*As with all displays involving string lights, please do NOT leave this prop illuminated when you are away from home.
The cost on this project can be as little as $0 if you happen to have the items on hand, it will take you about 10 minutes to complete (unless your fireplace requires a lot of cleaning). If you have to purchase everything, I would estimate it between $35 and $75.
Step 1: Supplies
Orange string lights
Fireplace (or faux fireplace)
Cat - Not recommended (I dare you to try and stop him.)
*NOTE - The fabric needs to be translucent enough to show the lights, but opaque enough that it's not blatantly obvious what the light source is. If you simply cannot find fabric and/or you don't have a firelog holder, you can "mould" some Great Stuff over a plastic tarp (use empty water and large soda bottles for the armature under the tarp you're using for the Great Stuff). When the Great Stuff is dry, spray paint it black and peel it off of the tarp. It will have natural openings which will create your banked coals look.
Step 2: Clean Up Your Fireplace
Step 3: Just Add Fire
Step 4: Bank Your Fire
As noted in the supplies list, I used what was called "Creepy Printed Cloth" from Walgreens. I found it on clearance for $0.96 a bag last year. I did what any good haunter (a.k.a. a "collector") would do, I bought all of them. Anyway... This one happened to have a skull pattern on it. Which isn't necessary for the project, but it does give a nice blackened/ash colour to the look.
*NOTE - "Creepy Printed Cloth" is NOT the same thing as the "Creepy Cloth" you can find at dollar stores and some Halloween stores. It will not work. (At least, it won't work well.)
Step 5: Add Parts
There are tons of different things that you can do to add to this design. You can add a cauldron. You can put in some red and purple lights to create a more variegated colour scheme. You can add silk fabric and a fan to mimic flames. You can use this post to corpse your skeletons to make them look more cooked. You can make the project as complex as you like. However, since this is being posted at the beginning of October, I wanted to keep it simple.