When I think Halloween, I think of my friend Twila, who does it up big. She teams up with Chery, one of the designers at Nell Hill's, and the two of them have a ball as they make over Twila's house. Every year, they come up with completely new creations, giggling and cheering as they go through Twila's treasure trove of Halloween decorations, which she has collected through the years.
Once her home is decorated to perfection, Twila hosts parties and gatherings, inviting her friends to share in the fun.
Twila likes to weave Halloween decorations into her existing fall decor. For example, Twila tricked up a bouquet on her entry table by plopping a ghoul in the center. Talk about unexpected! What tools do you have that could take on a sinister cast if placed in the right setting? How about some tarnished silver candlesticks, lanterns or iron urns?
Hunt through your house for additional props. A fedora jauntily perched on a skeleton's head was a perfect last-minute addition, pulled out of one of Twila's closets on a whim. I've found that when you set your creativity free and play around with your displays a bit, you come up with masterpieces.
When you decorate for Halloween, don't do over the whole house. Instead, add some powerful punches in a few key places. In my home, that includes my dining room. In years past, for my fall open houses, we've gone to town in my dining room. Pumpkin vines twist through the chandelier and along the buffet. Gothic-looking risers hold containers of mini-pumpkins. And a pumpkin-headed figurine looks down upon the dinner guests.
Try this trick if you want a huge Halloween impact with little effort: Shroud each of your dining-room chairs in a yard or so of scrim fabric, then tie them up in back with Halloween ribbon.
Scrim, an inexpensive, gauzy cotton fabric, is one of my favorite tricks for Halloween decorating. I've also used it to drape creepy heads and plastic skeletons to make them look like specters. And I've shredded it and hung it from twisting sticks mounted around my dining-room windows.
My dining-room buffet is always an important stage for seasonal displays, so on Halloween it echoes the look I've created on my dining table. Twists of honeysuckle vine give the tableau the feeling of fall, as do gourds, dusted with glitter. I topped the candelabra with black pillar candles, reserving one of the arms as a resting place for a blackbird figurine.
Another key spot to dress up for Halloween is a chandelier. I was going for a more whimsical Halloween look in my kitchen one year, so I secured some twigs to the chandelier in our breakfast nook. Add some blackbird figurines and a black-and-white check ribbon and you have a simple but fetching treatment in minutes.
In addition to decorating my front door, my exterior Halloween display usually includes decorations on my screened porch. We set the table on my patio for a kid-friendly Halloween party, using a black-and-white quilt for a tablecloth.
• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.