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cheap tricks low-budget halloween decor from everyday household stuff by Yee-Fan Sun |  1 2 3
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1 Recycled cardboard | Don’t pitch those boxes leftover from your last move -- good stiff cardboard can be turned into a plethora of kitschy-fun Halloween props. All you need is some paint (spray paint makes the job especially fast), a sharp utility knife, and a little bit o’ the old imagination. Craft your cardboard into gravestones, spooky cut-outs, a coffin, a guillotine blade hanging from doorway, maybe even some eerie haunted portraits. (If you’re all out of boxes, try freecycle.org or the free section of your local Craigslist.)

2 Old clothes | Include a few mystery “guests” at your evening’s festivities to scare the bejesus out of fellow revelers by crafting some stuffed stalkers and lurkers, axe murderers and Psycho-tastic grandmas. Just gather the appropriate clothes -- all black for the random stalker, flannel and jeans for your axe murder, stockings and old-lady dress or skirt/blouse for grandma … you get the picture, right? Now stuff them, using other clothes, sheets, crumpled newspaper or whatever else you can scrounge up. For heads, try a Styrofoam jack-o-lantern, cheap Styrofoam mannequin head topped with hat or wig, a hockey mask or other mask leftover from some Halloween past. Set up your scary dummies to lurk and loom in random dark corners. If the complete body seems like too much work, stuff individual pant legs/shoes or sleeves/gloves, then wedge, tie or otherwise rig them up so that they emerge disturbingly from closet doors, over cabinets and entryways.

3 Rope and twine | In addition to being indispensable for helping to get some of your decorations up and off the ground and hanging ominously from room corners and ceilings, rope and twine can be fashioned into décor itself. One of my favorites is to tie up rope to form a giant spider web. Alternatively, if you can manage to procure some cheap dolls at a thrift store or yard sale, you can fake-bloody up the dolls, then use your rope/twine to fashion nooses to hang ‘em up.

4 Old white bedsheets | Instead of tossing your tired white sheets, put them to Halloween use. For these purposes, slightly dingy or heck, even torn is actually perfect. Turn old sheets into ghosts, or rough ‘em up and drape them over your furniture and curtain rods to create an abandoned haunted house effect.

5 Horror novels | Whether it’s that guilty-pleasure horror collection or an Edgar Allan Poe compendium from school days gone by, pull out your best scary reads from your regular book stash and arrange them prominently as part of your Halloween party décor (with a little bit of fake cobwebbing hanging off for good measure, of course). Stack them on a bookshelf where you have some nibbles set out, in place of the regular bathroom reading, on a table in the hallway -- wherever you need a little extra shot of horror ambience.

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