All posts by Sarah Briggs

How to Quickly Make a Halloween Scarecrow Family

Each year I think I’ll add new items to my yard display, but every year the same thing happens: I‘m broke and have no time! Let’s face it, the two most important things we all need if we want to add something really great to our Halloween display is time and money. Both always seems to slip though my fingers like grains of sand in an evil inspired hour-glass.

But no matter how short on time and money you are, you’ll have most of the things to make a few fast scarecrows. The only thing you need to have is a few old clothes, garden stakes, and an hour or so and you’ve got instant decorations for little or no money!

Supply list:

  • Tall poles or PVC pipes
  • Trick-or-treat Buckets
  • Yarn, wigs and/or old hats
  • Wire
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic shopping bags or garbage bags
  • Newspapers and/or Leaves
  • Cutters
  • Clothes
  • Old gloves
  • Shoes

scarecrow-familyStep One–Scarecrows (SC)

Before we dive in, I want show you the three scarecrows I made once and talk about making a twist to the basic SC. How about making them in poses so that they do something rather than just standing there? Look at the photo of my family of scarecrows as if you’ve caught them in the act of adoring their daughter. I’ll describe how I made these so you can get ideas of how to branch out and pose your own SCs.

Step Two–Construction

Mommy Scarecrow

I drove one long bean pole into the ground for the standing mom. I held up the housecoat to the pole and measured where the neck needed to be and then measured a wooden garden stake to make her shoulders. I then wired the garden stake and then wound a strip of duct tape around the wire for stability. I grabbed a hand full of the plastic bags and stuffed another bag fairly full of newspaper (also try leaves) and taped it to the neck and chest for her body. Then I slipped her housecoat on and let it drag on the ground since I didn’t have any shoes for her.

Daddy Scarecrow

Now it was time to make the dad SC, and this is going to be fun since I wanted to make him sitting down. I stuffed an old pair of sweat pants with newspaper inside garbage bags and filled the pants until they looked like legs. Between the picnic table top and seat, I drove into the ground a shorter bean pole until it was the right height for his head and shoulders. I attached the cross piece the same for him as I did for the mom. Now I ran some wire through part of the waistband of the pants and attached it to the stake so the legs wouldn’t fall off in high wind. I slipped on the sweatshirt without stuffing him and started the child SC.

Child Scarecrow

The child SC I assembled differently. I drove two short garden stakes though a pair of old shoes, dropped her pants on over the stakes and stuffed her pants before I wired on the stake for her shoulders. I lightly stuffed her sweatshirt with more plastic bags, and then I was ready to attach all their heads.

Scarecrow Heads

As you can see, their heads are two sizes of old trick-or-treat buckets that I cut x’s in the bottom of so they’d fit on the poles. The treat buckets are perfect for this purpose because they’re weather resistant, have ready made faces, and we all have scads of them lying around the house. I finished off the heads with some yarn hair and old hats. I then safety pinned the gloves to the sleeves, and I was finished.

I can’t tell you how many people stopped by and talked about how much they loved my scarecrows. Some families stopped and as asked if they could have their picture taken with them. Others had the kids do some silly poses by them.

To this day, my family of scarecrows are the hit of the neighborhood, and now they have lots of other scarecrows to play with in my neighbors’ yards. So gather your family, a pile of old duds, a few garden stakes, and makes memories as well as decorations this Halloween season without spending a dime!

Halloween Decoupage – Create a Papier Mache Photo Purse

Papier Mache and decoupage has come a long way, and luckily for you and me, there are hobby stores that carry a full line of Papier Mache boxes, purses, and chests that are a breeze to decorate for our favorite holiday (Halloween, of course!) Here is just one example of how to blend Papier Mache and decoupage a Halloween purse photo frame.

Supplies:

  • Papier mache photo purse
  • Decoupage Solution (ie Mod Podge)
  • Small Sponge Brush
  • Halloween paper or prints
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Photo or antique reproduction of post card for front
  • Ink jet printed pictures and hairspray
  • Scrap booking papers (optional)
  • Paints (optional)
  • Tissues
  • Damp rag (to wipe sticky fingers on)
purse01
Print pictures on your computer with your ink jet printer. Spray the pictures with hair spray and let them dry.

Step One – Gather Your Supplies

Gather up your supplies and cover the table you’re going to be working at with newspapers or a vinyl tablecloth because the decoupage solution is messy and can be hard to get off some surfaces.

You can cut up old holiday and craft magazines that have Halloween pictures. You can print out pictures with an ink jet printer, but you have to spray it with hair spray and let it dry completely before you can use it. Some stickers may work but only if they’re not printed on really thick, heavy paper.

Once you’ve selected the items you’re going to use, make sure they’re clean and dry. You might want to paint on the paper items you’ve chosen, which is fine – just make sure it’s dry before you add the decoupage solution. Any moisture will mess up the decoupage and might cause problems like air bubbles down the road.

Step Two – Design Layout

Pick up your purse with dry hands and look at it carefully. Consider how you want to put your paper designs on before you cut or tear your first picture to use. This is a good time to plan out if you want to add a background paper or if you’d prefer to paint your background along with other items.

Then cut out or tear out your items and place all the elements you are going to use on the dry purse and see how it looks. Play with all components until it looks the way you want it to.

purse02
Select the picture you want to use, insert it in the window of the purse and paint on the Mod Podge solution so you can add your background paper.

Step Three – Applying the Decoupage Solution

Pick a corner and start working in small areas with lots of the decoupage solution anywhere the paper will touch. You can also cover the picture with the solution if you prefer, and then stick it on the purse.

Either way, place the picture on the purse and use your fingers to gently press the picture down to make contact and then carefully work all the wrinkles out of the pictures. Dab off any excess solution with your finger and wipe on a tissue so you won’t have lumps that will show when dry.

Keep overlapping pictures until you have the surface covered and let dry. It can take hours or even overnight in some climates to completely dry, so use your own judgment about how long the drying time will be for you. Don’t try to rush the drying process with a hair dryer or by blowing on it, or you may get air bubbles in the surface that will ruin all your work.

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purse03 purse-complete
Cover the surface of the purse with Mod Podge and let dry. Now the purse is covered in paper and has at least two to three coats of Mod Podge.

Step Four – Coating and Coating

After all the pictures have dried completely, apply a thin coat over the whole surface and keep adding coats until it is how you want it to look. Watch out for bubbles as your project dries, and if you find one, just pop it gently with a straight pin and smooth over. How many coats to do? It’s up to you, but it’s always a good idea to put enough coats on to cover up the edges of the paper for a smooth, seamless look to your piece. Let it dry completely after you’re done adding coats, and you’re done.

Decoupage pieces are stunning when dry, and you can express yourself in as many ways as there are holidays!

Bewitching Silverware Holders

I love to eat, and I love to sample the elaborate spreads my Halloween hostesses lavish on me and their other party guests. One problem I have, as I toss a few meatballs and other goodies on my plate, is juggling my plate, glass, napkin and then the silverware that is always placed at the beginning of the line.

It’s at those times that I wish I were a spider with eight legs so I could manage, but alas no, I’d probably get squished by a shoe! Anyboo, here is one way to solve that issue for your guests: silverware caddies! This is an easy, cheap craft project you can do in one afternoon mostly with items you already have on hand. Follow these simple steps and see how much fun you’ll have making these silverware holders that’ll perk up your buffet table, not to mention help your guests weave their way through your goodies.

Supply List:

  • Felt
  • Pattern of the item you want to make
  • Trims – feathers, sequins, beaded trim, pom pons, yarn, ribbon
  • Color-coordinated cord (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Fabric or felt glue
  • Hot glue (optional)
silverware-01
Lay the piece of felt on the wrong side of the fabric you want for the outside of your caddy. Leave a two inches of material at the top, one inch on the side and just a tad at the bottom.

Time To Consider Ease of Project and Time

There are few things to consider before you get started. If you’re unsure of this craft project, use simple shapes like a cone, square or pocket style for your first caddies. They’ll be really fast and be very simple to work with, especially if you have to make a lot of them! If you feel more confident, you might choose a witch’s hat or a jack-o-lantern. I’ll discuss how easy it is to add to your collection later on in this article.

If it’s hard to find a large chunk of time to make these caddies in one day – no problem. Cut out your shapes one day. Another day, concentrate on decorating your caddies and pinning them together. Then sew them together another time, and before you know it – you‘re done. By working on them a little along, it will allow you to better enjoy your craft time, and you’ll turn out a quality product – stress free! Speaking of stress free – for the sake of this article, I’m going to use felt, even though you can use fabric for the sake of simplicity.

Step one – Pattern and Felt

Choose what kind of caddy you want to make or copy a pattern you already have. I have a file of Halloween patterns I’ve used over the years and stacks of my own designs. When choosing a pattern, it’s a good idea to keep the design simple for your first caddies. You can do harder type of design during the off season that will be more intricate and time-consuming.

Lay pattern on your felt and double it so that you cut both sides at once as you cut out your design. It may be tempting to stack six or eight pieces of felt layers together before you pin on your pattern so you can cut more than one caddy at once but don’t do it! The felt will get jagged edges when you apply enough pressure to cut through multiple layers felt and will look really bad. It may sound faster, but it’s the best way to ruin your material and not get a sharp design.

silverware-02Fold the felt and material with the material on the inside and pin the bottom and side edge.

Step Two – Decorate

It’s a great time to decorate the front side of the caddy. If you’ve chosen something like a witchy boot or a black cat, it’s much easier to attach the trims now while you have access to the back before they’re stitched together. Trust me!

***Note of caution*** Be careful not to place any trim on the front or back that can’t fit under the pressure foot of a sewing machine. Else, it will cause an unsightly bump under the seam. Glue will mess up any type of needle you use so try to keep all glue and glued on items away from your seams.

Step Three – Stitch It Together

Since we’re using felt, you don’t have to stitch your caddy together with the right sides together. Assemble your caddy as if it had already been stitched together with the wrong sides together. In just seconds . . . you’re done!

silverware-03Here are four different caddy’s pinned together ready for stitching on the sewing machine.

So many Possibilities – So Little Time!

You might not think of it, but thread can also be used for a decoration on your caddy. If you picked a Jack-O-Lantern, for instance, you can stitch the orange felt or fabric together with orange thread or if you’re going for the folk art look, use the zig-zag stitch in a different color so it‘ll show. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can use a darning needle and stitch them together with yarn or use regular sewing thread.

Using Fabric:

There are some different considerations if you decide to make your caddies out of regular fabric. The felt is very sturdy on its own, so you don’t have to use anything to stiffen them. But with fabric, you’ll have to use some buckram or other Pellon-type stiffener for backing.

Another thing to think about when you cut out your shapes is that you’ll be temped to fold fabric into six or eight layers so you can cut out more than one caddy at once–don’t do it! The fabric will slip when you apply enough pressure to cut through multiple layers of the material, no matter how careful you try not to. It may look faster, but in reality it’s the best way to ruin your material and not get a sharp-cut design.

After you cut your pieces of material, it’s time to decorate them, just like the felt pieces, while you have access to the back. Attach all trims and then lay the pieces of material wrong sides together and stitch them together. Now turn the caddy right side out and stitch along the edge. You’re done!

silverware-final

Here are the four caddy’s I made in ten minutes along with two I paid $5.00 each for (the boots). I much prefer my cost of using the scraps I had on hand vs having to buy enough of these just for my family.

10-Minute Ghostly “Bodies” to Haunt Your House

Thanks, guest contributor Sarah Briggs, for this haunting tutorial!

You can never have enough bodies when haunting a porch, yard, or house!. Every time I haunt the house for a kid’s party or for our adult parties, I like to have ghostly bodies placed around my rooms in chairs or at the piano.

But, sadly, real bodies stink after a bit, and fake bodies can cost a lot to make. And then there’s the storage issue after Halloween.

What else could I do but come up with a new way to fill my needs without the stench of death or spending big bucks? Here are a few ideas that might help you, too. Got ten minutes? You’ve got bodies!

Supplies for a Piano Ghost:

  • Wig head
  • Wire tomato cage
  • Duct tape
  • Gauzy white sheer curtain or several yards of white sheer material
  • 21 gage wire for the arms

piano ghost prop

Step One:

Set the tomato cage on the piano bench and secure it with some weights wrapped in black plastic and set on the edges of the cage. Pull the three wire legs together and wrap with duct tape and pop on the wig head. You may have to play with it to get it to stay since each head is different.

Take the roll of heavy gage wire and measure from one side of the keyboard, around the cage, and to the other side of the keyboard for the arms and hands. Cut the wire and either tape it in place with duct tape or with thin florist wire. Now drape your sheer curtain or material over the head and over the tips of the wire for its hands.

Step Two:

There is no step two! Told you it was fast.

Ghost Number Two:

  • White flat sheet
  • Wig head
  • Wooden dowel
  • Rocker or other high-backed wooden chair
  • Pants
  • Boots or shoes
  • Newspapers
  • White gloves stuffed with white paper or tissue
  • Florist wire

Step One and Only

Get the wig head and insert the dowel into the head. Wire the dowel to one of the rungs of the chair. Make sure the head sticks up above the back of the chair so that it’ll make your guests wonder if it’s a dummy or a real person.

Now attach the stuffed gloves to the arm of the chair so that it looks natural. Stuff the pair of pants with newspapers until the legs are firm but bendable. Set the pants into the chair, attach some florist wire through the belt loops on both sides of the pants, and wire them onto a rung of the chair.

Now add the shoes or boots and be sure to place the shoes like someone would if they actually sat there. Cover the whole thing with the white sheet but make sure that only part of the legs/shoes and their hands show as you drape the whole chair with the sheet. Done!

Some of my best props, and sometime scares, are when I toss some last-minute things together. Try these two easy ghostly visitors and watch how your guests will react. Happy Halloween!

Decorations at a Moment’s Notice (or D.A.M.N.)

 

Halloween  mail  Postcard
Halloween mail Postcard

Some people in this world can make a gorgeous Halloween decoration for any occasion out of a bowl of grits and twist tie. Well, ok, not grits, but you get the point. Me? Nope, I’m not one of them. Notice the title of this section? I have to think about what I want to do and plan well in advance . . . unlessssssss I decide to throw together a last minute gig!

I hope to make a few suggestions about how you can plan decorations and what to grab if you need to throw something together at the last minute. That is where D.A.M.N. comes in! How to come up with decorations at a moment’s notice (D.A.M.N.)

Getting Your Halloween Party Set Up . . . Quickly!

Decide if you are going to use a porch, family room, or a basement and then do two things:

1. Decide how you’re going to make the area dark
Just tape black table cloths over the windows in only a few minutes. I can’t tell you how many Halloween parties I’ve gone to where the hosts keep the lights on! Nay! This is a party filled with make up, mystery, and costumes.

2.Turn off the lights and do some eerie lighting
Take all the lamps you normally have in the room out and put either low wattage or colored bulbs in them. Place them on the floor in each of the corners of the room.

You’d be surprised how just doing those two things will change the atmosphere of your room for little or nothing. And let me tell you, having all your lights pointing up is a great eerie effect and will make great shadows for your party. Oh, and for the guest that keeps saying, “Oh it’s too dark in here.” Send him or her to the store for more chips. DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHTS!

Now What?

Oh, many other D.A.M.N. decorations exist that you can pull out what you might not even have thought about. For instance, look up. The ceiling is a perfectly blank canvas for your decorating skills because it’s the perfect showcase for a huge decoration. What, you say? Yes, get one of your large and light yard ghouls that’s just a head and arms and with a long gown or cape and get ready to wow your guests.

Get four 3M temporary hooks and some fishing line that will blend in with the color of your ceiling. Put your ghoul in the center of the room where everyone has to walk under it. Securely tie the arms and body to the hooks.

Add a fifth hook over in a hidden corner and run a separate line from the head of the dummy back to that corner. The head should be bent so it looks like it is peering down at your guests. If it looks too saggy, very slightly raise it. Finally, tie the end of the fishing line off on a table leg or some other heavy item so it can’t fall.

Now to play a trick on your guests. Stand in the corner of the room during the party and wait until everyone is used to seeing the ghoul there. When no one is looking, suddenly pull the string, raising it’s head (or hands if you so desire) and giving your guests quite a scare!

A Murder of Crows

Don’t you just love that group name? Well, it works for this occasion because if you need fast, effective and relatively inexpensive decorations, get a bunch of crows. Put white sheets all over your party room and attach those little birds in groups of three to five everywhere. You can’t go wrong with black and white, no matter what you do, and it’s easy to add to your collection at the end of the season. I’ve purchased them at four for a dollar, so every year I add to my birds. Now I can do a whole house in the style of the movie The Birds if I want.

Collections of Webs and Spiders

Another D.A.M.N. fast decoration is cheep webs and tons of plastic spiders! I bet you have loads of them in your Halloween items already or can make a trip down to your local dollar store to stock up on the little buggers and packages of webs. Get white or green webs because it really doesn’t matter about color, especially if you have a nice sized black light to add to the room.

Pull the webs into really thin, long sections and stretch them as far as you can so that they look real. Then put the spiders, hundreds of them, all over your party room, kitchen, and bathroom so that it looks like your house is working alive with the little devils. Add a black light and watch the webs glow like crazy, and your room will look spookily inviting to any guest in a short amount of time

Sophisticated Party Room

Not every Halloween party room has to be scary, because some really like the more sophisticated look like that of a Martha Stewart display. Great! Get enough inexpensive black material to replace your current drapes and add two or three crows to the ends of your curtain rods for a touch of whimsy. Cover lamp shades in scrap booking paper and tape in place for a temporary Halloween lampshade and use Halloween material to make fast runners for your tables. Add baskets of pumpkins, fall corn, and gourds around the room with branches of multi-colored fall leaves. Place your good Halloween collectables on your book shelves and on many of the surfaces around the room.

But be sure to leave room for drinks and hors ‘d vours your guests will need to set down during your soiree. Add any textile decorations where your normal art goes on the walls and lay past and present Halloween issues of your favorite magazines around your room. Go to you local Farmers’ Market and buy some carved apple dolls or walnut-headed dolls that are commonly made around this time of the year. Those dolls will add a homespun air to add to your room.

These styles of decorations just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend much money or look beyond your own stash for great Decorations At a Moment’s Notice. All you ever need to do is to look at what you have or have access to, and you can make your party and party space something special in just a few short hours. Enjoy your party!

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!

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

Quick and Fantastic Halloween Party Favors

Every time I had a party for my daughter, either at school or at home, I would rack my brains trying to come up with some simple yet clever party favors to give the kids. Hundreds, if not thousands of ideas exist on the web, but they were either too costly, too hard to find the supplies, or I had to be a full-time artist to make the items they called “simple and cheap.” Time to improvise!

Skeleton Hand Favors

At my local discount store, I looked at all the typical treat holders, which were cute but nothing out of the ordinary. I stood back and started thinking about what I could do with the first item I saw: a package of twelve mini skeleton hands. I thought about what it should be holding in its hand. I grabbed a bag of foil wrapped candy eyeballs, Tootsie Pops, and spider rings. Look how cute they turned out!

Skeleton Hand Favors
Skeleton Hand Favors

Here are several variations you can do in just a few minutes and with a little imagination. Oh, and no one else will be handing out the same thing as you!

Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

When I played around with my graphics program, I saw a pattern for a May Flower Cone. My twisted little mind came up with a great simple candy holder that is so inexpensive and creative that you and your kids can make them in one afternoon!

Supplies:

Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones
  • Halloween color paper
  • Jumbo pipe cleaners
  • Halloween sticker or Halloween stamps and ink pad
  • Stapler
  • Lace and trims
  • Double stick tape/Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

Print out a copy of the pattern and cut out as many cones as you need. Gently start pulling the edges together so that a cone forms. Be careful that the tip of the cone is closed so the candy won’t fall out. Staple the edge and down the sides so the cone is nice and sturdy. You can add double stick tape along the edge of the cone if it starts separating.

Punch two holes on either side of the top of the cone and attach jumbo pipe cleaners to form the handles. Your cone is built!

Decorating the Cone

Now comes the fun part! Add stickers to the cones or stamp them with all kinds of fun ink stamps. Take your lace or ribbons and hot glue them around the top of the cone’s outside. Attention: Either parents or adults need to do the hot gluing on the cones, since kids can get badly burned with glue guns!

There are many ways to decorate the cones, and you can make these for all seasons, too. The kids love to get make them, and their friends feel really special when they get one, too.

Victorian Style Halloween Candy Cones

Silhouette Treat Bags

Supplies:

  • Brown or white bags (the smaller the better)
  • Stamper/Stencils/stickers
  • Thin ribbons (two or three colors)
  • Hole punch
  • Black Sharpie marker/pencil

One day I found out that the mom doing the treat bags for the school class had
dropped out. My daughter’s teacher called me in a panic and asked if I could come up with thirty treat bags for the next day. “Sure,” I calmly answered, hung up the phone, my hand already shaking, and then went into a full panic.

I raced around town and couldn’t find thirty of any one kind of treat container! As I jogged past a craft section in a store, I saw bags of little brown paper sacks. I grabbed thirty-five of them (I always goof up on some of them) and gleefully headed home, ideas racing in my mind. I’d been looking at a child’s stencil book the night before and had thought of what great silhouettes they’d make.

I laid all the bags flat on the table and traced each stencil lightly with a pencil. Then I took a Sharpie marker and filled it in. It looked great! Next, I filled the bags with candy, toys, and a Halloween tongue twister I’d printed off and cut into strips. I folded the bag shut and punched two holes side by side. I ran the three colors of ribbons though and tied them in a bow. Done!

So don’t panic if you get caught short or if you just want to do something special for a party you’re helping with at the last moment. Take a minute to look around at what you have and an idea will come to you that will be totally original and wow everyone. Shoot, I make up different favors for every holiday and pull them out to fill when the day comes. So sit back on the next burning hot July day and make Halloween flavors then and store them.

Check back for other ideas. I’ll be posting more Halloween favors and treats for other holidays. You can never have too many ideas on hand!

by Sarah Briggs

Black Death Punch

 

Credit: meandannabellee.com

Thirsty for something darkly different for your Halloween party? How about an eerie party punch?  We’re grimly glad to deliver this sweet offering (with a little bite!) from guest contributor Sarah Briggs.

Brew Ingredients

  • 1 two-liter bottle of ginger ale, Sprite, blackberry soda, or your soda of choice
  • 1 packet of black cherry Kool-Aid
  • 12 oz of frozen berries (a mix of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries), thawed
  • 1/2 of a 750-ml bottle of Dekuyper’s Pomegranate liqueur*
  • 5 cups of clear rum or vodka
  • 1 packet of Pop Rocks Candy, for special effects (optional)

*For a non-alcoholic punch, simply leave out the alcoholic ingredients. Your punch will still look – and taste – bloody good!

Instructions

Grab a black cauldron (or other eerie beverage server) and begin cackling. (This part is important! Got to have ambiance, don’t’cha know.) IMPORTANT: Thoroughly chill all ingredients before beginning.

  1. For the “scabs,” mash berries using a potato masher or process in a blender for 30 seconds.
  2. Combine soda, cherry Kool-Aid, berries and alcohol in the cauldron … sorry, your punch bowl.
  3. When you are ready to serve, wave your hands over the bowl and recite: “Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble…!”
  4. Pour in the Pop Rocks immediately before the party – they’ll make the punch snap, crackle and pop for the next several minutes!

Mmm. The Black Death never tasted so good!

Demented Dime Toss

How to Make a Demented Dime Toss Game

Supplies Needed:

  • White foam core, about 18 inches by 18 inches – available at any craft or art store (or snag a foam board used as packing if a friend bought a new appliance!)
  • Sharpie markers (several different colors)
  • Pencil
  • Colored Duct Tape
  • Bulletin board border (in fall or Halloween design)
  • A roll or two of dimes
  • Two prize containers (one for candy and one for prizes)
  • A t-square
  • optional: 1/2 inch number stickers (how many depends on how many squares you make and how large the squares are) instead of writing the numbers on the foam.
Demented Dime Toss Halloween game

First, we’re going to create the game board. You’ll be using the piece of white foam core (better to see the dimes at night), different color Sharpie markers, “number” stickers if you wish, a roll of colored duct tape (you know I would find a way to use duct tape with every game!), the bulletin board border and a t-square.

With your white foam, draw a two inch wide border around the top and sides but leave a 4″ to 6″ border on the bottom so you can write the name of the game on the bottom. Using your t-square, measure and draw eight lines across and ten down with a pencil, spaced one inch apart – you can do more or less, depending on the size of your foam board, but this worked well for us.

If you choose this number, you should have a total of ninety-nine squares when you’re done. Write a random #1 or #2 in the center of each square, or use number stickers. Next, line the top left and bottom right of the square with a colored marker. With a different color, draw the upper right and bottom left borders. This will give your game board a colorful and finished antique look.

Take the colored duct tape and tape a border around the foam. On the bottom, write a name for your game. Finally, take the bulletin board border, stand it on end, and tape it standing up around the edges of the foam to create a shallow box. This will keep the dimes from racing off the game board. Use the colored duct tape as reinforcement.

What does the #1 and #2 squares mean? It’s a choice between different types of candy, between candy and a toy, or anything you can think of! At our house, I always give the kids a choice of either a toy (#1) or candy (#2). This way it’s up to chance, and they love seeing what they’ve won. Get a roll or two of dimes because you will need extras dimes between the darkness, the bouncing out of the game board, or if a gargoyle comes your way and eats them. Don’t laugh – all things are possible on Halloween night!

To play the game, hand each child three dimes and have him or her try to aim at the number of the desired prize. The rules are simple – if he or she gets two #1 and a #2, and your rules have #1 as a toy, he or she gets a toy, since there’s more dimes on that number. Kids are wild about getting a choice, and I love to supply that choice!

Time to make: About an hour, when you have all the supplies. Draw the squares, number them however you want (writing is faster and cheaper) and taping the stand up border.

Witch Hat Ring Toss

How to Make a Witch Hat Ring Toss Game

Supplies needed:

  • Three or six tall black witch hats
  • Three or six 2 liter bottles, full of your favorite beverage
  • Decorations for the hats (ribbon, sequins or yarn)
  • Sacks or felt to temporarily cover the bottles
  • Jumbo pipe cleaners (several packs)
  • Halloween vinyl table cloth to set the game up on

Simple black witch hats, full bottles and seasonal trim make this a fast game to make, and the kids love it!

Decorate the hats with different ribbons; use trims or even pipe cleaners so they look festive, but be sure you can take the trim off for storage. Set the hats over the soda bottles and make sure you can’t see the bottles’ logos – if you can – cover them with paper bags or felt. Set the soda bottles/hats in various positions on a vinyl table cloth on the ground or on a table.

Witch Hat Ring Toss

Get a package of super long pipe cleaners to make the rings. Check to see if the pipe cleaner wires are sharp. If they are, take needle nose pliers and curl the metal tips of the pipe cleaners under themselves because they can be sharp enough to poke the person tossing them. Use several pipe cleaners or as many as you need for strength to form the ring. Fashion several rings, some large and some small for different difficulty levels, and you’re done! You can assign different points to some of the hats to make it harder, and make several throw lines so every child can play.

Time to make: One or two hours depending on how fancy you want to decorate the hats, and for making the pipe cleaners. Storage is a breeze–drink the contents of the 2 liter bottles, take the hat trim off, and stack the hats before you lay the pointed crown down. Put the hats, band decorations, and rings in a gift size box (large department store holiday box), and you’ll be ready for next year.

Coffin Toss

How to Make an Easy Coffin Toss Game

Supply list:

  • 1/4 inch sheet of plywood to cut into coffin pieces – top and sides
  • Piece of plywood or Masonite for the bottom
  • bunch of nails, or wood screws
  • Cheap, blow-molded bones – available at party stores
  • A can of black spray paint
  • Two hinges

This is a really easy project and actually pretty fast to put together. You can make a toe pincher coffin at your local home building store. Our Lowe’s is outstanding for helping people like me that hate to use power saws. I just took my drawing with me, and they selected the board I needed. They cut the angles and then found a damaged sheet of Masonite for the bottom. All I had to do was come home and nail it all together. (I had to wrestle the project away from those nice guys at Lowe’s!)

Coffin Toss

If you love power tools, you’ll love to do everything yourself! Simply trace out the shape of the coffin and cut it out of the plywood sheet. Use the top to trace the bottom, and cut that out. Use the leftover pieces to make your sides, about a foot deep. Nail or screw all the pieces together to the bottom, and spray paint the entire coffin black. You can use wood glue on the sides before painting your coffin to increase the sturdiness. Drill the hinges into the inner sides of the coffin, and attach the top to it. Use a piece of wood to keep it propped open when in use. Done!

If this sounds like too much trouble, you can go to a party supply store and buy one of several different kinds of coffins. It’s up to you and your budget. Once you get your coffin arranged, buy a bag of cheap blow-molded bones and set the coffin up at a slight angle in your yard. The kids loved tossing different kinds of bones into the coffin, and the bones store inside for next year.

Time to make: No time at all if you get the hardware guys to do it! Probably a nice, lazy afternoon if you do it yourself. This is just too darn fast and easy. Oh, and cheap, too!

Quick Halloween Costume Ideas

“What am I going to be this year?” is a common refrain heard spoken by the young and old alike every Halloween. But especially by those of us who are no longer kids with favorite cartoon heroes. You know you need a costume and you are really enthusiastic about wearing one but you just can’t get a good idea of what you want to be. I always tell myself that I’ll decide what I am going to be tomorrow and that there’s still plenty of time. Yep, I am one of those of people who always deludes themselves into thinking that lightning will strike and a fantastic costume idea will fall into my lap and that all the components for my costume will be neatly stacked in my closet. Now ask me how many times that has happened? Nadda, zip and zero! You too? I have taken the costumed bull by the horns this year and I made a list of what I hope are quick pull-together costumes&emdash;quick-witted and clever costumes, too! You should be able to find all the components for these costume ideas around your house and in your closets. Well, you will if your house and closets look like mine! Read on. Help is here! See if there is a costume ‘lightning bolt’ idea for you.

Halloween Puns & Word Plays

I love any kind of word play and puns have always been my favorite inspiration for costumes. I said that every year I would hope that lightning would strike me and hope for a fabulous costume idea to fall into my lap. Lightning did strike one year! That phrase gave me the idea to go as a golfer that had been struck by lightning. I found some old gaudy, yellow double-knit plaid pants, a lilac plaid button-down shirt and some really tacky old white shoes at a yard sale. A friend gave me a broken golf club that I bent into an ‘S’ shape around a gatepost. I burned holes in my clothes, put gray and black make up under all the burn places and blacked my face. I gelled my hair so that it was standing on end . . . there was my costume!

Another time I was talking to a friend while I was trying to come up with a costume idea. When she asked me what I was doing, I replied, “oh, just killing time.” Hum. I decided that was a perfect costume. I made a cardboard clock face and painted it to look like an old grandfather clock with eyes, nose, cheeks and a mouth. I dug around in the back of my closet until I found an old plastic costume knife. I stuck the knife through the clock face and acted really deranged when people asked me what I was. Killing time was a huge hit at that year’s party.

One Cool Halloween Costume Idea

A great Halloween costume I saw on a guy one time was a chick magnet. This guy was dressed in something metallic-looking and had fashion dolls pinned all over him. A very clever Hallloween costume idea… take that, James Bond!

Are you a basket case? Great! Grab a cardboard box and cut a hole so you can stand in it. Then fill the box with all different sizes of baskets. Write ‘case’ on the box; add suspenders and you are a real basket case!

Do your friends think you’re self-absorbed? Put on your favorite outfit and pin sponges all over. You are now formally self-absorbed!

Do you still see your old family witch doctor? Throw on a pointy witch hat, white lab coat; carry around a few bottles with strange labels and a child’s stethoscope. Ta dah!

How about going as the devil with the blue dress on? Oh wait. That was Monica, right? Go buy a set of red horns and a pitchfork, wear your favorite blue dress and you’re in business!

I think you get my point that puns and word plays are great costume ideas. Listen to your friends and family talk for several days and I bet one phrase will stick out loud and clear.

Halloween Inspiration in the everyday things

If you are not into word play there is plenty of inspiration from everyday things.

What about road kill? Grab any old animal costume, an old tire, black ink and some fake blood. Take the animal costume and lay it out on the driveway. Roll black ink on the tire and roll it on the top part of the costume. Re-ink the tire and do the same to the lower part of the costume. Oh, please remember &emdash;you shouldn’t BE IN the costume at the time! Now splash on fake blood or add tons of rotting make up and be a zombie road kill, ah . . . thing for a twist.

If you like a more basic and disgusting costume go for the hairball. Go to a craft store and buy several bags of Mohair or go to a yard sale and buy several old and really bad wigs. Cut off clumps of either kind of hair and glue it all over some old clothes that you wouldn’t mind throwing away. Then put some Vaseline on the hair to make it look slimy and wet! When people come up to you and ask what you are, start coughing and gagging and then tell ’em. I bet they won’t come near you the rest of the night. I don’t think you will be invited back next year either!

Maybe it’s just me, but wearing the traditional Halloween couples’ costumes is about as much fun as going to the dentist. Intestinal lock up! I hate to see people with those sweet little ‘couple’ costumes like Raggedy Ann and Andy, baby boy and girl or worse, a puppy and a kitten. I like the more unconventional couple costumes, like the year we dressed in my specially made XXL sweatshirt. I cut two sweatshirts in half and sewed them back together, leaving two neckholes. I put sequin trim where I had joined the shirts and he and I decorated each side radically different. We went as a split personality!

If both of you like golf, this Halloween costume could be your salvation! Find two old pairs of those really wild colored pants that all of our Uncle Harry’s use to wear, some knee socks you could use to flag traffic, and two old junky sweaters. Cut the pants off about mid-shin and tuck them into the top of the knee socks. Cut a huge hole in just one of the sweaters and run glue just off the edges so the sweater won’t fall apart when you put it on. Find some old golf clubs and you can go as a hole in one!

I hope my zany brain has helped you understand that getting a great costume idea is as easy as listening for a funny phrase or just a word play. You also don’t have to spend big bucks or have to be something typical. I think the most important thing about making your costume is having fun with it like we all did in our childhood. Just look around and inspiration will strike, if you’re open to it. Oh yea, that means digging through your closets!