Vintage Halloween Decor Is Trending—And It’s So Much Creepier Than We Expected
Witchcore is taking over
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If you’ve been following this year’s fall design trends, you’ve probably noticed that what’s old is new again. So, it should come as no surprise that vintage Halloween decor is trending hard this year—and luckily, we’ve got a lot to work with (apparently, Americans were just as obsessed with Halloween decor in the early 1900s as we are today).
But consider yourself warned: The seasonal decor of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40 are not for the faint of heart. Some of these pieces are creepy, like swiped-from-a-haunted-house creepy, and far more sinister than we’d expect them to be. So below, a brief overview of where the haunting aesthetic comes from, what to look for, and 10 of the best vintage-inspired Halloween decor pieces we could find.
What is Vintage Halloween Decor?
“Since Halloween items are notoriously hard to accurately date, one rule of thumb I use is this: the scarier the imagery, the older the item,” says Mark B. Ledenbach, a professional Halloween collector and curator. “Halloween, as a commonly celebrated US event, truly came into its own in the very early 1920s,” he writes. Unlike today, however, the Halloween parties of the roaring twenties were adults-only: “Almost all the [decor] from 1910 to 1935 was made primarily for adults…it wasn’t bloody—it was scary. It was meant to catch your eye and unsettle you, even at a party.”
To that end, finding authentic vintage Halloween decor is a niche (and strangely difficult) hobby—and expensive—where authentic vintage pieces can run upwards of $125 for a candy bucket. So instead, you can pull off the vintage Halloween aesthetic (without hours of searching or burning a hole in your wallet), by pulling from old-world motifs and rituals.
Lean Into Pagan Rituals…
Without going into too much detail, Halloween is derived from Samhain, a Pagan religious festival that ushered in “the dark half of the year.” While the celebration’s roots are far deeper than surface-level scares, many of rituals were, presumably, down-right creepy. We’re talking people dressed up with animal heads and skins, gathered around a bonfire creepy.
All of that’s to say that if you’re looking to replicate a truly vintage vibe, you need to focus on two elements: Witches and animals. (Basically a look that falls somewhere between Midsommer and The Blair Witch Project.) Start small with animal bones, skulls or spider- and snake-embellishments, or go all-out with a life-sized wolf animatronic. Then, for the witch element, you can add anything from crystals and floating candles to potion-filled cauldrons (and be sure to use a fog machine for an extra punch).
…Or Go Gothic
On the other hand, go for a more vintage-inspired aesthetic—as opposed to authentic vintage—with trendier ‘Witchcore’ (aka Victorian-style) accents. Think: black lace embellishments, baroque gallery walls, lots of velvet and oversized candelabras. And of course, there’s no better way to channel the spirits like a witch than with a Ouija board; a fitting seasonal substitute for the traditional coffee table book.
Here, find 10 of our top picks to bring the look to life.
The Best Vintage-Inspired Halloween Decor of 2023
While Harry Potter isn’t vintage, per se, this cast aluminum snake mirror has a gold hand-stained finish that makes it look like it was plucked from an eclectic estate sale. It features two twin snakes wrapped around its frame, with both heads peeking out at the top to give an edgy look to your entry walls. Plus, it includes D-ring mounting hardware, two screws and two anchors in the package.
Crafted from durable steel and adorned with delicate lace details, these candle holders hit the mid-19th century nail on the head. More specifically, the Victorian era aesthetic, where lace was used as a decorative element that could skew feminine or edgy (with these black holders hitting the latter). They’re available in three sizes; perfect for bringing the look to your mantle, tabletop or entryway.
Checkerboard and gingham patterns are a staple of this season’s vintage-inspired designs, and this spidery pumpkin feels just as spooky as it does timeless. First, it features the brand’s signature, alternating checkered panels with a distressed finish that makes it look like an antique. But beyond that, it has a textured snakeskin finish—all topped off with a silver spider and stem. Creepy-crawlers, meet glamor.
This Salem-witch inspired village lights up with an eerie glow that accentuates its dramatic black exterior and signature pointy roof. It’s meant to be paired with tiny pumpkins or animated elements (see number five on this list) to create a spooky scene on the mantel or at the doorstep. Just be sure to hurry; reviewers say this guy sells out fast every year.
5. Wowser Animated Vintage-Style Phone
- Motion-activated to ring with spooky phrases
- Sturdy and well-made
- Victorian-style accents
- Batteries not included
- Must be laid flat
This Victorian-era telephone is motion-activated, so when someone passes by, it will ring, pick itself up and murmur different phrases and evil laughs. We’re talking things like, “Are you having a Happy Halloween? It certainly looks like you are, from where I'm standing, right outside your window,” and “Just letting you know that I'm already in the house and I'll see you soon.”
6. Love it New Lab Ouija Board
- Multiple size and wood options
- Sanded to feel like it’s uniquely yours
- Gothic accents
- Shipping time varies by location
Ouija boards have been around for decades—and now they’re begging to make a comeback into your Halloween decor. Not only is this one customizable with a number of sizes and wood-finishes available, but each board is sanded with a different texture to make it uniquely yours. Just be sure to hide this from the kids (unless you want to wake up to blood-curdling screams from them and their friends).
If you’re looking to skew more retro (and less spooky) this cauldron features a distressed black and white checkerboard pattern that lends an age-old feel. The bottom includes a gold-accented pot (making it the perfect candy holder) that sits on a pair of striped purple witches’ feet with handles on each side.
8. Threshold Beaded Spider Throw Pillow
- Pillow included
- High-quality beading
- Coffee grey velvet
- Soft to touch
- Plush filling with sewn seam closure
- Can be machine-washed
- Spot clean only
A little velvet goes a long way for a gothic touch—and this embroidered throw pillow is so cute, we might just keep it on our sofas after the 31st. Its deep brown finish is adorned with gold embroidered spiders and beaded details that give it a spooky 20s vibe. The best part? Pillow is included.
9. Moving Haunted Portrait Pictures
- Set of six 3D portraits that change faces at different angles
- Mixed vintage brass frames on each print
- Rectangular and oval cutouts
- Sturdy and thick
- Frames printed on poster paper
A must-have for any gothic-inspired aesthetic, this set of six portraits seems to be completely normal—until you look at them from a different angle, where they instantly transform into creepy zombies and blood-stained mummies. Plus, each picture boasts a printed baroque or antique frame, which adds a nice vintage touch.
10. Soulnioi Witchcraft Kit
- Includes candles, crystals and herbs
- Cleanses a space
- Items can double as decor or be used for rituals
- One reviewer mentioned that the crystals looked fake
Finally, a witchcraft kit that comes stocked with a candle, crystals and herbs that can be used to cleanse a space (or summon spirits, if that’s your thing). It also comes with directions that explain how to set everything up, including a rune board made of wood and three magic wishing cards.
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