Ultimate guide to getting your house — and trick-or-treaters — ready for Halloween

Tips for decorations, costumes, pet care and more.

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If you’re ready to start planning for Halloween, look no further: we’ve compiled a list of the best Halloween resources we could find.

Do you need ideas for Halloween decorations? We have it. What about budget-friendly Halloween costume ideas? Check. And, of course, we have a list of horror movies to watch this month. Continue reading if you dare.

Halloween decorations

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an interesting trend emerged, writes Brittany Anas of the Denver Post: “Homeowners began taking an interest in the Hollywood-quality monsters and props and incorporating them into their own front-yard haunts.” In fact, according to co-owner Marsha Taub-Edmunds, one Colorado company, Distortions Unlimited, direct-to-consumer sales have increased by roughly 200% in the last few years.

“People weren’t able to go to haunted houses during COVID, and they weren’t handing out candy, so they really got into the spirit of decorating,” Taub-Edmunds said in an interview with the Post

According to Anas, the National Retail Federation estimates that Halloween decorations are a $3.4 billion annual business. If you’re ready to transform your home into a haunted house, here are some expert Halloween decorating tips.

Halloween costumes

Instead of purchasing brand-new Halloween costumes or decorations this year, consider purchasing used items. Shopping this way has numerous advantages, writes Liz Ohanesian for Southern California News Group. “Choosing a pre-owned item over something new is an environmentally friendly option since you’re extending the lifespan of a good and potentially saving it from a landfill,” Ohanesian says in a statement. “It can also be easier on your wallet depending on when, where, and how you shop.” The knowledge that you’ll find something far more interesting than seasonal products at big box stores is perhaps the most appealing benefit of shopping secondhand.”

Shopping secondhand for Halloween can be difficult, so start early. Here’s how to make scary Halloween costumes and decorations out of thrift store finds.

Halloween recipes

Although pumpkin spice latte season began earlier this year, you may be only now getting in the mood to bake with autumnal spices.

Consider celebrating autumn with a different type of treat as Jack-o’-lanterns appear in grocery stores and on front porches, and pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin beer options abound.We gathered pumpkin spice recipes from foodies and cookbooks across the country, and none of them are traditional pumpkin pies (though we do have one for that, too).

Halloween movies

There are a slew of new horror films hitting streaming services in October. According to Tribune News Service’s Katie Walsh, there’s a comedy called “Totally Killer” launching on Prime Video, as well as a new “Exorcist” film in theaters.

If you’re looking for a Halloween movie marathon, look no further than Jim Harrington’s list of the top horror films of 2023. “All 10 of my picks were released widely in 2023, although some may have premiered earlier, most likely at film festivals,” Harrington writes in her essay. “So, try mixing some of these new offerings in with your old favorites.”

Halloween gardening

Don’t limit yourself to home decorations; bring Halloween into your garden as well! “Spooky-looking garden and house plants have become increasingly popular,” writes Alex Groves of The Press-Enterprise. “More than 17,000 posts on Instagram include the hashtag #gothgarden and plants such as the Raven ZZ (aka  Zamioculcas zamiifolia) and Alocasia Black Velvet are hot commodities in plant shops.”

Here are some expert recommendations for spooky — but eye-catching — Halloween plants.

Halloween pet care

“Spooky season comes with plenty of potential pitfalls for our four-legged friends, wild birds, and more,” writes Julia Lamont for the Marin Independent-Journal.

“Jack-o’-lanterns and other candles, for example, are a burn risk if a curious pet comes too close,” Lamont says. “Opt for battery-operated, flameless candles if you crave that telltale flicker on your front porch.”

Here are a few more ideas for protecting animals this Halloween while still having fun.

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