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Ask An Expert: How To Decorate Your Home For Halloween

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In a pinch for Halloween ideas? Are those dollar store window clings nearly toast? How about that pathetic animatronic candy bowl that's seen better days? Check out these tips for making your pad a kick-butt Halloween lair in an easy, affordable and crazy creative way, and scare (or tickle!) the pants off of your trick-or-treaters this year.

Maria Palermo
Palermo Photo
415 E Ohio St., Suite 200

Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 680-4149

Maria Palermo is a professional wedding and portrait photographer, seasoned traveller, expert cook, DIY guru and devoted daughter, friend and colleague — with all of that on her plate, how could she possibly have time to be an expert of all-things party? Let's just say she's a maestro at everything — holiday decorating included, which she frequently utilizes in her personal studio space. CBS Local was fortunate enough to sit down with the wunderkind herself and pick her diabolically creative brain for cost-effective, fun and easy Halloween decorating tips.

Pool Noodle Refurb

Take this insanely cute idea, invest precisely eighty five cents (it can be done), and voila — an adorable, and practical idea all in one. Grab one of the kid's old pool noodles and cut it in half. Go to your local thrift store (we like the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse for crazy cheap, and also unusual, fabric remnants), and find "witchy" looking striped fabric (think orange and purple, orange and black or black and red). Measure, cut to fit and secure with staples, or craft glue, to make stockings around the noodles. Top with any old pair of high heels, insert upside down in your bushes, and you have a darling, crash-landed witch.

Disembodied Baby Doll Heads

If your kids are anything like, well, most kids, you likely have bins full of half-toy sets. It's completely likely that they've even removed body parts from their dolls and action figures, which can actually be put to good use for this crafty, and creepy, mantle decoration! Take five or six chubby-cheeked "baby" heads and drill a hole in the top. Spray-paint white (any brand of paint will do), paying special attention not to paint over the eyes. Once dry, insert a tall, white candle and light to create a melting effect. Don't scrape the wax drippings off the face as the candle burns down — the oozier, the better. Just be sure to not let the candle burn too far and melt the head.

Shabby Chic Pumpkins

This darling little gem is always a hit at Halloween dinner parties for adults. All you need for these cute little centerpieces are faux white pumpkins (size varies on the dimensions you have to work with), interesting drawer knobs or pull hardware, and tacky glue. Separate the stem from the pumpkin, insert the drawer pull (Palermo personally likes the clear, diamond-cut drawer knobs, but any will work depending on your taste) with a pea-sized dab of tacky glue, and allow to dry on the top of the pumpkin. It's an insanely easy and crazy chic way to dress up your Halloween, or harvest table.

Related: Halloween Scarehouse Spooking Visitors With Movie Theme

Bathroom Spooks

This tip may totally gross out, or crack up your guests, and it adds a little bit of spook to a room not ordinarily decorated: the bathroom. All you need is an old (Palermo prefers stained, but new and white works just as well), white shower curtain and bath mat, and a paint tray filled with bright red paint. Get a little generous with the amount of paint you pour, because you need to allow for drips and splatters. Start with the curtain laid out on a flat surface (outside is best), and dip your hands in the paint. Get the first hand application neatly on the shower curtain, not to worry about placement. Next, do a second application directly over the first handprints, and allows for a little bit of paint to drip down, to give the illusion of blood running. Do the same to the mat with your feet, and you have an easy, cost effective murder scene.

Kid Whimsy

This last tip is a fun, and safe way for even the littlest ghouls and goblins to get in on the Halloween decorating fun. Gather bright green, white and orange Solo cups, LED tea lights and a permanent marker, plus your best spooky face drawing ability (stencils work as well!). Turn your cups upside down and draw your spooky faces. Get creative — Frankenstein and aliens go perfect with green; ghosts, mummies and skeletons are fabulous for white; and pumpkins, witch faces and werewolves work best with orange. Place one or two LED lights (caution: do NOT use actual flame, as plastic cups are not heat-resistant) under the mouth of the cup, and you have super cute little lanterns to decorate your stairs, back patio or driveway.

Related: Just In Time For Halloween It's Also National Bat Week

Nikki Tiani-Moroney is a full time mum of two boys, wife of a professional poker player/photographer/amateur pencil-sharpening competitor and writer from Pittsburgh, PA. When she isn't studiously neglecting her housework in favor of a good book, she's out simultaneously fighting crime and picking up sidewalk litter while savoring an occasional cigarette. Her work can be found at

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