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.

Make a Dead Fairy…Plus BONUS Unicorn Skeleton

Brothers Grimm, look out – this is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Have you seen the dead fairies in jars or trophy cases that are popping up all over Pinterest? So cool! They look complex to make, but prepare to be surprised: I made my own dead fairy for our Halloween garden display in a creepy little twinkle. (And they call me butterfingers. Or worse.)

Here’s what I did to turn a pair of wings and a little plastic into something truly (wait for it)…Grimm.

You Will Need:

  • A small plastic novelty skeleton
  • Craft fairy or dragonfly wings (link below)
  • Doll tutu or other fairy-like outfit that will fit your finished prop
  • A small amount of faux hair
  • Hot glue gun and a glue stick
  • Matte brown spray paint and matte tan spray paint to distress your skeleton, if desired
Credit: Pinterest, Syren Song

NOTE: See the bottom of this article for my finished version.

ONE: First I gathered my materials. I already had a set of 5” plastic skeletons on a string. I cut one off the string and laid it aside.

Meanwhile, I had done some bargain shopping on the internet and found a small pair of craft fairy wings.  Make sure you’re buying a size that will fit your skelly!

I also harvested a few pieces of hair from an old wig. And (shhh) I stole a skirt from one of my daughter’s Barbies. I know. For shame.

TWO: My skeleton was already distressed-looking. If you have an all white

You can make a “pet” for your fairy too! Grab a model horse skeleton, diistress it with matte spray paint, etch it with a fingernail to rough it up, and add a plastic horn. Credit: Pinterest, Oddard.

skeleton, make it more realistic by taking black chalk and gently feathering it into the eye sockets, between the ribs, etc.

Another great way to distress “skeletons” is to dab brown or flat bronze spray paint onto a sea sponge. Then transfer the paint onto the skelly in dabs. Allow to dry completely, then dab accents with a slightly lighter color.

THREE: I heated up my trusty glue gun and put a dot on the wings where they joined. I pressed the wings onto the skeleton’s back. Then I placed the skeleton on its front, wings upward. The glue hardened within about three minutes.

FOUR:  I took a few strands of the wig hair, cut them to length and hot glued them to random spots on the fairy’s skull. This wasn’t necessary; I just thought it looked really, really cool.

FIVE: Next, I placed the skirt onto the fairy. I had to tuck the top under due to sizing issues, but the effect was still great. If you have any tulle, lace or other foofy material around, cut a bit and make a skirt out of that. Simply hot glue a seam and hitch it over your skeleton’s legs.

SIX: I placed the dead fairy in what we call The Grotto at our house. This is where we plan to have part of our spooky walk-through on Halloween. The fairy and other creatures will be spot-lit on the big night. You can put your fairy in a jar, pin it down onto a matte board taxidermy-style or prop it up anywhere.

dead fairy prop for Halloween

Tips and Alternatives to the Above  Method

  • Some truly inspired souls use modeling clay to create dripping flesh, pointy ears, etc. If you’re the artistic type, go ahead and try this. However, if you distress your skeleton as in Step 2 above, you don’t necessarily have to add anything to the fairy’s bones.
  • You can also hot glue tiny antennae on the skull (in fact, I may do this with my next dead fairy). Have one antenna bent down. You can use small cuttings of craft wire to create this effect. Ball a tiny bit of clay on the end of each and allow to dry before positioning your antennae and gluing them on.
  • The creepiness of this prop lies in the fact that most of us associate fairies with whimsy and sweetness. To see one lying there rotting in its tutu is a bit of a shocker – and makes for a great Halloween prop. Dress your dead fairy in bits of adorable draped fabric or, like I did, with doll clothes. You can dress your fairy male, female or androgynous.
  • Position the arms and legs so that the fairy looks like it has expired. If your miniature skeleton isn’t poseable, break off the arms and legs carefully and then hot glue into the position you want them.

Remember: you can always buy a creepy creation if you don’t have the time, materials or will to make one. Check out ebay and etsy for artists who will be happy to creep up a sweet memory just for you.

And now … I’m out of here. (waving wand)

How to Make a Haunted Doll Halloween Prop

 

Above: This not so innocent little prop is a real scream.

dollcreepyDolls. They’re just…creepy. Dolls have been used in movies and literature to send a chill down the spine. And they’re uber-popular a Halloween costumes – especially the “broken doll” variety.

But why? Aren’t dolls supposed to be lovable…huggable…cute?

There’s something about a doll that’s almost – but not quite – human. Perhaps it’s what’s termed the uncanny valley effect: they’re real-looking (sort of), yet they’re frozen, staring eternally at something we ourselves can’t quite see. 

This year, go spine-chilling with your decor and creep up a doll as a Halloween prop. Here’s how to create a skin-crawling Halloween doll on the cheap.

Finding a Victim … Er, Doll as Your Prop Base

Doll, Before Being Creeped Out
The author’s starting product: cute!

If you don’t have an old doll around, hunt for one at the Goodwill, Salvation Army, a local yard sale or thrift shop. Ebay can offer steals, too.

Remember: the worse condition the doll is in, the better. Missing limbs or off-kilter eyes really amp the creep factor, but any wear and tear will add to the eeriness of your prop.

Want MORE Realism? Click HERE to Craft a Haunted Reborn Doll

Clothing and Hair Tips

  • Come on – really get your claws into this one! Ruffle your doll’s hair. For curly doll hair, a hairbrush is perfect for creating huge, awful-looking frizz.
  • Get his/her clothes a little messy. For instance, a cute boy’s doll vest that’s off one arm and hanging is a great “haunted doll” look. A girl doll in a sweet sundress that’s tattered and a bit dirty is definitely high on the creepiness scale. One item missing can be the perfect touch, i.e. one missing patent leather shoe or one pants leg torn off.
  • In my example, the doll arrived without clothes (an ebay bargain). I felt the contrast between the stuffed and sewn body and the plastic limbs gave the doll an older feel, adding to the haunted effect, so I left her undressed.
  • If your doll’s hair is dyed into the plastic or painted on, paint over it in dramatic black. Use a flat rather than a glossy paint. After the paint has dried, chip it here and there with a fingernail.
  • Remove some of the hair if it’s sewn in. Take a chunk out of one side or rip the hairline back a quarter inch. This effect is extremely spooky. Or go the opposite route and make the hair super-cute – the weird contrast amps up the horror factor. In my example, I put my doll’s frizzy locks into two little-girl ponytails.
  • If you’ll be removing any limbs from your doll, do so now, before painting and altering the rest of the doll. Keep the body part as you can use it later if you wish.

Head and Face Tips

  • Roll the eyes back in the head if you can. (Not all eyes will roll without force and some are painted on.) Or poke one out. Eew! …and awesome.

    "Suturing" of the mouth using shadowing. Photo: craftastrophe.net
    “Suturing” of the mouth using shadowing. Photo: craftastrophe.net
  • Another option is the “possessed eye”: using acrylics, paint the entire iris and conjunctiva in white or very light gray.
  • It’s all about the paleness. Using acrylics, paint your doll’s body light gray or white get a ghastly effect. For a mottled appearance, dot the paint lightly onto your doll’s face and limbs with a dry sponge. (In my example, I mixed very light blue with orange to get a sickly medium gray, “old porcelain”/undead pallor.) I found the paint dried very quickly, allowing me to do the front of the doll and then flip her over to paint the back without my mixed paint drying out. Don’t worry about a few streaks; they give a cracked porcelain, antiqued appearance.
  • Blood red lips and/or black eyebrows will contrast with unnaturally pale skin, so keep the lips unpainted when you’re paling up the rest of your doll. Draw eyebrows on with magic marker or very thin streaks of paint, or paint just one eyebrow on.

Final Touches

  • Altered dolls are scary without any blood at all, but you’re free to add a bit of gore if you’re so inclined. Use faux blood, paint, ketchup (which dries very dark and blood-like on fabric) or red gel icing that dries. Go ahead and smear it around a bit. Smearing in the form of four fingers, as if someone bloody had grabbed the doll, is perfect.
  • If you’ll be “bloodying up” a plastic body part, make sure you’re using paint that will dry completely on plastic.
  • Add accessories if you’d like. A mini knife or similar object in the hand of a mauled baby doll is very scary (expect trick-or-treaters to back slllllllowly out of your driveway). Or have her hold an old, tarnished object, such as a broken costume necklace, in one undead hand.
  • Add touches that go with the theme of your doll or your display. For instance, make Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein’s baby by drawing hatched stitch marks across your doll’s forehead. Glue small wooden painted pieces on either side of his neck. Or scrawl “help me, Mama” on a torn piece of paper and place it in her clutching fists. Paint notches across her lips to give the impression that her lips have been stitched closed by some unholy hand. (I added blue bride-of-Frankenstein streaks on both sides of my doll’s hair and added one creepy streak to each ponytail.) Your creativity is what will really make this prop special.

Enjoy making your prop – and sweet dreams. 

Possessed creeped out doll
What a cute little, uh, possessed thing you have there, sir. The author’s own creepy creation.

How to Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkins

 

With Halloween on the horizon, neighborhoods everywhere will shortly be littered with big orange pumpkins. (What a welcoming and awesome sight!)

Credit: “Sad Pumpkin” by Michelle Milla

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, the sight of these happy, silly, freaky or iconic faces will bring joy and excitement – leading up to the frenzy of The Big Day.

However, come November 1, all of those pumpkins will – as if by the wave of a magic wand – magically turn into a nuisance as they (sadly) go to waste.

I mean sure, there’s pumpkin chucking (which always makes my children cry) and we’ve had the happy little accident when “forgotten” gourds took root and produced random giant vines across our front yard…but otherwise, like most families, we’ve just, well, let our pumpkins sit and go to rot every November.

Don’t let that happen this year! There are plenty of options for recycling that happy li’l jack. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of things to do with old pumpkins. Enjoy, and remember – after you recycle your pumpkin, Halloween is only 364 days away!

Credit: Pinterest

Bird Feeder – You can easily turn an old pumpkin into a bird feeder by cutting the pumpkin in half and filling each half with birdseed. Use a string to tie the pumpkin halve to trees.

Not only will the birds eat the birdseed, but they will also eat the pumpkin flesh, maybe even the skin, depending on the bird. You’ll be helping feed local birds and cleaning up your post-Halloween decorations – a win-win post-Halloween!

Credit: goingtoseedinzone5.com

Compost Bin – Not everyone owns and operates a compost bin, but they’re easy to start – and pumpkins ideal for this smart, eco-friendly Muse.

Simply cut the pumpkin up and toss the flesh in with the rest of the compost, which will usually consist of non-meat kitchen scraps and lawn clippings. Over time these turn into rich, nutrient-dense compost/garden dirt.

Credit: extremepumpkins.com

Make a Squirrel Happy – Some individuals will just leave their pumpkins out in open areas for the squirrels to eat. Essentially, when a pumpkin ferments, it becomes sugary and sweet, and squirrels go nuts for the stuff.

If you don’t mind the sight of the critters (we love them – then again, we love bats and spiders, too), they’ll be more than happy to act as your personal clean-up crew for pumpkins after Halloween. (Be warned: fermented pumpkins can make squirrels drunk. If your squirrels are acting oddly, take their keys and offer to call Uber. You’re welcome.)

This article was contributed by the experts at Fright Catalog. Thanks, guys!

Witch and Full Moon on Halloween

Secrets of a Great Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costume

Jealous of your friend down the street who always seems to come up with the most creative and unique Halloween costumes? Looking for the “wow” factor in your Halloween costume this year rather than going as the color green (again)?

If you’re ready to dive into the costume venture of your life and catapult yourself into fame and fortune with the best do-it-yourself Halloween costume in the world (or at least get a few compliments at the Halloween party), there are a few things to consider before you begin.

  1. Consider your audience. Will you be going to a costume party with some close friends, or just trick-or-treating door to door? Do you need to keep it kid-friendly? What are the interests of those around you? Going as the main character in your favorite show to a party where no one has seen it won’t earn you the recognition your efforts deserve. You can save yourself a little trouble by thinking about what your audience will appreciate.
  2. Seek inspiration from the world around you. Be observant as you walk around during the day and ask yourself, “How could I turn this into a costume?” as you look at everyday objects. Inspiration can strike at any time!
  3. Be prepared to put in some time and effort (and maybe a little money too). Even if your DIY costume ends up being relatively inexpensive and easy to put together, you’ll probably end up putting in some hours on this — if not on the actual costume assembly itself, at least in the thought and creative process.

Elements of an Awesome DIY Costume

So, now that you know a little better what you’re getting yourself into, let’s look at some of the characteristics of the most successful DIY costumes. The best DIY costumes are:

  • Creative: In order for your DIY costume to be a hit, you have to be unique in some way. I’m sorry, but the whole witch or black cat routine isn’t going to work here. Think outside the box. Or maybe think differently about the box—cardboard boxes make for some great costume possibilities. (Love Rubiks Cubes? Dress up as one!) Your costume has to be something people don’t see on every other street corner while they’re trick-or-treating in order for you to stand out from the ghoulish crowd.
  • Easily Identifiable: If you’re going for something a little off-the-wall, you have to make sure it’s still in the ballpark as far as recognition value goes. How will people recognize your genius if they don’t know what you’re supposed to be? The most effective DIY costumes are those that others can identify immediately or within a minute or two (for costumes that are more subtle in their meaning). “DIY” doesn’t have to mean “elaborate,” but the costume has to be faithful to what you’re trying to represent in order for people to recognize and appreciate your costume masterpiece.
  • Resourceful:It’s great if you have the money to rent a costume or buy all the expensive supplies for a detailed costume, but generally people appreciate the clever use of readily available resources. Paint and cardboard and a little ingenuity go a long way. How about a clear plastic garbage bag with some colored balloons? Voila! A bag of jellybeans! Use what you have on hand and get creative.

    DIY Halloween Costume King Kong
    Photo: Ericka McConnell/Halloween Celebrations
  • Timely: Capitalizing on current pop culture crazes or current events can score big laughs and lots of “That’s so cool!” comments and pictures with smartphones. For example, dressing up as the lady on the Progressive Insurance commercial has been popular these past few years.

Think of a Theme

Now that we’ve named some characteristics of great DIY costumes, let’s look at some of the categories that they seem to fall under to really get the creative juices going.

  • Technology: Some of the most brilliant/clever DIY costumes I’ve seen fall into this category. For example, what about being a Facebook wall or YouTube channel? You’ll get some comments for sure—especially if you have a marker handy for that purpose. If you have a little tyke in tow, why not outfit their car seat with this iPhone getup? iLove it.

    ipone baby costume
    Image credit: IngaMun on Flickr
  • Food:This category provides some great fodder for DIY costume ideas. I love this DIY deviled egg costume—a food and a pun all in one!

    food costumes deviled egg
    Image credit: txkimmers on Flickr
  • Everyday objects: Salt and pepper shakers are a little bit cliché, but it’s going down the right track. How about Pepsi and Coke cans? Or a washing machine with clothes inside?
  • Puns: Love wordplay? Transform it into a brilliant costume that will dazzle and amaze your friends. Or at least it will make them snicker. Hi-ho the dairy-o; what about the Farmer in the Dell?:

    farmer in the dell costume
    Image credit: Coolest-homemade-costumes.com

One of the greatest things about Halloween is that it provides so many opportunities to be creative, even for the normally non-creative types. So don’t delay—get out there and make yourself a Halloween costume to remember.

About the Author

Emma Rae Curtis researches and writes about everything Halloween, from costumes, to party ideas, to makeup and more.

The Faerie Realm of Angelique Duncan

Angelique Duncan, aka Twilight Faerie, is a gifted Halloween artist who creates a variety of inspiring Halloween objects, such as porcelain faeries, costume accessories, ornaments and decoupage. Her inspiration comes from vintage works and styles, and everything is handmade with loving detail. Through networking with other Halloween artists, she launched Halloween Artist Bazaar to showcase handcrafted works from other artists.

As far back as I can remember Halloween and winged things have intrigued me. I found a certain unconventional beauty in the imagery of autumn and Halloween. Equally so, I have had a fascination with the mythology of fairy tales and winged creatures. While other kids were running, skipping and climbing trees, I was content playing with colors and textures and challenging myself to create what was stirring around in my mind. This usually resulted in Halloween or whimsical imagery.

Ghost Party Hat by Twilight FaerieI always had a natural inclination to create. I could spend hours on end with scissors and construction paper just making things or drawing. Somewhere I along the line I kept making Halloween things. I would, and still do today, have images of a something I want to make rattling around in my head that won’t stop haunting me until I bring it to life.

I read a lot of science fiction and physiological fantasy as a kid. I found Ray Bradbury and fell in love with the stories. The “Green Town” series of short stories spoke to me. The imagery of stories like “Halloween Tree” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” stuck with me. I read old classic fairy tales and there seemed to be a lot of wisdom in the pages. The illustrations of old books had an influence on me. I have always loved the idea that there is something more fantastic than the everyday world. I think that is where my creative inspiration comes from, the notion that that there could be a world where animals speak, fairies have guardianship over wooded places and Jack O Lanterns have magical powers.

I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970’s when Halloween was a big deal. There were a lot of homemade costumes and decorations. What one could buy in a store was well designed and had a classic quality to it. Holiday decorations were just that, holiday decorations. It was great. There was certain sincerity about the atmosphere surrounding it all. As I got older things became more and more commercial and Halloween like other holidays became more of a mass-produced corporate profit maker for merchandising the latest big movie, television shows and their celebrities. The spirit of the thing has just gotten lost.

This is how I arrived at creating hand made Halloween, holiday and faerie objects. I realized the market for what I create, those who grew up with fantastic stories and faerie tales, our grandparent’s decorations and childhood Halloweens, hence the creation of Twilight Faerie. My business became a way to preserve a history and imagery that was important to me and share it with others. My hours on end drawing, cutting and pasting found a noble purpose.

Jack o Lantern Circle by Twilight Faerie Vinyl Bat by Twilight Faerie

I founded Halloween Artist Bazaar in February 2012. I want to help other professional Halloween Artists promote their works and help them to succeed in their business so they can continue to do what they do. Through Halloween Artist Bazaar the tradition of handcrafted Halloween and fantasy art can be perpetuated. The retail market is flooded with mass produced generic Halloween and holiday goods. It is very hard for self-representing artist and small business owners to compete against the corporate giants when going it alone. It is also become harder for collectors to find unique one of a kind decorations. Gathered together we can help cross-promote each other and promote handcrafted goods. In our own way as a Halloween artist group, we can keep the spirit of Halloween imagery alive and available for collectors who are seeking it out.

The average demographic for Halloween Art is between the ages of 34 to 45 years of age. This tells me, folks like myself are a generation with a particular love of Halloween. My guestimation is that it comes from that common experience of Halloween being a big deal when we were kids. I hope that we can pass the same sort of memories on so that the generations after we are done and gone will have the same appreciation for the history and imagery of the holiday. It would be quite sad to see the tradition of hand made Halloween get lost completely from our culture.

Twilight Faerie can be found online at: http://www.twilightfaerie.com/

Her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwilightFaerie

How to Make Zombie Gingerbread Ornaments

Inspiration for me comes from the strangest places … this year for Christmas I decided that I would make some lovely felted ornaments, in the shape of gingerbread men. Then I thought how cute it would be if the ornaments had “bite” marks in them; I had seen a set of cookie cutters a year or so ago, in the shape of “half eaten” gingerbread men, and thought they were hilarious.

So on a slow evening I retreated to my sewing room, sat down with a piece of cardboard, some brown felt, and various odds and sods and within two hours I had made my first three “zombie gingerbread” ornaments. (Hmmm … I seemed to have missed a step … OH, did I mention I was watching “The Walking Dead” at the time? No? Well, I was. Great show.) It wasn’t that much of a mental stretch, to be honest … half-eaten gingerbread men … back for revenge … zombie gingerbread.

Supplies needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Fine tip black marker
  • 1-2 yards of brown felt (depending on how many ornaments you decide to make)
  • cotton batting for stuffing
  • sharp scissors
  • sewing machine
  • needle for hand sewing (if desired)
  • (for decorating) rick rack, ribbon, buttons, fabric paint

The first step is to decide how big you want your half-eaten gingerbread ornament to be … I think up to about 5-6 inches long is good, and about 3-4 inches across…this will make the figure large enough to add enough gory detail, but small enough so that they will not instantly be noticed when visitors come to admire your tree. My little guy below is about 6.5 inches long and about 4.5 inches across.

gingerbread-zombie-01
Figure 1

Trace a basic gingerbread figure, with missing appendages, on a piece of cardboard, (Figure 1). This will allow you to use the pattern over and over again without the pattern getting ripped and torn. Along one of the sides of the figure, make two notches to indicate where you will leave the seam open to lightly stuff the figure with some cotton batting.

gingerbread-zombie-02
Figure 2

Place your pattern onto a piece of brown felt, and trace the pattern with a fine tip black marker, (Figure 2). The outline should be just barely visible on the felt; this will help when you go to sew the felt together. Place the traced felt piece on top of another piece of felt, and pin the two segments together, with the outlined piece on top (Figure 3).

gingerbread-zombie-03
Figure 3

Using your sewing machine, sew the two pieces of felt together, following the outline of the gingerbread figure, (Figure 4).

gingerbread-zombie-04
Figure 4

Take special care around the “bite marks” … lift up the presser foot and adjust the material as needed to get the best bite impression. By the time I did the third ornament it was super easy. Also remember to leave a small opening along the side to stuff … (Figure 5)

gingerbread-zombie-05
Figure 5

Once the felt pieces are sewn together, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut around the outline…try to cut as close as possible to the seam. (Figure 6)

gingerbread-zombie-06
Figure 6

You now have a half-eaten gingerbread figure. Now all it needs is a little stuffing, (Figure 7), and a hook for hanging (Figure 8). When you stuff your zombie ornament with batting, you may also want to leave a little hanging out, like entrails. (Remember, not TOO much stuffing…most gingerbread men are fairly flat when they come out of the oven. Use just enough stuffing to give it a bit of a body).

gingerbread-zombie-07
Figure 7
gingerbread-zombie-08
Figure 8

You now have a blank slate in front of you. It’s time to unleash your inner zombie freak! For my first attempt I stuck with the very simple-to-use 3D paint markers. These are fabric pens that give a great 3D effect, and are SO easy to handle. If you are making zombie gingerbread you will most assuredly need the following colours; red (blood), white, black, green (gangrene), and perhaps a little yellow (gangrene/pus). Just remember to let the paint dry for a day.

gingerbread-zombie-09

If you are more creative, you could also hand-sew scraps of rick rack or ribbon to simulate a zombie gingerbread man’s torn “clothes”, a spare black button for an eye…the possibilities are endless.

gingerbread-zombie-10

One last note…zombies need a victim to chase, so it doesn’t matter how many gingerbread zombies you make…remember to make a terrified looking victim or two!!

gingerbread zombie

Healthy Halloween Treats – It Doesn’t Have To Be Candy To Be Delicious

If buckets full of candy at Halloween leave you shuddering and your dentist rubbing his hands in glee, then you need to get into healthy Halloween treats for your kids. Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s tasteless or that your neighbourhood kids will shun your home during ‘Trick or Treat’. Healthy eating and healthy treats can be just as much fun as store bought candy, as well as being a lot easier on your pocket and your health.

These treats are great for a Halloween party you are hosting, for a school snack, or to give out to the kids and their parents you know (give packaged goodies to trick or treaters you aren’t familiar with.)

Yummy Mini Pizza Mummies

mummy pizza

Image Credit

Pizza is always a treat, and you can make mini pizzas that are healthy and look scarily like the head of a mummy. Spoon a small amount pizza sauce onto small rounds of pizza dough and use small olive slices to make the eyes. The mummification of the mini pizza comes in the careful placement of cheese strips across the ‘face’ to resemble the mummy wrapping. You can make up a tray of Pizza Mummies and bake them in an oven at 350ºF for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted.

The great thing about making healthy treats is that your kids can help you in the kitchen and your Halloween festivities can turn into a fun filled afternoon of cooking with Mom.

Frightening Freaky Cheese Fingers

monster fingers

Image Credit

A real spooky treat that children will gobble up in seconds. Using a white cheese like Mozzarella is perfect for this Halloween treat. Cut finger sized sections of Mozzarella cheese and carefully carve out the lines to represent the joints below the nail and the first knuckle. An adult should always perform this task, as you’ll want to use a sharp paring knife to get the best effect. Cut a small ‘finger nail’ out of a green pepper and use a dab of cream cheese to stick it onto your cheese finger. Absolutely a smash hit with kids and the only drawback is you’ll probably run out of them quickly!

The Phantom Toast

This is probably the simplest healthy Halloween treat ever. You can’t have a Halloween party without ghosts, or in this case toasts! Simply toast some bread and cut out a ghost shape when it is cool. Lather on some cream cheese and add a couple of olive sections for the oval mouth and scary eyes. Kids love working on this one as much as they love eating their ghost shapes.

‘Dem Bones, ‘Dem Bones…

gingerbread bones

Image Credit

If you’re looking for sweet treats that are still healthy, and want to avoid cake and other candy, then why not meet in the middle with Skeleton Gingerbread. You can buy gingerbread cookie dough or even ask your bakery to create you a batch of gingerbread shapes without any decoration on them. When you get them home, you can use white icing or frosting and then pipe a skeleton onto the gingerbread for a sweet but relatively healthy treat.

Caring for your children means watching what they eat all of the time. You can create wonderful healthy treats for any holiday celebration. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen with you means so much more than a quick trip to the candy store to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Make a Decaying Mummy Skull Prop

I love Halloween, and I love Halloween projects.

And by the way, I’m seriously lazy.

So when a friend of mine told me he had a great, terrifying-looking, gory, easy prop to show me, I was all in! But even I (the corner-cutting queen) was rather delightfully surprised at how easy this really was. Together, my friend and I created three creepy decaying skulls in less than 10 minutes.

And the best part? They were cheap to make…very cheap. Yet they looked incredible. Want in on my friend’s and my little secret? Follow the directions below.

How to Make Your Skull

You will need:

  • A plastic novelty skull
  • Saran Wrap or bargain/store brand cling wrap
  • A heat gun OR a hair dryer with a “high” setting
  • Any medium to dark color wood stain or crafts paint
  • Paint brush, sponge/crafts brush or stippling brush

Directions:

1. Wrap the plastic wrap COMPLETELY around the skull, including the bottom, at least 4-5 times. (The more you layer, the more “decaying skin” you’ll get, but don’t go overboard. We found 4 times was our minimum to produce a really good result.)

2. If your heat gun or hair dryer has settings, start on the lowest unless it is a “cool shot” setting. Wear protective gloves if you wish; otherwise, WATCH OUT, YOUR SKULL WILL GET HOT. Hold the heat source approximately 4” from your skull. The plastic wrap will begin to shrivel in some areas; in others, where the heat is concentrated for more than several seconds, you will achieve holes (see pic, below). Don’t overdo this; melt a little bit at a time, all around the area of your skull.

Skull Holes Halloween decor

3. Do NOT hold the heat source directly against the plastic wrap/the skull. If the wrap is melting too slowly, turn up the heat source in increments and/or hold it closer to the skull, but never closer than 1.5” away.

4. When you have the effect you want, set the skull aside to cool completely.

5. After your project is cool, dip your paint brush into a small circle of paint or dip no more than 1/4” deep into your wood stain. Begin painting your skull. You will want to paint it all over; inconsistencies in color are a good thing and add to the realism, so don’t worry about painting “perfectly.”

6. Allow the project to dry completely, about 10 minutes.

Decaying skull Halloween prop

Where Should Your Skull Rest in Peace?

You can do practically anything with this cool skull. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Have it be a prop in your witch’s kitchen.
  2. Set it up next to a candelabra (I suggest battery-operated flicker candles for safety) with faux cobwebs all over to make an awesome, spooky and very realistic-looking party centerpiece or decoration.
  3. Skull Halloween PropStraighten the curved top of a wire hanger using wire cutters or a bending tool. Stuff the head with cotton balls or cheese cloth; anything to create bulk and resistance. Stick the point of the straightened end at least halfway up into the skull, so it’s on the hanger firmly. Drape cheesecloth from the “shoulders” of the hanger, allowing them to float. Hang so your decaying ghost floats in the autumn breeze.
  4. Using the above idea, hang an old shirt from the hanger’s “shoulders.” Stuff the shirt with any material you have on hand to bulk it up. Place the torso on a chair near the area your trick-or-treaters will be approaching. Now take an old pair of pants and stuff them similarly; place on the chair, bending the knee area and placing the cuffs at ground level. Gather each cuff and stuff it into a shoe. Very scary and very cool!
  5. Stuff the head with cotton balls or pieces of styrofoam. (If using cotton balls, stuff very firmly.) Stick a tall dowel – 5-6 feet – into the cotton or styrofoam. Carry with you as an evil walking stick or wizard’s wand; dress in draping clothing and, if you wish, a scary mask.
  6. Remove the head from a life size (or at least 4′) plastic poseable skeleton. Carefully remove the head that came with the skeleton using the easiest and safest means; some pop right off – if so, you’re in luck. If not, you may have to cut to remove the skull – BE CAREFUL. Stuff your mummified skull with any method mentioned above; stick firmly down onto the now-empty top of the spinal column of your skull, replacing the manufacturer’s skull with your mummified one. Set up your creeped-up skeleton in a faux spider web, leaning against your front steps to scare the ghost out of trick-or-treaters, etc.

Have fun with this prop. It’s versatile and if you pack it away carefully after Halloween, you can reuse it year after year. And it’s so inexpensive, you can create a whole army of ghouls if you wish. Happy haunting (and creeping-up)!

Steampunk Costume Ideas

While it’s inching its way into the mainstream in super-cool techno/throwback style, steampunk is still uncharted territory for many. If you haven’t experienced the joys of this phab and very sexy trend, grab some goggles, a long duster (coat) and something mechanical and let’s get punk-y this Halloween!

The Steampunk Recipe:

  • 1/3 whimsical Victorian past
  • 1/3 clunky, adventurous future machinery (if oil fuel was never invented)
  • 1/3 punk mayhem, anarchy, and unrest
  • 1 generous helping of corsets, bustles, petticoats, and vests
  • 1 scoop of flying machines, clockworks, optical apparatus
  • 1 sprinkle of Final Fantasy, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing, Wild Wild West, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, anything 60s James Bond, Mad Max, and Sherlock Holmes (the Downey version, of course)

steampunk costumeKeep in mind that this recipe is only the starting place. Like any good formula, variations on a theme can produce magnificent results! T

You in? Let’s get started with these tips and ideas for becoming your Steampunk fantasy:

Steampunkize” a familiar character…perhaps one for which you already have the “ingredients.”

For example, dress like a historical figure gone futuristic such as Steampunk Honest Abe. You need a top hat, beard, black coat, and a few Steampunkish trappings like a pocket watch, goggles, and old typewriter keys for buttons. Spray paint an old vacuum cleaner hose gold or silver and affix it to a similarly colored small backpack to mimic a futuristic jet pack.

Makeover a favorite past persona. Do you love old Westerns? Burlesque? Explorers a la Lewis and Clarke? Take a basic costume such as this burlesque outfit and add Steampunk flair with suitable gadgets like vintage gauges, brooches, and clocks. Add a hat adorned with clockworks or googles for the perfect Steampunk touch.

steampunk watchWork from a favorite item. Have a beloved corset? Own a killer bowler hat? How about an old watch you can glue gears and kewl stuff to? Know where to get a debonair handlebar mustache? If so, you’re halfway to your Steampunk dream. Browse the web for inspiration and consider what items you already have that can be dressed up with a little help.

Peruse your local thrift and antique stores for more inspiration. Afterall, this is a movement made of creativity, and customization is key!

Steampunk cowboy costumeStill having trouble with your Steampunk costume design? Check out these ideas for inspiration:

First, raid your local thrift store or shop online for Steampunk accessories. Depending on which look you want, gather a variety of metal gears, buckles, clock faces, and brooches. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for old lace or leather gloves, garters, and handlebar mustaches (always a plus for the fellas).

Steampunkers love to include images of octopuses, owls, and peacocks. Jewelry or other gear that reference those fantastical creatures is a major plus!

Aeronaut:

  1. Get a basic flight costume.
  2. Wear an aviator helmet and glasses.
  3. Put a Steampunk touch on this great costume with vintage metal pilot’s wings, affixing several old brooches to your belt, and distressed leather gloves.
  4. Add a futuristic jet pack:

 

  • Spray paint a small cardboard box or backpack and various hoses gold
  • Attach these hoses to the box along with two straps, which you can create with old belts or rope

Mad Victorian Scientist:

  1. Wear a vintage suit or dress under a white lab coat.
  2. Add futuristic over-the-coat shoulder plates by affixing small portions of scrap metal or spray-painted cardboard pieces. Or buy an industry rubber apron.
  3. Attach a stopwatch to your lab coat pocket and wear a monocle.
  4. Carry an old cane and an outdated medical book in your lab coat pocket.

Future cowgirl/cowboy

  1. Invest in a cowgirl/cowboy costume or put together your own outfit with a short leather or denim skirt/distressed jeans, a brown or black leather vest, and some rugged boots.
  2. Accessorize with a cowboy hat, lasso, and toy gun (plus holster!) Note: as a Steampunker, your weaponry is now known as a “raygun.” No pistols here!
  3. Add that Steampunk touch by affixing machinist goggles to your hat and various vintage accessories to your belt of sleeves.
  4. Customize your toy gun with metal gears and spray paint it gold or silver for a futuristic look.

Go forth and steampunk!

Look Berry Sweet as Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake seems to only get sweeter with age. She’s come a long way since her original greeting card days in the 1980’s. Created as a card cartoon, she quickly gained popularity as a children’s doll with her trademark scented hair. She made a few friends along the way with the equally delicious names of Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Torte, to name a few. A story subsequently developed around Strawberry Shortcake, her friends, and their pets living together in Strawberryland and they all enjoyed immense fame as an 80’s fad. Not even fragrant hair, however, could keep the Shortcake craze alive and her popularity began to wane in the late 80’s.

Yet for a “berry” sweet girl, she’s tough to keep down! The Shortcake franchise has been revived several times and Hasbro recently put out a new line of toys featuring Strawberry and all her friends. Now, three decades after her birth, you can see the dessert darling in television series, feature films, video games, dolls and adorable Halloween costumes.

strawberry shortcake child costumeWith her revival has come an entirely new look and it’s created a kid-friendly, fun, and pretty costume series for young girls this Halloween. Girls can go as Miss. Shortcake herself in a silk dress with a built-in, high waisted, pink polka-dotted skirt. To match with the strawberry theme, the dress comes with green and white striped stockings and, to top it all off, a strawberry brimmed hat. Good accessories to consider would be a bright pink wig and a strawberry Trick or Treat pail that is as functional as it is fashionable.

Whatever your sweet tooth, there are plenty of choices in her friends’ costumes. Blueberry Muffin, the studious one of the bunch, has an ensemble which features a tiered pink and blue dress with a silk blue jacket attached, fastened with a blueberry detail. Striped green tights are included as well as a headband with matching blueberry detail. Blue would be the wig of choice for this outfit.

Shortcake’s fashionable friend, Raspberry Torte, is stylish in a pink and green, long-sleeved dress with dark pink bolero overtop. She has a striped green belt with raspberry detail, and matching tights and headband. Like her fellow berry friend, she can wear a bright pink wig as well.

Strawberry’s sunny friend, Lemon Meringue, looks positively radiant in a yellow and blue dress with a high waisted skirt, green bow, and lemon detailing. She has brightly coloured tights and a lemon-wedge hair clip. A yellow wig ties the sunshine-fresh feel of this costume together nicely.

If you remember the good ol’ days of Strawberry Shortcake, there are classic costumes available with a striped top featuring a Strawberry Shortcake logo, simple blue plants, and her trademark hat with a plump strawberry in the brim.

Whether your young lady goes as a shortcake, muffin, meringue, or torte, she’s sure to look deliciously adorable in a Strawberry Shortcake themed costume. Indulge in dessert minus the calories!

Give a Figurine a Halloween Extreme Makeover!

Looking for some Halloween decor? We always like to look for materials around the house and make our own. For this project, choose a ceramic or resin figurine with for your makeover – the more innocent looking, the better!

If the piece has a glossy finish, you’ll need to coat it with white spray paint or gesso before you begin. If you don’t have a piece to recycle for this project, you can look for one at the dollar store, thrift shop or at a garage sale.

Supplies (to make one figure):

  • 1 freestanding collectible or figurine
  • Acrylic craft paint in Halloween colors
  • Paintbrushes in assorted sizes
  • Fine tipped paint markers
  • Black paper (optional, for a hat)
  • Clear acrylic sealer

Directions:

  1. Prepare the figurine: Wash and dry the figurine to get it ready to accept paint. Dry with a paper towel.
  2. Basecoat the figure: Use a medium sized brush to coat the figure with white paint. Even if the colors you are planning on using are dark, they will show up better if you base coat it first. Let the figurine dry completely.
  3. Paint the clothing: Use a fine paintbrush to add color to the figure’s clothing. Paint each piece a different color. For stripes, paint the clothing a bright color like orange or lime green and let the paint dry. Go over the spot a second time with a fine black paint marker to add stripes if desired.
  4. Paint the skin: Paint the face and hands a flesh tone if desired. You can substitute green for a zombie look or white for a “Day of the Dead” sugar skull look.
  5. Paint the hair: Paint the hair with your preferred color; depending on the finished look you want, you can use a natural brown or blonde shade or go with a wild red or gothic black.
  6. Add the details: Use a fine paint marker to add details to the facial features and clothing. Eyes, buttons and other small details are easier to apply with a fine marker than a brush. Let the piece dry.
  7. Protect the paint: Apply a coat of spray sealer or a brush-on sealer to protect the finish.
  8. Add details: Make a simple hat or other accessories from Halloween printed fabric or paper and attach to the figure with glue.

Scoop up figurines for a bargain after a holiday has passed. You can make an entire display of matching figurines, or make a single, oversized piece to be the center of a Halloween display.

Cute, innocent figurine ... Cute, innocent figurine revamped!

Cute, innocent figurine … revamped!

The Queen Mary Houses Guests…AND Ghosts

What’s going on at the docked Queen Mary? Plenty – and it’s all coming from long-deceased guests who never checked out, according to reports. Visitors report thumps, childish giggles, and heart-stopping apparitions.

Read on for a history of the ship, info on the annual Dark Harbor attraction, plus loads of spine-chilling ghost sighting tales to keep you up at night.

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Long Beach, CA is home to creepy haunt, hotel and carnival Dark Harbor aboard the famous Queen Mary. What’s the story behind this mystery ship and its haunted reputation? Read on…and shiver.

Why is the Queen Mary Haunted?

When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, she was the second largest cruise liner in the world, with almost twice the tonnage of the Titanic. Famous personalities from American actors to British royals were often seen enjoying its first class amenities while crossing the Atlantic from Southampton, UK to New York City.

The ship also saw service during World War II, but reverted to a passenger ship until 1967. The ship sailed to Long Beach, California, where it’s been a combination museum, hotel and tourist attraction ever since, with over 1.5 million visitors per year.

But all hasn’t all been smooth sailing aboard the Queen Mary. Crew are said to have seen 49 deaths onboard the vessel during its years of operation – including those of innocent children.

And while tragic all by themselves, the stories don’t end there.

A (Very) Extended Stay: Ghosts Roam the Queen Mary

Queen Mary HauntingsThe chilling part? Some of these visitors are said to have never checked out. The ghosts of the Queen Mary are so famous, signs have actually been installed within the ship to point out where ghosts have reportedly been spotted.

So, what are some of these stories that would make this ship one of the world’s foremost haunted attractions? Let’s take a hair-raising peek into the unearthly goings-on aboard the bloody Queen Mary.

The Grey Ghost

In World War II, the ship was painted grey as camouflage, and due to that and the fact it held the world record for speed at sea, it was nicknamed The Grey Ghost.

To avoid torpedoes, it sailed in a zig zag pattern, and once sliced through an escort warship that went off course, sinking it rapidly and drowning 338 of her 439 sailors.

Forty years later, a television crew accidentally left an audio recorder running overnight in the exact location where the collision happened – the tape played back sounds of pounding hands on a metal hull and noises of drowning sailors.

The Crushed Crewman

In 1966, a young seaman named John Peddar was crushed to death in the depths of Engine Room #13 during a drill. To this day, visitors report sightings of a young man in coveralls wandering around.

One story goes that a visitor felt something brush across his face while visiting the room, and later his wife noticed a streak of engine grease on his face. You’ll find dozens of such stories, with ethereal touches that have left their impression on frightened (and thrilled) visitors year after year.

Ghostly Swimmers

According to insiders, there have been several reports of ghosts in the first class now-empty swimming pools aboard the ship, including bathers in 1930s era swimsuits. Visitors say they can sometimes hear the sounds of splashing, and many have seen wet footprints on the tile.

In the second class pool (long since converted into a theater), a little girl named Jackie is said to have drowned, and visitors can sometimes hear her calling piteously for her mother.

They’ve also heard Jackie’s innocent laughter and singing in the first class pool and have witnessed her shadowy form clutching a tattered teddy bear.

Little Spirits in the Playroom

The ship includes a children’s playroom and nursery, where  visitors may hear children laughing and playing. In 1991, one passenger on a guided tour heard the sounds, but could only see the usual toys, games and books on the display. Then the doorknob began rattling, and the terrified tourist heard the sound of the door being kicked.

The woman quickly went to catch up with the rest of the tour group, but felt her purse and shirt constantly being tugged along the way. It seems someone needed a play companion.

A much darker spirit is that of a little infant named Leigh, who tragically died a few hours after birth (though not without the doctors trying in vain to save his innocent life.) Some ship guests can still hear the last wails of the baby while passing what was once the third-class playroom.

The Woman in White

A “regular” ghost seems to reside in the ship’s first class lounge – a beautiful woman in a white evening gown is often seen dancing alone within the shadows.

On one tour, a little girl, who had never heard of the sighting, kept pointing and asking about a “woman in white.” Nobody else saw the apparition, but the girl insisted she was there, and continued watching it dance.

A Lonely But Playful Girl

In 2000, a hotel service member was vacuuming the carpet in the Exhibit Hall when the temperature suddenly dropped. Turning around, he saw a little girl sucking her thumb and floating in the air.

The child then stretched her arms out, as if wanting to be picked up. Her eyes appeared to be glowing. Terrified, the crew member fled and reported the incident.

A few weeks later, while leaving the Grand Salon on R Deck, another cleaning crew member was pushing his mop and bucket. The bucket suddenly jammed, so the worker checked to see what was stopping the wheels. He felt a presence, and turned around to see a little girl in a white dress and white hat sucking her thumb.

As with the other sighting, the ghostly child was floating in mid-air and oddly, appeared to have no legs beneath her wispy gown. She floated away into the Grand Salon, where the doors had mysteriously shut (they were normally kept open). The doors swung out so powerfully, they knocked the employee to the floor. As he struggled to get back up, the worker heard the girl’s chillingly playful laughter recede in the distance.

The next day the worker checked the (open) doors, and realized they were much too heavy to be swung shut by one person.

Cabin B340

Cabin B340 Queen Mary hauntingsCabin B340 has had so much paranormal activity, it’s now closed for rentals.  Previously, guests sleeping in the room were awakened in the night by lights turning on and off, water gushing suddenly from faucets, and covers being pulled off the beds. Other guests have heard an angry voice saying “Get out!”

There are two famous stories involving this cabin. The first is that in 1948 it was used as a holding cell for a deranged man who had been threatening his family. When the family visited later, the man flew into an inexplicable rage and murdered his 5-year old-daughter.

The second story involves a crew member who was murdered in the room in 1937; guests say that his ghost still resides there.

The Piano Player

One evening, a mother and daughter staying aboard the Queen Mary for the night were waiting for a friend to join them. The night wore on, until at at close to midnight, the daughter decided to sit at the lobby’sgrand piano, which had been constructed especially for the Queen Mary in the 1930’s.

The lid on the keyboard was down, but suddenly a tinkling, eerie melody emerged from  beneath it.

Both the daughter and mother heard the spooky tune. The two wisely decided to wait for their friend on deck instead.

The Dark Harbor Haunt

Queen Mary Dark Harbor EventMany people would list the Queen Mary as among the top world destinations for hauntings. To celebrate, the ship puts on a frightful Halloween bash every year. It features 7 mazes and attractions, as well as a complex for live entertainment, food and cocktails.

To enter the haunt, visitors must first pass through a 220 foot long, fog-shrouded tunnel of shipping containers containing ghouls and monsters. They then emerge at “Hell’s Bells Tower,” a 33-foot tower made of shipping containers and which shoots flames into the night sky.

Throughout the mazes, pyrotechnical and other spooky special effects keep visitors spooked and their skin crawling. Such attractions include “Containment” where the ship’s infirmary gets a bit sick, “Submerged” where it feels like you’re sinking (the ship almost sunk once due to a rogue wave on choppy seas), and “The Village of the Damned” where creatures attempt to make you their permanent residents.

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is not to be missed for hardcore Halloween fans. Get more info here – and remember: don’t visit any area of the ship alone after midnight!

8 Awesome Smartphone Apps for Halloween

Halloween is such a great event and with the advent of smartphone apps you can enjoy your favorite parts of Halloween everywhere you go.  We tested dozens of apps and compiled a list of the 8 best ones we could find in terms of the most imagination and uniqueness. We hope you enjoy these selections and have a Happy Haunted Halloween!

1.  Halloween Deluxe  ($0.99)

Halloween wouldn’t be complete without scary sounds and this app lets you do that and more.  Opt for the paid version and avoid annoying requests to upgrade from the free one.  This app includes a count down to Halloween, a soundboard, ring tones, music loops, trivia, costumes ideas, and even a option that lets you create your own colored flashlight with the screen.  There are tons of Halloween soundboard apps out there but our recommendation is to ditch the others, this one has it all.

Halloween Deluxe iPhone App

2. imut8r ($0.99)

Our favorite picture altering app, this offering gives you tremendous creative control over altering real photos of you and your friends.  You have dozens of creature choices to model after including demons, zombies, werewolves, vampires.  From there you’ll change skin colors add blood or sores and channel Dr. Frankenstein himself!  When you’re done, save the photos and send them to your friends and family for a spooky good time.

imut8r iPhone app

3. 100+ Horror Stories ($0.99)

You’ll absolutely love this creative application that let’s you tell over 100 of the most popular scary stories in history, but with an added twist.  During your story you can tap the screen when prompted to play an appropriate sound to add extra effect to your story.  Lightning cracks, evil laughs, moans, and more will enhance your terrifying tale and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

100 Horror Stories app

4. Ghost Radar ($0.99)

For all you watchers of ‘Ghost Hunters’ out there, check out the latest version of Ghost Radar from app developer Spud Pickles.  The creators of this app claim it runs on a proprietary algorithm that interprets QUANTUM fluctuations of intelligent energy.  Some users say the program is just reading simple electromagnetic sources in your immediate environment while others claim they’ve experienced accurate readings of actual objects in the room that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Either way, you’re bound to get hours of eerie entertainment from this original idea.

ghost-radar

5. Ask the Dead ($0.99)

Get ready to be freaked out with this unique offering from The FORM Group. It’s a digital Ouija board that sneakily uses your phone’s contacts to return answers to your questions. You can totally prank your uninitiated friends or family into thinking you are connecting with the spirit world.  You’ll get a ton of screams from this application, but be careful, you may even scare yourself….

Ask the Dead smartphone app

 6. Pumpkin Xplode (free)

Pumpkin Xplode is one of those annoyingly addictive games like Tetris or Angry Birds (yeah we could have easily added that one here too).  But you just can’t seem to put it down because there’s always the next level to defeat.  Bottom line: if it’s on your phone, you will play it.  It has great graphics and sounds built into the game play.  Thoughtful features include: night mode, saves game on exit or if uninterrupted by a phone call, and for you cheaters out there you have the ability to undo up to 10 moves back.  There is just something so gratifying about busting up pumpkins that makes this our only game of choice for inclusion in this app review.

pumpkin xplode app

7. Halloween Spooky Soundbox (free)

The truth is there are dozens of free Halloween sound boards out there and you’d probably do just fine if you downloaded most any of them.  Why do we recommend this one then?  Two reasons:  Selection and sound quality.  This sound board has 35 sounds to choose from, whereas most other apps you’re lucky to get 20.  Also, the sounds you get don’t sound cheap or “thin”.  In other words, they don’t sound like you made them yourself on an old tape recorder.  You can play the sounds on a loop (which you’ll probably never use) besides that there aren’t really any bells and whistles to this app.  If we could make a recommendation to the developer, it’d be to add a delay feature in a future version.

spooky soundbox app

8.  Footprints (free)

While this is not a Halloween application it certainly the most useful on the list particularly if you are a parent and your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without you.  You can track your multiple kid’s locations in real time without having to request location status from the people you are tracking.  We’ve seen some apps where users have to “request” location and the person being tracked has to manually approve request on their device.

This app comes with a number of great features built into it.  Two of our favorites are the parental settings which don’t allow kids to disable the tracking feature or delete the application on their devices, and the ability to track way points.  In short it shows you where your kids have been not just where they are at the present moment.  All this is provided by a beautiful interface overlaid on Google Maps.  There is really nothing we don’t like about this app.

footprints app

About the Author:

Chris DuPaul is a huge Halloween buff and the co-owner of the self proclaimed #1 Wonder Woman Costume website on the internet.  He enjoys technology and sneaking up and scaring the crap out of unsuspecting people year round.  For all you ladies out there still looking for costume ideas check out our Sexy Wonder Woman Costume page for outfits that’ll make you the star of the party.

Using Scary Halloween Sounds, Inside And Out

 

Halloween is a scintilatingly spooky time for young and old alike. Whether you go trick or treating, host a costume party or just decorate for friends and neighbors to see, everyone loves to get in on the festivities.

And one way of really amping the holiday atmosphere is with music and with frightening, classic sound effects.

Choosing the right music for your festivities is easy and fun. Here’s how to get that haunting atmosphere – and get those screams!

Children’s Parties

For a child’s costume party, you don’t want it to be too scary. Depending on the ages of the kids, choose music that will make it very definitely Halloween-ish, but still fun.

“The Monster Mash” has always been a big hit with the kids. So are funny tunes like “Purple People Eater” and classics such as “Ghostbusters.”

For sound effects, use soundtracks of different scary noises such as witches cackling or bubbling cauldrons. Even the sound of the wind blowing and creaking doors is enough to make the little ones get goose bumps.

Adult Parties

Halloween Party by RaviN
Halloween Party by RaviN/Flickr

For an adult party you can go for a much bigger “creepy” factor. For instance, if you have an organ in your house or a piano that could use some tuning, put it in a secluded spot and have someone play strange music very loudly.

You can also use recorded CDs. Have them playing throughout the party. How about an adult-scale Halloween music mix? Or truly chilling sound effects?

You can get some friends in on the sound effect action, too. Have people hide throughout the house and occasionally let out a blood curdling scream. They can also be outside the house by a partially opened window, or behind trees to scare people as they approach.

For party music, try a compilation that includes “Dragula,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and other rock classics.

Outside The House


Scary house, by Ali West/Flickr

Perhaps you want to have a haunted walk. It’s easier than you think – it all starts with the perfect setting.

Whether there are lots of trees to walk through, or a deserted path, make sure the sounds are there. An owl hooting, yowling cats, and don’t forget the chainsaw. And of course, nothing makes your hair stand on end like being alone in the dark and hearing a chainsaw start up behind you.

Creepy laughter is always good in this setting as well. Ghosts moaning and the howling of wolves will keep you watching your back.

Set up speakers throughout the yard if you have a walkway where people walk to your house. This can be done for trick or treaters as well. It makes the advance to your door much spookier.

Sometimes the unexpected can be scarier than playing what your guests expect. For instance, a solemn flute player slowly playing a dirge on the flute, or maybe a record that just keeps skipping and skipping. The footsteps of someone running through the woods screaming and out of breath will make anyone move a little faster toward safety.

The options are endless to how you can incorporate the perfect music into your setting. Just look around you and think what would make it super scary to YOU, then have fun with it.

Jonathan McDonald is a choir director and loves to write content for holiday sites. He recommends www.christmassongs.org as a great reference for all Christmas song lyrics, including funny Christmas songs.

A Frankenstein Halloween Theme Party

Halloween theme parties can be a huge success, especially if you take a little extra time to plan. But there are so many different types of spooky decorations, if you’re not careful, the party can end up looking like a jumbled mess!

That’s why we recommend picking one classic Halloween character as your central theme. In this article, we give you some tips on how to throw a fabulous, freaky Frankenstein bash. Read at your own risk!

Decorations

  • Jack-o’-lanterns. Instead of the traditional toothless grin, carve your pumpkins using a Frankenstein pattern. (Here’s a great stencil book featuring Frankie and all his freaky friends.) Place your carved jacks on the walkway up to the door or put them in front of windows to welcome guests to the party.
  • Creepy Frankenstein Heads. These are so fun…and SO easy. Use them
    Credit: http://bitesizedbiggie.com

    as table centerpieces or place them on top of your gate like freaky finials. Or stuff clothing, add clunky boots and plop one of these horrifying heads on top! Simply cover foam mannequin heads with water-based or acrylic green paint and paint accents on.

  • Cobwebs, cobwebs, cobwebs. String faux webs everywhere for a dusty mad scientist’s lab look.
  • Beakers and concoctions. Purchase inexpensive plastic or glass beakers and half-fill with water. Add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring to make an eerie green.

Treats

While we’re not entirely sure if Frankenstein’s monster actually ate “people food” (rather than simply, well…kids), your party guests mostly likely do! Here are a few monster-themed snacks for the party.

  • Frankenpops. Follow the recipe here to make these delicious
    Credit: justapinch.com

    marshmallow treats. They’re so cute…so gooey…so edible. What’s not to love?

  • Frankenstein Brownies. Buy a box of brownie mix, and bake as directed. After they’ve cooled, cut them into even rectangles. Then, frost each brownie with the frosting you like best, adding green food coloring. Use piped icing to create a mouth
    Credit: bettycrocker.com

    and hair; eyes are reversed M&Ms. Lastly, add a piece of candy corn on each side of the brownie for Frankenstein’s bolts.

  • Science Experiment Punch. Be dramatic and add some dry ice to your punch bowl, so your beverage station looks like a bubbly, messy concoction. Here are some tips and directions on how to (safely!) use dry ice at your party.

Costumes

If you’re the one throwing the party, the honor of dressing as the classic monster should be yours. Tall, green skin, flat top – you know what he looks like. This Frankenstein costume pretty much have you covered.

Not everyone can be the big guy, though, so here are a few other ideas for party goers:

  • Frankenstein’s Bride. Even monsters can fall in love. Just drape something long and white over your sensuous form and tie up at the waist. Use green Halloween makeup and a black makeup crayon for the scars. Bonus points if you don’t need a wig to get your hair to look like that.
  • Mad Scientist. There would be no monster without Dr. Frankenstein himself. These costumes are easy to find online or at your local party store. But really, it’s as simple as a white lab coat from your local consignment shop, some glasses and a really freaky, mad laugh.
  • Frankie Stein. A great way to get a tween girl excited about a “really dorky” party? Monster High. Just sayin’…

Monstrously Good Fun: Party Activities

  • Zombie Walk-Off. Set up a runway and see who has the best zombie stagger. Spectators can judge the monsters on their limp walks, expressionless faces, and chilling groans.
  • Franken-Tag. Now is the time to use what you learned during the zombie walk-off! The rules of Franken-Tag are the same as the playground game, but in this case, if you’re tagged as “it,” you can only walk like Frankenstein.
  • Mix it Yourself. Have your guests mix drinks (non-alcoholic version: use grape, apple and prune juice and various sodas). Have the other guests try to figure out what the “mad scientist” has concocted. The winner receives a small gift certificate, a creepy Halloween decoration, or any award of your choice..

Carnival Arcane Review

With the approach of Halloween comes another new tradition: the release of a new album from horror masters Midnight Syndicate (Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka.)

Their albums – Carnival Arcane is their 14th – fill the air with Gothic dread, ambient sounds and creepy instruments. If “things that go bump in the night” had a soundtrack, Midnight Syndicate would ring through the echoing halls upon their midnight entrance.

Each album the artists release tells a story in music, a “soundtrack for the imagination” filled with haunting melodies, sound effects, shrieks, groans and the occasional lyrics, all fitting the theme of the album.

For instance, their studio album “The 13th Hour” has the listener journeying through a sinister and Gothic haunted house. The album begins with the house looming in the mist, and subsequent songs makes it feel like we are stealthily creeping from one dusty, decrepit room to the next, until at last, we realize we are not quite alone … and that this presence is not friendly.

A Masterful Tradition of Chilling Tunes

Your Ringmasters, Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka

Carnival Arcane continues in this grand, masterful tradition of storytelling with music, but is even more ambitious than all others in the depth, grandeur and creepiness of the music. It delivers a well-researched and accurate representation of what it would be like to visit a slightly shabby, sinister circus from the Victorian era.

The album owes a lot to the novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (at least that’s the impression this offer had), complete with nightmarish rides, a sense of foreboding and sinister characters.

We’re introduced to the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival, a traveling circus with a sinister past. The album begins with the arrival of yourself, a “mesonoxian” visitor (a very cool archaic word meaning midnight.)

The atmosphere is cold, and in the distance we hear the arrival of a locomotive – the wheels squeak to a halt, and the sounds of the circus rise from the night air in a slow, haunting chorus of introduction.

Already, we feel a sense of something shady and macabre, but we must go forward – who know what wonders await within? Besides, the aggressive ringmaster (voiced by Jason Carter – aka Marcus Cole on Babylon 5 and a bit part as a demon on Angel) promises us the horrific instruments of lobotomies, freakshows, the big top and a grand carousel you’ll never forget.

Ambient, Spine-Tingling Effects

While we voyage through a variety of acts, we can hear the ambient sounds of excited visitors, strange laughter, elephants and the squeals of horses.

From a menagerie of strange creatures, a forceful hawker ushers us into Madame Zora’s tent, where we are read our fortune with a flourish of deep atmospheric music, curious whispers and a sense of dread. Through Dr. Atmore’s Elixers and Good Humour and Fortification (cheerful circus music and applause), Alura the Snake Lady (Middle Eastern mysticism) and Arcane Wonders (Victorian music boxes), we have a sense of the wide musical range Douglas and Goszka have put into this album – far beyond the Gothic melodies of previous albums.

The middle of the album begins the transformation from fantastical wonders and big top adventures to something far more sinister and dangerous – you begin to realize and witness the fallen grandeur of the Lancaster-Rigby circus.

From the chilling and even sad music of the freakshow, we go on a carousel ride from Hell – beginning with the usual cheerful carousel melody, it quickly degenerates into an abomination of madness, ghosts and ghouls until it explodes in a crescendo of what must be broken horses, snapping electricity and injured victims.

Going Deeper Within

Carnival ArcaneWe journey deeper into the carnival, where all the Gothic and Victorian horrors begin to close in on us – mad clowns, screaming children, horrific laughter as we’re lost in the hall of mirrors, a ghoul chasing us in the shadows, where we run, panicked, into a dreaded labyrinth, and finally collapse in a claustrophobic room of barking mad laughter.

The carnival then closes (perhaps a bit too hastily … before the Victorian-era authorities witness the mayhem), and we are left listening to the grunts of several circus performers entering their boxcar after a long night, trying to stifle their mirth and drunkenness. One performer talks to another in a conspiratory whisper “So, what’s the next town at?” A cold wind blows through the air, and music from a Victor gramaphone echoes off in the distance.

With its wide range of atmospheric sounds and natural transitions from one track to the next, this could easily pass as a movie soundtrack for a grandiose horror film.

Midnight Syndicate have definitely pushed their musical boundaries, and the mix of ambient carnival sounds and atmospheric composition blend perfectly, successfully transporting you to their fantastical world. It fits perfectly as the chilly atmosphere of a home haunt, and no doubt you will hear it at some amusement park, where their music is often played.

This is an essential album to add to your horror collection, and powerful mood music while celebrating Halloween … or to add a touch of sinister magic before going to a modern circus.

 

Into the Arcane Music of Midnight Syndicate

Whenever I build a Halloween haunt, a horror soundtrack is always running through my mind – while planning this year’s layout (always a maze), hiding the monster props in nooks, and decorating the rooms. A house is not a creepy Victorian mansion until you add the lighting, the fog and, of course, the creepy soundtrack dripping in the background.

Most of you have heard of Midnight Syndicate. A decade and a half in business, Edward Douglas, along with Gavin Goszka, has been creating dark music specifically for Halloween. You can hear them at haunted attractions, parties and amusement parks. Their award-winning music has been featured on television, video games (like Balder’s Gate 2), Hugh Hefner’s Halloween bash, concerts by The Misfits and King Diamond, and movies such as Robert Kurtzman’s The Rage.

This month, the band releases their 14th studio album, Carnival Arcane. Each album takes the listener on a journey to imaginary places, be it haunted Victorian manors, abandoned insane asylums or gothic cemeteries. Their latest work gives the listener a creepy and mystical taste of walking through an early 20th century traveling carnival.

Midnight SyndicateToday we have the pleasure of speaking with Edward Douglas, composer, filmmaker, writer and horror aficionado. As founder of Midnight Syndicate in 1995, he began his career by producing his own feature film straight out of college, called The Dead Matter (which was remade alongside Robert Kurtzman in 2007.)

HA: In listening to your albums, I’m transported to a certain location, be it a mansion, cemetery, or some fantasy orc lair. Every year you come out with something new, and this year it will be a traveling carnival. What’s your typical thought processes and inspiration for deciding which landmark or motif to focus on for a new album?

ED: Everything has been done before, so it’s really about picking a theme that sparks our imagination and then putting our own spin on it. The concept for our new CD, Carnival Arcane, was a really fun one because the very idea of a “dark, turn-of-the-century traveling carnival” conjures so many images and ideas. Those images and ideas translate to the songs and soundscape we create.

Gavin and I have a particular fascination with the paranormal so that element works into just about every disc we do in some way or another. History, particularly the Victorian and Edwardian eras, is another big source of inspiration for us so when we can set one of our discs in those time periods (like we did Gates of Delirium, The 13th Hour, and Carnival Arcane) it’s especially intruguing to us. There’s so many worlds and motifs to explore, that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting for us.

HA: Back when I was a teen, I would blast out the soundtrack to Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser for the trick or treaters. What made you decide to specifically compose “Halloween music” as the focus of your career? After all, your education is as a filmmaker.

Born Of The Night by Midnight SyndicateED: Although most of my education was in film and theatre, music was my first love and I’ve been playing music since I was very young. In 1992, I came up with the idea for Midnight Syndicate – this band that would merge sound effects (circa classic radio dramas like The Shadow) and music (mostly instrumental) to create CDs that would be “soundtracks to imaginary films.” The goal of these CDs would be to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation.

In addition to music, a love of horror, fantasy, Halloween, and the paranormal has always been a constant in my life. As a result, virtually every creative endeavor I’ve undertaken, be it film, writing, or music, has had a darker or fantastic side to it. That’s how Midnight Syndicate’s first all-horror-themed “Halloween” disc, Born of the Night came about in 1998. At that time there were no quality Halloween music CDs. The only options you had (outside of horror movie scores) was cheap, recycled sound effects cassettes, and light-hearted Monster Mash-type party compilations.

The thing was, there was a real demand for good, quality, creepy, non-cheesy Halloween atmosphere from the amusement parks, haunted attractions, gothic music fans, and Halloween aficianados that took their parties and decorating for the trick-or-treaters seriously. Midnight Syndicate was able to fill that void – first with Born of the Night and then continuing with each of our subsequent releases. We quickly became the second largest supplier of Halloween music to the Halloween retail industry (the largest are the Monster Mash folks) and the largest supplier the haunted house and amusement park industries and have remained there for the past thirteen years. Gavin and I are fortunate because (as people who live for Halloween ourselves) we are able to write the music and explore the themes we love while making our fans happy.

HA: I notice that the song tracks on your albums read like film sequences. For instance, on your album The 13th Hour, it starts with the song Mansion in the Mist, continues to The Drawing Room, then builds to Footsteps in the Dust. Near the conclusion, you have titles such as Gruesome Discovery and Return of the Ancient Ones.

ED: We want to give you “just enough” with the song titles and the CD packaging to help spark your imagination. However, our prime directive, as it were, is to not impose our own interpretation of what’s going on in a CD upon the listener. We want to leave it all up to you. That’s one reason I love instrumental music so much. Every listener can interpret it differently, see different things in it. There are no lyrics or words to even lead you a certain way.

HA: When composing an album, do you construct a fully formed movie in your mind before you begin, which then inspires a soundtrack, or do you think of the music first, which then creates this imaginary landscape?

ED: After determining the world we want to create (an insane asylum, traveling carnival, vampire’s crypt) we do a lot of research (both fiction and non-fiction literature, movies, art, etc.). From there we begin to add detail to the world, creating the people, places, and things the listener will experience. The music comes through that. Sometimes we do formulate an ambiguous storyline but only as a sort of rough guide.

HA: You’ve worked with Robert Kurtzman a few times, and released some music videos. Any plans for future work with movies and videos, or producing more soundtracks to films? Where do you see Midnight Syndicate headed in the near future?

ED: We will definitely be producing more music videos. The Dead Matter was really well-received. That, and Bob’s great team, is going to allow us to do another film in the future. The focus of Midnight Syndicate will always be the music, though. Gavin and I really loved working on Carnival Arcane and can’t wait to get started on the next disc. We are getting more offers for custom work, too (like movie scoring, etc.) so I see that continuing as well – complimenting our regular Midnight Syndicate CD releases.

Carnival ArcaneHA: You’re newest album, Carnival Arcane, transports the listener to a turn-of-the (last) century carnival, complete with mystics, freaks, fortune tellers and rusty circus rides. Listening to it, there was a definite undercurrent of sinister shadows and macabre dealings, as if peeking through a tent would yield something monstrous and terrifying. What was your inspiration for this album?

ED: I did a lot of research on traveling circuses, in particular those from the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras (which were part the traveling carnivals’ heyday). That historical research yielded a lot of the inspiration for the themes, music, and especially the sound design on this disc.

We really want to make you feel like you are at this carnival, exploring the various tents. Gavin has a solo project called Parlormuse where he recreates and performs authentic Victorian-era music. That served as musical inspiration for tracks like Under The Big Top. Of course, the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival has more than a few skeletons in its closet so there is definitely the sinister element you mentioned.

The primary inspiration for that part of the disc is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. We had so much fun working on this disc. It’s definitely one of my favorites and features some of our most advanced sound design to date. I’d like to invite folks to stop by our website, www.MidnightSyndicate.com or check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/midnightsyndicate. There you will find out more about we do, be able to hear samples from our CDs, etc.

HOT 1970s & 80s Costume Ideas

There are certain eras that are so distinct that you can’t help but identify them at one glance.

When you think of the 70s and 80s, there’s no disputing just how iconic they were. Much of this is due to the fact that these decades included outrageous and envelope-pushing (go outrageous and envelope-pushing!) costumes and attire.

If you’re looking for unique and fun Halloween costume ideas, this era is simply the best – and you may even still have a piece or two in your closet! Here are out favorite tips on rockin’ it oldschool this Halloween (plus links in case you’re short on time).

Big Hair, Bright Colors

heavy metal rocker blonde wig

70s fancy dress outfits such as polyester pants, ruffled shirts and wide collars are distinctive of the disco era. However, the one that most people tend to remember the most is the hair. In the 70s and 80s, you are talking some seriously big hair.

Tease up your bangs and make them big and stiff with plenty of hair spray. They should look like an extension of your body when you’re done teasing them up! Then make your entire hairstyle big—the bigger the better! For some reason in these eras, the big hair was in and it reigned supreme.

(Tip: Short on time and/or hair? Grab a wig and go!)

Another element that will bring your costume to life is lots and lots of bright colors. 70s and 80s fancy dress costumes are all about crazy, bright fashion, and so embrace wherever that appears in your wardrobe. Neon works well.

If you have any gummy bracelets or the ability to pin your pants, then you are in for a real treat embracing this fun fashion era!

Embrace Your Inner Madonna

80s Diva Madonna costume

If there is one thing that many people tend to remember about this era it was the introduction of a pop icon.

Madonna made her entrance into the pop scene around this time and the world of music was never the same. So this lends way to the perfect costume idea to celebrate this wonderful and super fun period in time.

Get out your black lace gloves as your iconic starter piece. You need some ratted-out big blonde hair and if you can’t accomplish that on your own, go for a wig.

Then get out your lace dress, tight miniskirt with a bright vibrant top, or some other flashy but vibrant outfit and wear it with great confidence. American online retailers such as Amazon carry outfits like this. If you live in England, you can purchase these pop dresses at Fancydressball.co.uk.

Be sure to top of the look with lots and lots of accessories—try out your big bright pink bow for the hair, then get out lots of cheap but tasteful chain necklaces, and of course loads of neon gummy bracelets help to complete this look.

Nothing Like Old School Rappin’

Who didn’t love a little old school rap back in the day? This costume is simple enough to pull off and it’s actually comfortable so it works quite well.

Here you can simply pull together some big oversized pants and a sports logo sweatshirt, preferably Adidas, as it was so big in this era. Then get a “gold” chain or two to wear around your neck because that was such an identifiable, though silly looking, part of these decades. You want to be sure that you have a hat that you can turn backwards and of course load on the gold chains for good measure.

This and the other costume ideas will take you back in time and help you to remember eras known for lots of fun!

Top 10 Ways to Repel and Kill Vampires

 

Look, we’re not hating. After all, vampires are people too. (Or they were.)

But here’s the thing: we’ve seen the old Hammer films, and it just doesn’t look like any fun to get punctured in the night and drained to the point of death (sexy Interview With the Vampire imagery notwithstanding).

With the above in mind, just in case you’re ever accosted in a dark New Orleans alley by something pale and winged, you’ll want to be prepared. Here’s how to stake out (see what we did there?) your quarry and put those hungry vamps where they belong. Read on for the scary scoop of mythical ways to kill vampires.

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Hauntingly pale with long canines for biting into flesh, vampires are, in common lore, much-feared creatures of the night who survive off the blood of the living. Strolling neighborhoods after dark in search of their next innocent victim, vampires are unsettlingly resilient and show no mercy for their prey.

Just how do you kill the undead?

They can’t be suffocated or drowned, they don’t die of lack of food, and they sidestep bullets a la The Matrix. So how can these ghastly beings of the underworld ever be slain? Never fear: here are the top 10 ways to rid yourself of a nasty (and deadly) problem.

10. Just Say “Hell No”

An interesting part of vampire tradition is that the flying dead can’t simply waltz into your bedroom for a midnight snack. To enter your home, a vampire must be invited, lore states. (The rules get a little bit fuzzy when it comes to hotel rooms, camper vans, tents and other non-permanent homes.)

Your easy fix: DON’T invite that ghastly presence in. And if he or she asks politely, answer back in equal politeness, “Hell no, Fangs,” and lock yourself in your room until daylight. (You’ll be just fine, we promise.)

9. Stock Up on Garlic

One of the best ways to repel vampires is with garlic, otherwise known as the stinking rose. Vampires simply hate the traditional recipe veggie and can be driven away by the pungent smell.

If you can stand it, wear garland around your neck, keep several bulbs in your pockets or simply rub your body with garlic juice.

For extra insurance, include a lot of garlic in your daily diet. Supposedly, the smell of your breath and sweat will be enough to keep the night prowlers at bay.

8. Have a Little Faith

Symbols of faith will make a vampire recoil in an instant, so long as the person holding it has enough belief and conviction. Traditionally, crucifixes and crosses have been used to repel these deadly beings, however, Stars of David, Wiccan pentacles and other symbols are now also thought to be just as effective.

Vampires are, according to stories, petrified of the potential wrath of higher powers, so they steer clear of true believers.

Close your eyes, grab your ankh, and watch those bloodsuckers flap away from you like, well, bats out of hell.

nosferatu7. Visit Your Local Baptismal Font

Water that has been blessed by a priest is also widely believed to repel evil and ward off dark forces. Vampires are forever damned and are literally terrified of religion, so anything sacred is the perfect deterrent.

Just a few drops of holy water will burn their uber-pale skin, so keep a little nearby for your own protection and be ready to douse unearthly intruders at any time — you never know when one might strike.

For the ultimate vamp repeller, fill a water pistol with holy water and mashed-up garlic. (Plus…it’s just so much fun.)

6. Keep the Count Counting

If you suspect a vampire prowls in an area near you, sprinkle poppy seeds, sand, beads or anything small and grain-like all around your ‘hood. The idea is that vampires are said to be compelled to count anything they see in a group. They’ll be forced to tally up every single grain and will be far too occupied to tap at your window.

The obsessive-compulsive nature of Nosferatu is not well-known, so using this little trick will almost certainly surprise your blood-sucking target, giving you plenty of time to put some distance between you.

Got it? Good. Drop those grains and run like…well, you get the idea by now.

5. Stake Through the Heart

We just love the classics! Driving a stake through a vampire’s heart is one of the most well-known methods to kill the already-dead.

Any wooden stake should be fine (though different woods are popular in different countries — hawthorn is favored in Serbia, for example). However, a silver stake is said to be guaranteed to reduce that troublesome vampire to ash and cinders. 

4. Annihilate the Leader

Folklore has it that the destruction of the leader of a group of vampires will free his minions from his dark thrall, returning their souls and rendering them human again.

Unfortunately, vampire leaders tend to be powerful, well-protected, well-connected, and crazy azz skillful. If you’re not Buffy or Van Helsing (or for that matter, Abraham Lincoln), leave this trick to the professionals. 

3. Grab Some Silver

Like a silver stake, a silver bullet  spells instant death for vampires. They are violently allergic to the pure metal and will crumble to dust upon contact, according to vampire lore enthusiasts.

If guns are inaccessible, think silver arrowheads, slingshot rounds, darts, or even cutlery. Practically anything silver will do — so long as you fling it hard enough.

2. Sunlight (Maybe)

Vampires are creatures of the night, lingering in shadows and only emerging from their coffins, caves or basements after the sun has set and most mortals are tucked up safely in bed. So sunlight should kill them.

Unfortunately, while vampire hunters agree that the undead shun sunlight, there is some debate over its lethality. Some argue that even the briefest exposure to UV radiation will turn a vampire into a pillar of screaming flames; others maintain that truly powerful vampires can move around freely during the daytime, suffering only the temporary loss of their super-human abilities.

We say: either way, it’s worth a shot. I mean you wanted to work on your tan anyway, didn’t you? Expose your frightening foe to some sunlight and while she’s writhing, go to town with a stake (see above).

1. Channel “the Slayer”

The slayer is a notorious vampire killer who goes out on the hunt for  deadly bloody suckers (think Buffy). They have no fear and are willing to risk their life to benefit others. Abraham Van Helsing is possibly the oldest and most well-known slayer in the world known for killing Count Dracula.

They say to every generation a slayer is born — so sharpen up on your mythical creature-killing skills. With enough training, the next one could be you!

 

Get your Halloween on. All year long.