Rustic Outdoor Halloween Decorations

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Halloween falls almost a  month before Thanksgiving in the U.S., which means many of the decorations you use to deck out your porch and yard for ghoulies and ghosties can do double duty later in the season. With some planning and a little luck, the decorations you put up in October can last until it's time to unbury those Christmas decorations.

Straw Halloween Decoration Ideas

Straw is a useful material when decorating outdoors for Halloween. It has a beautiful but natural gold color, is biodegradable (it's actually a good mulch for your flowerbeds), and can be used in lots of ways. Here are a few:

  • Straw wreath - Buy a straw wreath for your front door and decorate it with leaves, nuts and ribbon. Exposed areas of the wreath will look organic and attractive. For Halloween, add rubber spiders and small snakes to the wreath. Remove them after the holiday. For a more Halloween scary look, decorate the wreath with a black ribbon you can detach and replace easily.
  • Straw bales - In the olden days, if you wanted a bale of straw, you headed out to the country. Nowadays you can buy straw bales in a number of sizes at your garden center or craft store. These tightly bound bales make nice "tables" for other decorations like pumpkins and squash. They can be surprisingly useful in the garden, too. Straw bale gardening is a great way to raise your favorite herbs and vegetables on a deck or patio without having to buy lots of large, expensive pots. After the straw rots, you can compost it into your soil. Where fall and Halloween decor is concerned, straw is a very ecofriendly choice.
  • Straw stuffing - That scarecrow you've been meaning to construct will go together much more easily with straw for stuffing. In fact, with a hat, a pumpkin head and some old clothes (think plaid shirts and old jeans), you can make a scarecrow in under an hour. Add a decorative crow on its shoulder from your Halloween outfitter or craft outlet and you're good to go.

Rustic Halloween Corn Craft Decor

Next to straw, corn husks and ears are the most popular natural material for fall decorating outdoors. Corn is colorful and textural.

  • Use it in a large wreath for your front door. It looks good with a basic straw base, of course, but dried ears are also dramatic adorning a grapevine wreath. Affix dried corn stalks (Indian corn is a nice choice) with craft wire, and add a decorative raffia ribbon.
  • You can also wire or tie corn to lengths of raffia for a looped garland along your porch railing. To make it Halloween spooky, add spider webs from the craft store and a community of fat, black rubber spiders.
  • Another option is to make a simple collage arrangement on a straw bale, wooden chair or wooden crate. Add dried ears of corn (or tall corn stalks if you have them), pumpkins, dried sunflowers, windfall leaves and an old wooden broom, rake or lantern. Finish off with a big pot of mums in a coordinating color. Give the look a temporary Halloween twist by adding spiders, a bat, fat rat or other unexpected stuffed or molded critter to the assembled items. You can find lots of novelty options at your party store that will blend well with natural items like straw, corn, wheat, gourds and pumpkins.

Don't Forget the Pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins, don't forget this iconic orange Halloween vegetable when you consider outdoor Halloween decor. During cold weather, a whole (not cut) pumpkin will last for weeks, so splurge on more than one. A decorative stack of pumpkins on a porch or along a walk will certainly show your neighbors and guests that you love the fall season. A few days from Halloween, hold a family pumpkin carving contest. You can purchase kid safe pumpkin cutters in most variety stores during the holiday season (they still need some adult supervision, though).

Consider buying a few twisted pumpkins this year, too. The conventional round pumpkin isn't the only option. Pumpkins in strange, distorted shapes are becoming more popular. If you like pumpkins with plenty of character, you're likely to see a few at your local market. Give one a try.

If you like the idea of keeping your precious pumpkins intact until Thanksgiving, don't carve them, draw interesting faces on them instead. (You can wash off the paint or turn them around after the holiday.) Numerous sites across the web have free templates for pumpkin decorating. Once your pumpkins have served their decorative purpose, don't forget to roast the seeds. They're an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Other Fruits and Veggies

Besides pumpkins in all their glorious -- uh, frightful -- shapes, there are other vegetables you might want to consider for your outdoor decor. Large squash varieties like turban squash are decorative and look nice as centerpieces on a deck or patio table. There are also smaller squash varieties like acorn squash, and ornamental gourds (a variety of squash) that look very dramatic tumbling out of a natural wicker cornucopia or strung onto twine as a casual gourd garland. To put a Halloween slant on the proceedings, why not spray one or two veggies black, or paint scary faces on them. You can also buy wax fingers (like human digits), and place them strategically around your arrangements.

Another option is to decorate a large bowl, overflowing burlap sack, small wooden crate or tin tub with:

  • Pomegranates
  • Miniature pumpkins
  • Strawberry corn
  • Wheat
  • Whole nuts
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones

Decorating With Leaves and Other Backyard Treasure

While you're planning your outdoor decor this fall, take a look around your backyard for natural items you can use that are absolutely free:

  • Spray small tree branches black, cover them with spider webbing (and rubber spiders) and hang these scary mobiles in your entry.
  • Scatter colorful windfall leaves around your pumpkin or scarecrow displays.
  • Stuff dead leaves into small burlap sacks and stencil saying on them like:
    • Graveyard dirt
    • Dried bat wings
    • Zombie brains
    • Severed fingers

Lighting Options

Halloween light strings are available that have the look of Christmas lights but with a twist. They're usually decorated with bats, ghosts, pumpkins and other Halloween themes. They're a fun choice for a porch or entry. Traditional white lights will still look great in a rustic Halloween set up, though.

 Another fun option, especially for a special occasion, is a series of sidewalk luminary candles set into decorated paper bags and stabilized with sand. They're like Christmas sidewalk luminaries, but also with a ghoulish twist. If this sounds a little dangerous, some manufacturers are making battery operated luminaries that will probably work better for you if you have small children or pets.

Lanterns fit perfectly into a rustic outdoor theme, and when filled with battery operated candles, can safely and stylishly light your walkway, porch and entryway. 

Last Updated: October 4, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like,, and

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