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Forget the other holidays—Halloween is the only occasion when people you’ve never met are welcomed to your doorstep in droves. In other words, now’s the real time to show off your decorating skills. But remember, not all houses are created equal—a box of raisins and a few fake spider webs aren’t gonna cut it. So we teamed up with HERSHEY to show you how to make your home the best in the ’hood this year.

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Shop Strategically

We know, it’s easy to get carried away (and spend a million dollars) at Party City. Instead, take a trip to your local hardware store or home decor shop and pick up a few things you can use around the house after Halloween ends (you smartypants, you). Think outdoor twinkle lights, bales of hay, vintage candelabras and such. This way, you’ll get the most out of your money.

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Stock Up on Candy

Before the big day hits, load up on what’s really important: the candy. In order to please all the witches, cats and princesses who come to your door, fill your candy bowl with classics like REESE’S Peanut Butter CupsKIT KAT bars and HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate. Things can turn into a real-life nightmare if you run out of treats, so be sure to stick to a two-candies-per-kid limit.

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Jazz Up Your Pumpkins

Carving a jack-o’-lantern is all fun and games until you slice open your ring finger. (You, too?) Instead of stabbing a chef’s knife into a hard gourd, try marbling your pumpkins or wrapping them in twinkle lights so they sparkle at night.

 

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Get Yourself in the Spirit

Life motto: Always dress for the occasion. It’s easy to forget your own costume when you’re busy decorating an entire house, but make it a point to get dressed up. Nothing kills the vibe quite like someone passing out candy in a sweatshirt. If you're really pinched for time, just toss on a witch's hat.

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Don’t Skimp on Cool Effects

Every scary movie has one thing in common: fog. Unleash the big guns and purchase a fog machine for around $30 to create a creepy and suspenseful scene. But don’t stop there. Place outdoor speakers next to your candy setup to play spooky Halloween sounds. (Just remember to turn everything off before you go to bed.)

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And if All Else Fails...

Involve your pets.

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