When it debuted last year, the Home Depot’s 12-foot-tall skeleton was quickly dubbed the most-coveted Halloween decoration. But just as soon as it appeared, it disappeared — selling out almost instantly. A 30,000-member Facebook group emerged where the lucky could explain how they got their hands on one and the not-so-lucky could detail their pursuit of the perfect dupe. This year, the skeleton (alongside “Inferno,” a creepier, pumpkin-headed counterpart) was rereleased in July — and the two sold out soon after.
The man behind the brouhaha is the Home Depot’s decorative-holiday merchant, Lance Allen. It took Allen and his team just under a year to fully develop and engineer the skeleton, inspired by what they saw walking through trade shows and haunted houses. “I still remember stating that it needs to be as large as two grown men standing on top of each other and just watching our engineer’s mouth drop, trying to figure out that challenge,” he says.
There are always those Halloween decorations that leave parts of the interweb spellbound — take John Derian’s collection with Target that vanished virtually immediately, the Bath & Body Works witch hand candleholder that’s been impossible to find, and this set of newly dead newlyweds from Costco. But even Allen was shocked by just how much social-media attention the skeleton received last year, especially during the height of the pandemic. He’s proud to call it “one of the greatest Halloween items of all times, when people needed it the most.”
If you are hoping to get one now, it’s possible, but your options are slim: Resellers are auctioning the skeleton off for more than triple its original price tag (some are even priced in the four figures). Other than searching the aisles of your local Home Depot, your best choice seems to be finding a suitable alternative. After much digging, we found some great still-in-stock alternatives, including one that stands at eight feet (and a few others at a shorter but still adequately frightening seven feet). Below are our favorites. In the spirit of Halloween, we also included other over-the-top outdoor decorations that are just as spine-chilling.
A word of advice: Halloween decorations seem to be selling out fast — a few that we were going to include sold out before we could even publish this story — so don’t leave your cart unattended for too long.
This skeleton is eerily similar to the Home Depot original— from its pale-blue light-up eyes to its sinister stance, with posable arms almost reaching out to grab you. Unlike the original, this one makes all kinds of scary sounds once plugged in. It’ll be the envy, and maybe even the nightmare, of the neighborhood.
At seven feet tall, this skeleton is much more pared down — it looks like something you might have seen in your high-school science class. But it does offer more poses, as you can move both the arms and legs into whichever position you want, and there’s a lock to click the parts into place.
Allen tipped us off to this Grim Reaper, which is a worthy alternative to the Inferno. He describes the skeleton as “bone-chilling.” It can nod its head and move its mouth, plus it features LED eyes and a chest that looks as if it’s on fire.
What this option lacks in height, it makes up for in movement, with eyes that actually look around, arms that stretch, and a torso that tilts. And it can talk, with three preprogrammed phrases, including one that comments “You look like death warmed up, my friend.”
A little over five feet tall, this skeleton can be hung with its included hook for the full effect, making it perfect for dangling in a closet.
Although it’s shorter than many of the other skeletons on this list, that’s mostly because this one carries its head in its hands. From that perch, the head can still speak, asking anyone who gets close if they’ve come for a trick or a treat. Its eyes even light up — truly haunting.
Less ghastly because of the gunmetal gray, this skeleton could almost pass as an expensive-looking home-décor accent. The hinged limbs and jaw can be easily arranged and put in nearly any position.
[Editor’s note: This skeleton is currently on back order and expected to ship on October 11.]
Trick-or-treaters, beware: This five-foot-tall skeleton glows green in the dark, with blood-red eyes that stare right into your soul. There’s also a non-glow-in-the-dark version that’s slightly less spooky.
Your best bet for a haunted–Palm Beach look is this fossilized flamingo — its iridescence makes it seem extra-supernatural.
Similar vibes to a physical skeleton, but so much easier to store.
This wins top prize for the tallest decoration on our list. It’s weatherproof and lit from the bottom with a built-in LED. Plus it inflates automatically.
Remember that clown craze? Yeah, we want to forget it too. But if your goal is to terrify trick-or-treaters, this clown will do it with moving arms and motion-activated sounds.
This witch-ghost is much more minimalist — draped in a white cloth like a classic ghost costume, with a simple pointed hat and chains around its hands. At six feet tall, it would look particularly chilling hanging from a tree.
Gargantuan tarantula not included.
Calling all Tim Burton fans: This sandworm comes with energy-efficient lights and an animated tongue. You can find a slightly smaller (and cheaper) version of this inflatable at Spirit Halloween.
Add a little cheer to your fear with this giant inflatable skeleton. Fortunately, it comes with stakes to keep it in place.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.