Make a Dollar Store Halloween Wreath

At my house with small children, we appreciate the whimsical as much as the creepy. It’s always a challenge to find Halloween decorations that fit both these criteria.

Here’s one we came up with that was so simple – and so cheap! Using only dollar store items, you can make this project, too. Let’s go shopping and get crafting!

You will need:

  • a grapevine or willow wreath or a metal or plastic wreath form (or you can use a few faux vines, twisted together)
  • dried moss (flower décor) if you’re using a metal or plastic wreath form – buy two bags
  • orange ribbon
  • black ribbon
  • twine, or any dark-colored thin yarn, frayed
  • embellishments (spiders, cobwebs, etc.)
  • one “highlight” embellishment (a miniature witch, a skeleton, etc.)
  • a hot glue gun and a stick of hot glue

(For reference, I got all of my materials at the dollar store, including the glue gun. This item won’t be the best quality if you find it at your local dollar store, but even if you only get a few uses out if it, it will have paid itself off.)

Here’s the process:

  1. If you’re using an empty wreath form, stuff the form with the moss. Pack densely.

    Just one reason of many that I love Dollar Tree: cheap wreaths.
  2. If using a wreath form and moss, begin wrapping the twine all around the filled form, spacing evenly. Use the hot glue gun in various spots to hold the twine in place.
  3. If using a grapevine wreath, start with the ribbons instead. Wrap the wreath with the orange ribbon in the style shown. Now wrap with black ribbon. Use the hot glue gun in various spots to hold the ribbon in place.
  4. If using the wreath form, continue by wrapping the black and orange ribbon as shown (over the twine). If using a rattan wreath, wrap with twine. Hot glue into place.
  5. Now hot glue your embellishments on at intervals all along your wreath. For the wreath form, you’re probably better off gluing and pressing down over part of the form rather than simply gluing items into the moss, unless your items are very light weight. I used spiders.
  6. Tie a piece of twine to the back of your wreath (through the grapevine branches or around the wreath form) so it is hanging down. Tie or glue your highlight embellishment to the end. I used a witch, as shown.
  7. You can easily make this wreath a whole lot scarier. Gore it up or use more graphic imagery. You can also add cobwebs to the finished item for a haunted effect.
Mini skeletons from 99 Cents Only Stores.

You probably don’t need a hanger on the back of the wreath; there should be plenty of spaces between the twigs/along the form to hang the wreath on a hook. You can go ahead and hot glue a hanger if you wish, though. This too can be purchased at most dollar stores.

Voila! A great Halloween wreath on the cheap. For this low cost, you can make several and decorate all your windows. Or have a wreath-making party for friends. You’ll be surprised by how both adults and kids get into this.

CAUTION: Do not allow children to operate the hot glue gun. Have them place their items onto the wreath where they want them and then have an adult hot glue them into place. Be safe and have fun with this easy, inexpensive Halloween craft.

 

 

Decorate Your Car for Halloween

Thought you’d run out of things to creep up on Halloween? Wrong-o, my spooky friend! Have you ever considered decorating your car?

I have. And I’ve used most of the methods described below. If I haven’t, I’ve referenced the appropriate image. Come along on a terrifying little ride with me!

Car Decor Idea #1: Ghost Rider

Every year, come the first day of fall of thereabouts, our fam

"Skellie," our family's very own ghost rider
“Skellie,” our family’s very own ghost rider

ily friend Skellie takes up residence in my car. I drive, and Skellie drives shotgun. We even put a seat belt on him (see pic).

This little trick is hysterical and is obviously very easy to do. Strap in any close to life-size poseable skeleton, zombie, ghost, witch or ghoul so passersby get an eyeful.

Don’t go too gory or too realistic, as trying to figure out what that “thing” is in the front seat could potentially cause a rubbernecking accident.

Car Decor Idea #2: Hunk in the Trunk

This idea is an oldie but continues to be a goodie. Hang an arm or other body part out the trunk. (The old-fashioned way calls for a tie and an “Ex-Husband in Trunk” sign.)

Don’t allow parts to dangle below the level of the top of your license plate. They could get caught on your tires, drag under the car or cause other hazards.

Car Decor Idea #3: Window Clings

Not the artistic type? Use Halloween Window Clings on your car windows. Put them on the inside of the window so nobody can take them! Trust me, these are tempting.

Car Decor Idea #4: Fangtastic

Cut two large crescents out of thick paper and hang on the car grille as “fangs” (the lights are the eyes). Make sure these are very well attached, but do not use any glue or tape adhesive that could damage your paint or grille.

Car Decor Idea #5: Autumn Touches

You can use inexpensive touches like this one year after year.

For the picture of the pumpkin with sunflowers and leaves, I spent a grand total of $2. Each item came from Dollar Tree. Fall touches abound at this time of year, always look good and can be had at a steal.

Also check out your Goodwill, thrift or consignment shops for fall finds.

Car Decor Idea #6: Paint it Up

Use specially formulated car markers or paint on your car windows. Careful: DON’T obstruct your vision. Keep to the perimeters of your windows and dot on pumpkins, witches or a ghoul trying to escape out the side window.

A warning: do not use acrylic paints for this. They’re hard to get off anything, even glass, and you may scratch your windows trying.

Car Decor Idea #7: A Tangled Web

Creepy! And crawly. Photo: Squidoo.com

This idea is so simple and incredibly economical. Pick up a few bags of synthetic webbing — the kind you pull apart to make it look real. Now pull the webbing all over your car.

Be sure to leave the windows clear enough so you still have a good view of traffic on all sides.

I’ve seen bags of cobwebbing let go for less than half a dollar in post-season sales, so if you plan on doing this next year, go shopping in early November and check the clearance racks.

Car Decor Idea #8: Ghost Antenna Topper

This is another easy and very inexpensive project. Take a foam ball and a small square of white fabric. Place the fabric over the ball and pin in with very small, headless pins. Draw eyes and a mouth on your ghost in magic marker.

You can alternatively make a pumpkin antenna topper. Use orange fabric. Gather the fabric around the styrofoam ball from the bottom; tie at the top for the stem. Draw eyes, nose and a mouth using magic marker.

Car Decor Idea #9: All Up in Your GrilleHalloween Car Skulls

If your grille has space (and if you won’t be impeding the flow of air), add cool Halloween decor.

You won’t be wanting to use glue, but you WILL want a tight fit so that your decor items won’t wind up all over the highway, so choose pieces that fit exactly or can be cut to fit exactly, without  moving around.

A Word About Safety

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? We’ll say it anyway. Objects that obstruct your vision, objects that dangle/wave in the wind, that aren’t fixed securely or that look too realistic can be real driving hazards. Don’t cause an accident. Be smart about your Halloween car decor choices.

Have fun being the creepiest speed demon in your neighborhood this year.

The skeleton in our closet ... urr, car
The skeleton in our closet … urr, car

Great Gourds! Pumpkin Varieties and How to Use Them

If you’ve wandered your local farmer’s market or pumpkin patch this fall, you probably discovered that there’s so much more to choosing your desire type than “give me big and orange.”

Today’s decorative pumpkins have gone far afield (see what we did there?) from the traditional Howden’s Field or fun, kid-size mini.

Get in on the “pick your perfect pumpkin” craze – you’ve got your pick: traditional; fun; even a bit, well…freaky. This autumn’s pumpkins are ready-grown and ripe for the choosing. Grab a gourd and eat, decorate and be merry! Below are some of our favorite varieties.

Howden’s Field

The gold (or would that be orange?) standard for the American Jack-o-lantern, Howdens are just the right size, shape, color and ribbing to use as decor. You probably carved Howdens as a child — and so might have your parents, and theirs.

However, we don’t recommend Howdens for pie baking. They tend to be stringy and have less pumpkin flavor than some sweeter varieties.

Pick up at least one Howden for your jack-o-lantern carving this year. Scoop well, scrape and cut a spooky shape into your gourd. Try Pumpkin Masters for a really cool look, or Google pumpkin carving templates to find the perfect freebie.

Lumina

Confession time: as loyal as I am to the good old-fashioned orange Curcurbita, I have a secret love for Luminas. This variety is a gorgeous solid white on the outside but plump and very orange on the interior.

Play up the contrast of white and orange by using your Lumina for your Halloween decor. Add a battery tea light and watch the spooky effect.

Don’t throw away those innards just yet: Lumina seeds are delicious baked with butter and salt. If you don’t plan on carving your pumpkin for decor purposes, use it in a pie or soup; Luminas have a fabulous flavor.

Queensland Blue

This unusual-looking gourd originated in Australia as its name implies. It was imported to the U.S. in the 1930s. You may have seen Queensland Blues at farmer’s markets and overlooked them as not being a “real” pumpkin. However, they are definitely Curcurbitas.

Queensland Blues have a lot of flesh to scoop, so you may want to forgo carving. Or try peeling away sections of skin only, without scooping the pumpkin out. Use a potato peeler or a woodcarving tool to put fanciful shapes on your Queensland Blue.

The flavor and texture of the Queensland Blue also makes it ideal for pies.

Jack-Be-Little

Just 3 or 4 inches across, Jack-Be-Littles are adorable and great for decor. Kids love them because they’re so easy to handle and carry. For your decor purposes, they create instant atmosphere for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

They’re tricky to scoop thin enough to carve (if you figure out a way, let us know!), but you can use a potato peeler to etch cool designs in your Jack-Be-Little’s skin. You can also cut off the tops, scoop the pulp and place a tea light in each for a pretty guest table.

They’re edible too. Try this yummy pumpkin recipe, for example. Mmm!

New England Pie

We’re sure you’ve guessed the use this pumpkin is famous for! The New England Pie pumpkin is an heirloom variety that’s perfect for baking fall treats.

New England Pie pumpkins are on the small side, usually no more than 3 to 4 pounds. Their hard skins make them very difficult to carve, so if you’re using this variety as decor, set it up uncarved.

There are many other pie pumpkin types, but the New England is the gold standard. You will definitely want a few for baking and stewing this Thanksgiving or for pumpkin cookies on Halloween.

Kakai

Get ready for the most amazing pumpkin seeds you’ve ever tasted. The seeds of this fun variety are hull-less and easy to eat. They’re among the most tasty pumpkin seeds when roasted. (And of course, this variety is simply gorgeous, with orange stripes and green mottling on the outside and firm orange flesh on the inside.)

Here’s how to make roasted pumpkin seeds from a Kakai: Cut pumpkin open and remove seeds; separate seeds from pulp in a colander under warm water. Set out on a paper towel and dry for at least two hours. Remove to a shallow pan and smother in melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with Mrs. Dash seasoning. Bake in a 300 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Cool and eat.

Big Max

Whoah! If you’ve never seen a Big Max, it’s time to acquaint yourself with one. Just don’t try to pick it up: these behemoths can easily grow to 100 lbs. and more.

Not technically a pumpkin but a “squash type,”  Big Maxes are cultivated primarily for show. (Their grainy flesh makes them a poor choice for eating.) Scooping out the flesh would be a thankless chore, but you can carve these giants and reach inside to scrape behind your cuttings.

DO NOT try to lift a Big Max by yourself. They are slippery and often are very asymmetrical, making it hard to keep a grip. Ask a friend for help.

Cinderella

A French heirloom variety, Cinderellas are so nicknamed for their striking resemblance to the famous fairytale coach. (Their real name is Rouche vif D’Etampes.)

The Cinderella has a long history in the U.S., with rumors claiming the gourd was served at the first Thanksgiving dinner in New England. However, most experts agree that the variety wasn’t officially introduced to the U.S. until the 1800s.

But they’re not just tasty. Cinderellas are pretty, with a very deep orange skin. Pick up inexpensive craft wagon wheels and a wooden support (Cinderellas are heavy!) at a craft store and display this fun variety as a fairytale coach.

Happy decorating…and eating!

Seven Unique Ways to Use Skeletons in Your Decor

As an icon of spookiness, skeletons have always had their place on Halloween. If you grew up in the 60s, 70s or early 80s, you may remember the dangling cardboard skeletons that the “good candy house” always had on their door.

Today’s skeleton decor is kicked up a notch – a big notch. Lifesize plastic skellies (poseable or dangling) are showing up in more windows, more yards — even in more cars (more on that later).

Here are seven ways to have fun with a skeleton and give a giggle as well as a scare. Note: click each pic for a source reference. Stealing someone else’s work? Now THAT’S grim.

Just Hangin’ Out

Have your skeletons climb various parts of your house or even hang from one another. You can use wire from Home Depot or Lowe’s to secure your skeletons. Be careful and be sensible. If you’re going to attach your skeletons up high, use a sturdy ladder and have a friend over as a spotter.

Here are three fun ideas for hanging your skeletons (you will need to use poseable jointed skellies):

  • Have the skeletons climb the side of your house. Place one skeleton securely on the ground on its knees. Place top skeleton next and wire in place (be careful of your siding and fixtures). Now you’ll know how to pose the skeleton or two in between. Have them climbing one another’s shoulders or giving each other a boost. Wire securely in place.
  • Hang skeletons from a tree. Using a noose is old school (and can be awesome, don’t get us wrong!). Having the corpses actually grab onto a branch and hang gives the hanging theme a fun twist.
  • Wire one skeleton’s hands to another’s feet and place them in funny poses. Hang from any area outside your house that will securely hold them.

Haunted Hillbillies

Available at Grandin Road

Pose two or more skeletons on a bale of hay. I find hay bales on the cheap in early October at pumpkin patches and local farm stores. If you can’t locate a hay bale, seat them on creaky old chairs.

Dress your skeletons in “hillbilly” gear. If their joints don’t stay in place when you pose them, wire them to the rib cage in hilarious poses. The picture shown here is very Deliverance, with a sense of humor — if that’s possible! (We believe it is, but then again…we’re creepy!)

The Pedaling Dead

For this idea, your skeletons don’t need to walk — they have a sweet ride!

Use any bicycle for this idea. Use the kickstand, if your bicycle has one, to secure the bike upright. If not, set the wheels between large stones. Place your skeleton in riding position on the seat. Wire its hands to the handlebars.

Even more horrifying: dress your skellie as a child and dress up the bike old school, with a huge bicycle horn and ribbons in the wheels. Eek! Use 3″ or 4″ poseable skeletons for a child, 5″ or larger for an adult.

All Creeped Up

Image: Six Flags Magic Mountain

If you have a skeleton or two hanging around and they’re in a state of disrepair, don’t despair. This quick decor idea covers flaws and is very creepy!

To create this creepy creature, drape pieces of old fabric over the head and torso. We suggest cheesecloth or pre-aged Creepy Cloth, available in craft stores or online.

Once you have a draping you like, use a hot glue gun to attach the fabric to various points on your skeleton. Be sure to leave lots of fabric loose, though. When the winds pick up, you’ll get a wonderful waving-in-the-breeze effect.

Bony Scarecrow

This is another very simple idea, and it’s cheap if you already have a skeleton hanging around.

Nail together two boards into a lower case “t.” You can use as tall a vertical board as you’d like, but make sure your skeleton including the head will be at least 4″ off the ground.

Tutorial by rupertoooo

Drive the bottom of your “t” into the ground. If you’ve used a board that has a pointed shape on the bottom, this will be easy. If not, use a mallet and try to find semi-soft earth so your board will go into the ground at least 4-6″ for sturdiness.

Dress up the top portion of a skeleton torso in rags. Have plenty of hanging material so it will blow in the wind. Place a hat on its head with some craft store hay sticking out. Insert creepy twigs into the sleeves of the shirt or jacket you’ve dressed your scarecrow in. Or you can use old gloves.

Now hang the dressed up skeleton onto the boards, using wire or twine. Done!

If you really want to get artistic about it, corpse up your skeleton beforehand by adding plastic wrap around the skull, then using a blow dryer to melt it into creepy skin all around the skull (see our tutorial here).

Haunted House Guest

Available at Shindigz

Set up your poseable skeleton in any chair, on the couch or on your porch. Place it in a relaxed position. Some ideas:

  • Place a drink in its hand.
  • Have a cigar hanging out of its mouth.
  • Put it on an old castoff toilet and glue a newspaper to its hands.
  • Put it in a rocking chair with a mini skeleton in its arms as if it’s rocking a baby.
  • Pose one arm up so it’s waving at cars as they go by.
  • Set it up in bed with a book propped between its hands. Make sure party guests go into your bedroom to put aside coats or bags.
  • Sit the skellie in a chair, holding a bowl of cereal. Put a handful of cereal in the skeleton’s lap as if it’s eating the cereal, and the food is just falling through.

Riding Shotgun

Credit: imgflip.com

This decoration is guaranteed to get a second glance. Be careful, though; don’t go too hard-core as rubbernecking of other drivers could cause an accident.

Place a life size skeleton in the passenger side of your car. Put a seat belt across the skeleton as if it were a normal passenger. You can add any accouterments: a pretty Sunday hat, a cigarette in its fingers as its bony elbow leans on the door, etc.

Bottom line: be creative and have your skeletons do things a live person would do. That’s the irony and the humor — albeit morbid.