Boo!, Not Boo-Hoo’s – A Parent’s Safety Guide to Trick or Treating

Next to their own birthday and Christmas morning, there’s little that kids anticipate as anxiously as Halloween.

And why shouldn’t they? With fall carnival rides, pumpkins to carve, huge quantities of delicious, sticky goodies, and a few thrill-giving scares, Halloween has all the makings of a childhood favorite.

Kids have their own priorities (“What should I go as? How much candy can I score in one night?). But as adults, it’s so important to also consider Halloween safety.

A few reminders about protecting our kids can help guarantee that this is a Halloween everyone in your family will want to remember for years to come.

The Real Spooks on Halloween Night?

According to reports by US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Halloween Safety: Safety Alert” and another by the University of Michigan Health System, “Expert Offers Tips for Picking Safe Halloween Costumes” on Halloween safety, the three primary dangers relate directly to costume choice. Children are most likely to be injured on Halloween by tripping and falling, receiving a serious burn, or being involved in a pedestrian accident. Due to the large numbers of children who will be out trick-or-treating after dark and wearing dark clothes, our kids are four and a half times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night out of the year. Keeping these very real dangers in mind can help us make simple and smart choices to keep them safe. Here are some tips to avoid them.

Safety First When Choosing or Making a Costume

When it comes to avoiding a traffic accident, we cannot be careful enough and we have to give our kids every opportunity to look out for themselves. Avoid buying hard, plastic masks. Most of these masks cover the whole head and leave only small openings for the eyes and mouth. Besides making it harder for the wearer to breathe, these masks often cover the ears and block out peripheral vision. This seriously impairs the wearer’s ability to notice approaching traffic and limits how they can respond in a truly dangerous situation.

Instead of masks, try face paint! From pirates to princesses, from Christmas Angels to Santa’s Elves, from Indiana Jones to Dora the Explorer, there are endless costume ideas out there that involve no masks at all.

Make sure that motorists have every opportunity to see you and yours. Choose bright colored costumes, costumes with sparkles, lights, or glitter. If the preferred costume is dark, make sure to add reflective tape to increase visibility. Wear white sneakers with reflective highlights or add reflective tape to shoes. Also, pass out flashlights to your party and make sure the batteries are good.

Even Halloween Ghouls Need To Look Both Ways

Finally, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Talk to your kids about traffic safety. The magical feeling of Halloween night can create a sense of invincibility, but that won’t protect them from an oncoming car. Remind them to look both ways and only cross at corners (young trick-or-treaters have the bad habit of dashing right across the road). Discourage older children from riding their bikes as they might crash into walkers or put themselves at greater risk by riding in the road. Dangling costumes might also get caught in bike gears and cause an accident.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

Before the big night, make sure your child has a wide range of motion in their costume. Let them try on their costume before Halloween and let them play in it. Kids will love the opportunity to dress up ahead of time and you’ll get a chance to make sure that they can run and play safely in their disguise. It’s also a good idea to have your kids trick-or-treat in their tennis shoes rather than having them wear costume shoes that might be uncomfortable or dangerous. Especially our little girls who want to be fairy princesses for the night are best off in comfy play shoes, not high heels.

We say don’t run with scissors for a reason! Falling down with or on something sharp can lead to a serious injury. While no Captain Jack Sparrow is complete without a sword and no Hermione Granger is complete without a wand, these should not be stiff or sharp objects in your child’s hand. Make sure that all your child’s accessories are made of a soft and bendy plastic and have rounded edges.

Finally, it might be a good idea to have a talk with your posse about trick-or-treating etiquette. Remind them that there’s plenty of candy for everyone, so there should be no need to run or shove.

Fiery Jack-O-Lanterns – Not a Laughing Matter

Avoiding Burn Injuries:

When you check out your child’s mobility in their costume, also take a look for any loose fabric that might be dragging the ground. Be certain to hem edges or fringe that might catch a low flame like a jack-o-lantern candle.

Also, when picking a Halloween costume, don’t forget to read the label! Even if your child is convinced that they’ve found the one, don’t take it home without first checking to make sure that it will keep them safe from burn injuries. The costume should say that it is either “flame resistant” or “flame retardant.” According to the experts, 100% polyester is the safest choice. Avoid 100% cotton which burns quickly and doesn’t allow adults enough time to respond to a child in distress.

Again, make sure you talk to your kids about keeping an eye out for jack-o-lanterns or other flaming decorations. Reminding everyone, including yourself, to be vigilant is the best protection. Even better than a flame resistant costume is not having to rely on that label at all.

Enjoy the Boo! Avoid the Boo-Hoo!

Keeping the dangers in mind can only lead to a safer Halloween experience. Make sure you set a curfew for older kids and plan a route for trick-or-treating with your youngest. Don’t let a careless and avoidable mistake spoil the life-long memory of a fun Halloween! Happy and safe trick-or-treating!

About the Author: Angela Lytle is a self-employed mother of four and publisher of Christmas-Decorations-Online.com, a website featuring holiday decorations from artificial Christmas trees to outdoor Christmas lights.

How to Make “Shrunken Heads” with Apples

Image credit: marthastewart.com

Shrunken heads are the stuff of myth, legend and Hollywood voodoo movies. This Halloween, bring an eerie tradition to life by creating apple “shrunken heads” for your diabolical display.

Be as simple or as detailed as you’d like; they may look like they take a lot of effort, but making a creepy shrunken head prop is so easy, it’s almost scary.

You will need:

  • 1 (or more) large-size, fairly round apple(s)
  • Bowl of water
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Small knife for carving
  • Whole cloves if desired
  • Dried rice grains if desired

Step One: Prepare Your Ingredients

Prepare your water about 5-10 minutes before you’re ready to dip your apple in (see Step Three, below). Start by filling a bowl with about four cups of cool water. Pour in the salt, then squeeze juice from the lemon wedges directly over the bowl. Mix for several seconds so that the salt will begin to dissolve into the water and the lemon juice will blend.

Step Two: Peel and Carve the Apple

Select an apple that is fairly round and as large as possible. Apples shrink significantly in size as they dry, so the bigger the apple you start with, the better. Peel the apple with your vegetable peeler; leave the stem on if desired (it will not affect the drying process).

Coring your apple isn’t necessary for drying, but if you wish, you can create a longer, more drawn “face” by coring. (Non-cored apples will end up more round or square in shape.)

Now begin carving a face into the apple. You will be carving inward around the most prominent facial feature—the nose. The eyes should be sunken into the apple. Don’t worry about details at this point; just exaggerate whatever features you’d like to stand out on your finished project. For deeply-set eyes, make sure the eyebrow ridge stands out fairly far, and place a clove in the center of each to make a dent once the head is dry.

Step Three: Soak and Hang the Head

Now you’re ready to soak your apple in the prepared water. Allow the apple to sit in the water for a minimum of 10 minutes (for dry, warm areas) or up to one hour (if you live in an area that experiences high humidity). “Spin” the apple a few times in the water during the soaking time. The salt will draw moisture from the apple once it’s out of the water, making the apple dry more quickly and helping to keep it from becoming moldy, and the lemon will help keep the color of the shrunken head light and uniform.

The best way to dry your apple is to hang it from a string. Try not to hang it directly in front of a window that receives a lot of sunshine; the warmth and brightness can encourage rot. You also want to avoid very moist areas, such as the kitchen sink or near the washing machine in the laundry room.

Please note that your shrunken head will take up to two weeks to dry. If you need a finished product sooner, try a vegetable dehydrator, or turn your oven to its lowest setting (200 degrees or less is ideal) and heat the apple for 3-6 hours, until dry and shriveled.

Finishing Touches

Once your apple is fully dried and shrunken, you can display it as is, or you may add details if you wish. Glue some faux hair onto the stem if you’ve left it on, or directly onto the top of the head if the stem has fallen off. The cloves you inserted for placement may have softened during the drying time; replace them for very beady, dark eyes. (Leave them out for a sunken-eyed look.)

Take your rice grains and glue them into the mouth area for teeth. For this detail, the more jagged, the better; place them at angles, or glue one or two into the top lip and just one on the bottom.

However you choose to display your proud creations, you’re sure to get comments from impressed friends, including “How did you make those?” Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with us!

Big Halloween Displays in Small Spaces

I love Department 56 and Spooky Town collectables, but I don’t have room for all the different houses and building in the collections. So over the years I’ve bought several pieces that I couldn’t live without, but I couldn’t display them either because of no room and to protect them from my two cats. You know what I mean – small collectables make great cat toys!

The first thing I thought of was to get a display case made for goodies – it would have cost the same as a second mortgage, so that idea was out. Then I went out and priced already made display cabinets, and realized that I couldn’t make my kids go without braces. However, I was determined to find a way to display them so the cats couldn’t get at them and so that me and my guests could see them without breaking the bank.

The Solution – The Craft Store

I ran off to Michaels and found the perfect fix for very little money! They had several different sizes but I chose one that was 7 ½ ” tall x 4 ¾ ” wide. I was shocked to find an unfinished display box with glass for under $5.00! I bought two – one to use for a tall display and the other for a horizontal display.

What To Put Into Your Display

Gather any item you think will fit in the display case and set them in. I’m sure you have lots of little collectables you’ve picked up over the years or you can always add doll house miniatures to your display. Of if you have one larger Halloween statue or collectable – use just that. Arrange and rearrange your items until they fit like you want. They may not fit at all! I was surprised when I got home that some of the Halloween collectables I thought would be perfect for my display case didn’t come close to fitting. Others looked dwarfed in the case and didn‘t look good at all. You just won’t know what will look best until you try them all!

The Gory (and Fantastical) Details

Once you’ve decided what to put in your display – start playing around with what details will make it better than just the item. Do you want to go with true scale of one inch equals a foot? Not bother with scale at all? Perhaps you would like to try for realism or fantasy in your display. All these things are good to consider since they will add lots of interest to you collection. If you decide to showcase you’re best mini tombstones for a mini cemetery add greenery, trees, fences and plants or vines to add to the creepy feel of fantasy cemetery in your head. What about adding a wisp of cotton batting to look like low laying ground fog between the tombstones? No matter what you’re planning to exhibit there are always great details you can add that will set it apart from humdrum to eye popping – perfect for Halloween!

Supplies For a Mini-Fantasy Display

  • Unfinished display box
  • Access to a color printer and the internet
  • Scissors
  • Double stick tape
  • Several different colors of paper or felt for the flooring
  • Ruler
  • Collectables
  • Paint (optional) I’ve decided to leave mine the natural color of the pine for now but you can paint yours anyway you want.

Getting Started

Gather all your supplies so you won’t have to stop later and look for something – it ruins your creative juju if you have to go cussing around the house scaring small children and pets just to find scissors. See, I know you guys – wait. That’s what I usually do!

Anyway, set up in an area with lots of light and space to work so you can spread your supplies out. Carefully measure the area where you want to put your background and write it down so you won‘t forget. As you can see with mine, (insert pic here) I decided to use a background only on the very back. but there are many ways to install your background. For instance, you may want to not only put it on the back of the case but also around the sides of the display. Just make sure that you can still see the items clearly or you may have people picking it up to see what’s inside – that’s bad for breakable collectables!

The Haunted Background

Once you’ve measured, go online or to your favorite graphics program and select a few different backgrounds to print that will add to the feel of what you‘re displaying. Use the rulers in any program you use to make them the exact size of your display so you won‘t have to trim them later or lose part of your background trying to cut it down to make it fit. Select the best background from all the ones you’ve printed and cut it out. Do the same with either felt, colored paper or a design you’ve printed for the floor of the display.

(Of course, if you’re an artist, draw and paint your scene!)

You have to make a decision at this point if you’re going to want to change the display later or if you want it to be permanent. Me? I’m way too fickle to make the display permanent so I used double stick tape to attach my background and flooring. But if you are good at making decisions – get a glue bottle and a Q-Tip. Careful not to get glue on your print since most pictures done on an ink jet will run or smear if it gets any dampness on it – I suggest that you take the background or flooring out and on a covered surface. Then put a thin layer of glue directly on the wood and smooth the glue all over the surface. Carefully lay the background paper in and watch for glue blobs that’ll bubble up around the edges. Take a Q-Tip and gently wipe it off making sure to not rub it over the picture. Let dry completely before doing anything else.

Populating Your Scene

“Time to make the doughnuts” as an old ad used to say when it was time for the good stuff. You’re now ready to start filling your display! Since you’ve installed your background and flooring you’re ready to put your collectables in the display. Try all kinds of combinations before closing the door and being done. You can always hang a bat from the ceiling, add a last minute skeleton or any other thing that will make your items scream with realism or show great flights of fantasy in your showcase. Enjoy!

Scaring Up Supplies on the Cheap

13 tips to take some of the bite out of the cost of home haunting from the lurking lunatics at ScreamingScarecrowStudios

garage sale halloweenYou know you are in danger of being labeled a Halloween fiend when you find yourself daydreaming about spending any lottery winnings on a Hollywood-grade, year round haunted attraction! But if you’re just poor working stiffs like us, who haven’t yet won the lottery, you know there is never enough cash in the coffin to fund the annual dark obsession. For this reason we thought we’d share how we get some of the materials used in our home haunt and Halloween props.

Halloween – not just for October 31st

Tip #1 – Post-Halloween Sales

We hate to state the obvious, but the best way to be able to scare up cheap haunting supplies is to be thinking about Halloween all year round – starting with November 1st. If you don’t already know, most stores put what is left of their Halloween stock on sale the day after Halloween, sometimes up to 75% or more off! We often take the day off and go to our favorite Halloween store early before it opens so we’re first in line for all the glorious mad grabbing of discounted horror.

Tip #2 – Costume Remainders

As much fun as it is to make haunt props from monster mud, for your next creature consider scooping up a Halloween costume while you’re taking advantage of the November 1st sales. When you buy a costume for a mere pittance of what it was a week earlier you don’t feel bad about using it on a monster prop. Costumes often give your creatures of the night a more authentic look and feel. Also not using monster mud allows you to disassemble a store the prop more easily.

Tip #3 – Stock Up on Fake Spider Webs

Never pay full price for fake spider webs. This is one item that is almost always deeply discounted. One year we paid only 25cents a bag, so for a cool 10 bucks we had ourselves 40 bags of webbing! As an added bonus. when taking down the used webs at the end of the season, don’t throw them out – just ball it all up into a good head-sized mass because it actually makes great stuffing material for a Halloween mask.

Tip #4 – Costume Makeup Sales

Never pay full price for costume makeup. This is another item that is almost always deeply discounted. You’ll always need Halloween face makeup for some costume or another but you could even use the makeup as greasy pastel crayons to draw horror scenes on cardboard backdrops in the haunt. Also it is face makeup – the kids can use it all year round for face painting!

Wood – it doesn’t just grow on trees in the haunted forest

Tip #5 – Lumber Sales

Thinking about your haunt plans and projects during the year allows you to watch and wait for basic building materials such as lumber and plywood to come on sale at the local lumber yards. For bigger projects, wait to get the full size wood on sale, but for smaller projects it’s good to know somebody in the construction industry. You can ask them to bring you left over job scraps. We have one guy who brings us all sorts of useable scrap wood.

Tip #6 – Pallet Manufacturers

Another place we get wood is the local pallet manufacturers and businesses that receive items shipped in crates. Often they have this pallet wood or crate wood piled up in designated areas waiting for people to come and haul it away for them.

Tip #7 – Old, Reclaimed Wood

Then there’s old weathered wood, which is perfect for coffins and crosses. We help friends & family when they are tearing down a garage or shed. Especially if the building is old and the wood is weathered and beat up. Nothing makes more authentic cemetery crosses and coffins then old wood – sure there are lots of techniques for distressing and aging wood but they don’t come close to the real thing.

Black is our favorite color, until they come out with something darker

Tips #8 – Grey is the New Black

Although we love black, one of the most common colors in our haunt is grey. If everything was black too much light would be needed to properly light up our haunted scenes. So it’s a good thing that most paints mix together to make a blah looking icky color to which we add some black paint to make various greys. Paint is expensive, so like the wood it’s good if you know someone in the painting business that can bring you left over paint from jobsites. Another place to get free or cheap paint is garage sales. Most people have old paint in their basement or garage but don’t think to put it out, so we just ask if they have any old paint they’d like to get rid of?

Tip #9 – Discounted Paint

Another way to get cheap paint is the local hardware store. Sometimes you can buy discounted paint when people return paint because of the wrong color. Once again it does not matter what color the paint is because it usually all gets mixed together into grey.

Tip #10 – Packaging Tarp

On the subject of black – we construct our Halloween haunt in our driveway and side yard using 2 X 4 wood framing. Once the framework is setup, we skin it with tarps that we get from the local lumber yards. These are the tarps that wood manufactures cover and ship their lumber with. Often these tarps have a black side making them perfect for Halloween. Plus the lumber yards just puts them in the garbage anyway. We’re actually keeping the landfills cleaner!

Garage sales Goblins and Thrift store Trolls

Tip #11 – Garage Sales

Of course you already know that lots of great things can be found at garage sales and thrift stores but whenever we go throughout the year we always keep an eye out for a few things that we like to use in our haunt. One of those things is bolts of cheap fabric – of course anything black or grey but we also look hard for blood red satin sheets because they make perfect liners for coffins. We also snap up any cheaply priced white sheer curtains because they are perfect for flying crank ghosts and static ghost alike.

Tip #12 – Pool Noodles

Something we haven’t found that often at either garage sales or thrift stores is water noodles. New, they are not super expensive but they also are not cheap either. So we snap them up when we find them and ask anybody we know with a pool to let us have them when they are done with them. Why water noodles? Because we’ve found they are great for giving form and shape to a creature’s arm or leg. If you just stuff an arm or leg with stuffing it often looks too stuffed and unrealistic – a water noodle that has been shaped into a limb often lets the clothes hang correctly giving more realistic appearance.

Tip #13 – Mannequins, Old Paintings, Storage Trunks

Being number 13 we thought we’d squeeze in 3 more things we love to find while out second hand shopping. First, for obvious reasons, mannequins! When we come across a reasonably priced used mannequin we definitely grab it. Put on those discounted costumes and makeup the face anyway you like because you’ve got plenty of discounted face makeup and you have an instant character! Second is old portrait paintings. These can be turned into creepy eyes-following-you-around-the-room or blood-leaking-from-the-neck props. Thirdly, a find we never past up, is the old dusty beat-up storage trunk. In low light, these old trunks just naturally add more creep factor to most haunted houses. Plus they can be used to make Monster-in-a-box props or a variation of the Trash-Can-Trauma props. Both are classic scare tactics in the home haunter’s bag of tricks and treats!

Hopefully, somewhere in these 13 tips, you’ve found something to help you scare up supplies for your Halloween home haunt. Thanks for reading and Happy Haunting!

You probably have a Halloween-dozen of your own favorite tips. If you’d like to share some of them, please add your comments.

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Halloween Costumes: Go Retro!

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pinterest.com

Want a Halloween costume that really rocks? Then go retro. One of this year’s hottest trends, the retro costume is welcome at any party. Try our handy tips to create your very own blast from the past.

Why Retro?

Certain periods in history seem to bring about feelings of nostalgia and happiness—even if we didn’t actually live through them. Thirty-year-olds in full Lucille Ball regalia and teenagers in 80s neon are far from uncommon at today’s Halloween parties and parades. If you’re looking to capture that feeling of days gone by, a few simple tricks will transport you from the New Millennium to Old School. Pick your time period and come along with us on a trip down memory lane for one of the most fun costumes you’ll ever wear.

The 1950s: Grease is The Word

Grease Poodle Skirt & Sweater Adult Costume  Grease Danny's T-Bird Adult Plus Costume

Greased Lightning!

For women, try very bright, deep or dark red or coral lipstick and face powder one-half shade lighter than your skin tone. The eyes should be lined on top, but leave the bottom lids and lashes bare for an authentic look. Any length hair can “go 50s” – if you have bangs, curl them slightly under and wear them as a heavy curtain rather than in today’s wispy style. Pile the rest of the hair on top or in back of the head, or wear down and pin-curled. For men, try darkening your hair (a temporary spray-on dye covers well and washes out easily) for super-shine. Add some wet look gel to slick the hair back on the sides and “poof” it high at the crown. Once you’ve lifted the hair up and gelled it, push it just slightly forward; a lock over one eye is particularly 1950s.

Women can wear a wide skirt; cut a poodle out of black felt (inexpensive and easy to find at any crafts store) and glue it onto the front. Glue rhinestones onto the poodle’s neck for an ultra-glam faux “collar”. A tight, short-sleeved top or one with capped sleeves is the perfect complement to your skirt. A brightly colored scarf and a pair of sunglasses (the more colorful and outlandish the better!) complete your look. (Hint: If you’re going as the “bad girl,” wear a pencil skirt instead, and make sure your top is low-cut.)

For men, wear relatively close-fitting jeans if you’re dressing as the bad boy/”greaser”; pressed slacks if you’re going as the jock or class pet. A white T-shirt or button-down shirt complete with pocket protector and a pair of dangling glasses finishes off these two looks. Accessories like super-cool shades or a thrift store letter sweater add pizzazz.

The 1960s: Fashion and Flower Power

Far Out Man Adult Costume  Woodstock Girl Adult Costume

Peace, Dude!

If you love the 60s, you’re in luck: the freedom and “anything goes” mentality of this time period makes putting together a Halloween costume a snap. The flower child is perhaps the easiest 60s style costume to create. Jeans—the more worn the better—and a loose tank top work for both men and women. Look for bright colors and large floral or geometric patterns for your shirt choice, and sew an oversized flower patch on one back pocket. Pick up a peace sign pendant at a thrift shop, teen store or online; these can often be had for $3-5 or less. Wear it on a slightly bulky chain around your neck. For hair, looser is better; wear it sleek and straight or curly and free.

The mod look is another popular 1960s Halloween pick. Shirts with a stand-up or “clerical”-style collar and wild patterns are perfect for your mod costume. If you have leather pants, great! If not, see whether you can find a pair at a thrift shop or borrow from a friend or neighbor. Pull on a pair of high heeled boots (for both women and men) and you’re set for the party!

The 80s: Shout, Shout, Let it All Out

Super Mullet Blonde  Funky Pop Star Adult Costume

You turn me right round, baby!

The 1980s gave us neon, leg warmers and big, big hair. Shop teen stores for neon touches; paint your nails hot pink or lime green and curl just the top or sides of your hair, then tease the curls as high as possible. For men, puff the top of the hair up and hold in place with a light application of hair gel or a little hair spray.

Jeans tended to be very tight in the 1980s. Men can also seek out slacks in white or black. Online auctions or thrift stores may have balloon or parachute pants (or, gasp!, maybe your closet!); both men and women can wear these for an 80s costume. Head bands that tie across the front of the forehead can also be worn by either sex. Make your own with inexpensive ribbon from any department or crafts store. Go wild—the 80s were all about bright colors and outrageous personal style.

You may have your very own favorite time period; if so, look in thrift stores, clearance bins and even the back of your own closet for clothing and accessories. Use your imagination—with retro costuming, the sky’s the limit.

Happy Halloween!

Need A Hand? Creating Awesome Monster Hands for Your Halloween Prop

 

The following super-fun tutorial was contributed by the illustrious (and very crafty) Screaming Scarecrow of Screaming Scarecrow Studios. Enjoy!

NOTE: We are including our professional haunt armature instructions, but you do NOT need to use tools or pipe for this prop. See below for two easy versions.

*

One thing all home haunters can use, as the Halloween Season draws near, is a few extra pairs of hands.

And we mean that in more ways than one!

Luckily, you can craft creepy monster hands for much less than finished full props you’ll find in Halloween novelty locales.

Here’s how to make your own alternative store bought prop hands (though these will certainly do in a pinch – buy inexpensive ones and creep them up yourself using our cool painting method below).

 

You Will Need:

  • Witch Fingers (see below)
  • Kitchen gloves: non-Latex if you are Latex-sensitive (see below)
  • Expanding foam (see below for link)
  • Sturdy wire (to bend and pose the hands when finished)
  • Craft/utility knife or scissors
  • Black magic marker
  • Spray paint or airbrush kit and paints appropriate for latex or vinyl

FOR THE PROFESSIONAL HAUNT VERSION You Will Also Need:

  • 1.5-inch white PVC pipe
  • drill
  • safety goggles

Latex Gloves and Witch Fingers

Here’s how we create a cool variety of monster hands to amp the scare factor of our seasonal haunt.

We start with a few pairs of cheap latex gloves – the regular kind used for common household chores. (NOTE: If you suspect a latex allergy, choose latex-free gloves. This is critical…latex allergy is no joke and can land you in the hospital. Please be aware!)

The next must have item for this Halloween project are cheap plastic “witch’s fingers,” which are readily available every autumn and come in different colors and styles.

The first thing we do is turn the glove inside-out.

This makes it look less like a household chore glove and more like a hand. It is also the better side for painting later.

Next we carefully cut a small piece off the tip of each glove finger. We find that a sharp craft/utility knife works better than scissors.

Do not cut the holes too big or the plastic witch’s fingers will just fall out the ends when sliding them into the fingers of the glove. It is better if the witch’s fingers are stretching the holes in the gloves as they are pushed though.

The Wrist Bone’s Connected to the Monster-Arm Bone…

NOTE: For the non-armature version, skip to Fleshing Things Out, below.

Now we are going to use some ½ inch white PVC pipe to make an arm bone and then use some wire hold the hand to the bone.

The arm bone doesn’t need to be very long, usually around 10 to 12 inches. It should begin in the middle of the hand and only stick out of the wrist opening of the glove a few inches. This is how the finished hands can be connected to the monster.

Once the arm bone is cut to size we carefully drill a hole through both ends of the pipe about an inch in from the end.

One side will be used now, with the wire, to attach the hand to the bone, while the other side will be used later to hang the hand during the finishing process.

Always using protective eye and hand wear, we cut a piece of wire. When put through the hole in the pipe bone, it can be bent on either side so as to go into the thumb and any other finger of the hand. These will connect to the plastic witch’s fingers. This is what will keep the hand attached to the bone while it is later filled with foam.

NOTE: Once the foam sets, it’s the foam that holds everything together.

Attaching the plastic witch’s fingers to the wire is a bit tricky; we simply drill or poke a hole in the finger and slide the wire through. Then we bend the wire into a hook and then slide the finger back up into the hook of the bent wire.   

Fleshing Things Out

Once we’ve prepared a few sets of hands like this we are ready to hang the hands up and fill them with foam. We like to run a long wire through the holes in the arm bones that we drilled early and hang the hands side by side when we fill them with foam.

We use expanding foam (the kind used for insulation and to fill cracks) to fill the hands out and give them their form. IMPORTANT: Perform this part of the project outside, as the fumes can be an issue.

Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using these products. We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. We DO NOT want you to get this in your eyes.

It is also a good idea to wear old clothes and gloves.

We start by placing the nozzle of the foam can down into the fingertips and squeeze a bit of foam into each finger – let that expand for a bit while moving on to the fingers of the next pair of hands.

Next we fill then hand cavity of each hand with foam and then after that too has had a chance to expand a bit we then fill in the wrist and arm portion.

Try not to over-fill the gloves; if you will, you’ll wind up with “puffy” hands. This is a bit of a learning curve; you’ll get a feel for it. If you see things growing a bit out of control, cut the glove on one side to relieve some of the expanding foam.

This is all messy and the fumes are terrible, we won’t lie. It’s a good idea to always work with foam outside.

Because the expanding foam is inside a latex glove, which isn’t porous, it takes quite awhile to cure. Allow your “hand” to sit two to three days for the foam to cure properly.

After the foam has cured, we take our pile of hands and paint them.

Painting Your Hands (and We Don’t Mean Nailpolish!)

Painting is the truly creative part of this project. Here’s our method:

First we draw some detail lines on the hands with a black marker (or any color that is going to work with the finished prop). 

Then we spray paint them the color(s) we need. We may use an alternate color for shadowing, or add red drips or splotches. Get creative!

As you can see, we are not artists by any stretch. Just remember our mantra at Screaming Scarecrow Studios: “Everything looks good in low light!“ You’ll be absolutely amazed at how creepy and frightening these little babies look on Halloween night.

Variations

There are lots of variations you can do with this technique to come up with different types of hands.

For instance, we sometimes rub a little of the expanding foam on the outside of the hands before painting, because when it expands and cures the texture looks like warts, veins and wrinkles.

Another variation which can kick these hands up a notch is using wire on all the fingers, which allow us to pose them before they are filled up with foam. The following photos below show an example of this kind of hand. We also pushed the plastic witch’s fingers a little farther so the prop hand would have longer fingers.

One interesting thing we noticed while creating these kind of hands for our halloween props, is that as the expanding foam inside the glove cures the foam sometimes shrinks into itself. This can result in wrinkles or deformation – there is no way that we know to control this phenomenon. Sometime it works in your favor and sometimes it may not. For this set of hands they wrinkled perfectly!

Even though you may not always have enough pair of hands helping you put together (and especially tearing down) your home haunt, we hope you’ll nevermore be short handed when it comes to monster hands for your Halloween props. Thanks for reading, and happy haunting!

  

 

Banana Brain Cake

Your guests will be delightfully disgusted to see you serving a brain on a platter. Easy fondant icing helps you create a brainy surface that looks realistic. The fun begins, though, when you slice into it and banana pudding oozes out! Bring out your inner cannibal with this tasty idea.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes white cake mix
  • 8 inch diameter stainless steel bowl
  • 8 inch cake pan (if you’d like to make things even easier, use a brain-shaped mold)
  • spray oil, like Crisco or Pam
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box instant pudding (banana pictured)

Baking the Brain . . . Cake

Preheat the oven as directed on the cake mix package and mix in a mixing bowl according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Spray the stainless steel bowl and the cake pan with oil.

Pour some batter into the stainless steel bowl, leaving 1-2 inches at the top.

Pour the remaining batter into the cake pan (it’s OK if it’s very thin).

Place the bowl and the pan into the oven and bake until done. You’ll have to check the batter in the stainless steal bowl with a clean knife or toothpick. Insert it in the center and if it comes out clean it’s done. It will take longer to cook than the batter in the cake pan, so check every ten minutes until done.

Cool both cakes completely for at least an hour.

Assembling the Cake

Mix the pudding according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let chill.

Use a bread knife to hollow out the cake that was cooked in the bowl, within 2 inches of the edges of the bowl.

Fill the recessed area with pudding.

Carefully place the flat cake from the pan into the bowl on top of the pudding, sealing up the cake with the pudding.

Invert the entire cake onto a plate and remove from the bowl. You should now have a dome cake.

Making the Fondant

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Use a drop of red food coloring to give it a fleshy peach color. If it looks to pink to you, add just one drop of yellow. Remember, it will lighten a lot when you add the powdered sugar.

Add up to 2 pounds of powdered sugar until it forms a smooth solid ball that stays together.

Roll out and flatten the fondant using powdered sugar to prevent sticking. When it’s 1/4 inch thick, divide in half and lay the first half over the top of the cake (roll further if it doesn’t quite fit).

Take the other half of the fondant and roll several long “snake” rolls by hand and lay them on top of the cake in a squiggly pattern to create brain matter. Be sure to delineate between the two brain halves. If you used a mold, follow the contours.

When the cake is covered, use a wet paintbrush to polish the top surface and give it a sheen

Cake can be served immediately, or store chilled. Mmmm, chilled brains for Halloween!

    

Halloween Shadow boxes

A Fun Way For Your Jewelry to Make New Shadows this Halloween Season, or Year Round

Every Halloween I can’t wait to get out my massive Halloween jewelery pile and sit on the bed to marvel at some of my better pieces. Each piece is a work of art in my eyes, and I can’t help thinking how neat it would be to have a way of showing it off when I’m not wearing it.

I got a great idea when I cruised through Hobby Lobby and saw some great, single shadowboxes without slots. They were perfect for a few of my favorite necklaces, bracelets and rings. This is a great way to create a one-of-a-kind Halloween artwork and have a way to protect as well as display your best Halloween jewellery. It’s easy, cheap and so made for creative people like us who want to put our own spin on our holidays and decorating. Before we get to a list of supplies to make your own, here’s a bit o’ history.

History of Shadowboxes . . . Pretty cool!

Most of us grew up with shadowboxes our moms and grandmas proudly displayed on walls or in hallways. Some were filled with antique buttons, mementos from important events in their lives or just filled with life’s little treasures. But do you know where shadowboxes came from and why they’re called a shadowbox? Me neither until I looked it up!

No, they didn’t get the name shadowbox because the objects hung in shadowy hallways or in the shadow of real art. These modern-day, trinket-filled boxes got their name from our seafaring past and, like all good things, the name came from a superstition.

It’s said that it was bad luck for the shadow of a retiring sailor to leave the ship before his shadow did. So the rest of the crew would build a finely crafted box filled with honored items of the retiring man’s glories at sea that symbolically created a shadow of the man. Thus, the shadowbox would remain on board until the sailor was ashore and his safety was assured. Then his crewmates would host an elaborate ceremony where the man and his career would be honored. His captain or shipmates would present the honored shadow of the man box to him with much pomp and circumstance.

The sailor himself would invest in a quality shadowbox so he could see his many small trinkets that reminded him of his past exploits to distant shores during the course of his career at sea. Those souvenirs were traditionally small since sailors had very small places to call home on the ship. Let‘s face it – they didn‘t usually become rich men at the end of their careers, so usually one box would hold a lifetime of memories. Hard to believe in our consumer-driven days we live in, isn’t it?

List of Supplies for Your Shadow Box

  • Paint brushes (several sizes)
  • Acrylic paints in Halloween colors
  • Sandpaper (100 grit)
  • Pencil to mark out your design
  • Paper, paint, vintage postcards, artwork, pictures or felt for inside backing
  • Small hangers for the back of the shadowbox
  • Masking tape

If you plan on displaying jewelry, you will need a padded back for the box without slots. You’ll need the following to create one:

  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Wood glue
  • Cotton batting (thin layer)
  • Thin but sturdy cardboard
  • Felt
  • Tacks
  • Objects to be displayed

Where To Get Your Shadowbox

Go to your local hobby store and select several inexpensive glass-fronted shadowboxes without slotted spaces to decorate and place your treasures in. The boxes come in many different sizes that will allow you to do more than one for an impressive grouping for not much money. I’m talking $2.99 or higher if you catch them on sale! I got mine for $1.49 each on sale.

What To Show Off

You probably have plenty of jewelry or other items to display around your house, so flea markets be damned! Gather a pile of jewelry, mini Halloween ornaments, antique cake picks or anything that you’d like to show off that will fit in your boxes.

Getting Started

This project is so easy and can be completed in one or two afternoons depending on how elaborate you paint your shadowboxes and what kind of paint you use. Your choices of colors or amount of painting are all up to you and is only limited by you!

Directions:

  1. Sand your shadowbox with fine sandpaper (100 grit) and wipe off all dust from the wood with a dry cloth so your paint will have a good place to stick to.
  2. Select acrylic paint colors of your choice, and you may need several different sizes of paint brushes depending on the design you choose.
  3. Let each session dry until you’re done with the painting.***A note of caution*** Do Not paint the tracks where the glass slides in or in the narrow strip of wood that locks the glass in place. The paint will stick, or you might not be able to close it or open it after the paint dries the next time you want to change the display. If you do find some paint has gotten in the track, take a graphite pencil and rub it gently on the sides of the glass panel and into the channel to aid in sliding over the tacky paint.
  4. If you want to display jewelry in the shadowbox, you’ll have to make the padded back so you can attach the jewelry before you glue it in place. Get your material, cotton batting, cardboard and either tacks, double stick tape or glue.
  5. Lay the back of the shadowbox on the wrong side of your fabric and carefully trace a light line onto the back of the material and then the cardboard. Cut on the line on the cardboard and around the cardboard on the cotton batting so that they are the same. This will allow room for the thickness of your material for your next step.
  6. Carefully cut the material with about a fourth of an inch outside the line you traced by laying the batting and cardboard on top. Snip the corners like in the example so you can make a good square corner as you fold and attach the material. This will allow room for the material to cover the batting and leave material to tuck behind the cardboard when you’re ready to attach all three together. Then you’re ready to install it in the shadowbox once you‘ve decided if you want to make it permanent or temporary.
  7. Either install the newly padded back of your shadowbox with permanent glue or, if your display objects are light enough, use double-stick tape or tacks if you need the extra hold if the backing is temporary. This will allow you to change the back easily at a later date.

I hope you’ve gotten inspired to make a new display for your jewelry or other treasures this year. A tight budget never gets in the way of good Halloweeners and their decorations!

shadow-boxes

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

Editor’s Note: Recently, we were startled by the visitation of a black-caped D.J., ghoulish in nature, and we thought for sure we were finally done for. However, he stood upright, his mouth turning to a wry grin, and he snapped his long fingers. A funky-sounding Halloween song suddenly began to play through a slight, autumn wind that blew from behind his cape. We began bobbing to it, and thought it a great addition for any kid’s Halloween party. Here we share his story with you.

Danceable Halloween Music

Greetings, my fellow party monsters!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Scaryngton. Count Barry Scaryngton. But you can call me Count Barry Scaryngton.

One dark and stormy night, as I lay awake in my cozy coffin, with visions of ghosts and pumpkins dancing around my head, it occurred to me that I did not have very many funky Halloween dance tunes for my upcoming party.

Oh sure, I have the immortal classic “Monster Mash”. What party would be complete without it? All the ghouls and boos love it. There is also Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the “Theme from Ghostbusters”. Yas, varry funky indeed, but I realized these songs are not really about Halloween itself!

Hip Hop Halloween NightSo, I went deep underground to a secret lair of my haunted castle, where I have my own recording studio. Yas, Count Barry is pretty hip. There, together with my weird-but-talented friend Ripley von Rapperstein, I conjured up a deliciously fun, funky and G-rated Halloween song for Party Monsters of all ages.

This vonderful tune is a magic brew of rap, singing, and funky dance beats. Whether you are young, old, ancient or even undead, “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” will make you clap your claws together, beat your leathery wings, and dance the night away! And, most importantly, there is a guest rap by none other than—yes, yours truly—me, Count Barry Scaryngton! Yas, it is hard to believe, I know!

I invite you now, if you dare, to listen to a demo of the song “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night” – you can download it at iTunesicon or Amazon. You can search by song title, or by the band name, “Halloween Freaks”.

Ripley von Rapperstein, the other Halloween Freaks, and yours truly, are busily brewing up more funky and fun songs for your Halloween pleasure.

In the meantime, ve hope you enjoy “It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night”.

Here’s the lyrics:

(Listen to the song while singing along – link will open in a new window)

It’s A Hip Hop Halloween Night

By The Halloween Freaks

Verses 1:
The time is close, yeah the time is near
You can feel it in your bones, Halloween is here
Gonna get dressed up in a cool disguise
You won’t see my face, you’ll just see my eyes

I’ll be wearing a mask with a hideous grin
When I come to your door, don’t be lettin’ me in
Just give me a treat, maybe two or three
Cause my little brother keeps stealing candy from me

I keep telling him not to, I…wait what is that?
Flying over the moon wearing a big pointy hat!
My eyes must be playin’ little tricks on me
But I swear Jack o’ lanterns are winkin’ at me!

Chorus:
It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Witches fill the air and spirits take flight
To scare the neighbourhood
But it’s all good
Cause it’s a hip-hop Halloween

It’s a hip-hop Halloween night
Everybody get ready for a Halloween fright
Got a Halloween moon
And a Halloween tune
For this hip-hop Halloween night

Verses 2:
I’m the ghost with the most, I’m a monsta man
Shaking up your bones like no other ghoul can
Got a bag o’ tricks and a bag o’ treats
I’m a beast unleashed with my Halloween beats

Check your broom at the door, get on the dance floor
Come and rattle your chains ‘til you can’t take it no more
You can drink witches brew, you can eat my candy
Keep your fangs off my neck and we’ll be just dandy

If ya turn to dust at the break of dawn
I think I better warn ya that ya better be gone
‘Fore the sun comes up, but that ain’t too soon
There’s a party going on, come and howl at the moon

Repeat Chorus

Vampire rap: (Count Barry Scaryngton):

Raise your claws in the air
And wave ‘em like you just got scared
And if you feel insane
I’ll give you a new brain
Now howl like you just don’t care
Everybody say “owwwooooo!”
Everybody say “aowuuhhhh!”
Everybody say “muhahaha!”

That was very good!
Now please excuse me, I must find someone….something!… to drink!

Chorus – out

(Count Barry Scaryngton talking in background during chorus):

Come and dance with me you old bat!
What do you mean, no?
I’m going home to my mummy!
I will take wings and fly if you don’t dance with me!
Well, fine!
How about you? Would you like to dance with me?
Hey get away from that!
That’s my candy!

© Worldstage Music. All Rights Reserved.

I bid you a good e-ven-ing, and a Happy Halloween!

How to Craft a Witch’s Kitchen

 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the craftiest of them all? You are—with a few simple tips on creating a simply ghoulish witch’s kitchen!

What’s the Idea?

crafthubs.com
Credit: crafthubs.com

The Witch’s Kitchen is a concept that has grown in popularity since it was first spotted as a trend a few years back. The concept is simple: fill jars and bottles with gristly-looking concoctions, label them, and add a few props to complete the look.

Options run from simple (and often humorous) to more elaborately-staged presentations. Luckily, you can put together a basic Witch’s Kitchen with just a few supplies, many of which you may already have on hand.

Getting Started

Credit: amazon.com

The first thing you’ll want to do is to start collecting bottles and jars for your Witch’s Kitchen items. These needn’t be in perfect condition; in fact, slightly imperfect containers will add a “weathered” and very authentic effect to your completed project.

Some die-hard Halloween fans purchase old or unique containers for this purpose. Search online auctions or the back of your very own kitchen cabinets to find interesting (and spooky!) bottles and jars.

Thoroughly wash the inside of each jar (wider-mouthed containers, such as honey or pickle jars, tend to be your best bet). Be sure to save and wash the lids, too. Now soak your jars in hot water for an hour or two, until the labels loosen. Remove the labels once the glue is soft enough. If a bit of paper or paste remains, don’t worry; you can cover the area with the label you will eventually be making.

Prepping Your Jar Lids

Credit: Pinterest, Dollhouse of Horrors

Corked bottles have an authentic apothecary look. These are perfect, and there’s no prep (see image at left).

However, if you’re using jars with meatl lids: for a scary look, spray paint each jar lid black. If your jar or bottle comes with a cork, so much the better; this can either be spray painted or left natural.

Do this step outside—spray paint fumes can be harmful, and an open window might not provide enough ventilation for your safety. Place the lids on old newspaper before spraying if you’d like to protect the area you’re working on. Allow all lids and corks to dry thoroughly before handling.

The black lids can be used as they are, or wound with twine (the “scruffier” the better) after they’re placed on your jars.

Frightening Fillers

Now comes the fun part: inventing gristly, ghostly or just plain gross fillers for your jars. Try the following easy-to-find items for your jar contents:

  • Werewolf Claws: Cashew nuts, split in half.

    Credit: ehow.com
  • Shrunken heads: Try our tutorial here.
  • Frog’s Livers: Raisins or other small, dried fruits.
  • Snake Oil: Small plastic or rubber snakes in oil and food coloring.
  • Shrinking Test Subject: A mini prop skeleton in a jar of water.
  • Heretic Skin: Peels of apple (the fruit—not the apple’s skins), allowed to dry (they will shrivel and take on a “peeled skin” appearance).
  • Seamonster Babies: Grow-in-water novelty toys; try an octopus, manta ray or other sea creature. Stuff into jar so that the actual animal is less identifiable.
  • Garden Gnome Heads: Several shrunken apple heads and a handful of dried moss, obtainable at a floral crafts shop.
  • Eye of Newt: Whole dried cloves.
  • Ghost Droppings: small marshmallows, pushed together.
  • Coffin Nails: Any large-size hardware nails will do; add a sprinkling of dirt.

Making the Labels

Credit: thekolbcorner.com

It’s easy to make labels for your creepy containers. Place a few sheets of computer printer paper in cooled tea or coffee. Remove when the sheets are well stained. While your pages are drying, create a document with names for each of your items. Allow plenty of space between each.

Print the sheet of names onto the stained and dried paper. Now cut or tear off each label. Apply glue to your label backs and place the labels on your jars. If you’re planning on using the jars again next year, apply a thin coat of varnish over each label. (NOTE: Do NOT keep items that might degrade or mold. Empty the jar, wash it and put it away, then re-stuff it next Halloween.)

Displaying Your Handiwork

Credit: Pinterest

If you’re handy, you can refurbish an old piece of shelving to house your devilish delights. You’ll be refurbishing in reverse; try to rough up the look of the shelf as much as possible. Add some dollar-store spider webs for added dramatic effect.

You can also forego the shelving altogether and simply place your bottles and jars on a special area of your kitchen counter. Make sure your placement is easily visible to visitors at that fabulous Halloween bash you’re planning. If necessary, set up your “kitchen” on a small table in a high-traffic area of your home.

Add some props to your display, such as skulls, spooky candles and a prop cauldron. “Severed” body parts or plastic newts, rats and other creatures are great additions, too. A motion-sensor activated prop can add hilarity to your party by surprising (and scaring) passing guests.

Use your creativity and have fun!