No Bones About It: How to Save on Yard Skeletons

A skeleton reaches through a bush of roses.
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Ah, it’s that time of year again. The weather is starting to cool, the leaves are beginning to change color and your neighbor just erected their 12-foot yard skeleton. Wait, does one thing on that list seem out of place?

But if you’re anything like much of America, chances are, you’re either coveting your neighbor’s skeleton or fruitlessly combing the internet to find your own. The infamous 12-foot Giant-Sized Skeleton with Life Eyes, as its product name goes at Home Depot, or Skelly, as his fans refer to him, only came onto the market in 2020. But it immediately became an unlikely hit, buoyed in part by the pandemic and the increased demand in recent years for Halloween decor.

Three years later, consumers are in such hot pursuit of Skelly that he has already sold out twice online in April and July 2023 — months before Halloween. A final restock in August sold out as well, per Mashable, meaning Skelly seekers will now have to rely on in-store merchandise before the bell of Oct. 31 tolls.

While Skelly may be an outlier even for the Halloween market, American spending on Halloween has been steadily on the rise since 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, NRF expects Americans will spend a total of $12.2 billion on Halloween, up from last year’s record of $10.6 billion. Roughly 73% of Americans will participate in Halloween-related activities. Aside from handing out candy, decorating the home or yard is the top way Americans plan to take part.

Don’t fret — whether you’re a three-year Skelly devotee or have never heard of a 12-foot skeleton, this article has something for you.

Want to celebrate spooky season for less? Here are five ways to celebrate Halloween on a budget.

What’s a Yard Skeleton?

Before we dive into how to get yourself a Skelly, let’s hear the skeleton’s origin story. It all started when Lance Allen, a decorative holiday merchant at Home Depot, spotted a “massive skeleton torso” on his regular perusal of trade shows and haunted houses. He and his team were inspired to put a little Home Depot twist on the Halloween classic, which meant creating a “full-sized, free-standing and completely poseable skeleton.” The original thought was to cap his height at 10 feet, but the team shot “for the stars,” Allen said, and didn’t stop until they reached 12 feet.

The initial design was so successful that Allen expanded the collection in 2021 with the 12-Foot Inferno Pumpkin Skeleton. Part of what makes the skeletons so unique is their LifeEyes, which use LCD screens to give the eyes a life-like quality.

“What’s great about the screens is that we can fully program whatever image or scene we want on them,” Allen said in a Home Depot post. “That’s what gives Skelly his realistic blue eyes.”

But these skeletons are not just in demand—they also don’t come cheap. Both Skelly and his Pumpkin counterpart are priced at $299 and $379, respectively, not exactly chump change.

Where Do You Get Yard Skeletons? 

The easiest answer to this question is, of course, at Home Depot. While we believe that the final online restock of these skeletons was already completed this year, it’s always worth checking the link for the three massive skeletons currently available.

You can find the original 12-foot Skelly with LCD blue eyes here. Click here for the Inferno Pumpkin edition of the 12-foot skeleton. And if you like your Halloween decor with a side of Disney, then consider this new addition, the 13-foot animated Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas ($399), which appears to still be available online.

It’s important to keep in mind that all three of these skeletons won’t arrive at your home or be purchased in-store ready-made. When it comes to all three, Home Depot employees estimate that installation will take about 45 minutes with three people working together. Be prepared for a somewhat arduous task.

If the high price tags and sheer impossibility of actually acquiring one of these beauties is making you think twice, dupes can be found — although they are still expensive and won’t meet the 12-foot height standards. Wayfair sells a Pose-N-Stay Skeleton, at almost 5.5 feet, that is made from all-weather plastic and goes for $88.99, currently on sale. Best Buy has an 8-foot towering skeleton with poseable arms, a moving jaw and the LED eyes you’ve come to know and love, but it’s currently sold out online. On sale, it goes for $297.99 — regular price is $349.99. Spirit Halloween offers a $299.99 six-foot animatronic skeleton. You’ll be spooked by its script of terrifying statements.

How to Save Money on Skelly (And Other Yard Skeletons)

So you’re looking for a Skelly, or just a yard skeleton, and you don’t want to pay top dollar. We have some tips for you, although we warn you: It’s a difficult market out there. Consumers are having a hard time getting their hands on Skelly at regular price, so if you really want the Home Depot, 12-foot model, you may have to pay full price.

That said, if you’re willing to be flexible, there are some ways around shelling out the absolute maximum. Here are our tips.

Are you an active service member or veteran? Use Home Depot’s military discount.

Home Depot offers a 10% discount off of eligible purchases, up to $400 per year, for active military, veterans and their spouses. To qualify, you’ll need to register yourself or your family through SheerID or through your Home Depot account. Dependents of registered service members, dishonorably discharged veterans and non-military members are not eligible, per the store. Once you’ve been verified, you’ll have a barcode accessible through your account. You can then show this to the cashier the next time you make a purchase at Home Depot. If you can find a Skelly available, flash your barcode and try it out.

Be size flexible. 

If you’re willing to spring for a smaller skeleton, you’ll likely be able to find something cheaper — and more widely available — at Home Depot. For example, you can get a 6-foot Rotten Patch LED poseable Pumpkin Skeleton for $79.98. Willing to go even smaller? Buy this 5-foot posable skeleton hanging decor with LED eyes for only $29.98. And if you want something between the two, try this 5-foot pitted skeleton with LED eyes for $34.98.

Branch out from a skeleton to other Halloween creatures.

Sensing all the Halloween demand, Home Depot released a collection of Halloween creatures that are not traditional skeletons. You may have an easier time purchasing these figures. Choose from a 12-foot animated hovering witch with a moving jaw for $299 or a 12-foot towering ghost for $349. Looking for something a little less pricey? Try the $99 6-foot animated spellcasting witch. But there’s plenty more where these three came from—try a quick search of Home Depot’s Halloween animatronics to see all your best options.

Try yard skeleton Facebook groups or Facebook Marketplace.

When in doubt, we always say turn to Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor. By searching frequently for skeletons or the Home Depot 12-foot skeleton, you may finally get your lucky day and find someone ready to sell their castoff skeleton after a few years of use.

You can also consider joining the myriad Facebook groups that exist for 12-foot skeleton owners. For example, this one has more than 250,000 members. You never know if one day one of these members will decide to sell one of their Skellies.

So Now You’ve Got a 12-foot Skeleton. How Do You Store It?

For the precious few who have actually gotten ahold of a Skelly in their collection, this is perhaps the most salient question. The good news is that you’re far from the only person to have asked it, and there are answers.

First, Home Depot has a step-by-step maintenance guide on how to put your skeleton together and how to take it apart. Once you’ve done assembly and Halloween has come and gone, it’s time to take your Skelly apart.

A word of advice: while Skelly is theoretically weather-resistant, Home Depot advises taking him down during windy weather. He can be cleaned with soap and water, so don’t worry about a little dirt on his bones. But he’s a sensitive skeleton — don’t bleach him or pressure wash him. Skelly would be aghast at that! And one more point: Skelly doesn’t like extreme cold or heat. Please don’t put him near a fire pit. Yes, he can melt.

To take Skelly apart and store him, he needs to be laid down and disassembled. Home Depot recommends having three people working on this task. Taking the parts apart will have to be done in the opposite order of assembly, which takes about 45 minutes. The batteries that power the LED eyes should be removed when storing Skelly. Each of the parts should be placed in the original box for storage wherever you see fit, from your garage to your attic. A climate-controlled space is best. If you didn’t hold on to the original box, Reddit users recommend buying Christmas tree storage bags to hold the larger bones.

And if all of this just seems like too much work, there’s another option: keep Skelly up year-round. Consumers are repurposing these 12-foot skeletons for other seasons, from Christmas with Santa hats to a skeleton beach scene. Sometimes laziness — after all, who wants to disassemble a 12-foot skeleton? — can turn into creativity.

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Kelly Gurnett is a former contributor to The Penny Hoarder.