Some people take Halloween decorating quite seriously. In our neighborhood, people are already putting up orange Christmas lights and creating spooky, life sized tableaus in their yards.
Decorating your house for Halloween just doesn’t have to be that expensive. For something just a little different this year, why not grab the kids and make your own?
Paper Jack O’ Lantern
Realistic pumpkin can be cut from orange construction paper. Glue on a stem and some spooky eyes, draw a few lines, and watch a Jack O’ Lantern come to life at your fingertips! We make up a dozen or so, and place them in the street facing front windows of our home.
If you can write the letter M then you can make paper bats! A little white chalk, some black construction paper, and a pair of scissors are all the supplies needed to whip up a flock of these scary critters. Tape them to the windows and doors; for a little added excitement, suspend a few from the ceiling of the front porch using fishing line.
Swinging Tissue Ghosts
This was a favorite Halloween craft when I was in elementary school, and still a timeless way of making a village of spooks. For this craft, all it takes are several layers of toilet tissue paper or facial tissue, a rubber band, and a fine tip black marker.
Center several layers of tissue over your pointer finger, then snap a rubber band over the tissue and onto your finger, about an inch below the tip of your finger. Draw on a spooky face, remove the rubber band and tissue from your hand and voila! a miniature spook. Make a bunch of these and hang them from the porch along with the bats.
Paper accordion lanterns have been standard crafting fare for a number of decades. During the Fourth of July, I made a batch of festive red, white, and blue lanterns using this pattern. For Halloween, follow the link but change out the colors to orange and black. Instead of stars, decorate these Halloween lanterns with spooky ghost and pumpkin stickers.
Wooden pumpkin mantle decorations
Every yard has a few triangular and odd shaped scraps in the wood pile. Choose some interesting shapes, paint them orange, and decorate them like spooky Halloween Jack 0’Lantern! Add a raffia topper or curl up some strips of brown construction paper to create a hat.
Save up those 1/2 gallon milk cartons and turn them into haunted Halloween luminaries. Cut the cartons into spooky shapes to resemble flying bats, a Jack O’Lantern, or even a Haunted House. Spray the carton with paint to cover up the writing, and then decorate with glow-in-the-dark paint pens if desired. To use the luminary, set a small votive candle in the center of the container. At nightfall, light the candle and set the luminary outside to light the way to the front door.
Ghostly yard ornaments
Ghosts are one of my favorite crafts to make. We use a handful of recycled white trash bags to create floating ghosts which can be stood up on dowels or hung around the yard.
For this activity, create a newspaper ball about the size of a large grapefruit. Drape a white 13 gallon trash bag over the ball, and snap a rubber band directly beneath, to create a sort of neck. Using your scissors, cut the plastic bag in long 1 inch strips from the neck, down to the bottom end, as shown. Draw on a ghostly face and hang from a tree.
Spooky street signs
To go with those ghostly yard ornaments, set some spooky street signs out in the yard as well. For this easy craft, directional signs can be made of cardboard which have been cut into pieces that are 3 inches wide, and between 18 to 24 inches long. Don’t forget to put a point on one end! Use markers to write in whimsical street names, such as “Boo Alley,” “Black Cat Lane,” and “Frankenstein Blvd.” Nail the signs to a long wooden dowel or broom stick, and set out in the yard by the front door.
Spine-tingling Halloween door decorations
To cover the door, why not drape it in a black yard sized Hefty Bag? Cut the side seams of the bag, unfold and tape directly to the door. Using some fluorescent paints, draw in some spooky cobwebs or a glow-in-the-dark skeleton.
Making paper chains is another favorite tradition. For this craft, simply cut sheets of black and orange construction paper across the width into 1/2 inch strips. Form the first strip of paper into a ring and glue shut. Thread a second strip through the first, and glue it into a ring. Alternate the colors to create a long paper chain which can be suspended from the ceiling and draped around the door.
Cardboard box headstones
Greet your trick or treaters with a cemetery along the front walkway! Cardboard boxes can be cut down to resemble headstones with elaborate ornamentation. Spray with granite-in-a-can spray paint, and letter in some spooky epitaphs. Scatter the tombstones randomly around the front yard ~ and mix them up with glowing Jack O’Lanterns or Halloween luminaries.
Create a corn field
For a more traditional porch decoration, why not turn the front porch into a corn field? Paper stalks of corn, real pumpkins, and an old fashioned scarecrow are a visual treat for Halloween guest. A paper cornfield can be made by adapting a newspaper fountain craft.
To make a paper fountain, create a tube by rolling up 5 or 6 overlapping sheets of newspaper. Once the paper has been rolled, make a bunch of cuts on one end. Pull out the center to reveal a flowing cascade of paper.
The fountain can be turned into into a corn stalk by lightly dusting the paper with some yellow spray paint, and tucking in a few construction paper ears of corn.
While prefabricated decorations can certainly be entertaining to shop for, nothing compares to making decorations yourself. With a minimal of cost and a little bit of imagination, this is one family friendly activity that will be both fun and memorable for kids and parents alike.