Tag Archives: haunted carnival yard

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.

 

How to Quickly Make a Halloween Scarecrow Family

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

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

Supply list:

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

scarecrow-familyStep One–Scarecrows (SC)

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

Step Two–Construction

Mommy Scarecrow

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

Daddy Scarecrow

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

Child Scarecrow

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

Scarecrow Heads

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

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

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

10-Minute Ghostly “Bodies” to Haunt Your House

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

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

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

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

Supplies for a Piano Ghost:

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

piano ghost prop

Step One:

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

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

Step Two:

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

Ghost Number Two:

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

Step One and Only

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

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

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

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

Book Review: How to Haunt Your House

How to Haunt Your House

How to Haunt Your House

By Shawn and Lynne Mitchell

Sometimes, just sometimes, a book comes across your altar that makes your hands go clammy, that sets your heart racing, that makes your eyes go bug wide in wonder. How to Haunt Your House is such a book.

Its deceptively simple title sets the stage (literally) for what the book is about – a visual feast of step-by-step techniques on, well, how to haunt your house! I have never come across such effective, clear-cut pages of just how to create the fantastic props and effects that home haunters create for that one, single, magically, horribly satisfying night of the year!

Everything you need to know about building a haunt is here – starting with recipes for monster mud to working with Styrofoam, and effective spray paint applications to create that 200 year old marble tombstone.

From these basic but extremely effective tutorials, the authors plunge you into the real WOW factors that impress even jaded adults – floating heads and illusionary figures using television projections (“Pepper’s Ghost”), mausoleums that look endless by using trick mirrors, gothic fence-building techniques, 8 foot tall monster props, and eerie lighting effects.

Throughout, the authors guide you on how to put everything together into one fantastic, spooky presentation –  from your front yard and exterior of your house up the steps to your door, integrating delightfully spooky scares along the way.

This book is a must for not only the beginning home haunter, but for the advanced ones as well. There’s more than a few techniques that had me going “Good Lord! I never thought of creating fog that way. How so much easier!” Heck, I never even thought of creating moss for my tombstones using ordinary dryer lint and spray paint!

You can tell Shawn and Lynne Mitchell put a lot of care and work into this book – each page of their step-by-step instructions are also visually stunning masterpieces of art. Everything is clearly detailed, and nothing is left out.

Anybody should be able to share in the fun of “haunting out” their houses, and this book makes it extremely accessible to all Halloween lovers. The title says this is Book One, so I certainly can’t wait for the sequel!

 

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

 

Halloween  mail  Postcard
Halloween mail Postcard

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

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

Getting Your Halloween Party Set Up . . . Quickly!

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

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

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

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

Now What?

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

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

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

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

A Murder of Crows

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

Collections of Webs and Spiders

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

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

Sophisticated Party Room

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

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

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

Big Halloween Displays in Small Spaces

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

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

The Solution – The Craft Store

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

What To Put Into Your Display

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

The Gory (and Fantastical) Details

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

Supplies For a Mini-Fantasy Display

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

Getting Started

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

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

The Haunted Background

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

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

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

Populating Your Scene

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

How to Craft a Witch’s Kitchen

 

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

What’s the Idea?

crafthubs.com
Credit: crafthubs.com

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

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

Getting Started

Credit: amazon.com

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

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

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

Prepping Your Jar Lids

Credit: Pinterest, Dollhouse of Horrors

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

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

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

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

Frightening Fillers

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

  • Werewolf Claws: Cashew nuts, split in half.

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

Making the Labels

Credit: thekolbcorner.com

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

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

Displaying Your Handiwork

Credit: Pinterest

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

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

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

Use your creativity and have fun!

Demented Dime Toss

How to Make a Demented Dime Toss Game

Supplies Needed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Witch Hat Ring Toss

How to Make a Witch Hat Ring Toss Game

Supplies needed:

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

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

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

Witch Hat Ring Toss

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

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

Coffin Toss

How to Make an Easy Coffin Toss Game

Supply list:

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

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

Coffin Toss

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

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

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