It’s time to get your goblins and ghouls out – Halloween is fast approaching! I did a large Halloween decorating job in the San Francisco Bay area for 23 years and the graveyard scene steals the show from all the other displays in the front yard. It’s spooky but not too scary and is a delight to all who see it, especially at night. There are many, many photos taken of and in this Halloween graveyard!
The props have been collected and used for years. They’ve been purchased from wholesale display houses as well as from retailers. Each year a bit is added and each of the displays is slightly different. Although you may not be able to find exactly what’s been used in this display, I’ve gathered a group of similar pieces so you can create your own spooky graveyard too.
Basic supplies you’ll need:
Where to buy Halloween graveyard props:
1- SKELETON GRIM REAPER / 2- HANGING WHITE GHOST HANGING / 3- CRAZY BONEZ SKELETON VULTURE /4- SKELETON CAT AND RAT / 5- SKELETON STAKES / 6- HAUNTED CLOTH / 7- HIGH DENSITY FOG JUICE / 8- FOG MACHINE / 9- POSE-N-STAY SKELETON
1- LIGHTWEIGHT FOAM TOMBSTONES / 2- MINI HAIRY RATS / 3- MOSSY BAT TOMBSTONE / 4 – GHOULISH MASKS TOTEM / 5- VAMPIRE BLOOD CROSS TOMBSTONE / 6- BAG OF SKELETON BONES / 7- SKULL STATUE / 8- VAMPIRE DEMON TOMBSTONE / 9- CROOKED STONE TOMBSTONE SET / 10- BLOODY ARMS / 11- SKELETON ARMS / 12- CREEPY CLOTH
You can see the steps I took to create this spooky Halloween graveyard here:
Steps To Create A Spooky Halloween Graveyard:
- Gather all your materials close to the site. Lay similar decorations in groups so you can see what you’re working with. It’s been packed away for a year after all!
- Place gravestones (mixed up as you’d see in an old cemetery) on the ground.
- Secure the gravestones to the ground, some upright and some at angles. I would also place 2-3 of them on the ground like they’d fallen over.
- If hanging, arrange the ghouls or skeletons (we’d use shepherds hooks for this) behind or amongst the gravestones.
- Arrange ghouls or skeletons on the ground.
- Fill in with skulls, hands, smaller skeletons, rats, birds, etc…
Note: When the display comes down, we’d store like items in boxes together. This makes it easier when installation time rolls around next year. And, make sure to dry everything before packing away. If not, some items might mildew and be “funky” when you open them up next year.
Things to think about when creating your Halloween graveyard:
*How big do you want it to be. My client has a big front yard so hers takes up a lot of room. Yours may be smaller and more compact. Also, the amount of storage space you have will factor in too.
*How long will it stay up for. Will it be one day and one night or a few weeks. This will determine how you sturdily you construct it. This graveyard stays up for 3-4 weeks and is a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Materials need to be well anchored because of the wind.
*Hand in hand with the above, weather will determine the materials you purchase. I prefer using plastic or composite gravestones, skulls, bones, etc (rather than styrofoam) because they’re longer lasting. The styrofoam gravestones are lighter & cheaper but do tend to mark up easily (a little gray or black paint covers them up). The cloth ghouls have weathered the elements just fine.
*How long your graveyard will be displayed for. Will it be just a season or the long haul? If it’s for one season, then you need to buy all your materials at once for an effective display and can get away with cheaper materials. For the long haul, you can buy new, sturdier materials each season and expand your display.
*Will it to be spooky or downright scary. Because 100’s of kids came to see this display, we kept it spooky.
*Buy a variety of gravestones, just like you’d see in a regular cemetery. I grew up in New England and there were a few very old cemeteries in the town where I lived. The gravestones were quite diverse!
* Fishing line is essential to a job like this especially if your display is up for the long haul and/or you’re in a windy area. We’d go through a roll of it!
* Have plenty of covered wire and/or green wire on hand too. We used a lot of wire too.
* If necessary, map the electrical before you start connecting. This display we did (including the front porch, walkway, garden areas) had a lot plugged in which needs to be figured out in advance. There is only so much which can be plugged into one outlet.
* Put all your things electric on exterior timers – it saves you having to plug and unplug them every evening. Plus, it saves energy.
* Tatter and slit your ghosts and ghouls even more than they already are – that way they’ll really flutter in the wind. We’d also rub some on dirt to rough them up a bit. And, those beat up ghouls look just fine on the ground!
* The fog machines are optional but they provided an extra spooky touch on Halloween night!
Be sure to position some of your gravestones at an angle and have some appear as though they’ve fallen on the ground. This makes the graveyard look older & creepier!
The graveyard scene that you see here and in the video takes a little doing because the lawn is artificial and everything must be attached to platforms. You can use foundation stakes or plant stakes, hammer them directly into the ground and attach your gravestones and ghouls to them with wire or fishing line.
The headstones I use are made out of a variety of materials including styrofoam, fiberglass, resin, and plastic. I’d throw in some faded Hydrangea flowers for that “Morticia Addams” touch.
Note: This post had been previously published in 2016 & was updated on 7/14/2020.
“As the sky grows dark and the moon glows bright, as strange creatures and critters appear in the night, as goblins growl and the werewolves whine, hope that Halloween sends a chill up your spine!”
Wishing you a delightfully spooky Halloween,
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