Tag Archives: yard decor

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 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!

A Grave Matter: Building a Halloween Cemetery

 

It’s spooky. It’s creepy.. It’s blood-curdling. It’s…a week before Halloween and you don’t have a single decoration up yet!

Never fear: help is here, and in a hurry. Here’s how to haunt your own front yard or indoor party area with these chillingly good graveyard scene ideas.

Terrifying Tombstoneshalloween tombstone ghoul

Naturally, the first thing you’ll want to grab hold of is a set of eerie cemetery tombstones. Don’t worry if these don’t all match; different sizes and textures add to the spooky effect and will make your grave scene more believable.

If you’re pressed for time, buy pre-made foam tombstones; three to four are sufficient for a small to medium-size front yard, and two to three will work for an indoor scene.

If you’re feeling creative, you can make your own gravestones in a flash with our Ten Minute Tombstone tutorial.

Finish off your stones by adding some realistic moss around the tops; glue the moss on if your display will be outdoors and exposed to the weather. Another handful or two at the base of each stone delivers a realistic look that’s even creepier after dark.

mel-graveyard-ground-breakThey Come Out at Night

Since all the best cemeteries are haunted, create a few creatures to set the scene.

Use an old Halloween monster or ghost mask, metal coat hangers and a torn sheet to make a ghost or mummy in minutes. To create this effect, tie some of the sheet (the more torn the better) around the mask and stuff the inside with paper or rags to fill out the “head”.

Then carefully unwind the hangers (careful—the metal can be sharp) and twist enough together to make a lawn stake that’s one to two feet higher than one of your tombstones.

Insert the metal inside the “neck” of your creature and stake it behind the tombstone. For added effect, insert wires crosswise in the fabric for “arms” and fold them in front of the stone.

A Spooky Atmosphere

Create finishing touches with novelty spiders, bugs or poseable skeletons. If you have an old Halloween skeleton prop that’s missing a rib or two, it will be all the more perfect for your “neglected cemetery” scene. Set up the pieces in front of one of your stones or scatter bones all around the cemetery.

Hardcore haunters like to add lighting, fog machines and/or strobe lights with sounds (to mimic thunder and lightning).

Add novelty bugs or birds, old cloth and other scraps to your graveyard and you’ll have a haunt fit for any Haunted House. Happy Halloween!

mel-graveyard-skeleton mel-graveyard-cross

mel-graveyard

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!

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.

antique-shop

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!

Make Any Creepy Creature Come To Life with Glowing Eyes!

Credit: Rusty Nail Workshop

Once again, guest contributor Carolyn Miller gives us an eerie, tech-based treat. Read on to make this cool prop for your own haunt.

It’s Halloween! Would you like to spice things up? Make things a little scary? Make your neighbors wonder “What is that creepy thing”?

With just a quick touch of glowing red LED eyes, your hum-drum Halloween decorations instantly turn into the scary, creepy, evil things that go bump in the night.

The glowing eyes trick is easy to install, and so affordable; it won’t be your pocket book screaming in terror on Halloween!

This trick is very simple, but first you need the parts. You will need:

  • A 9 Volt Battery
  • (2) red LED assemblies
  • (optional) a simple on/off switch
  • Any small wire lying around the house. Where can you find these items? You can find these at your local electronics store. In this example, the materials were all found at Radio Shack. You can visit the local store, or order online.

Skull with Glowing EyesAll you simple need to do is drill a hole through the object you wish put the LED eyes into. Then insert the LED assembly into the hole. There is a nut that will help fasten the LED assembly body to the surface of the hole.

Once you do that, you will need to wire the LED’s positive (red wires) together, and the negative (black wires together). This will create a parallel circuit. Connect the Red wires to the + side of the 9 volt battery, use glue or solder to keep it in place.

The black wires will attach to one side of the switch in a terminal or prong, use glue or solder to keep it in place. Take any extra spare wire and glue or solder it to the other side of the switch’s prong or terminal. Finally, attach the extra wire to the – side of the 9 volt battery by glue or solder.

Once you complete the circuit, you can turn on your evil eyes anytime with the toggle switch. The LED light have a long extended life and drains very little battery power, so feel free to leave on your scary eyes as long as you wish. Boo!

Motion-sensor Rustling Leaves For Your Halloween Haunt

Build a spooky effect with this cool tutorial from guest contributor Carolyn Miller. Thanks for the chills, Carolyn!

It’s Halloween, and your big bright-orange pumpkin bucket is full of delicious candy. You decide to hit that one last house on the left in hopes of finding something really good. As you walk up to the porch, you feel something is not right; it’s just too quiet here.

Then fear takes hold as you start hearing the rustling of leaves nearby. You turn around – nobody is there!

Rustling leaves in a still, overcast Halloween evening are an iconic chill-inducer. How can you make leaves rustle and move at your own haunt without you being there? If you love tinkering with electronics components, the trick is quite simple.

In this article I will show you how. You’re guaranteed to scare the pants off people without terrorizing your bank account. Ready? Let’s get haunting!

What You’ll Need

Before we can begin to frighten unsuspecting folks on Halloween, you will need to pick up a few things. Check out your local Radio Shack or click the  orange links.

(Note: always purchase from a locale that allows you to return items in case you don’t quite have the right fit – that’s why we love Amazon!):

A Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) 01-pir
(4)  6mm Mini Vibration Motor for Phones, PDA’s and Pagers 02-mini-vibration
Enclosed 3 “AA” Battery Holder 03-battery-holder
Any 5 Volt Coil Relay 04-coil-relay
1 K Resistor 05-1k-resistor
NPN Transistor (2N2222) 06-2n2222a_met
1N4001 Diode 07-1N4001-diode
  • You will also need a soldering iron and any protective equipment for your surfaces.

Get Your Soldering Gear Fired Up!

To begin this project, you will solder the red (+5V) wire from the battery holder to the pin that represents +V on the PIR. This will be your 4.5V intake to the sensor.

leaves-rustling-diagramThe black wire of the battery holder will be soldered to the Pin that represents ground – or GND. This will power the sensor once turned on. The pin that says “Signal” is your output signal that says an object is there! This signal turns on when an object is close.

Next, run a wire from the signal to the transistor. The transistor will have 3 prongs on it. One will be wired for your input or the “Signal”. The other prong will be sent to ground or connected to the black wire on the battery holder. The final wire off the transistor will go to “Coil” side of your relay. The other half of the relay side coil will finally be wired back to the GND or Black wire of your battery box.

The drawing shows the basic hook up to make the IR sensor stand alone. When choosing the vibration motors, you must find out what power source is required. Most vibration motors will require about 1.2V, so depending on how many motors you have hooked up, will determine what battery or batteries you will need.

Setting Up Your “Rustling Leaves” Effect

Autumn-leavesOnce everything is connected up, you should be able to turn the power on and the IR motion sensor will detect your movement up close to it. If you want to aim the sensor or cover just one area you can place it in the bottom of a tin can.

Drill a hole in the bottom of the can, run the wires through and use double sided tape to secure the PIR sensor at the bottom of the can. Now you can aim any direction and the sensor won’t trip off from any side motions.

When placing the noise-making vibration motors, it’s best to keep these hidden so they do not get stepped on or damaged. When building this concept, the motors were placed within a group of leaves just off of the porch. The tin can and PIR sensor was hidden away inside the mailbox.

When unsuspecting trick-or-treaters came to the front porch, the sensor picked up the motion right at the stairway. A pile of leaves would begin to shake just off the porch, giving both kids and parents a sudden fright!

 

 

Scary “Blair Witch” Icons Made from Sticks

 

The following contribution is from the spooky Screaming Scarecrow Studios. Thanks as always, fellas – stay scary!

When building your Halloween setup, we recommend keeping the traditional, but bring in a bite of the new – “new” if you lived in the 1700s, that is!

A movie that I suspect most of the scare fans here have seen is the The Blair Witch Project. It’s based on a legend that reportedly occurred in the 18th century.

A major factor in the movie that generates fear and suspense is the inclusion of “stick figures,” which hang from trees around the hikers’ tent. They are, presumably, the icons of murdered children, some even dressed in scraps made from the children’s clothing. (Did somebody say “nightmares”?)

To capture the terror the hikers felt when first viewingg the stick figures, try this: as trick-or-treaters approach your front door, make the kiddies walk through a maze of these icons. Hang them from tree limbs or from the tunnel or walk-through.

Ready? Let’s get scary! Here’s the project.

Your Own Blair Witch Project

  • To start, you’ll need are a 6-8 inch square cloth (we like to use cut and “distressed” burlap material for the effect, but any cloth with a little “blood” will do; distress the edges by pulling at them).
  • You’ll need a material to make lashings (such as dried vines or some twine), or use hot gun glue if you are “knot” challenged (see what we did there?).
  • Finally, you’ll need two sticks. One can be forked, but you can also lash two straight sticks together for this effect. “Straight” is a relative term here; a little crooked makes it scarier, we think. Collect branches from your own yard or buy craft natural sticks.

01-blair-witch-sticks

First, you are going to lash or tack the sticks parallel to each other, the straight stick about one to two inches down from the top of the forked stick. To learn about tying a lashing, visit http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/b-p/wb/lashings.

Start the lashing with a clove hitch and then cross the “arms” stick perpendicular to the “body” and tie the lashing.

02-blair-witch-sticks 03-blair-witch-sticks

Size the burlap: Set one corner at the fork, and measure the diagonal along the arm.

04-blair-witch-sticks 05-blair-witch-sticks

Once that is done, take the cloth and fold it diagonally from corner to corner. Repeat so the cloth is folded into quarters.

Using scissors, snip the apex of the triangle you’ve formed to make a small hole in the cloth, big enough to slip the “head” of the stick figure through, and unfold the cloth.

06-blair-witch-sticks

Cut a slit toward one of the corners for the front of the “dress”.

07-blair-witch-sticks

Now you’re ready to slip the cloth over the head of the stick. You’ll want to adjust the cloth so that the apex of the triangular cloth touches the split in the forked stick. Tack this down by tying it with the root material or string, or simply tack it with hot gun glue.

08-blair-witch-sticks 09-blair-witch-sticks

Now all you have to do is make a noose to hang the figure, and find an appropriate tree to hang it from!

10-blair-witch-sticks

You can make all kinds of versions of the stick figure. If you want to make the exact copy of the Blair Witch icon, you’ll need four straight sticks:

Two to make and “X”, one to tie to two tips of the “X”, and one to make the “head”.

Tie the “X” a little above center to give the “legs” a longer length.

Tie the “head” to the cross piece and to the intercept of the “X”. These don’t have any cloth, and you have to do a lot more tying.

11-blair-witch-sticks

Be creative and Happy Haunting!

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!

 

The Body Part Toss Game

 

Thanks, Screaming Scarecrow Studios, for this gristly and very valuable contribution!

Why do most haunters haunt? Because we have tons of fun doing it!

From building spooky props to putting together creepy Halloween costumes to scaring the pants off trick-or-treaters and rewarding them with candy, we just plain love it. Most Halloween haunters find all aspects of home haunting fun!

With that in mind, and in an effort to provide our Halloween guests with more gruesome entertainment, the lurking lunatics at Screaming Scarecrow Studios have put together the following simple game.

Our Body Part Toss Game, or BPTG, was relatively cheap and simple to build and it should last a good number of years.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • plywood (see below)
  • supporting wood, if desired (see below)
  • nails
  • plastic body parts (buy these BEFORE shaping and cutting your holes so you know how large to make them)
  • jigsaw
  • red paint
  • white paint
  • old clothing
  • expanding foam

SOMETHING TO TOSS BODY PARTS AT:

Start out with a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood. Plywood may cost a bit more (look for deals),  but it will accept paint better and last longer in the outdoor elements.

We chose cheap, quarter inch thick, spruce plywood (rough not finished). This made the finished product light and portable.

Quarter inch plywood may occasionally be a bit flimsy, so we screwed a 2” x 2” wood frame to the back of the plywood. This not only gave the BPTG rigidity it also gave us a good solid piece of wood to screw a stand to if one was to be used.

OUTLINE YOUR VICTIM:

For this, we simply laid the plywood down on the ground and then positioned a willing victim on it. We then traced the basic sprawled body shape with a pencil.

Once this shape was traced, we cut out the holes for the parts to be tossed into during the game. We made the holes vary a bit in size and shape in order to provide different levels of challenge.

After the holes were cut and all the rough edges sanded down, we painted the plywood white. If you want your reds to pop out under any lighting, you need to put them on white! It’s an amazing (and gruesome) effect.

Once the white paint dried we created body shapes such as chest, arms and legs using stucco wire. We like using stucco wire because it makes for a stronger wire frame form.

After the wire body shapes were created we attached them to the plywood in their proper spots. We used nails for this because the portion of the nails that were sticking out the back of the quarter inch plywood could be bent over flat so they would not be sticking out dangerously.

NOTE: At our haunt, for added insurance that nobody gets poked by any protruding nails, we have an actor dressed up with a fake chainsaw retrieving the tossed body parts for our guests.

DRESSED TO DIE FOR:

After the wire body shapes were all attached to the plywood it was time to dress our victim.

In order to do this we cut the back out of an old used shirt and pair of pants that we had lying around. Next, we cut straight up the back of the legs and the arms of the pants and shirt.

With the clothing opened up in this manner we are able to wrap wire frame with the clothing, stapling the clothing to the plywood along the edges as we went.

DETAILING THE GAME:

Finally we added all the gory details, such as blood on the clothes, blood splatter on the plywood and of course, the steaming pile of entrails!

For the red paint we used high-gloss red spray paint. Painting the clothes and the areas around the holes was easy; we just used as much as we thought looked impressively splattered (see the image for reference).

Creating the blood splatter and drips was a bit tricky with spray paint. We used an ordinary stick and while the game was leaning upright and while holding the stick above the game, we sprayed the paint onto the stick (holding the nozzle close to the stick), letting the excess paint run off the stick. They ran downward. The effect was perfect.

For the final touch, we used expanding foam to make the entrails. After reinforcing the waist with extra stucco wire, we put a small chicken wire basket inside the pants so that there would be something for the expanding foam to sit on. Then we sprayed. Caution: as the name says, this expands. Use just a little, then add on.

Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using expanding foam products.

We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. This stuff is so sticky the only way you can clean it up is with acetone when it’s wet and a sander when its dry. You DO NOT want to get this in your eyes. We’ll say it again: be careful!

HALLOWEEN FUN WITH YOUR BPTG:

Time to play the game! Assign points depending upon how far away the hole is, whether the correct body part goes into the correct hole, and how irregularly shaped or difficult the hole is.

Thanks for reading and Happy Haunting!

 

One-of-a-Kind Halloween Pumpkins – Exciting Themes to Carve Your Pumpkin

You’ve picked the biggest, roundest, most orange pumpkin in the patch. The table is covered with protective newspaper. Armed with an array of cutting implements, you stand over your victim, prepared to create . . .yet another snaggletoothed face.

Isn’t there another way?

Traditionally decorated pumpkins – usually consisting of two round or triangular eyes, a nose and a mouth with just a few teeth – are a fun and familiar pick. But there’s more than one way to dress a naked pumpkin. Try something brand-new this year for a look that’ll make your house the best Halloween pick in the neighborhood!

For the Birds

You Will Need:

  • One small or medium-size pumpkin
  • Decorative black-feathered birds
  • Decorative pumpkin tendrils
  • Black spray paint
  • Glue gun (with one stick glue) or instant-bond glue
  • Cutting or digging tool
  • Paint or glitter if desired

This idea is eerie, yet deceptively simple. You will need a small- to medium-size pumpkin (pie pumpkins work great!) A pumpkin with a slightly flattish bottom is ideal; the fruit should be able to stand upright without being propped up. Purchase decorative blackbirds, ravens or crows and decorative pumpkin tendrils (curled strips) from your local crafts store or flower shop. Buy a small can of black spray paint from any retail store.

Spray paint the tendrils black; allow to dry. Glue the crows to the outside of the pumpkin, arranging them so that a few are “pecking” at the pumpkin’s skin. Attach the tendrils to the stem of the pumpkin with glue. Decorate the rest of your pumpkin in paint or glitter with a catchy saying if desired.

Slithering Snakes

You Will Need:

  • One medium or large pumpkin
  • Novelty rubber or plastic snakes
  • Carving tool
  • Scooping tool
  • Battery-powered pumpkin light

Turn your pumpkin over and carve a circle into its bottom, slightly smaller than the circumference; remove. (Alternatively, you can cut a top out of your pumpkin; however, cutting the bottom creates a seamless look and prevents the pumpkin top from falling in as it shrinks over time.)

Scoop out seeds and pulp and scrape carefully.

Turn the pumpkin right-side up and carve eyes, nose and a gaping mouth. Try for a frightened or disgusted expression on your pumpkin’s “face”. Place your light source securely in the pumpkin’s bottom. Because any added materials can pose a potential fire hazard, we recommend a battery-powered or electric plug-in light rather than a burnable wick candle.

Place the carved top over the cut bottom, then situate the novelty snakes so that they are slithering out of the eye sockets, nose and mouth. Sit back and enjoy the reactions!

Eerie Black-and-Orange Pumpkin

You Will Need:

  • One pumpkin (any size)
  • Carving tool
  • Scooping tool
  • Black spray paint
  • Halloween stencil, if desired

Spray paint your pumpkin black; allow to dry completely. Carve the pumpkin, using tips shown above (see “Slithering Snakes”). Be careful not to nick the spray-painted skin; if you do, just cut a bit farther outward, or touch-up carefully with more paint or a black magic marker.

Your best look for this ghoulish gourd is a traditionally scary carving; try a frightened black cat, sinister tombstone or a witch flying past a crescent moon. Carve freehand, or use a Halloween stencil. When lit, the black will contrast spookily with the pumpkin’s orange insides.

Black Widow Web

pumpkin-spiders

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Will Need:

  • One pumpkin (any size)
  • Carving tool
  • Scooping tool
  • Black paint or black permanent magic marker
  • Novelty toy spider
  • Crafts glue

Because you won’t be carving or cutting into this pumpkin, it should last quite a while if kept outdoors in cool to cold weather. Draw or paint a spider’s web on the outside of the pumpkin; using the stem as your point of reference, paint lines out, down and back up again at intervals from the stem center. Now paint lines vertically at intervals, connecting the web.

Use your crafts glue to attach the spider to the web. You’ll be sure to startle (and delight!) any trick-or-treaters that come to your door.

Scaring Up Supplies on the Cheap

13 tips to take some of the bite out of the cost of home haunting from the lurking lunatics at ScreamingScarecrowStudios

garage sale halloweenYou know you are in danger of being labeled a Halloween fiend when you find yourself daydreaming about spending any lottery winnings on a Hollywood-grade, year round haunted attraction! But if you’re just poor working stiffs like us, who haven’t yet won the lottery, you know there is never enough cash in the coffin to fund the annual dark obsession. For this reason we thought we’d share how we get some of the materials used in our home haunt and Halloween props.

Halloween – not just for October 31st

Tip #1 – Post-Halloween Sales

We hate to state the obvious, but the best way to be able to scare up cheap haunting supplies is to be thinking about Halloween all year round – starting with November 1st. If you don’t already know, most stores put what is left of their Halloween stock on sale the day after Halloween, sometimes up to 75% or more off! We often take the day off and go to our favorite Halloween store early before it opens so we’re first in line for all the glorious mad grabbing of discounted horror.

Tip #2 – Costume Remainders

As much fun as it is to make haunt props from monster mud, for your next creature consider scooping up a Halloween costume while you’re taking advantage of the November 1st sales. When you buy a costume for a mere pittance of what it was a week earlier you don’t feel bad about using it on a monster prop. Costumes often give your creatures of the night a more authentic look and feel. Also not using monster mud allows you to disassemble a store the prop more easily.

Tip #3 – Stock Up on Fake Spider Webs

Never pay full price for fake spider webs. This is one item that is almost always deeply discounted. One year we paid only 25cents a bag, so for a cool 10 bucks we had ourselves 40 bags of webbing! As an added bonus. when taking down the used webs at the end of the season, don’t throw them out – just ball it all up into a good head-sized mass because it actually makes great stuffing material for a Halloween mask.

Tip #4 – Costume Makeup Sales

Never pay full price for costume makeup. This is another item that is almost always deeply discounted. You’ll always need Halloween face makeup for some costume or another but you could even use the makeup as greasy pastel crayons to draw horror scenes on cardboard backdrops in the haunt. Also it is face makeup – the kids can use it all year round for face painting!

Wood – it doesn’t just grow on trees in the haunted forest

Tip #5 – Lumber Sales

Thinking about your haunt plans and projects during the year allows you to watch and wait for basic building materials such as lumber and plywood to come on sale at the local lumber yards. For bigger projects, wait to get the full size wood on sale, but for smaller projects it’s good to know somebody in the construction industry. You can ask them to bring you left over job scraps. We have one guy who brings us all sorts of useable scrap wood.

Tip #6 – Pallet Manufacturers

Another place we get wood is the local pallet manufacturers and businesses that receive items shipped in crates. Often they have this pallet wood or crate wood piled up in designated areas waiting for people to come and haul it away for them.

Tip #7 – Old, Reclaimed Wood

Then there’s old weathered wood, which is perfect for coffins and crosses. We help friends & family when they are tearing down a garage or shed. Especially if the building is old and the wood is weathered and beat up. Nothing makes more authentic cemetery crosses and coffins then old wood – sure there are lots of techniques for distressing and aging wood but they don’t come close to the real thing.

Black is our favorite color, until they come out with something darker

Tips #8 – Grey is the New Black

Although we love black, one of the most common colors in our haunt is grey. If everything was black too much light would be needed to properly light up our haunted scenes. So it’s a good thing that most paints mix together to make a blah looking icky color to which we add some black paint to make various greys. Paint is expensive, so like the wood it’s good if you know someone in the painting business that can bring you left over paint from jobsites. Another place to get free or cheap paint is garage sales. Most people have old paint in their basement or garage but don’t think to put it out, so we just ask if they have any old paint they’d like to get rid of?

Tip #9 – Discounted Paint

Another way to get cheap paint is the local hardware store. Sometimes you can buy discounted paint when people return paint because of the wrong color. Once again it does not matter what color the paint is because it usually all gets mixed together into grey.

Tip #10 – Packaging Tarp

On the subject of black – we construct our Halloween haunt in our driveway and side yard using 2 X 4 wood framing. Once the framework is setup, we skin it with tarps that we get from the local lumber yards. These are the tarps that wood manufactures cover and ship their lumber with. Often these tarps have a black side making them perfect for Halloween. Plus the lumber yards just puts them in the garbage anyway. We’re actually keeping the landfills cleaner!

Garage sales Goblins and Thrift store Trolls

Tip #11 – Garage Sales

Of course you already know that lots of great things can be found at garage sales and thrift stores but whenever we go throughout the year we always keep an eye out for a few things that we like to use in our haunt. One of those things is bolts of cheap fabric – of course anything black or grey but we also look hard for blood red satin sheets because they make perfect liners for coffins. We also snap up any cheaply priced white sheer curtains because they are perfect for flying crank ghosts and static ghost alike.

Tip #12 – Pool Noodles

Something we haven’t found that often at either garage sales or thrift stores is water noodles. New, they are not super expensive but they also are not cheap either. So we snap them up when we find them and ask anybody we know with a pool to let us have them when they are done with them. Why water noodles? Because we’ve found they are great for giving form and shape to a creature’s arm or leg. If you just stuff an arm or leg with stuffing it often looks too stuffed and unrealistic – a water noodle that has been shaped into a limb often lets the clothes hang correctly giving more realistic appearance.

Tip #13 – Mannequins, Old Paintings, Storage Trunks

Being number 13 we thought we’d squeeze in 3 more things we love to find while out second hand shopping. First, for obvious reasons, mannequins! When we come across a reasonably priced used mannequin we definitely grab it. Put on those discounted costumes and makeup the face anyway you like because you’ve got plenty of discounted face makeup and you have an instant character! Second is old portrait paintings. These can be turned into creepy eyes-following-you-around-the-room or blood-leaking-from-the-neck props. Thirdly, a find we never past up, is the old dusty beat-up storage trunk. In low light, these old trunks just naturally add more creep factor to most haunted houses. Plus they can be used to make Monster-in-a-box props or a variation of the Trash-Can-Trauma props. Both are classic scare tactics in the home haunter’s bag of tricks and treats!

Hopefully, somewhere in these 13 tips, you’ve found something to help you scare up supplies for your Halloween home haunt. Thanks for reading and Happy Haunting!

You probably have a Halloween-dozen of your own favorite tips. If you’d like to share some of them, please add your comments.

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Need A Hand? Creating Awesome Monster Hands for Your Halloween Prop

 

The following super-fun tutorial was contributed by the illustrious (and very crafty) Screaming Scarecrow of Screaming Scarecrow Studios. Enjoy!

NOTE: We are including our professional haunt armature instructions, but you do NOT need to use tools or pipe for this prop. See below for two easy versions.

*

One thing all home haunters can use, as the Halloween Season draws near, is a few extra pairs of hands.

And we mean that in more ways than one!

Luckily, you can craft creepy monster hands for much less than finished full props you’ll find in Halloween novelty locales.

Here’s how to make your own alternative store bought prop hands (though these will certainly do in a pinch – buy inexpensive ones and creep them up yourself using our cool painting method below).

 

You Will Need:

  • Witch Fingers (see below)
  • Kitchen gloves: non-Latex if you are Latex-sensitive (see below)
  • Expanding foam (see below for link)
  • Sturdy wire (to bend and pose the hands when finished)
  • Craft/utility knife or scissors
  • Black magic marker
  • Spray paint or airbrush kit and paints appropriate for latex or vinyl

FOR THE PROFESSIONAL HAUNT VERSION You Will Also Need:

  • 1.5-inch white PVC pipe
  • drill
  • safety goggles

Latex Gloves and Witch Fingers

Here’s how we create a cool variety of monster hands to amp the scare factor of our seasonal haunt.

We start with a few pairs of cheap latex gloves – the regular kind used for common household chores. (NOTE: If you suspect a latex allergy, choose latex-free gloves. This is critical…latex allergy is no joke and can land you in the hospital. Please be aware!)

The next must have item for this Halloween project are cheap plastic “witch’s fingers,” which are readily available every autumn and come in different colors and styles.

The first thing we do is turn the glove inside-out.

This makes it look less like a household chore glove and more like a hand. It is also the better side for painting later.

Next we carefully cut a small piece off the tip of each glove finger. We find that a sharp craft/utility knife works better than scissors.

Do not cut the holes too big or the plastic witch’s fingers will just fall out the ends when sliding them into the fingers of the glove. It is better if the witch’s fingers are stretching the holes in the gloves as they are pushed though.

The Wrist Bone’s Connected to the Monster-Arm Bone…

NOTE: For the non-armature version, skip to Fleshing Things Out, below.

Now we are going to use some ½ inch white PVC pipe to make an arm bone and then use some wire hold the hand to the bone.

The arm bone doesn’t need to be very long, usually around 10 to 12 inches. It should begin in the middle of the hand and only stick out of the wrist opening of the glove a few inches. This is how the finished hands can be connected to the monster.

Once the arm bone is cut to size we carefully drill a hole through both ends of the pipe about an inch in from the end.

One side will be used now, with the wire, to attach the hand to the bone, while the other side will be used later to hang the hand during the finishing process.

Always using protective eye and hand wear, we cut a piece of wire. When put through the hole in the pipe bone, it can be bent on either side so as to go into the thumb and any other finger of the hand. These will connect to the plastic witch’s fingers. This is what will keep the hand attached to the bone while it is later filled with foam.

NOTE: Once the foam sets, it’s the foam that holds everything together.

Attaching the plastic witch’s fingers to the wire is a bit tricky; we simply drill or poke a hole in the finger and slide the wire through. Then we bend the wire into a hook and then slide the finger back up into the hook of the bent wire.   

Fleshing Things Out

Once we’ve prepared a few sets of hands like this we are ready to hang the hands up and fill them with foam. We like to run a long wire through the holes in the arm bones that we drilled early and hang the hands side by side when we fill them with foam.

We use expanding foam (the kind used for insulation and to fill cracks) to fill the hands out and give them their form. IMPORTANT: Perform this part of the project outside, as the fumes can be an issue.

Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using these products. We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. We DO NOT want you to get this in your eyes.

It is also a good idea to wear old clothes and gloves.

We start by placing the nozzle of the foam can down into the fingertips and squeeze a bit of foam into each finger – let that expand for a bit while moving on to the fingers of the next pair of hands.

Next we fill then hand cavity of each hand with foam and then after that too has had a chance to expand a bit we then fill in the wrist and arm portion.

Try not to over-fill the gloves; if you will, you’ll wind up with “puffy” hands. This is a bit of a learning curve; you’ll get a feel for it. If you see things growing a bit out of control, cut the glove on one side to relieve some of the expanding foam.

This is all messy and the fumes are terrible, we won’t lie. It’s a good idea to always work with foam outside.

Because the expanding foam is inside a latex glove, which isn’t porous, it takes quite awhile to cure. Allow your “hand” to sit two to three days for the foam to cure properly.

After the foam has cured, we take our pile of hands and paint them.

Painting Your Hands (and We Don’t Mean Nailpolish!)

Painting is the truly creative part of this project. Here’s our method:

First we draw some detail lines on the hands with a black marker (or any color that is going to work with the finished prop). 

Then we spray paint them the color(s) we need. We may use an alternate color for shadowing, or add red drips or splotches. Get creative!

As you can see, we are not artists by any stretch. Just remember our mantra at Screaming Scarecrow Studios: “Everything looks good in low light!“ You’ll be absolutely amazed at how creepy and frightening these little babies look on Halloween night.

Variations

There are lots of variations you can do with this technique to come up with different types of hands.

For instance, we sometimes rub a little of the expanding foam on the outside of the hands before painting, because when it expands and cures the texture looks like warts, veins and wrinkles.

Another variation which can kick these hands up a notch is using wire on all the fingers, which allow us to pose them before they are filled up with foam. The following photos below show an example of this kind of hand. We also pushed the plastic witch’s fingers a little farther so the prop hand would have longer fingers.

One interesting thing we noticed while creating these kind of hands for our halloween props, is that as the expanding foam inside the glove cures the foam sometimes shrinks into itself. This can result in wrinkles or deformation – there is no way that we know to control this phenomenon. Sometime it works in your favor and sometimes it may not. For this set of hands they wrinkled perfectly!

Even though you may not always have enough pair of hands helping you put together (and especially tearing down) your home haunt, we hope you’ll nevermore be short handed when it comes to monster hands for your Halloween props. Thanks for reading, and happy haunting!

  

 

The Ten Minute Tombstone

 

Image credit: DIY Network

Editor’s Note: From first tracing to spray-painting, this project should take about 10 minutes. Beginners may want to go more slowly. For fast, party-ready results, do just the basics. If you’d like to add creative touches, allow more time. Enjoy and stay spooky, friends!

Ready to scare up some inexpensive, fast and totally terrifying fun? This is the BEST tombstone tutorial we’ve come across and our most popular DIY here at Halloween Alliance. It’s so easy, it’s scary! Read on for the scoop.

1. Gather Your Building Materials

  • Styrofoam sheeting. Because we’re going with a simple, classic design in this tutorial, we are going to use a high-density Styrofoam sheet for the body and join it to a lumber wood base.
  • Small ground stakes.
  • Small push-pins, any type.
  • A pencil.
  • A craft knife or if you prefer, a saw suitable for cutting styrofoam.
  • Lettering stencils, if desired.
  • Latex spray paint: one black can, one white can and one gray can.
  • Materials and tools for an optional base if desired. (This step is NOT required. If you’d like to try it, the tutorial is at the end of this article.)

Let’s get started!

Step 2: Drawing the Stone’s Outline

Not everyone is blessed with DaVinci-esque art talent. This is why I always like to use geometric shapes. (Don’t worry, starting with the basics, you’ll wind up with something super-scary and ultra realistic!)

  • Google “tombstones” or “tombstone shapes” and be as simple or complex as you’d like – it’s up to you.
  • Draw your shape on a piece of large paper, such as butcher block. You can use straight edges, rulers, or curved items to draw around if you’d like to make sure you’re being perfectly geometric. Use any pencil.
  • Using a push-pin, poke holes periodically around the shape of your stone. This will show you where to cut in Step 4.

Step 3: Etching Your “Epitaph”

This part is easy and very creative – have fun with it! Start off simple until you get the hang of working with styrofoam. (For quick “ten minute” results, etch the name and/or a brief epitaph only. Once you get started, you’ll want to be more creative; additional touches will take more time. Enjoy!)

  • Use your imagination and come up with a great saying for your stone.
  • Use stencils or a steady hand to write/draw the words and images on your butcher block paper.
  • Add any decorations you’d like, using stencils or grabbing household items to circle around with your pencil.
  • Now use your push-pin to poke tiny holes to form the shapes and letters.
  • Remove the paper and cut your shapes and letters deeper and wider with your cutting tool. Go slowly! Take your time with this step.
  • TIP: Don’t create decorations too close to the edges of your tombstone. You may loose parts of them when cutting the styrofoam.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Tombstone Shape

IMPORTANT! This article assumes you have the skills, knowledge and previous experience needed to be able to safely operate and use any of the tools which may be required to complete this project. If you don’t – just buy a tombstone! We’re serious about this.

  • Lay the paper back onto your styrofoam sheet. Tack it down if you’d like with pins.
  • CAREFULLY cut around the shape of your tombstone. Keep your steadying (non-cutting) hand well away from the cutting tool and don’t cut toward that hand.
  • Alternately, you can use any sharp knife or a small keyhole wood saw.
  • “Touch-up trim” as necessary. An old carpenter’s rule is “measure once, cut twice.” Go slowly and you’ll be much happier with the results!

NOTE: Want to attach a wooden base to your tombstone? We’ve included one at the end of the article. However, for the quick-and-dirty for a basic, read-to-scare tombstone, read on. (The images include an attached wooden base.)

Step 5: Painting the Tombstone

The choices for decorating your tombstone are only limited by your imagination and your budget. For the sake of the Ten Minute Tombstone, we’ll keep the finish simple – something appropriate for mid- to back-row placement.

For this project we’ll paint the entire tombstone with flat gray latex paint. (Note: It needs to be latex because oil based paints will dissolve or eat into the Styrofoam.) If you have a latex allergy, DO NOT use this method. Use an alternative method instead.

  • Once the gray coat of paint is dry (or once your choice of finish is ready), use black and then white spray paint to add some highlighting.
  • Spray in spurts so it isn’t too “perfect.”
  • Use a LIGHT touch so you don’t get one flat color; the effect is meant to be mottled.

Tip: Practice first on the back side of the tombstone or on scrap styrofoam.

It’s really hard to go wrong with this, as the tombstone is meant to look weathered and imperfect.

Step 6: Attaching Your Stakes

Push two or three stakes into the bottom of your tombstone so you can secure it into the ground later.

Go slowly so you don’t poke through the bottom of the stone. Grip the stakes by the side if you’re using a staple style, so you don’t cut your hands during this step.

You’re Done!

Add touches such as graveyard moss or a faux crow for an additional scare factor. Or simply place your gorgeous and grim new creation in the ground as is. Happy Halloween!

BONUS: Attaching a Wood Base (Optional)

This is an ADVANCED technique. If you’re not familiar working with the tools described below, ask a friend to help.

Depending on how thick the Styrofoam body is, you can use a combination of 2X6 and 2 X4 lumber or 2X8 and 2X6 lumber.

In this example we’re using two inch hi-density Styrofoam, so we will need to cut two pieces of 2X6 the same as the measurement across the front of the tombstone’s body. In our case, it’s about 17.5 inches.

Then measure the depth of the two pieces of 2X6 plus the body – this will be the measurement of the next two 2X6 cuts. In this case, about 5.25 inches.

Once they are cut, place all the cut pieces of 2X6 around the Styrofoam and screw them together by using 2 ½ inch screws – I like to use three per joint.

Once this is complete, measure across the width of the 2X6’s. This measurement will be the amount we need to cut the 2X4. In this case, it’s approximately 20.5 inches.

Cut two pieces at this length and line them up in the same manner as we did for the 2X6.

Next measure the depth of the two pieces of 2X4 plus the body – this will be the measurement of the next two 2X4 cuts. In this case approx 8.5 inches.


Image of nail compared to the depth of the 2×6 plus the body

The next step is important because it helps ensure the tombstone body and base will ultimately stay together.

Hammer three 6-inch nails through the 2X6, the Styrofoam body and the other 2X6. (Always use safety-goggles when hammering.) Do this from the front as some of the 6-inch nails will stick out the back. To handle this we’ll place one of the longer cut 2X4’s under the bottom 2X6 so the excess nail can go into the 2X4. Be sure that 2X4 is lined up correctly with the 2X6.

Once the nailing is done, place the remaining three cut pieces of 2X4’s around the Tombstone body with its attached 2X6 base. Screw these pieces together using 2 1/2 inch screws – three per joint.

Now for a little added reinforcement. We’ll go ahead and add a few extra screws which will further hold the 2X4’s to the 2X6’s for a nice solid base.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!