October 29, 2012

Decorating tips from Halloween experts on a budget

You can decorate for less with smart shopping, creativity


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Some people who accent their homes with pumpkins, witches and jack-o’-lanterns can make you look twice — all without breaking their budget.

Carol Hockenberger, 48, a mother of four, has been embellishing her house in Peru for this fall holiday for 30 years.

“I began decorating when my mother made me decorate her house when she couldn’t anymore; that’s when I took a real interest in it,” Hockenberger said.

Hockenberger said her passion for Halloween grew when she realized how much her daughters enjoyed the holiday, from dressing up to decorating.

“I use sheets for ghosts, fake spiders, tombstones, scarecrows and pumpkin lights,” Hockenberger said. “Inside the house, I use skeletons, a cardboard witch and a black-cat centerpiece.”

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spends about $100 on Halloween, from costumes to candy and greeting cards to decorations. When it comes to money, Hockenberger is against spending more than $20.

“The only thing I buy new every year is pumpkins, and I usually get them from Rulf’s Orchard,” Hockenberger said.

Like many orchards in the area, Rulf’s in Peru offers a variety of items that can be used to prepare a house for Halloween. Pumpkins there are 50 cents per pound or $8 each if they are larger than 16 pounds. Rulf’s also sells corn stalks that can add seasonal flair to a home’s exterior.

For Mary Provost of Cadyville, holidays represent tradition and family. Decorating for Halloween is a yearly custom she has been practicing for more than three decades.

“My mother was a housewife and always took pride in decorating for every holiday, especially Halloween,” Provost said.

For the holiday season, it isn’t necessary to spend much money on decorations. Provost improvises with simple decors from Walmart, Kmart and the Dollar Tree.

“I like to use a lot of the same decorations every year, but in different ways,” Provost said.

“My favorite part is decorating with my family. We use a witch for the front door, stickers on the windows and pumpkins with smiley faces on them,” Provost said.

Hanging plastic pumpkins from a 20-foot tree is no easy task; however, Ann-Marie LeVigne, 73, and her husband, Jerry LaVigne, 74, of Plattsburgh said they enjoy decorating together as a couple.

“Being an ex-kindergarten teacher, I feel like I have to decorate, but Jerry definitely helps me a lot,” Mrs. LeVigne said.

She offers helpful tips from her own experience for Halloween fanatics on a budget.

“Basically, I look for sales; I usually go to Lowes, TJ Maxx and Michael’s,” Mrs. LaVigne said. “I like to shop after the holiday and use the decorations the next year if I can find them.”



▶ Re-use household goods for decorations. Sheets can become ghosts; painted cardboard can become tombstones.

▶ Shop after the holidays and look for sales.

▶ Use coupons and mail-in rebates.

▶ Look for decorations at yard sales, thrift shops and at

▶ Be creative: With a little ingenuity, shredded black plastic crafted onto a bent coat hanger can become a Halloween wreath; empty milk jugs can be hung together to create a skeleton.