Halloween has been steadily growing in popularity here in the UK, and come 31 October Brits up and down the country will be holding spooky celebrations. Key to a successfully scary bash are the decorations, so if you are planning your Halloween party, here are a few ideas to suit all budgets.
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Halloween just wouldn't be the same without a few frightening pumpkins. Buy a variety of sizes, or even use other veg like squash, and spread them around the room, each with a different face. If you're a bit rushed, now's the time to get the kids involved - let the older children do the hard hollowing out work (it goes without saying to supervise them when using sharp implements) and you can help them to carve the spooky faces. Nature can also provide other decorations for your home - ivy, mossy twigs and apples all add to the autumnal theme, and can make great table settings.
Another great idea is to reuse items that you may already have. Empty glass jars, for instance, can be used to create a creepy scientist's lab, simply by dropping an object into each one. Small plastic Halloween items like eyeballs, insects and even severed fingers work perfectly well for these spooky specimen jars. You could even make up coloured concoctions for your jars, using food colouring and a couple of tablespoons of milk for added murkiness.
Any arts and crafts materials you have will also come in handy. Flying bats are easy to cut out of black card, and can be hung from ceilings and light fittings, or stuck along walls or cupboards.
Other simple ideas include draping white sheets over living room furniture for that long-abandoned look, and using card cut and painted to look like gravestones for the classic eerie cemetery feel outside.
And if you do invest in one shop-bought item, make it spiderweb wool. Available in a variety of sizes, it will instantly turn your home into a creepy castle.
If DIY isn't your thing, you're in luck because the shops will be filled with items that are sure to scare your guests. And if you've got a substantial budget, these days you can go all out with the props and decorations.
At www.laughingstock.co.uk, for example, you can really turn up the horror factor with a Decapitated Head Floor Prop (£49.99), a Skull Head, complete with moving eyes (£15.36) or a Hanging Bat with light-up eyes (£15.67). A variety of severed limbs are also available from £5.99. And to really test your guests' bravery, why not switch your shower curtain for one with two bloody handprints (£13.99) - who will dare to look behind?
To give your garden path a little Halloween atmosphere and make the walk to your door just that bit more eerie for potential trick or treaters, why not invest in some Halloween Candle Bags, available from www.partydelights.co.uk. These flame retardent and resuable bags are decorated with typical Halloween designs and, when lit up with a tea light, make for an atmospheric pathway.
Ultimately, whether you splash the cash or make your own, all it really takes to make a great Halloween display is a little twisted imagination.
Are you renowned for your spooky Halloween parties? What are your top decorating tips? Leave your comments below...