Spooky Halloween Lighting Tips

Bitches love Fall. 

Karen in her mouse costume (Mean Girls)
LOVE IT. (via Giphy)

A large part of why bitches love Fall is Halloween. American Halloween is all about costumes and candy and campy movies about monsters and witches (and actually scary movies presumably but i am not looking to be scared in my free time thank you very much). What’s not to love?

Whether you’re throwing a party, decorating for trick-or-treaters or your own kids, or you just really like Halloween and want to get into the spirit 👻 of the day, here are my tips for using lights to transform your home into a haunted house for the night. 

My apartment is exceedingly plain. White walls, gray carpets, there’s not really a lot of inherent character to work with here, so these tips should work no matter what your housing situation. 

String Lights are Your Friends

The Christmas Creep has absolutely made it to Halloween, but manufacturers seem to have the decency so far to just recolor the decor items in purple, orange, black, and sometimes green so they’re “Halloween” things. The good thing is, your local big box store should have a huge selection of string lights in those colors. I am definitely a convert to LED string lights now that they come in a wider variety of colors than when they were first introduced. They last a super long time and produce vibrant colors. The best thing about string lights is, when you hang them at the top of the ceiling, the color radiates both down the wall and into the room, so you get both mood lighting and an instant paint job on your walls. 

Purple and Orange Halloween String Lights
The way you hang your string lights should be at least somewhat strategic as far as colors go. If you are using multiple colors, you want to make sure that you’re trying to use the same color in each section of your home. If you switch randomly between colors in the same area, it’s going to look haphazard. Figure out how much length you have to work with and try to get your colors to go all the way to your doorways/corners/room-change-points with the same color or color family. We have basically one big room, with corners to distinguish the dining area from the living area from the hallway etc, so each of those areas got their own color. I alternated purple with orange. 

Utilize Existing Features to Increase the Spook Factor

If you have curtains, they are another great way to diffuse any light to make it look more ~*~mysterious~*~ and therefore more spooky. This can also work if you have anything else that comes a little bit away from the wall and can fit string lights behind it, like the track for the blinds in front of our balcony door. I have a floor-to-ceiling curtain in front of my workstation when I’m not using it, so I put a flashing battery powered light behind it, facing up so the light doesn’t hit the curtain immediately after coming out of the device and creates a wider flash. Plus, using curtains in this way makes your space seem deceptively bigger, like there might be something other than a wall/window behind that curtain. 

Glowy purple string lights
Ooooooooo glowy!!


You could also put lights behind your TV, your couch, or any other thing that comes a little bit off the wall, to create a more indirect, creepy luminance. 

Flashing Light Behind Curtain
Light Up Every Space

If you have a small space like I do, especially if you are throwing a party, it should be easy enough to put some kind of lighting feature anywhere you are having guests or wanting to spend time in maximum spooky mode. Don’t forget your bathoom, outdoor spaces, and kitchen. 

Warm white string lights are great in bathrooms year round as mood lighting for when you want to take a bath like you’re in a rom-com, and also provide mood lighting without sacrificing the ability to see the toilet. Seeing the toilet is important. Especially at a party. 


Your kitchen probably has a light over the stove, which you might be able to replace with a regular bulb. If you’re anything like me, you don’t use this light to really SEE anything if you’re not actively using your stove. Put in a fun colored lightbulb in purple, orange, or green to carry on your spooky vibe without sacrificing functional lights that you use to see things like knives and food. Seeing knives is important. Especially at a party. 


Patios, balconies, and decks are great places for mood lighting all the time, but they are also fun places to party up. Since Halloween is at the end of October, the weather outside might be cold as a sexy witch’s tit, or, if you’re in crazy Pennyslvania like me, maybe-freezing-maybe-super-hot you probably won’t know until the day-of. If you have a big enough outdoor space, Fall is an awesome time for a fire pit. I have a balcony that only goes about 3.5 feet off the back of the apartment building, so fire pit is not an option. Not one to be told “no,” I have a tabletop “fire pot” which runs off Tiki torch fuel, and provides little more heat than a candle, but it’s FIRE damn it! Sparklers are also an exciting way to draw your pyromaniac guests outside, and if you have them leftover from the Fourth of July it’s a good way to use some of them up. 


Change Out your Bulbs for SPOOKY Bulbs

Two years ago I could not find purple light bulbs anywhere. It was the worst. So imagine my shock and surprise when I found purple bulbs in last year’s Halloween selection at Target. Of course I bought a couple even though I had no intention of partying or decorating last year. If you want purple bulbs, be prepared for them to be more reddish than you anticipated. I’m not sure why this happens, but the ones I have are definitely more of a purpley-red vibe than anything else. Green and orange bulbs are super easy to find at hardware and big box stores. Green will give your home a sickly glow, while orange is going to invoke a more fiery feel (which I personally think is more cozy than spooky but still fun and festive). 


If you have a chandelier type light fixture, you can get flickering candle style lightbulbs for it which will instantly turn your dining room into a vampire’s dungeon. Dangle some fake spider webs on that baby and you’re in business. 

A video posted by Millennials @ Home (@millennialsathome) on

Use your TV

Get in a spooky mood by putting on a classic Halloween movie that most people have already seen on low-or-no-volume during your party or event (you can put on captions like they do in sports bars). Think Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, Halloweentown… you know, something that’s about a 6 out of 10 or less on the creepy scale so your guests don’t run for the hills like I would if I walked into a party playing fucking Saw… Plus, if it’s a classic that people have already seen, it won’t matter if they catch a scene here and there because they already know what happens. 

via Giphy

Get your guests in on it

What party is complete without glow sticks of some kind? With a glowy bracelet or necklace, every one of your guests becomes their own little glowy light fixture. Grab an assortment at a party store and leave them in a bowl for guests to grab and use. 

FIRE

Candles, especially thematically scented ones, are great mood setters, IF you trust your guests to not burn themselves/your home to the ground. Use caution when lighting candles at a party or around children. 


Have an Exit Strategy

As in yoga, so in Halloween lights, you need to have a way out of an unbalanced situation. When your party is clearing out and you need to clean up your leftover snacks, or if you decide that you are turnt enough and want to be able to properly see the board game you’re playing, you need to have some normal lights to turn on. If you have a bright ceiling light, save that for the normal bulb. It serves the dual function of both being probably bright enough to overpower any colored lights you might have on, and is easy to leave alone because it’s high up and who wants to actually bother getting up there? This way, when you want to get out of spooky mode, or if someone needs medical attention, you just flip a switch and you’re in a normal living room again. 

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