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A Halloween hello
Spooky, stylish ways to scare up the front porch
Halloween string lights, like these Pottery Barn caged-crow string lights, are fun, spooky and safer than burning candles on the front porch.

Halloween lawn safety tips

If the tag says "Indoor Use Only," keep it inside: Maybe more than any other holiday, Halloween lends itself to electronic products that leap into action when someone crosses a motion detector's beam. It hardly makes sense to expose your couple hundred dollars' worth of hardware to the elements, much less run the risk of shocking a curious 8-year-old who happens to prod the boogeyman on your wet porch. Even if you make every effort to duct tape the connections and ground the plugs, your liability is huge if you ignore such a simple direction. The same goes for lighting kits and other electrical decorations.

Make your yard a No Tripping Zone: Kids lugging around buckets of candy in ill-fitting costumes are notoriously clumsy. Have a clear path in and out of the candy distribution area. No power cords. No tie-lines for inflatable props.

Keep the good stuff out of reach: Kids are also insatiably curious. They're going to wonder if that $500 fog-spewing, bigger-than-life, fully-lit, dancing Grim Reaper is a robot or just you in a suit, and there's nothing that spoils a circuit board faster than a steep fall off a couple of hay bales onto your neighbor's driveway or the front stoop of your house. Much the same can be said of party-goers who have sampled your witches' brew punch a time or two.

Source: Better Business Bureau

All around Hall County, ghosts and goblins will be ringing doorbells and offering open sacks in the hopes of scoring a few tasty treats come Monday night.

Unless you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, the possibilities are endless when it comes to  dressing up the front porch.

With some imagination and a mix of purchased and handmade embellishments, you’ll be setting a suitably spooky stage for Halloween visitors.

Dark shadows

Victorian-age Halloween decor is a trend this year — look for old-fashioned typography and paper decorations to string across the entryway, and gothic elements like wrought-iron fences, ravens and owls to create a vintage vibe along your walkway. 

Martha Stewart Living has some downloadable templates to make your own gravestones. Target’s got a selection of great-looking plaster gargoyles. You’ll find a variety of vintage-y outdoor decor at Pottery Barn, including caged-crow string lights and luminaries, antiqued mirror sconces, and lighted twig gates and spider webs.

Set the scary stage

If a haunted house look is what you’re after, consider draping Spanish moss, found at many nurseries and craft stores, along your railings. Spirit Halloween sells it by the boxful.

The retailer also stocks realistic-looking cemetery fence sections, and well-stocked graveyard kits with elements like skulls, tombstones, spiders and rats. Use burlap or cheesecloth to wrap posts and railings.

Change out your porch light for a dramatic orange or red bulb, and frame the doorway with spider webs or crime-scene tape. Greet intrepid trick or treaters with an audio loop of spectral moans, crunching footsteps, thunder and howling wolves.

Feeling crafty? Go to for instructions on how to make your own tombstones, lawn spiders and ghosts. Many of the projects are simple enough to involve even the younger family members.

Spooky sophistication

Christine Hanlon, contributing design editor for the magazine Style at Home, created a “haute Halloween” look in the October issue by sticking to a chic black, white, chartreuse and purple color scheme. Black spray-painted and white gourds, pots filled with tall ornamental grasses and black and white feathers, and natural raffia wreaths tied with amethyst ribbon set a sophisticated stage for the night’s festivities.

Fairy light strings in white — or orange and purple, if you want a dash of color — add a welcoming touch to your Halloween entrance.

Glamour gourds

In recent years, the iconic jack o’ lantern has been reinterpreted in some very cool ways. The triangle cutout face is a classic, but you can now find patterns for everything from flames to filigree. Martha Stewart Living offers instructions for cool snake designs and pretty layered leaf patterns.

Better Homes & Gardens will donate money to worthy charities including the Humane Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Rebuilding Together when you download a template for one of their custom-designed stencils.

Paint the pumpkin white and add a silhouette of a black cat, eyes or other Halloween image. Add construction paper ears and whiskers to make a creature. Or go bold with a graphic stripe or swirl motif. Add glitter to a gourd painted lime green or purple.

Stack several, and carve each pumpkin with branch sections for a full-size glowing tree. Or carve words into each — whether they’re words of warning or welcome, you’ll be making a statement.