Tag Archives: Halloween decor

Make a Dollar Store Halloween Wreath

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

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

You will need:

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

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

Here’s the process:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Great Gourds! Pumpkin Varieties and How to Use Them

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

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

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

Howden’s Field

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

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

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

Lumina

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

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

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

Queensland Blue

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

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

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

Jack-Be-Little

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

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

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

New England Pie

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

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

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

Kakai

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

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

Big Max

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

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

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

Cinderella

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

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

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

Happy decorating…and eating!

Seven Unique Ways to Use Skeletons in Your Decor

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

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

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

Just Hangin’ Out

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

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

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

Haunted Hillbillies

Available at Grandin Road

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

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

The Pedaling Dead

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

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

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

All Creeped Up

Image: Six Flags Magic Mountain

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

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

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

Bony Scarecrow

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

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

Tutorial by rupertoooo

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

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

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

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

Haunted House Guest

Available at Shindigz

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

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

Riding Shotgun

Credit: imgflip.com

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

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

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

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

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!

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..

Haunt Your House With These EASY Hacks

 

Over and over again I hear from rueful friends, “I just don’t have the time to decorate my house for Halloween…and besides, I don’t want to spend a lot of money.”

My answer? Both the time AND money you spend on decorating your house for the scariest day of the year are up to you – and neither has to be a frightening prospect.

Through the years, I’ve haunted my own house in every possible way, from dollar-store die cut black cats to a full-on front yard cemetery, fog machines, zombies and more.

I’ve gathered my go-to Halloween preparation tactics, the ones I use year on year because they’re so easy, yet they’re guaranteed to bring a smile (and a spooky chill!) to admirers of all ages.

Choose the ones that work for you, and remember: it’s your own creativity that’s puts the “spooky” in Halloween. Whether you’re the autumn harvest type or you adore a great Freddy or Jason flick, show your love of Halloween this year with freaky flair!

What’s That Peeking From Your Windows?

Windows offer perhaps the best opportunity to show off your dark side as they’re above the level of the ground and therefore usually very visible to passersby.

No house is truly haunted unless it has creeped-up windows, so try these ideas:

 

  • Attach cobwebs across the windows and dangle a plastic spider from each. Or buy or make an oversize creepy crawly and have it cover one entire window. You can even bundle an old doll in gauze or cheesecloth and dangle it from the web as a spider “victim.”
  • Buy “creepy cloth” in black or white (or rip into some old sheets with scissors or an old nail file – it’s great therapy!). Hang it on either side of each front window of your house for a tattered-curtain look.
  • Hang horrifying styrofoam heads in front of or from windows and eaves. Drape these in billowy white cheesecloth.
  • Cut spooky shapes out of black construction paper; tape to the inside of any window, facing out. Then tape yellow tissue or other transparent paper behind the entire scene. On Halloween night, turn the light on in that room. The lighting behind the tissue paper will make your window scene glow eerily.

Raise the Undead

I find the use of skeletons an integral part of any Halloween decoration scheme.

Look for inexpensive jointed plastic skellies; don’t worry if they’re a little banged up – that only adds to the charm. Or have fun with super-cheap cardboard cutout skeletons. Try these ideas:

  • Wire one posable skeleton to your roof with one arm dangling down (always be careful and use a spotter when climbing a ladder or crawling around on your rooftop). Wire a second skeleton with one arm vertical, as if he’s reaching for help up.
  • Halloween skeletons hanging from a treeHang skeletons from your trees.
  • Set up either a posable or non-posable but dimensional (plastic or rubber) skeleton at the top of your front steps for visibility and dress him up. Give him a saucy pirate getup (eye patch, hat, sword), put two together in unholy matrimony with wedding clothes (check your local consignment shop for deals) or even set him up with an empty can of beer, an ashtray and that 1970s TV you’re always saying you’re going to throw away. The possibilities are endless, and in my experience, the funnier and more outlandish, the better the response from trick-or-treaters (and their jealous moms and dads who didn’t think of it first!).
  • Dance a row of inexpensive cardboard skeleton decorations across the front of your house. Be sure to use tape that’s weatherproof but can be removed later without harming the siding.

 

Credit: partycity.com

Create a Creepy Cemetery

  • Foam tombstones can often be had at a steal. Or consider making your own. Check out this tombstone tutorial.
  • Use plastic animals for a super-creepy effect. Have them gnaw on discarded body parts.
  • Make use of old, broken Halloween decorations by scattering plastic bones and skulls around the area, making the scary site look freshly picked by someone (or something).
  • Make liberal use of fake spiderwebbing across and between your tombstones for a haunting touch.

Get Ghoulish

Halloween ghoul ghost prop

Ghouls are easy to make, and the more tattered the better (or look here for some great choices at prices that won’t come back to haunt you).

Set up something wicked on your front porch by sitting a groundbreaker-type ghoul in a patio chair and adding pants (stuff these with newspapers or old clothing if you’d like) and shoes. Or drape cheesecloth over an old Halloween mask, prop on a broomstick stuck into the ground and voila – the Angel of Death is ready to greet partygoers with an evil grin.

Get Your Autumn On

Last of all, don’t forget to take a little of the outside indoors and to drape mementos of the soon-to-be-gone season along your decorations. Make liberal use of leafy faux vines, inexpensive knick-knacks and seasonal baskets or even toys and dolls to bring a delicious, crisp chill to your home, both inside and out.

 

Head in a Jar Halloween Prop

Image credit: instructables.com

Looking for a great new Halloween prop that hasn’t been done to death? Don’t lose your head – make this creepy decoration! Making a Head in a Jar prop is so easy, it’s almost scary – and the project won’t bust your Halloween budget. Read on to find out how to create this creepy Halloween decoration.

What You’ll Need

Make sure you have all of your materials ready before starting your project. Here’s what you will need to assemble your Head in a Jar:

  • a printed color image of a spread-out face; look here and here for examples
  • a jar that your head printout will just fit into when the paper is rolled up (tinted or aged/imperfect glass is preferable, or anything with a cloudy appearance)
  • scissors
  • school glue
  • small amount of wig hair, if desired

Assembling Your Severed Head

Jar for Head in a Jar Halloween prop(I just had to make the title gory!)

The first and one of the most important steps in this project is to locate a jar to hold your “head.” For a spookier effect, choose colored glass; otherwise, a standard Mason jar (you know….for preserves…even human ones, apparently!) will do.

Now find a great face image by Googling the words “3D face texture map.” The face should be realistic; a Photoshopped image of a real person’s mug is ideal. A tortured appearance adds to the effect, so look for squinty eyes, puffiness, an open mouth or other evidence that the donor was less than willing.

Print out the image you’ve chosen and make sure it fits your jar once it’s rolled up and inserted. Enlarge or reduce the size if necessary. (We cut around the top portion of a wonderful rendering by artist Ravinder Sembi).

Head in a Jar Halloween prop

Adding a 3-D Look to the Face

printed face for Jar Head in a Jar Halloween propNow cut small pieces of the wig and glue them to the face image. This step is not absolutely necessary, but definitely adds a touch of three-dimensional realism if done subtly.

Place the hair randomly across the forehead/hairline, trying to make it appear natural and in disarray. (We pasted tiny bits of hair to the eyes of our face image to make them look sunken and more dimensional, and then added a few wayward curls at the forehead.)

Allow the glue beneath the hair to dry completely, then roll up the face and insert it inside the jar. Spread it out from the inside with your fingers if it remains too tightly rolled. Rearrange the hair with a finger inserted between the face image and the jar if you need to.

Now screw the top on your jar. If you’d like, go ahead and get creative with some dripped-on candle wax (so that it looks as if the jar was hastily sealed) or a length of rattan or rope tied around the jar’s neck.

You’re done – display your creepy cranium among the gristly goods of a Witch’s Kitchen, in some wads of red-dyed “bloody” cotton as a sinister centerpiece or on a shelf where party guests will least expect it. They’ll never believe you were the “brains” behind the experiment – or how easy it was to put it all together!


Easy Halloween Ornaments

Decorating your house for Halloween doesn’t have to mean rushing out to buy styrofoam tombstones and plastic skeletons, although those can make fun additions to your home as well! Almost anything can be made into a Halloween decoration with a little time, spray paint and sense of fun.

Look around the house for tchotchkes, ornaments and knickknacks you don’t really care about anymore. Or if your house is knickknack free, hit up your local charity store and bring home a bag of candle-holders, porcelain statues and small vases.

Give everything a good scrub in hot, soapy water, or run through your dishwasher to remove any dust or sticky labels.

Once dry, set your pieces 5-6 inches apart on cardboard and spray with black, glossy spray paint in short, thin bursts. You’ll end up with a cleaner finished product using several thin coats rather than a single thick coat that is likely to drip.

Continue painting, turning the objects as needed, until they are completely covered in paint. Allow the paint to cure overnight before scattering your Halloween Knickknacks thought out the house.

halloween ornaments halloween ornaments halloween ornaments on bookshelf painted halloween ornaments

6 Creative Uses for Halloween Coloring Pages

Halloween coloring pages offer a fun, simple and inexpensive way to keep children entertained for a few hours. Whimsical ghosts, goblins, and jack-o’-lantern grins can be fun to color or paint, and kids always love coloring activities and craft projects.  It’s possible to find free Halloween-themed coloring pages online, which you can download and print, or you can purchase cheap coloring books from your local dollar store. There are several different ways of using coloring pages at Halloween.   Here are a few ideas of things your kids can create.

1.       Yard Decorations

It’s actually quite easy to print a coloring page to any size that you need. If you will like a six-foot tall black cat guarding your house after dark on October 31st, it is fairly straightforward to create. Many stained-glass or quilt pattern websites offer free pattern enlargers that can send your choice of coloring page to the printer in pieces, which can later be taped together into a very large design. Children can decorate these separate sheets, glue them to poster board, and add a stick to plant in the yard.

2.       Invitations

Halloween party invitations are always fun to make. You could get your kids involved by getting them to color your invites.  Another idea is to ask each guest to decorate their own invite for judging at the party. With each Halloween invitation you send, you can include a coloring page for a mask, a pumpkin, or other Halloween-themed items. When guests arrive with their decorated invitations, they can be displayed as decorations at the party for everybody to enjoy.  You then can ask your guests to vote for their favorite.  Make sure you have some candy or some sort of treat available to give to the winner.

Halloween Pumpkin Cartoon Character coloring page3.       Party Favors

Halloween coloring pages can be made into fun party favors. For instance, there are paper baskets that can be colored and folded into shape to hold fruit or candy treats, which kids will love making. The baskets will hold their shape better if the sheet of paper is glued to a lightweight cardboard backing first.

4.       Fabric Stencils

If you are looking for imaginative ideas for Halloween crafts, many craft stores sell crayons that color in lines that will work as an iron-on transfer for fabric. Children will love the idea of coloring their own Halloween pictures that can then be ironed onto an old T-shirt.

5.       Window-Painting Templates

Coloring pages can be taped to the outside of a window for a child to copy onto the inside of the glass with washable poster paints. This is a fun way to decorate your home for the exciting Halloween season.

6.       Moving Pictures

Young children will enjoy coloring a very simple shape that can be glued to a cardboard backing. This shape can then be cut apart and put together with an office brad that will allow parts to move.

Halloween coloring pages are a great resource to remember for all types of holiday needs. These handy lined drawings can be used with crayons, paint or markers. With our modern printers able to enlarge or shrink these coloring page shapes, they can be used in a wide variety of ways that can add to your yearly Halloween fun.

This article is courtesy of HalloweenPartyIdeas.org, which offers lots more Halloween party ideas for kids, including games, crafts and food.

Making Body Parts and Monsters Out of Fiberglass

 

Guest contributor, props expert and comedy king David Lay is back! Thanks for contributing this fantastic tutorial, David.

Ever wonder how they made the costumes for Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers in Star Wars? Believe it or not, portions of these famous outfits were crafted the same way car bodies are made: in a mold with fiberglass or a similar resin.

In fact, so many things are made with plastics and resins today that it’s not likely you have any device that doesn’t have a molded part on it. (No, really!)

In my years as a haunter I’ve seen some extremely complicated – and convincing – costumes made entirely from molded fiberglass, including whole suits of Medieval armor.

With the basic knowledge of how to do this yourself, you can make almost anything your imagination can conjure up. Below we talk about how to make a simple body part as your starter example. However, please note that these concepts can be extended to almost any level to make extravagant costumes, monsters or even full Halloween haunt sets.

The Project: Let’s Get Crafty!

For this project I have decided to make a single body part -specifically, a hand. Actually, not just any hand, but a mummy hand. (This is a Halloween site, after all!)

I also chose materials that you can buy locally (think hardware or craft stores), or can get a hold of very inexpensively on sites like Amazon and ebay. These include::

  • Plaster of Paris, available at hardware or craft stores
  • Cheesecloth, which you can get anywhere cloth or canning supplies are sold
  • Fiberglass resin and fiberglass cloth or spun fiberglass, which you can get at an auto supply store
  • Plastic cups and spoons
  • Cheap disposable “chip” brushes

The Mold

I wanted my body part to look like a mummy’s hand, so I needed to make a mold that would give it mottled skin. I could have taken modeling clay and sculpted the part that I wanted, but I decided to use my own hand and arm. If you’re confident of your freehand sculpting skills than I am with mine, you may prefer making a clay model first.

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I mixed up some plaster of Paris as per the box’s instructions and dipped strips of cheese cloth into it. I then coated my arm with Vaseline petroleum jelly so the plaster wouldn’t stick, and then layered the plaster infused cheese cloth onto my arm.

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I pushed the cheesecloth into the spaces between my fingers, but made sure I had no convolutions (where the mold folds under itself – when you try to take the finished product out, you will have to break the mold in order to get it out – bad if you want to make another, identical part). I let the cheese cloth hang over the end of my fingers to make sure I covered the tips of my fingers. And yes, before you ask, it felt a bit…eew. (Halloween props are worth it, though!)

I used a canned vegetable can to rest my hand on so it would have the right bend to it. I made sure I had a tall cup of coffee, good music on, and then I waited the requisite time of about 45 minutes for the plaster to harden, trying not to move my hand or arm during that time.

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After hardening, I carefully pulled the “cast” off (Ouch! Not enough Vaseline, too many arm hairs), pushing and pulling at my skin to get it to break away from the mold.

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Casting the Fiberglass hand

I coated the inside of the mold with Vaseline to keep the resin from sticking to the mold. Unfortunately, one of the problems with plaster is that it is porous, and it takes a lot of Vaseline. I did have some trouble getting the resin hand out of the mold, ultimately breaking the mold. There are commercial anti-stick materials that work really well, which I’ll tell you more about later.

I wanted the skin to have a mottled look to it, so I made up a small amount (about two ounces – see below on how to do this) of resin and coated the inside of the mold, not getting rid of any air bubbles (that helps create the mottled look) and let that harden before making the main cast.

fiberglass05 fiberglass06

Next I cut a piece of fiberglass mat material to fit inside the mold. I also pulled some individual fibers out to fit into where the fingers are.

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I then mixed up about 8 ounces of the resin with the hardener as instructed on the can of resin, and stirred it. Then I poured the resin into the mold…

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…and spread it out with a chip brush.

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I let this harden for about 2 hours, and then began pulling the mold from the “hand”:

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This, it turns out, was not so easy. The Vaseline had been absorbed into the plaster, and the resin was stuck in many places on the mold. I ultimately destroyed the mold getting the hand out. That’s ok; I can always make another one. Great way to sit and pity the folks with broken arms set in casts…

fiberglass11

Painting Your Body Part

I trimmed this with a jig saw and with “nippers” to cut away the excess, and then painted the hand using acrylic paints (modeling paints would have been better, but this is what I had on hand). I painted it with yellow ochre:

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After drying, the molting looks like a mummy’s hand:

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I added some red and black paint to make a “wound”:

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…and did the same for the fingers:

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…and, viola, a mummy’s hand!

fiberglass-hand

Going Further With Your Newly Acquired Casting Skills

This ain’t nothin’, folks. The sky’s the limit, literally. There are airplane kits you can buy to build a whole airplane out of fiberglass! But that’s a different article. Let’s stick to costumes, sets, body parts, weapons… and the list goes on.

I said above that there are better materials out there. You betcha… there is a company that specializes in moldings and castings called Smooth-on, and you can visit their web site at http://www.smooth-on.com/

There are also hundreds of “How To” videos on YouTube that will lead you step by step in molding and casting. When you become the resident expert, make your own video and post it on YouTube. Pay the freaky forward, I  always say.

Got all that? Great – now, get started on that seven-foot monster, and Happy Haunting!

Halloween Mobiles

Constructing Halloween Mobiles are a fun way to spend an afternoon. There are so many different ways to be creative and make fun mobiles for the season. Let’s get started!

Halloween clip art images are an easy way to get a lot of pictures for coloring. Cookie cutters are also great for making cute shapes out of construction paper. The shapes can be colored and decorated anyway you want. Also, you could make a mobile with just one shape, like bats, or use all the different seasonal icons you can imagine.

Materials

  • Cookie cutters or clip art
  • Crayons, permanent markers, colored pencils
  • Glue
  • Fishing line or thread
  • Small diameter dowels
  • Construction paper

Optional Items

  • Needle
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glitter, sparkling beads, feathers, etc.

materialsBuilding Your Halloween Mobile

Any craft or home improvement store will have 3/8″ dowels available for purchase. I was able to find a package of small dowels cut to 12″ in length for about $1. Very handy. We first painted our dowels black.

Trace the cookie cutter shapes onto paper. Cut them out and have fun decorating. If you use clipart you may want to print a mirror image as well so the pictures are double sided.

Enjoy the decorating/coloring and talking with the kids about Halloween and what they are most excited about. Take your time during this step, because the hanging step could be difficult with little helpers.

When you are ready to assemble the mobile, cut the fishing line or thread to anywhere between 6″ and 10″ lengths. This will allow for a nice length once a knot is tied and glued, etc.

Use a 12″ dowel for the top. Cut another dowel into 6″ lengths and hang them from the ends of the top dowel. You can stop there or hang another 12” dowel from the center of the top so that it hangs below the 6” dowels, and so on. It just depends on how large you want the mobile to be and how many different shapes you want to add.(Don’t make it too heavy! Mine broke when I got too ambitious!)

IMG00632 IMG00634

We painted the dowels black and used fishing line to hang the Halloween shapes. We also bought some 1″ wooden letters to spell out “trick or treat”. They were not very expensive but you could do the same thing with scrapbook paper by gluing two pieces together so you have the back and front decorated, or use a two-sided piece.

The complete Halloween Mobile
The complete Halloween Mobile

Have fun! I’d love to hear of others who tried this project. Please comment below.

Making Halloween Decorations with Bakeable Clay

Halloween is a holiday which has seen a wide variety of decorating options grow over the last decade. These options include Halloween villages, Halloween trees, and the expansion of miniature collectibles, some directly related to Halloween, and others to the fall season in general. Prices for such decorations can range from several dollars to upwards of a hundred, and while they are inevitable worth it at the moment of purchase, guilty can quickly follow – or at least it does for me.

In order to satisfy my Halloween addiction, and to keep money in my wallet, my wife introduced me to bake-able clay. Bake-able clay is sold in packets. Most of these packets are roughly one inch deep, two and a half inches wide, and three inches long.

The generic brands of bake-able clay, such as “craftsmart” Polymer Clay, usually cost under two dollars for one package. Craft stores such as Michael’s and A.C. Moore carry not only the “craftsmart” brand, but several others as well, and they are available in a broad array of colors. For Halloween, the basic colors needed are white, green, orange, and black. Bake-able clay is extremely malleable, and requires very little in the way of tools.

Working With Bakeable Clay

With aluminum foil, wax paper, a sharp knife, and some imagination, the creation of your own decorations is much closer than you realize. Each piece of bake-able clay can be cut or pulled apart, and the more that you work it with your hands, the warmer the clay will become. As the clay warms, it will be easier for you to form and shape it.

Once you’ve chosen the shape that you want, be patient, haste will only cause you to ruin whatever work you’ve done. As the clay cools a sharp knife can be used to trim the piece, or to do fine work. Sewing needles and pins can also be used for the same. Make sure you place the piece of clay on your wax-paper, or on a smooth clean surface so there’s no damage to it before you put it into the oven to bake.

Pumpkins are fairly easy to make, as you need only to roll a small amount of orange clay in your hand (as if you were making cookies), to get the basic shape that you want. Once you have the shape your sewing needle or knife can make the necessary lines. A small curl of green clay can be the remains of a vine, and if you’re truly skilled (like my wife), you can use an Exacto blade to make leaves for your pumpkin.

Headstones can be formed by warming up the clay as with the pumpkins, then rolling it flat with a pen on your wax paper. Once you have the clay to the thickness that you want, carefully use a sharp knife to trim the clay into the shape you want. A needle can be used to make decorations, or epitaphs. When you’re ready to make a base for your stone, follow the same procedures.

Baking in the Oven

Once you’ve finished your piece, or pieces, carefully move them from the wax-paper, or smooth surface, to a baking sheet lined with the aluminum foil. If you don’t have a baking sheet that you want to use for your project, then doubling up a sheet of aluminum foil will work fine as well.

When you place the ornaments on the aluminum foil you should use smaller pieces of foil to make sure the ornaments stay upright and don’t flatten in the baking process.

Baking only takes around fifteen minutes (look on the package for baking instructions), so depending on how many pieces you’re making, you can see the fruits of your labor quickly. Once the pieces are done, you’ll be ready to start decorating with your own ornaments for Halloween!

bakeable-clay

Halloween Decoupage – Create a Papier Mache Photo Purse

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

Supplies:

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

Step One – Gather Your Supplies

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

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

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

Step Two – Design Layout

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

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

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

Step Three – Applying the Decoupage Solution

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

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

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

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

Step Four – Coating and Coating

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

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

Transform Candles into Cool Halloween Candles

I’ve done many sorts of decorated candles for other seasons of the year; I just hadn’t ever considered a Halloween candle before. Your imagination can go crazy with this project because there are so many varieties of decorative items to choose from!

Materials List

  • Candle(s)
  • Glue
  • Wax Paper
  • Tooth Picks
  • Butcher Paper or vinyl tablecloth
  • Decorative shapes: Brads, confetti, adhesive jewels, sequins, glitter, etc

Prepare your work area by spreading out a table cloth or butcher paper out on a hard surface before letting any little hands help with opening the decorations – especially if you are using brads or tacks with sharp points. It will also help with keeping glue off your counter or table.

decorative-candle1Decorative brads and tacks will be difficult for younger children to push into the wax. We also tried using straight pins to attach some of the confetti shapes; we had to use a hard object to help push them in because the pinheads were so small they quickly became painful. We decided that glue would be a good choice to finish the project with. Regular Elmer’s glue was sticky enough to hold the small plastic confetti pieces to the candle. If you chose to use larger shapes you’ll need a stronger glue (like Gorilla glue) so that the shapes will curve with the candle.

Little children will just go for it without thinking about a particular design, but you can do some lovely things with these candles. Twist a stream of glue around a taper candle and roll it in glitter. Shake off the excess and you have a decorated candle. You could stand the candle up and let the glue start to drip before rolling it in red glitter…… that would be a really spooky effect.

When we were shopping around there were all sorts of Halloween or Autumn brads to choose from as well as sticky “gems”, and glitter galore. Enjoy this project for the easy fun it is and let your imagination take the lead!

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Adult Alternative: Candle Molds

For a more advanced Halloween candle, try using candle molds. If you buy a candle that has a diameter that is a little less than the mold, you can then sprinkle decorative shapes into the mold with the candle, then pour melted wax around it and let it cool. For Halloween it could make for interesting and Gothic decor!

Decorating Dollhouses for Halloween

Dollhouses serve as doorways into a magical world of imagination for many children and adults. The design, decoration, and furnishing of dollhouses is a popular hobby, and one into which you can sink thousands of dollars.

Each season has its appropriately scaled holiday items, yet for the thrifty collector, these varied decorations can be quite expensive as each is generally handmade, and not mass produced. Halloween decorations seem to be especially costly, as the items are limited, and tend to take a great deal of skill to craft and prepare.

Decorating Your Own Dollhouse

The cost of decorating with store bought items should not put you off from decorating your doll house yourself for the Halloween holiday, however! Your local craft store is rich with a wide variety of items with which to make your own Halloween decorations.

You can easily buy unfurnished dollhouses at any craft store, or look for an old one at a flea market or rummage sale. If what you buy has already been painted, sand it down to get rid of dirt and particles to create a clean surface to work with.

Whether your dollhouse is a simple cottage, a grand Victorian, or a rustic farmhouse, the basic materials to prepare it for Halloween can be found with just a little bit of looking. Once you’ve obtained the necessary supplies, all it takes is a little imagination, and a little patience, to create a Halloween scene for your dollhouse.

At craft stores and general office supply stores you can find ribbons, glue, glue sticks, construction paper, tissue paper for wrapping delicate and breakable items, and a fairly new material referred to as ‘foamies.’

With these items (and a sharp pair of scissors), you can begin to create your decorations. Tissue paper ghosts are a mainstay of elementary schools around the country, and can be easily made with some ribbon, a few cotton balls, and a Sharpie. Various pumpkins, additional ghosts, witches, and other Halloween symbols can be cut from the foamies. Black ribbon can be cut and tied into small bows.

For more inspiration, check out the following how-to articles on crafting furniture and dollhouses:

dollhouse
When you’ve settled on the items which you would like to make, make sure that your work space is clear (and that you don’t end up accidentally cutting your own clothing!), and take your time. There is no need to rush, as you’re looking for quality over quantity.

Once you finish your decorations, its time to place them in your dollhouse. How you’ve decorated your dollhouse with its regular furnishings will more than likely dictate how you put out your Halloween decorations. If you have a Victorian dollhouse, you may want to focus on ribbons and silhouettes. Cottages may call for witches and ghosts. A farmhouse might need pumpkins and tissue paper ghosts.

However you decided to decorate your dollhouse, though, you will have made your own decorations, and prepared your miniature home for Halloween in your own fashion. And whether you’ve done that alone, or with the help of others, it will be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. One which you will be able to look forward to with the coming of each Halloween!

Bewitching Silverware Holders

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

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

Supply List:

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

Time To Consider Ease of Project and Time

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

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

Step one – Pattern and Felt

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

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

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

Step Two – Decorate

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

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

Step Three – Stitch It Together

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

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

So many Possibilities – So Little Time!

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

Using Fabric:

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

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

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

silverware-final

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

Bargain Hunting for Halloween Decorations

Preparations for Halloween can never be started too early. As the economy continues its slow descent it becomes more important to stretch the dollar, and to find a wider selection of activities to do at home with the family.

For families that love Halloween, the weeks and months leading up to October 31st are full of opportunities to obtain decorative pieces for both interior and exterior purposes. These decorative pieces can be found at yard sales, rummage sales, flea markets, transfer stations, swap shops, landfills, and at the curb on trash day. You can also look at Halloween buy-sell sites such as Yardsellr. Not only will your decorative pieces be easy on the wallet, but environmentally you and your family will be recycling, saving space in the Untied States’ already limited landfills by bringing home items perfect for Halloween.

Halloween conjures up images of ghosts and goblins, the restless dead, the headless horseman, and a slew of others both malignant and benign. Regardless of your decorating preference – playful, dark, or some where in between – bargain hunting and salvaging can add to your Halloween supply.

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Halloween Scarecrows on the Cheap

For those who enjoy exterior decorating, a variety of old clothes and chairs can be found in different locations. With a few well-spent dollars you can purchase enough shirts, pants, pillowcases, and old shoes to create a scarecrow family!

The newly created scarecrows can sit in broken or off-kilter chairs which can easily be found at the curb, local landfill, or transfer stations. On Halloween night you can sit amongst your scarecrow family (wearing old clothes and some liberal face paint), and hand out the treats while keeping a weather eye open for tricks.

Gothic and Victorian Treasures

antique-bookcaseFor those looking for a darker theme, yard sales and fleamarkets are treasure troves to be explored. Candles seem to be available at all such events, and in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and colors. Old plates with chips and cracks are also readily available, making easy, inexpensive and somber additions to catch spilt candle wax.

Also at fleamarkets and yard sales old cabinet photos are often available. These photos, strategically placed among the newly acquired candles, can be arranged together around the holiday treats – making the trick or treater wonder who might be watching.

And finally, items can be found at the various locations to be used to display Halloween pieces. Occasionally real treasures can be found, such as a tall bookshelf, or a wall clock’s empty wooden case. The possibilities are broad, and are only limited by your own imagination.

So, as you drive to work, or serve as the family’s taxi, keep your eye out for future decorations!

Creating Halloween Tree Decorations

Halloween trees are a fairly new trend in decorating for the Halloween holiday. Like all other things specifically halloween tree ornamentcrafted for a holiday, or an event, the miniature ornaments made for the various styles of Halloween trees can be quite expensive. Cost aside, the fashioning of your own decorations for your Halloween tree can be a rewarding experience for both you and your family. Crafting ornaments is a small project that can easily fill a chilly afternoon, or a rainy day.

Finding Your Decor to Work With

The majority of the supplies that you’ll need can be found at your local craft store. Depending on the time of year, and how well stocked your local craft store is, you can find blank Christmas ornaments upon which to let your imagination wander. The items needed are generally inexpensive: foam brushes; craft paints; sparkles; and craft glue. For those of you who are more adventuresome, the craft store is a cornucopia of supplies, most of which can be added to your ornaments with the assistance of a small glue-gun.

If your store doesn’t carry blank Christmas ornaments in stock prior to the close of the Halloween season, old Christmas ornaments work just as well. Older ornaments can be found at thrift stores and yard-sales, as well as fleamarkets. Recently a neighbor of mine moved, and he gave me a large amount of small, golden ornaments. While the colors of the Christmas ornaments do not go with my wife’s Christmas theme, they are essentially blank canvases upon which she and my daughter can create Halloween ornaments for our Halloween tree!

When making your Halloween ornaments its best to hang them on the Halloween tree prior to their transformation. This will allow you to get a good feel of the weight which your particular tree can bear, and how you will want to space each decoration once it’s finished.

Creating Halloween Tree Ornaments For the Whole Family

halloween tree ornamentsIf you have young children who are creating ornaments as well, it’s best to make sure that they’re wearing old t-shirts, and that you have covered the surface your working on with plastic, or an old sheet. Surprisingly, paint has a habit of getting on things you didn’t want painted! Masking, or painters tape is excellent for securing the cover to the table, and make sure that you have plenty of soap ready for the necessary clean up.

A fairly wide variety of simple shapes and images – for those of us not blessed artistically – can be made with craft paints, glue, and glitter. Here’s a couple ideas:

  • Pumpkins are basic ovals, with triangles for eyes and noses, and half moons with squares for mouths. These shapes can be done not only with paint, but with glue and glitter.
  • Skulls can be traced out with toothpicks dipped in glue, and then sprinkled with glitter to give your Halloween tree a little bit of razzle dazzle.
  • The same can be done to make spider webs on ornaments, and if you’re painting, toothpicks are surprisingly versatile tools, allowing you to do fine lines and images.

Regardless of your skill level, however, once you have found your ornaments, and prepared your work station, you and your family can have hours of fun getting ready for Halloween – a holiday which lets you truly explore your creativity!

How to Make Your Own Halloween Tree

 

We loved this fun tutorial from guest contributor Nicholas Efastathiou. Thanks, Nicholas!

In recent years several holiday companies have started producing “Halloween Trees,” often complete with lights and decorations.

Money, however, inevitable raises its head, and we find ourselves asking, “Is this something I can really afford?” It may well be – but if not, or if you just have that creative itch, make your own with this easy tutorial. Enjoy!

Make Your Own Halloween Tree

halloween-tree01Halloween trees can be made quite easily, and the search for just the right tree – usually a branch which is gnarled, twisted, and something which represents the disturbed thought process of the villains in a Shirley Jackson tale – can be quite enjoyable!

Local parks and woods offer up tremendous opportunities, as there is almost always dead fall around, regardless of how often a park may be cleaned up. For those of you fortunate enough to live next to an ocean or other large body of water, driftwood pieces can add an exciting flair to the Halloween holiday.

Once you’ve located your piece, and you’ll know it’s the right one when you see it, all you need to do is bring it home and prepare it for display.

Creating a Base to Stand Your Tree Up

halloween-tree02When you’ve brought your selected Halloween tree home, you need to make sure that it’s going to fit into the place which you have chosen for it. Having done that, it’s a fairly simple task to make sure that the bottom of your tree is flat.

All you need to do is mark where you want it cut, and use a small handsaw to give yourself a flush edge. With this complete, you can use a small piece of board, perhaps 12” x 12”, as the base.

To do this, mark the center of your board and carefully drive a small nail, about 1” or longer, depending on the depth of your board, through the mark (and make sure you don’t nail the board to the table!).

With the board prepared, you can carefully push your Halloween tree’s flush edge onto the nail, keeping it centered so the wood doesn’t split. Once you’ve done this, wiggle the branch a little to make sure that it is fastened securely, and stand it up, turning it if necessary to the position that you want.

With all of this complete, you have your Halloween tree, and it’s ready for you to decorate and display as you wish!