DIY Haunted House 101, Part 1 – Start with 10 basics!

Lots of people, only haunt the exterior of their house through the Halloween ‘season’ every year and, of course, you can use many of the ideas below just for that purpose. Miss Party is making the assumption in this post, though, that you’re haunting your house in order to hold an indoor Halloween party, so she is covering both inside and outside ideas for a beginner course for ‘DIY Haunted House 101.’ Miss Party has split the 10 basics into two posts, so keep on going to ‘DIY Haunted House 101, Part 2‘.

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Miss Party has personally amassed a large collection of Halloween decor over years and years of making or purchasing a few pieces each year. If you’re on the other end of this addictive holiday and just starting your own collection, figuring out where to begin can be daunting. You’re probably covering inside and outside Halloween decor from the same budget. This post covers the beginner basics of how to ‘haunt’ your humble abode. She knows what you want is a Haunted Estate (house and yard) that is spooky and creepy and everyone’s favorite in the neighborhood. Let’s get you started!

1) This ‘must have’ is pretty obvious, but use lots and lots of faux cobwebbing inside and outside (probably need 2-3 large packages for outside entrance and front yard, 3-4 small packages for inside). Re-use inside cobwebbing for next year, outside cobwebbing will need to be discarded. Please spend the extra time to mimic real spiders webbing by really stretching the webbing into finely threaded webs, not huge clumps. Place various sized spiders into the webbing.

2) Let there be LOW light! Use low lighting and candlelight everywhere to give the party space a spooky ambience; pillars, tapers, votives and tea lights. Purchase Halloween-themed candles, black or burgundy candles, or just use your year-round white candles. Dim your lamps with low-wattage bulbs, dim recessed lighting or fixtures, replace bulbs in a chandelier with flame-flicker bulbs. Use battery-operated candles anywhere that might be a potential safety-hazard for costumed guests, young or not. Use outdoor, patio lanterns for your front porch, steps and walkway (if possible, invest in battery-operated, self-timer, candle pillars for outdoor lanterns, so they’ll be lit every evening through the season).

3) Up the ‘creepy, abandoned estate’ feeling by using Spanish moss draped on ‘normal’ home decor objects, inside and outside (need 2 large packages). Drape it on candlesticks, use as vase filler, drape it over the edges of picture frames and mirrors, on lampshades. Incorporate it into your food table centerpieces. Mix a little into fall garlands or wreaths to give them a Halloween feel. Outside, drape over bare branched trees for a swamp or spooky graveyard feeling. Easy to remove afterwards and save for next year or other craft projects.

4) To start, purchase 6 or more faux, all-black, spooky Halloween garlands. They are fairly inexpensive and will last for years and years. Use them to drape over the outside of your front door and/or entrance gate, or add a quick Halloween twist to your pretty fall door wreath. Inside, drape them over pictures, mirrors, window coverings, and across tables or mantles. Collect a few every year. Miss Party probably has 2 dozen black garlands of various types and uses every one of them no matter what her specific Halloween focus or theme may be.

5) Use old, white (no patterns), flat sheets to cover up upholstered furniture (you may already have some you can donate to the cause or purchase them cheaply at garage sales or secondhand stores). Besides adding to the ‘abandoned mansion’ look, they also help protect your furniture from that lovely, orange cupcake icing! Collect old sheets over time, store away with your Halloween decor each year (launder fresh before using).

Don’t stop now! Keep on going to “DIY Haunted House 101, Part 2” for the next 5 basics!


  1. Kathe says:

    The 10 basic list is exactly what I need. My daughter is hosting her first halloween party and really wants to upgrade it from a “kid party” to something a little bit more mature. By just doing three of these steps (coverings for furniture, cobwebbing more exterior and lighting) it is a great improvement. Thanks Miss Party.

    • You’re velcome! The great part about those three things is that they are easy for kids to assist with, but very, very effective. Your daughter can really help you prep your party space and see the results of her handiwork. Being the ‘Magician’ that makes the magic happen is half the fun of holding a Halloween party. When she sees what a spooky haunted house she has helped create, she won’t believe her eyes! Happy haunting!

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