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Tips for Fun (and Cheap) Halloween Decorations

Gather the kids and spouse this weekend and have some affordable fun spooking up your house.

It's time for Halloween decorating.

I've been around the Trick-or-Treat block more than a few times and decorating the outside of the house has become one of the family's favorite things to do each year.

What started with a couple of carved pumpkins on the front stoop has grown into a weekend-long family activity filled with store-bought and hand-made decorations, arts and crafts, and lots of strategy — like whether white trash bags are a fitting replacement for actual sheets when crafting ghosts.

By no means are we experts, but here are five fun, easy and inexpensive ways to get ready for the big day.

1. Two words: Dollar store. There are many varieties of these discount stores throughout Gwinnett, and many are filled with Halloween ideas. In less than an hour you can fill a basket full of decorations and not pay a whole lot for it.

There is a Dollar Tree on Rockbridge Road near U.S. 78 and a Dollar Tree on Memorial Drive, both with Stone Mountain addresses.

2. Get crafty: Cheesecloth, tissue paper, plastic bags and (old) sheets make great ghosts of all sizes. Posterboard can be transformed into a scary collage by your grade-school daughter (this, I know), or be used to warn trick-or-treaters of impending doom if they get any closer to the house. Empty paper towel rolls can be used to make legs for a large spider made out of leaves stuffed into a black trash bag.

3. Let spiders be spiders: Let natural spider webs be part of the decor. This is the time of year in Georgia when orb weaver spiders construct their large spiral webs ... all over the place. Consider yourself lucky if one sets up shop in the corner next to the front door.

4. Easy special FXs: Replace the front-porch lights with colored light bulbs. Blacklight, blue and red are great to set a scary mood. Get CDs with scary sounds (or, happy Halloween songs, like "Monster Mash," if you must) and play them when trick-or-treaters come calling.

5. Do this and the pumpkin won't get hurt: It's a lot easier and safer for young kids to decorate a pumpkin without a sharp blade. Water-soluable paint is a lot of fun and you can make the pumpkin be whatever you want it to be. Or use the melon as the body of something bigger. Dress it like a "Mr. Pumpkinhead," with a hat, paper-towel rolls as arms and legs, and glued-on googly eyes.

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