25 Best Vintage Halloween Decorations - Retro Halloween Decor

·5 min read

It's hard to believe, but we've been celebrating Halloween for a couple of centuries now — maybe even thousands of years —depending on which version of Halloween's history you choose to believe.

Regardless, what we do know for sure is that Americans have been commemorating the spooky holiday with carved gourds and homemade costumes since the 1800s because we've got the photos to prove it.

It's clear that they really knew how to throw a stellar party back in the day and, frankly, we wish we'd been around to see the vintage Halloween decorations up close.

Well, maybe. A lot of these decorations, dating all the way back to 1865, are actually scarier than what you'll find in a horror movie. But if you're willing to embrace the spooks and scares, then these hanging ghosts, jack-o'-lanterns, black cats and other retro decorations are a sight to behold.

Now, put some old-timey tunes on your Halloween playlist, shake up a batch of haunting cocktails and take a trip back in time with these vintage photos that are sure to inspire your own Halloween decor this year.

1865: Pumpkinhead

London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images
London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

We’d totally fall over in fright if this Pumpkinhead apparition showed up in our kitchen. This photo dates back to 1865, which just goes to show we’ve been scaring ourselves silly for centuries.

Early 1900s: Carved pumpkins and apples

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Talk about a well-dressed table! They added height to their table display by mixing fresh florals with carved pumpkins and apples. Any guesses on what’s hanging from the light?

Early 1900s: Vintage Halloween fireplace

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Here, we see children engaged in the old American Halloween tradition of trying to find a lit candle, then blowing it out all while being blindfolded. It’s the decked-out fireplace behind them, however, that has our attention.

1910: Creepy skeleton

Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images
Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images

Welp, this pretty much sums up how we all feel after sitting at our desk for hours. This skeleton looks like the real deal, top hat and all.

1920s: Witchy pumpkin

Visual Studies Workshop / Getty Images
Visual Studies Workshop / Getty Images

No day at Venice Beach is complete without … a giant jack-‘o-lantern? We’re totally down for this witchy pumpkin at the beach or anyplace else for that matter.

1927: Glowing jack-o'-lantern

H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock  / Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock / Getty Images

This jack-o’-lantern really casts a glow. The lace tablecloth completes the look — and really makes the carved pumpkin pop.

1928: Fancy Halloween party

Dick Whittington Studio / Corbis via Getty Images
Dick Whittington Studio / Corbis via Getty Images

You can practically hear a big band playing in the background. We’re swooning over these outfits (“The Great Gatsby,” anyone?) at this Halloween dinner party. See if you can spot the devil hiding in the corner.

1929: Halloween backdrop

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Actress Clara Bow was the “It Girl” in her day — and she had the style to prove it. Her pin-up style may have stolen the show, but the ghosts and witches in the background still catch our eye.

1930s: Halloween staples

H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock /Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock /Getty Images

Every vintage Halloween decoration in this photo gets a trophy, especially the little girl’s festive headband and the black cat cut-out beside her.

1930s: Paper-mache pumpkin

H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock/Getty Images

We’re not exactly sure what this little girl is dressed up as for Halloween, but the paper-mache pumpkin she’s holding is outstanding.

1930s: Vintage Halloween painting

Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images
Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images

This painting by H. Boswell captures the holiday’s hallmarks: a beguiling witch on a broomstick, bevy of black cats and an overall ominous feeling.

1935: Simple pumpkin centerpiece

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

No clowning around here: That’s Rita Hayworth at a Halloween party in 1935. Although understated, the pumpkin centerpiece adds a festive finish.

1935: Movable skeleton

vintage halloween decorations (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
vintage halloween decorations (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Oh, hello! Although this woman doesn’t look too sure about shaking hands with Mr. Bones, we think he looks friendly ... enough.

1935: Flying skeletons

Imagno / Getty Images
Imagno / Getty Images

We definitely don’t want to shake hands with the ghost in this photo. We will, however, take the two flying skeletons in the background.

1939: Giant jack-o'-lantern

Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

This giant jack-o’-lantern was set up at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Some inspiration for your front yard, don’t ya think?

1940s: Classic Halloween decorations

Archive Photos / Getty Images
Archive Photos / Getty Images

We’ll take one of everything! There’s a giant pumpkin, black cat, winking owl and plenty of other holiday haunts.

1945: Pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket

John Zavisho / Getty Images
John Zavisho / Getty Images

Puppies and Halloween go together like trick-or-treating and candy! This cute pup joined in the fun by wearing a party hat and carrying a sweet pumpkin bucket for treats.

1955: Black cats, pumpkins and a witch’s hat

vintage halloween decorations (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
vintage halloween decorations (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Actor and dancer Ann Miller delightfully poses with a stack of grinning pumpkins and a collection of black cats. However, it’s the witch’s hat that really has us bewitched.

1955: Halloween pumpkin

vintage halloween decorations (Sherman / Three Lions / Getty Images)
vintage halloween decorations (Sherman / Three Lions / Getty Images)

The family surrounding this glowing jack-o’-lantern doesn’t looks ... happy? That’s rare, especially on a day as spooky as Halloween.

1955: Vintage trick-or-treat bags

Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images
Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images

Ding-dong! Look out, the Jolly Roger and the devil are knocking at your door! Back in 1955, these trick-or-treaters stashed their candy in paper and cloth bags.

1956: Eerie entrance

Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images
Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

Here’s hoping that this duo doesn’t show up at your door on Halloween. Scary costumes aside, we love the look of the spooky branches in the doorway.

1957: Vintage Halloween table setting

Corbis via Getty Images
Corbis via Getty Images

It’s time to get the party started! Taken at a 1957 Halloween party held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, these witches’ hats and party horns double as tabletop decorations.

1958: Carved pumpkin display

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

First question: Where do you even find a pumpkin this big? Second question: How long did it take them to scoop out the guts before carving? Either way, it looks amazing nestled among the corn stalks.

1959: Carved pumpkin trio

Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images
Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images

These jack-o’-lanterns guarding the window are way scarier than anything you can make with your basic pumpkin carving kit. The dried corn is a nice finishing touch.

1967: Cute Halloween cut-outs

Portland Press Herald / Getty Images
Portland Press Herald / Getty Images

The charming cut-outs on the fireplace were standard fare when this photo was taken back in 1967 at the Baxter Library in Portland, Maine.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com