Whether you are into gruesome ghouls, fairy tales, or a little cosplay, it is the time of year to let your imagination run wild.

The holidays are upon us and one of my favorites, Halloween, is near.  Driving down the streets, I have begun to notice many people have lost the spirit of not only Halloween, but the holidays in general.  Desolate streets with little to no decorations are becoming the norm.

Well, not at my house.  Since I can remember, my family has gone above and beyond with our holiday decorations: some may even call us the Griswolds during Christmas.  Being a fan of Halloween, I decided a few years back that we needed to step up our Halloween game.  We’ve always had a few light-up pumpkins in the yard, but I wanted to draw a crowd of trick or treaters.  Our choice to go over the top in decorations during the holiday season set a precedent and has turned our once-desolate neighborhood to a more spirited attraction.

Anyone can add a little holiday spirit to their home: with a few tips and tricks, you could become the neighborhood delight.  We started with a few plastic yard light-ups, most of which were less than $15 and have lasted many years.  If you shop for Halloween supplies in early November, you can find a lot of great deals for the next year.

For those of you on a college budget, with some engineering or creative skills you can make a lot of your own decorations.  Some of my favorite easy DIY pieces are the original plastic jack-o-lanterns candy buckets hanging with glow sticks in them.  Plus, you will be surprised what you can find at the local Dollar Store.

If you are like me, you or someone you know has a black light, which provides for a spooky aesthetic to any front porch or entryway.  Again, the Dollar Store or Walmart can provide you with an assortment of colored bulbs for your theme.  For those college kids on a tight budget who have little imagination or money, here are a few more DIY ideas that can be created from things around the house.

You might be surprised what you can make with trash bags; you can create everything from spider webs to your very own body bags with tape or rope.  Glow in the dark paint of all colors and types can be used to add glowing pieces in the night. Cut shapes, like evil eyes, into paper towel tubes and add a glow stick or paint for a spooky yard dweller.

 I’m sure everyone has toilet papered a yard in their day. Who says you can’t decorate your own yard or home with a mummy-like feel? I’m not sure if many of you know, but many stores now have Halloween-themed stringed lights that include everything from orange bulbs to creepy spiders for less than $5. You can add them to your entryway.  A little effort and imagination can turn even the dullest house into a spirited affair.

Now comes the fun part: getting to the final product. Once you have all of your decorations together, it’s time to place them properly and safely.  It is a good idea to firmly secure any large decorations with the proper stakes and strings to keep them sturdy and usable for the years to come.  If you have any electrical decorations, wrap all extensions and cords with electrical tape and connect them to surge protectors to prevent shortages.  Another fun tip for electrical devices is to attach them to a timer, which provides you with an accurate lighting schedule.

 We like to add our final details shortly before any events to add an element of surprise to our decorations.  This includes the addition of our four-foot black light to our entryway, some dry ice next to the door, glow sticks as needed, and any noise-makers for our upcoming guests.

Whether you are having a costume party or entertaining the local trick-or-treaters this Halloween season, adding spirited decorations provides for a festive treat for all who visit.

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