Tag Archives: skeleton

Dia de los Muertos: Get Your Dead On!

Can’t get enough Halloween? Then celebrate it twice! Here’s the 411 on a famous Spanish-community holiday…and how you can get in on the action, including song, dance, flowers, history, and of course…candy!

What is Dia de los Muertos?

Dia de los Muertos (“day of the dead” or “day of the dead ones”) is actually three days: Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. However, many celebrants combine the traditions into one day.

Dating back hundreds of years as an official celebration and possibly linked to ancient Aztec culture, Dia de los Muertos honors those who have passed through the veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.

Various Spanish-origin cultures celebrate Dia de los Muertos, but in the United States it is most popular among the Mexican population. Parades are held in major Mexican-populations across the U.S., most famously Los Angeles, San Diego and Tuscon.

Behind the Partying: Why It’s Celebrated

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Dia de Los Muertos has a religoius element. Image: Senor Codo

You may not hold to the following beliefs, but taking a bit from tradition can add a fascinating element of honoring one’s past.

  • Oct. 31: All Hallow’s Eve. On this night, altars are erected in the home to honor loved ones who have passed on. Some families officially invite the spirits of their loved ones to the three-day celebration. Children may erect their own mini-altars, inviting the angelitos (dead children) to the household. Grim? Perhaps – but it’s a fascinating and very respectful way to remember one’s own heritage.
  • Nov. 1: All Saint’s Day. On this day, the adult “passed spirits” are believed to enter the celebration.
  • Nov. 2: All Souls’ Day. Families visit the graves of deceased loved ones. They clean the area and decorate it, usually with colorful bouquets of flowers, as well as rosaries, photos and little gifts for the deceased.

These are all Christian calendar dates, but there’s a very pagan element to Dia de los Muertos, and it is believed that some aspects of the three-day celebration tie in to pre-Columbian Central and South America.

Waking the Dead: How to Celebrate

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Mmm! Sugar skulls, or “calaveras,” are (almost) too pretty to eat. Image: Danielle

Wow – get ready for a wild ride! Dia de los Muertos is generally a community affair with colorful décor, music and dancing. Here are a few ways that celebrants honor the three-day festival:

  • A parade. The three-day festival often begins with a procession, complete with music. Individuals carry photos of deceased family members, colorful bouquets of flowers and dress up to the nines for what is basically an opening ceremony to the holiday. Start a tradition by having a parade in your neighborhood or by hosting a Dia de los Muertos party.
  • Las calaveras. Literally “the skulls,” these delicious sugar treats – or “sugar skulls” – are too beautiful to eat. Months may go into crafting these sweet creations, but if you’d like to try a sugar skull yourself, there are online vendors who offer them. (In areas that have a large Mexican population, you may be able to purchase them at markets.)
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Paint yourself calacas-style. Image: Cody Garcia
  • Decorate with flowers. Orange marigolds are the most popular flower for Dia de los Muertos, but there really are no rules – for this holiday it’s flowers, flowers everywhere! Buy flowers or consider making paper flowers yourself.
  • Bake pan de muerto (literally “bread of the dead”). Share it with family and friends, or take loaves to the cemetery to leave as ofrendas (offerings).
  • Decorate with calacas. Calacas are skeletons painted fancifully, often as a spoof: for example, dancing or singing skeletons, or calacas playing musical instruments.
  • Paint your own face calacas-style! Paint your face white with theater paint, then add flowers, patterns and anything beautiful you can dream up.
MexicanSugarSkullDotCom
Image: mexicansugarskull.com

Whatever you decide to do, make sure there’s plenty of great music – traditional Mexican music is a great pick – and lots of food (and drink, if you’d like).

Though its point seems morbid (and is, in its most literal definition), Dia de los Muertos is actually a celebration of life carrying on, while letting the dead know they’re not forgotten. So get your Spanish on and get partying!

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The spooktacular celebration of death (and life) often starts with a no-holds-barred parade. Image: Larry Lamsa

Make a Dollar Store Halloween Wreath

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

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

You will need:

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

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

Here’s the process:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Decorate Your Car for Halloween

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

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

Car Decor Idea #1: Ghost Rider

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

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

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

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

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

Car Decor Idea #2: Hunk in the Trunk

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

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

Car Decor Idea #3: Window Clings

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

Car Decor Idea #4: Fangtastic

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

Car Decor Idea #5: Autumn Touches

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

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

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

Car Decor Idea #6: Paint it Up

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

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

Car Decor Idea #7: A Tangled Web

Creepy! And crawly. Photo: Squidoo.com

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

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

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

Car Decor Idea #8: Ghost Antenna Topper

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

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

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

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

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

A Word About Safety

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

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

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

Seven Unique Ways to Use Skeletons in Your Decor

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

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

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

Just Hangin’ Out

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

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

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

Haunted Hillbillies

Available at Grandin Road

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

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

The Pedaling Dead

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

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

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

All Creeped Up

Image: Six Flags Magic Mountain

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

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

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

Bony Scarecrow

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

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

Tutorial by rupertoooo

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

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

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

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

Haunted House Guest

Available at Shindigz

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

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

Riding Shotgun

Credit: imgflip.com

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

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

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

Make a Dead Fairy…Plus BONUS Unicorn Skeleton

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

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

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

You Will Need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dead fairy prop for Halloween

Tips and Alternatives to the Above  Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yummy Mini Pizza Mummies

mummy pizza

Image Credit

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

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

Frightening Freaky Cheese Fingers

monster fingers

Image Credit

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

The Phantom Toast

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

‘Dem Bones, ‘Dem Bones…

gingerbread bones

Image Credit

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

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

Make a Decaying Mummy Skull Prop

I love Halloween, and I love Halloween projects.

And by the way, I’m seriously lazy.

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

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

How to Make Your Skull

You will need:

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

Directions:

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

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

Skull Holes Halloween decor

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

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

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

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

Decaying skull Halloween prop

Where Should Your Skull Rest in Peace?

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

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

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

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.