Hello everyone and Happy Halloween!
I’ve been a member for some time now and recently I’ve been inspired by all the Halloween-related ‘ibles out there. I figured it was about time I made one of my very own. Read on for a few tips to decorate for Halloween effectively with little time/effort!
Every year I throw a fabulous Halloween party with my closest friends and we have a ball. Decorating for the occasion and hand-making the props are my favorite parts!
I am a little eccentric so it usually takes me a whole year to plan for my annual shindig. Sometimes I get so caught up in the season that I also want to bring the Halloween Magic to work with me. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the energy to pull off something as elaborate as my home-décor which brings us to this Instructable!
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Step 1: Know Your Workplace Policies
Before we start, note that every place of business will have different decorating/personalization polices for the holidays. If you want to decorate but are unsure of your company’s guide lines reach out to your supervisor and clear those up before getting your heart set on an idea.
Now that that's out of the way, we can begin!
Step 2: Brainstorm
Brainstorming an Idea
Thankfully I work for a wonderful company that allows its employees to express themselves creatively and this company has very simple ground rules for holiday décor.
For the desk decorating contest I needed a killer décor theme without the following:
lights, sounds, gasses, liquids, weapon/weapon-like props, or any large moving parts.
These requirements are pretty standard for a place of business, so I would steer clear of them for all décor and costume-related things. Unless your workplace is really cool, in which case, do whatever your spooky little heart desires!
My desk is the first thing guests see when they walk in the door and I needed to not go for a scare factor or gross factor. Keeping this in mind, I took a photo of my desk space and drew up a few sketches for my final layout of my design. This helps me put my vision into the 3 dimensional world, and is a great way to keep a record of past designs.
Step 3: Reflect, Reuse, & Repurpose
Another factor is spending. I have a budget I follow specifically for my Halloween party so I don’t over-spend. To stick to my budget plan I needed decorations that wouldn’t break the bank or that I could repurpose year after year to account for the cost. (i.e. a life-sized posable skeleton for $30.00 or a mannequin for $60.00)
Based on the decor guidelines and the décor I already owned I decided to resurrect a classic family-friendly party theme: Monster Mash!
The best places I've found for theme inspiration are:
Pinterest, Catch My Party, SpookylittleHalloween.com, The Witch at One and Seventy, and of course Instructables!
Step 4: Location, Location, Location
Of course, the most important factor, location. This affects every aspect of the decorating process; target audience, quantity of items, how to set up display, limitations, etc.
Being a receptionist, I needed to be extra mindful of over-doing it (as I tend to do around this time of year.)
Important to note:
Halloween may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I didn’t want to encourage the removal of such wonderful decorating/costume contests by going all out and potentially becoming unprofessional with my concept.
When in doubt: keep it temporary, low-key, fun, and classy.
Step 5: Gathering the Materials
If You’ve Got it, Haunt it
For my monster theme I decided to decorate my desk to resemble what I imagine Dr. Frankenstein’s secretary’s desk would look like, if he had assembled himself a secretary. I imagined stone walls, cobwebs, elixir/apothecary bottles, specimen jars, dripping candles, test tubes, bubbling chemicals, and a spooky lab skeleton.
Before hitting my local Halloween haunts, I looked through my old Halloween decorations and pulled out a few staple pieces that I use nearly every year:
Creepy cloth, stone patterned background/tablecloth, glass bottles, and my trusty skeleton buddy Meli.
Step 6: Decor Tips
Creepy cloth, faux pumpkins, skulls, and fun patterned table cloths are a MUST have if you are a Halloween Host/Hostess. These pieces are life-savers when it comes down to pulling off a cohesive and unique theme. You can use them in unlimited ways, just use your imagination and have fun! Another staple I have is my handy-dandy color printer; you wouldn’t believe how many mind-blowing decorations you can make with a simple laser printer. The monster warning posters were courtesy of Dave Lowe Designs. http://davelowe.blogspot.com/
When to Buy Décor
The best times to purchase your Halloween décor is almost always the week of or day after Oct. 31st as most items go on sale during these times. However, I particularly love purchasing spooky things all year round from the beloved Amazon.com. I have found that hunting for Halloween items during the summer months is the most fruitful time for online shopping.
Step 7: Bringing the Laboratory to Life
Here's how I set up my monster lab!
I decorated the front of my desk with the stone pattern table cloth and cut it to size. Then, to cover the edges of the stonework, I hung a few scraps of my creepy cloth over the other areas I couldn’t reach with the tablecloth.
The signs were printed out on 11x17 printer paper and distressed. I cut ½ inch, 1 inch, and 2 inch lines in a random pattern all along the edges of the signs. Then I curled each of the 4 corners and folded the edges of the cuts I had made. (I have attached the posters I used in this Instructable below.) To add an extra layer of grime, you could tea stain them with damp tea bags and leave them to dry overnight.
To make my jars a bit more on-theme, I did a quick Google search for some grungy chemical labels like the ones I’ve attached below. I printed, cut out, and affixed these labels to my jars with old yellowed masking tape, mod podge, or hanging off the bottle’s neck with twine.
Since there were a few bottles that didn’t have corks, I fashioned some stoppers with crumpled up paper, tape, and wrapped the whole thing with twine.
I’ve also made wizard/witch potion bottles using the same technique; those particular bottles were filled with liquid colored soap and small plastic insects, eyeballs, beads, flowers, glitter, etc. This is another idea budget-friendly idea that I use for prop-making.
For the monster head on display, I found an old rubber monster mask at a thrift store, stuffed it with newspaper, and taped it in place on a heavy wooden platter to fit under the glass cloche. In a stroke of luck, the cake platter and cloche were also found at the same thrift store.
A similar cloche could be found at a local craft store (i.e Michaels, Joann’s Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc.) and you could easily make a stand from a thick candlestick and a charger, if you prefer the DIY route.
Step 8: Pulling It All Together
To finish the scene, I added in the various mad science elements and scattered them about the shelves. To keep the fragile items secure throughout the day, I attached Velcro Command strips (for hanging picture frames) and stuck one end to the prop and the other end to the desk. It helped to stagger the items in various degrees of height and grouped them together in small clusters.
In my original design I had planned to transform all the plants in my lobby area into failed experiments with tentacles and eyeballs poking out of their flower pots, but decided that might be a bit too much. If you'd like to use this idea, print out the eyeballs clipart file, cut them out, and glue/tape them to wooden skewers. Then stick the skewers into your potted plant and enjoy the laughs!
The stand for my skeleton lab assistant was made with PVC pipes and a few connector pieces I had lying around. I measured out the height of my skeleton, connected the post section of the stand, then made the base with a 5 port connector piece and 4 “legs” sticking out to hold the weight steady.
To attach my skeleton, I used small bungee cables with hooks on the ends around her spine and shoulders. You could also use zip-ties for a more permanent fix. Since, Meli isn't too heavy, the stand doesn't really need to be weighted down, but if it were set up in a high traffic area I would suggest a few sandbags in case it gets bumped.
Step 9: Don’t Forget the Candy Bowl!
Now that your workspace is appropriately spooky, round up some snack-size treats for your tricksters and watch as their faces light up with Halloween Spirit.
Don't forget to treat yourself, too! I tend to wear spooky dresses year-round and I find most of them from COWCOW on Amazon.
Their store is a bit difficult to navigate since there are multiple listings included in one post, but they have the largest variety of prints I have EVER seen!
Have a smart and safe Halloween out there and spread the magic around!
Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2019