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Thrifty halloween door decor

A white door decorated with black bats and a gold-embossed picture frame

To set the mood for Halloween in your home, one of the easiest things you can do is to update your front door decor with a spooky little facelift. Since it’s the first thing you see when you arrive home, a display on your doorstep instantly creates whatever tone you want for the season. And, it’s easy to have a lot of fun with doorway decoration because, in such a small space, a little bit can go a long way. Today we're the spooky secrets that added spirit to this stoop with a DIY customized door mat and a bat frenzy Halloween “wreath.”

A welcome mat in front of a door on a wooden deck that says, "Something Wicked This Way Comes." A decorative broom stands in the corner of the image.

Does it seem like all of the best looking doormats are super expensive? Sometimes it's cringey to have to spend more than $15 on something that you'll literally be wiping your feet on. So, it's always a good idea to keep an eye out for small rugs and mats when you're thrifting. Goodwill West Texas often has inexpensive, basic mats, and with a little time and paint they can be turned into something tasteful and trendy. This Halloween project, features a time-honored quote from our old friend Billy Shakespeare's Macbeth. But, you can customize your mat exactly the way you want. First, let’s gather up our supplies…

A bottle of paint, tape, a ruler, paint brushes, and paper laying on top of a blank doormat.

Materials for the customized mat

  • Welcome mat

  • Poster board and painter’s tape or contact paper

  • Small, coarse paintbrush

  • Porch paint (or any latex paint) – You don’t need much so ask if you can have a sample!

  • Exacto knife

  • Scissors

  • Pencil

  • Paint mixing stick

  • Access to a computer and printer

  • Scrap cardboard

Stencil and craft materials on top of a blank doormat.

Step 1: On the computer, open up typing or image editing software. Write your chosen phrase in whatever fonts you like best. Visualize the layout of the phrase on your mat. Place plain paper out on your mat so you know how many pieces will fit (standard mats will probably fit a rectangle of four full sheets of paper, 2x2 landscape orientation, with a little extra space on every side). This will give you an idea of the size font you’ll need. For example, the word “wicked” on our mat takes up about half the width of the mat (centered) so we kept increasing the size until it took up 1 ½ sheets of paper since the mat could almost fit three sheets. From there, we could estimate the other font sizes in comparison to this one. Print your text whenever it looks about right. If it looks bad when you’ve got it laid out on the mat, just adjust the size and reprint!

Note: Don’t worry if your text gets cut off slightly (like the bottom of the W in “wicked.” The printed text is just to make a template so, as long as it’s not a lot, you should be able to fix this when you’re cutting.

Step 2: Trim your poster board or contact paper as closely to the same size and shape of your mat as possible. Our poster board was a couple of inches skinnier than our mat, so we just made sure the top and bottom lined up appropriately and was careful to center the design before pulling out the paint.

A stencil that reads, "Something wicked this way comes" on top of a blank doormat.

Step 3: Trim the excess paper off of your text and lay it out on your poster board or contact paper in whatever way you choose. When you find the right layout, stick it in place on the poster board.

An in-progress photo showing the stencil being made.

Step 4: With cardboard under your work area, cut your letters through both layers of paper with an Exacto knife. Remember that letters with holes in them (like As, Ds, etc.) will need to keep their centers so create a little bridge that attaches these to the template. You can correct it after the stencil has been removed. At this stage, you can also fix any text edges that got cut off by the printer (see the bottom of my W).

Note: If you do forget to leave a bridge for the center of a letter, just reattach it with a thin piece of tape. No big deal!

A photo showing an example of stencil placement on top of the blank doormat.

Step 5: After you’ve cut out all of your letters (or shapes!), remove the taped papers on top to reveal your mat’s template!

An in progress photo showing the hand of a DIYer painting the stencil.

Step 6: Center the template over your mat, mix your paint, then dab generous globs of paint on the letters. Be careful to dab straight down, not to brush or allow the bristles of the paintbrush to slide under the template. This will ensure that the edges of each letter remain crisp. When you’re done painting, carefully lift off the template and allow plenty of time to dry before putting your mat to use.

An up-close shot of the finished doormat.

Now that we’ve got the foundation of your door display all set, things are looking up… All the way up to the door itself! Here’s how to make a gothic-looking bat display:

A photo of the compilation of supplies needed for the DIY bat "wreath" made with a  picture frame.

Materials for the bat “wreath”

  • Ornate thrifted picture frame

  • Fake bats

    • We have one big, detailed plastic bat for the center and a bunch of smaller foam bats. The big one is great for inside the frame while the light foam ones work perfectly outside the frame. If your local Goodwill doesn't have this particular decoration, get creative with other spooky pieces!

  • Chicken wire

  • Needle nose pliers with a cutting edge

  • Black twist ties

  • Staple gun and staples

  • Thick black velvet ribbon

  • Scissors

  • Wreath hanger

  • Work gloves (optional)

  • Poster putty

An up close shot of the picture frame.

Step 1: Remove the backing and picture from the frame.

A shot of the picture frame with chicken wire and pliers.

Step 2: Using the cutting edge of the pliers, carefully trim a piece of chicken wire so it will stretch from one side of the back of your frame to the other. You could place it across the entire frame, but we didn’t want to see much of it so we only added enough to hold our biggest bat on. If you needed to have enough for the whole frame, you could also spray paint the wire to blend in with the color of your door so it’s less visible. Or, you could even stretch faux cobwebs over the wire to mask it if you’d like. We do recommend that you wear thick gloves while you’re working with the chicken wire as it can be super sharp!

A shot of the back of the picture frame showing the placement of the chicken wire.

Step 3: Use the staple gun to secure the wire in the back.

A shot showing the placement of a bat tied to the chicken wire.

Step 4: Place your bat where you want it then use the twist ties to secure it in place. We added one around its neck and one around its ankle. To make them less visible from the front, twist it directly around the bat first then again around the wire itself. This way it hugs the bat tightly instead of reaching back for the wire in a conspicuous way.

Step 5: Cut your ribbon to the proper length. To determine this, hold your frame up against the door dangling (with support) from the wreath hanger and tested a few lengths to see what you like best.

A photo showing how to staple a ribbon to the top of the picture frame to create a hanger.

Step 6: Tie or staple the ribbon to the back of the frame.

Step 7: Use the pliers to bend in any sharp points in the wire against the frame for safety.

A photo of a cut-out bat in front of the front door.

Step 8: Hang up your frame on the door then use poster putty to adhere the smaller bats. To make it look like the bats are flying out of the frame, let their wings stick out over the frame itself. Stick bats beside and above the door as well for that wild, out-of-control look, just make sure the door can open and close without bumping into them.

An up-close photo of the picture frame wreath with an arrangement of bats.

Add a witch’s broom, pumpkins, or other festive features to round out the rest of the display and you’re ready for Halloween! This will surely attract trick-or-treaters on Halloween night by quickly making your home look a little haunted. And, little did you know, as well as giving out candy this All Hallows Eve, when you shop at Goodwill for your decor and costume supplies you’ll be giving to your neighbors in yet another way. After all, only Goodwill unites caring and enterprise to empower people and build communities that work.

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