For Halloween decor inspired by the classic Hitchcock films Dial M for Murder and The Birds, this Victorian dining room was accessorized with pieces from the '50s and '60s, then decorated in gray, black and orange tones.
Pick Your Poison
Don't toss that empty bottle. Instead make it part of your spooky Halloween decor. Collect empty glass bottles throughout the year, especially those with interesting shapes. In a well-ventilated area, coat each with two to three coats of flat black spray paint. Check your local craft store's scrapbooking area for blank labels or make your own with card stock and a permanent marker.
The Walls Have Eyes
Inexpensive elements, like vintage art, can add a creepy effect to any room. Shop your local flea market or thrift store to pick up a grouping of portraits and pop art featuring faces. Hang them together gallery-style to give guests the feeling they're being watched.
A Mini Ghost Town
Create the look of a haunted shrunken town with craft store birdhouses or inexpensive Christmas village figurines painted flat black. Select pieces in different shapes and sizes for the best look then coat them first with spray primer then with two coats of flat black spray paint. Tip: For a more glam look, use gloss paint instead of flat.
Give Them the Evil Eye
Give a devilish look to framed art or family photos with blacked-out eyes. Just cut black construction paper to size, then attach it directly to the glass or canvas with double-sided tape. Tip: It's important not to use packing tape, gift-wrap tape or duct tape when attaching eyes to a painted canvas because it can damage the surface.
Black Poisoned Apples
Don't worry, these apples aren't really deadly — but they certainly look it. To make them, you'll need: apples, twigs that have been washed and trimmed, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, water, cinnamon-flavored oil, red food coloring, black food coloring and a candy thermometer. Thoroughly wash each apple, remove the stem and insert a twig (you may need to sharpen the end first). Next, stir sugar, corn syrup and water together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the syrup reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in flavored oil and food coloring. To coat the apple, dip completely in the syrup and swirl it. Hold the apple above the saucepan so the excess coating can drain off. Place candied apple onto a baking sheet that's been greased or lined to allow it to cool.
Add touches of a mad scientist's lab to your Halloween decor with apothecary jars and food coloring. To create the bright green look of formaldehyde, mix water with green food coloring, then pour into clear apothecary jars. Place plastic animals or dried botanicals, such as lotus pods, into the jars.
Hit the hardware store to create an unexpected napkin ring. Pick up a spool of small metal chain, luggage padlocks and a lightweight bolt cutter. Cut a section of chain that's approximately five to eight inches long then wrap it around a folded napkin and secure with a padlock.
Fastened for Feasting
Add leather belts to ordinary dining chairs to have your guests wondering if they were invited to your home to eat dinner — or to be dinner. Tip: Be sure to turn the buckles to the back to prevent guests from leaning against the sharp metal edges.
Fangs and Names
Put plastic vampire teeth to work as clever place-card holders. Just open them up and pop in a handwritten card. If white doesn't work with your decor, go glam with metallic spray paint.
DIY terrariums are easy to make, affordable and offer endless ways to create spooky scenes. Pick up wooden bases and glass vases, candleholders or fishbowls at your local craft store. Fill with twigs, live moss and leaves topped with plastic insects, snakes or faux birds.
House of Hitchcock
Movie-inspired vignettes are excellent conversation-starters, especially at dinner parties where guests may be meeting for the first time. Get your guests buzzing with nods to scenes from classic thrillers like this small seating area that's reminiscent of the 1954 Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder.
Give your dining table a suitably dramatic focal point with a dead-branch centerpiece. Just gather a group of large bare branches, cut them to the appropriate size with a hacksaw or clippers then spray-paint them with a matte black finish. Once dry, place painted branches in a heavy urn or planter that's been filled with pea gravel or pebbles topped with floral foam. Cover the foam with Spanish moss held in place with hot glue. For a finishing touch, hang Halloweeny items, like rubber bats, snakes or lightweight votive lanterns, from the branches.
Watch Your Head
Mannequin heads are a way to add kitschy creepiness to your Halloween decor. As a nod to our party's midcentury theme, we dressed our dismembered heads in '50s and '60s fashions then displayed them near the cocktails and appetizers.
The Living and the Dead
A combination of living plus dead elements equals Halloween decor that's dark and chic. This mantel was decorated with organic elements like moss and twigs while the stuffed fox certainly fits the dead bill. Tip: Taxidermy is often pricey, especially when purchased through designer showrooms or antique stores. Search local flea markets to pick up authentic or faux taxidermy for a fraction of the retail price.
Put a Lid On It
Found in craft stores and wholesale floral markets, a cloche or bell jar is a tall glass container available in a variety of shapes and sizes that's used primarily to keep dust off objects. Great choices for Halloween bell jar displays include taxidermy, stone bust bookends, antique dolls and toys, and vintage laboratory or surgical equipment.
Casts of Characters
Creep out your guests with mummified arms and legs. You'll need a patient and willing friend, plaster gauze from a medical supply store, petroleum jelly and a bucket of warm water. First thoroughly coat any area you plan to cover with petroleum jelly then dip gauze in warm water and layer strips around a friend's arms or legs. Allow 30 to 60 minutes for the gauze to fully dry. Once it has hardened, cut it off slowly straight up the central rear portion of the cast with round-edge scissors.
Head of the Table
Brave souls willing to take mummified decor up a notch can try their hand at casting faces. Find a non-claustrophobic friend willing to sit still and upright for 30 to 45 minutes. Be sure to thoroughly coat their entire face and neck in petroleum jelly and pull their hair securely back so it doesn't get caught in the plaster. Then, layer plaster gauze strips around their face and neck, ensuring you leave unobstructed nostril holes for breathing. Once the gauze has hardened, slowly remove the cast and wash skin thoroughly.
Apothecary jars are an excellent way to turn just about anything into a displayed object, especially small body parts such as cast hands, feet and forearms.
Bats in the Branches
Add some overhead interest to your dinner table with bats suspended from bare branches. All you'll need are rubber bats from the craft store and clear fishing line. Before attaching the bats, make sure the selected branch is strong enough to support the weight.
Orange You Scared?
While orange and black has been the go-to Halloween color scheme for decades, it's seldom seen as sophisticated. To decorate your Halloween dinner party in this palette with a posh twist, consider incorporating the orange strictly through accents, then layering gray and brown tones in with the black.