So, the school year started and you blinked. Before you know it, trick-or-treaters are on your doorstep! If Halloween snuck up on you this year, don’t panic. We’ve reached out to experts and scoured our archives to give you the best last-minute décor tips for All Hallows’ Eve AND some easy, handy recipes that will wow friends and family alike. Decorating for this festive evening does not have to be all toil and trouble — here are our takeaways to make your fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Don’t feel tied to orange and black.

Traditional Halloween colors are overrated! Think outside of the box and go for a more stylish palette, or add pops of color to give your décor some depth. “A silver can of spray paint is your friend at Halloween,” says Gwen Driscoll of Driscoll Design & Decoration. “I love going beyond orange and black. Adding silver and purple to Halloween fun makes it more chic.”

Go au naturale.

Decorate using autumnal gourds, pumpkins, greenery and branches. Get creative! “I love collecting pumpkins and gourds to display at my front door and throughout my house,” says Becca Gaines of B. Gaines Interior Design. “They come in such a variety of colors, so that I can do this every year, and it looks different each time. I really love the whimsically animated lobes of Musque de Provence pumpkins, and I’m a sucker for the slate green-grey of a Jarrahdale.”

“Adding bittersweet and berries to arrangements and existing planters can also add color and interest,” says Cindy McCord of Cindy McCord Interior Design.

William Smithson with The Beveled Edge shares his trick: “The addition of mums, candles and corn stalks to your display are a great way to add interest, too.”

Cindy McCord of Cindy McCord Interior Design thinks outside the box when putting together a Halloween arrangement, like this fun and whimsical piece with stalks of wheat and deep greens and purples.
Cindy McCord of Cindy McCord Interior Design thinks outside the box when putting together a Halloween arrangement, like this fun and whimsical piece with stalks of wheat and deep greens and purples. Image: Julie Wage Ross

Match your decorations to your decor.

“I love buying pumpkins (usually on sale at this point at your local grocery store) — or dollar store jack-o-lanterns — and spray painting them neutral colors. Opt for gold with cream and white and/or silver with grey and white (depending on your personal decor style). It makes for a fun, quick project, adds that touch of Halloween and fall that you wanted, and stays within the realm of your home decor style! We don’t always want those bright oranges and dark blacks taking over our home color schemes,” Terry Shae at Wrapsody – Gift Boutique tells us.

Terry also shared her favorite way to quickly transform the mood of her home just in time for Halloween: “Switch out your flowers for black roses from your favorite craft store,” she suggests. “Add some deep plums, dark greens, bright reds — whatever matches your home decor!”

Keep it simple, affordable and creative.

“Be thoughtful when decorating (especially on a budget). Many of us love Halloween and want to go all out, but for those who just want a festive nod, consider adding a spider on a dining room table candlestick or a black crow to the mantle,” Susan Taylor of The Beveled Edge suggests. “A simple touch can sometimes be just enough.”

“A quick fix for a great looking tabletop or mantle decor is to use a small cylinder within a large cylinder and fill the space between small objects related to the season, such as candy corn for Halloween, cranberries or tiny mercury glass ornaments for Christmas,” adds Sarah Boyce of FABU. “It just takes a few minutes using what you more than likely have on hand.”

Create a lasting impression versus a brief seasonal change.

Think about décor that you can easily add to as the season progresses. As we near Halloween, supplementing a carved pumpkin or two into your porch look will only enhance what is already there. The same goes for a fall wreath for your front door. You can add a spooky, festive bow for October, and easily remove it once the 31st passes. Kim Wilson of Lucy’s Market wisely advises selecting pumpkins that will last all season and well beyond Halloween, too. Certain pumpkin varieties will turn from a soft peach to a shade of caramel brown. “They’ll be brown around the time of Thanksgiving and will make beautiful centerpieces,” she says. “Bring them inside, put them with some Indian corn or some smaller pumpkins, and you’re done.”

Another tip? Don’t be afraid of faux. While nothing beats a real pumpkin, there are a lot of fantastic faux options on the market. We like incorporating faux pumpkins into interior decor, especially around a fireplace. Plus, they have the added benefit of being used year after year.

RELATED: 5 Steps to Perfect Pumpkin Decor

Certain pumpkin varieties will turn from a soft peach to a shade of caramel brown.

Create a bewitching menu for your Halloween gatherings.

First off, candy is a no-brainer, as anyone with a sweet tooth — old or young — appreciates this sacred night of Butterfinger binging. But think a bit outside the box when it comes to actual substantial food you may serve. Just remember B.O.O. when it comes to creating your menu: Bewitching. Odd. Oh-so-delicious.

Keeping the B.O.O. angle in mind, you can go super cutesy with your planning for Halloween and stalk Pinterest for some great ideas. Or you can go highbrow-ish Halloween with clever names for some filling, savory dishes. We decided to go route No. 2 and asked food writer and The Cardigan Kitchen blogger Lia Picard to come up with some great recipes that are tasty, substantial and something that eaters of all ages will enjoy. Lia shared with us — and now with you — three great recipes that will kill (figuratively) at your next Halloween party.

Blood Hummus

  • 2 small beets or 1 medium/large beet, roasted
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup tahini (found in the peanut butter aisle of most grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon Sultan Papadopoulos salt by Beautiful Briny Sea (or blend turmeric, salt, chili powder and coriander)
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Place beets, chickpeas, tahini, salt mix, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor and blend. When thoroughly combined, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the consistency is creamy and smooth. Serve with pita and/or veggies and an extra drizzle of olive oil on top.

*To roast beets, wrap individually in foil and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes until fork tender.

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You know what tastes delicious with “blood hummus”? Albino bat wings (aka pita triangles)!

Witches’ Toes

  • 12 jalapeños, halved and seeded (use gloves to ensure no skin burns)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (If short on time, microwave for 30 seconds to help speed up the softening process.)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or whichever cheese you prefer)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 slices of bacon, halved
  • 24 toothpicks

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with foil. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic and spices. Scoop a heaping teaspoon (a little more or a little less, depending on personal preference) into each jalapeño half. Wrap a piece of bacon around the jalapeño, securing with a toothpick or two. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the cheese mixture is bubbling. Turn the oven to broil and cook for a final 5 minutes. Let cool. If you want to get rid of excess fat, place them on a plate lined with paper towels.

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The final product! Who knew witches’ toes were so dang delicious?!

To throw a Halloween party with the best of them, you need something delicious brewing in your cauldron — enter the Poisoned Apple Cocktail! This concoction is only for fairies and ogres over the age of 21. However, as we said earlier, our B.O.O. menu has been created for party guests of all ages. We suggest serving the Poisoned Apple Cocktail as is and also having a mocktail version.

Poisoned Apple Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  • squeeze of juice from a lemon
  • sugar and cinnamon combined
  • apple slices for garnish

DIRECTIONS: Place cinnamon and sugar mixture on a plate. Wet the rim of an old fashioned glass and coat in mixture. In a shaker filled with ice, combine bourbon, apple cider and lemon juice. Strain into old fashioned glass and add ice. Add a few apple slices as garnish.

RELATED: Throwing a Halloween Party is as Easy as B-O-O!

Get creative.

“Research the web,” William Smithson with The Beveled Edge recommends. “There are tons of fun and simple-to-execute DIY decorating ideas online. You may be surprised how easy it is to incorporate things you already have around the house to elevate your Halloween display. For example, when entertaining, insert a welcome message from a color printer into a table-top frame on your foyer table (i.e. ‘Welcome Guests, Ghosts and Goblins’), or put a framed sign on the bar that reads ‘Boos Served Here.'”

Happy Halloween!! Stay safe, and have fun!


For more ways to update your home for holidays throughout the year, click here.

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