to your health, including increased positive energy, decreased stress level and the ability to process information, says Dawn Falcone, organizer/designer and owner of Dawn Falcone Lifestyles. Take a deep breath, and get started with these simple steps.

Cut the Clutter

Before adding spa-like elements, take control of the mess behind the stress. “Eliminating clutter is a process, so be sure to set realistic goals and start small,” says Falcone. Instead of organizing your entire bedroom at once, start with your dresser. Label three boxes to help you organize: One for donations, one for recycling/trash and one to keep. Place any items to keep in practical, easy-to-find areas.

Add Accents

Now the fun can begin. Look for small, inexpensive accessories that are both luxurious and comforting.

  • Lighting: “Overhead lighting is unflattering and less soothing,” says Betsy Helmuth, owner of Affordable Interior Design in NYC. “Add table and floor lamps to manipulate light and create soft pools of light.” If you already have overhead lighting, “put all your lights and lamps on dimmers,” says Falcone. Scented candles are a good option for your bedroom, where kid play is off-limits.
  • Textures: Soft, plush textures are the ultimate comfort boosters. Look for inexpensive cashmere throws, a soft rug for the foot of your bed, plush towels instead of terrycloth and soft pillows. “Having little moments of decadence throughout the day will create a spa-like atmosphere,” says Helmuth.
  • Sound-proof drapes: These can be purchased for under $50, and are a good investment if you live in a bustling city or loud environment, says Helmuth.
  • Plants: Often found in resting areas at spas, plants add elements of nature into your design. Succulents are a good choice, as they’re small and stay longer than flowers, says Helmuth.
  • Guest basket (for you): Just as you would for visitors, keep a basket by your bed with water, books and essential oils.

Prioritize Spaces

Instead of an entire home overhaul, start with the rooms that you spend the most time in, and which are just yours (and not the kids’). “The room with perhaps the biggest impact is the entryway,” says Falcone. “If it’s a disaster, you’ll instantly feel stressed as leave or enter through the door.” The bedroom is also key, as clutter affects your sleep and state of rest. Falcone recommends creating a recharging station in your bedroom just for you: no electronics allowed! It’s a small space meant for relaxation, drinking tea and reading. Place something comfortable for you to sit on and escape.

Keep it Personal

Select a relaxing color palate to suit your taste, say the designers. Light blue, sage, beige, buff or other earth tone are more soothing color choices than bold, bright colors. Carry these colors throughout the house to maintain a nice flow. Then, personalize your home with artwork that you feel connected to you, and which brings out a happy feeling in you. “Choose your favorite photos, and have them blown up and put on canvas,” says Falcone. But don’t over-decorate. “Instead of filling every wall or bookshelf with something, avoid visual clutter and pick one piece to give your eye a place to rest.”

Not-so-scary Halloween Decor

Just because Halloween festivities and decorations are filled with ghosts and witches doesn’t mean you need to trade in your home design aesthetic for faux spider webs. Getting into the Halloween spirit can be easy on the eyes – and your wallet  -- if you pare down your decorations.

Simplify Colors

“Halloween is all about orange and black, so focus your colors there and add an accent color,” says Judy Gilmartin-Willsey, owner of Framings Event Design, which has decorated many Halloween-themed occasions. She recommends silver as an accent color, as it pops nicely with the darker decorations. Or try deep red, yellow or purple. Pick one accent to go with the primarily black decorations.

Be Consistent With Materials

Instead of shopping for a variety of materials, choose one fabric for decorating to save on money and maintain a flow in your home. “A great decorating accessory is black gauze fabric,” says Gilmartin-Willsey. “Stretch it down the backs of chairs, make it into a runner for the center of the table, fray it and hang it from your fireplace.” The trick to pretty theme decorating is to use the same material in many different ways. Orange, or other accent color, can be found in this fabric as well at art supply stores.

Add Accessories

Home accessories give your decorations a festive boost. Look for candles in fall scents like pumpkin spice or apple, and choose colors that are consistent with your décor color pallet. Candles can also be decorated with the gauze fabric or wrapped in elegant black lace. Swap outdoor blow-up decorations for inexpensive black lanterns to line your pathway and steps, says Gilmartin-Willsey. You can use these inside your house as well. For other lighting ideas, spray-paint candelabras to match your color scheme. Tie in your colors with such home elements as throw pillows, tablecloths and outdoor wreaths.

Bring the Outdoors In

Top off decorations with fresh plants and flowers that add elegance to your décor. Instead of typical red roses, go for orange or ones in deep reds and purples. “Another cost-friendly idea is to buy inexpensive vases and fill them with eco-friendly black twigs,” says Gilmartin-Willsey.

In addition to lining your outdoor steps with pumpkins and lanterns, stack mini pumpkins on tables as a centerpiece. Pumpkins can be spray-painted black, silver or other another fall accent color. Throwing a party? Carve your house number into individual pumpkins, and light them up for guests to see.