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Easy, Cheap Halloween Craft Project--Recycled Bag Ghosts

Updated on August 18, 2013

Budget Friendly Holiday

Every year at Halloween I challenge myself to make a few new decorations that are as inexpensive as possible. These little bag ghosts are one of my favorite crafts to make.They can be used for a variety of decorative projects after they are made.

I came up with the idea one year when a strong wind carried away some rather pricey store-bought ghost decorations. Rather than return to the store to buy more, I decided to try to make my own.

These ghosts are not only a way to recycle all those stored plastic shopping bags, they are so easy to do that I can make enough to cover the yard and house in a couple of hours. If they blow away, I am only out a little time and some fishing line.

I also like to make larger ghosts from trash bags. For those I use felt eyes, and some wire to hold the shape of the arms. They are great to hang in dim corners or from trees.

These mini-ghosts are very fast to make. If you cut the pieces first or supervise the use of scissors, even small children can help, making them a fun, family craft.

Home Crafted Decorations

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You probably have all the basic materials needed for these ghosts right in your home. Using felt or glue-on eyes is optional. You can draw faces on with a permanent pen, or you can just leave them plain.

  • Plastic shopping bags. One bag makes one big and one little ghost.
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker, felt, or wiggly eyes
  • fishing line, yarn or thread
  • Long needle with a large eye

Time-saving Tips

In the months before Halloween, cut all shopping bags when you bring them home and store the parts. When you are ready to start crafting, you will already have the pieces ready to begin.

Step One

  1. Smooth your bag out and cut the handles away where they meet the bag. Lay these to the side.
  2. Next cut around the bag near the seam. If possible, leave the seam attached to the printed side of the bag.

Now you have your basic pieces. You can make these one at a time, or you can cut up several bags and place the pieces in a basket. This project is a great way to keep your hands busy while watching television.

Smooth the bag out flat.
Smooth the bag out flat. | Source
Plastic bag ghost--clip the handles where they meet the bag.
Plastic bag ghost--clip the handles where they meet the bag. | Source
Plastic bag ghost--roll one side of the bag to make stuffing for the head
Plastic bag ghost--roll one side of the bag to make stuffing for the head | Source

Step Two

Wad the printed side of the bag into a loose ball and place it in the middle of the un-printed piece.

If you are worried about the print showing through, just use two bags to make the ghost and use only un-printed pieces from the back of the bag.

Wrap the bag over the "head" of the ghost and give it a little twist at the neck. Tie the neck with one of the handles. You can twist this piece first if you want it to be more invisible.

Trim the ends of the tie close to the ghost's neck. If you don't he will look more like an angel than a spook!

Plastic bag ghosts--stuffing the head
Plastic bag ghosts--stuffing the head | Source
Plastic bag ghosts--tying the neck with the bag handle
Plastic bag ghosts--tying the neck with the bag handle | Source

Step Three

  1. Cut a piece of fishing line, thread, or yarn the length you prefer. I cut mine in varying lengths so that when the ghosts hang outside they are at different levels.
  2. Thread your hanger into the needle and go through the top of the head. It helps here to go through some of the stuffing as well, to prevent tearing later.
  3. Draw your thread through and tie the ends together.

If you want to reinforce the top of the ghost's head, add a small square of masking tape. When you thread through the masking tape and the plastic bag beneath, it will be very durable.

Where To Use Bag Ghosts

  • In trees and bushes
  • On fences
  • On party favors
  • On napkin rings
  • Flower pots
  • From mobiles
  • On garlands
  • On wreaths
  • In windows
  • Hanging from light pulls
  • Suspended from ceilings or doorways

Step Four

Take your handy-dandy permanent pen and draw on a silly face. Or glue on felt or plastic wiggle eyes. You can even leave the face blank if you like.

Search the internet for inspiration and patterns for different ghostly expressions. A ghost family isn't complete without a sad ghost, a happy ghost, a silly ghost, and an angry ghost.

You can look at old Halloween decorations for ideas too. Many static clings and cardboard party items have ghosts with comical or "scary" expressions that are easy to draw.

Ghost Lights

For a quick porch or window decoration, hang a strand of green or white Christmas lights in a crazy configuration.

Hang several of your ghosts from the light strand. You can add other decorations, such as rubber bats, in between for a little variety.

Last Step

Now you can fringe the bottom of the ghost, or trim the "skirt" to be more even. Because the plastic is stiff, you can shape it near the top of the ghost so that it looks like he is flying or raising his arms to scare someone.

They won't hold this shape outside by themselves, but you can slip in some pipe-cleaners or twist-ties for a little reinforcement if you want ghosts that are more dramatic.

Your big ghost is ready to hang. Hang them from trees outside, on fences, or along porches. You can also leave off the hangers and fix them to skewers for plant pokes to line driveways or flower beds. These also look great peeking out of your flower pots.

But don't stop there. Lets make those baby ghosts too!

Outdoor decorating begun. Ghosts are a-floatin'!
Outdoor decorating begun. Ghosts are a-floatin'! | Source

Baby Ghosts

Remember the spare handle we didn't use? Now we will use it, as well as the ends we clipped from the big ghosts and the trimmings from where we tidied up the ghost's skirt.

Lay the handle flat, and stretch the plastic some. If there is a middle seam here you can clip it and the handle should open out.

Take the remaining odds and ends and roll them into a ball. Drape the handle plastic over the ball and tie with a piece of thread. Trim the skirt and add a face just like with the bigger ghost.

You can add a hanger if you like, but I prefer stuffing these into small places such as the Halloween tree centerpiece or gluing them to Halloween wreaths. You can have one popping out of an orange plastic Easter egg, or string a bunch together to make a garland.

They are the perfect size to peek out of haunted house displays or peep over the top of flower pots. They can be glued to simple napkin rings for a party setting, too. Be creative and enjoy!

Plastic bag ghost--baby ghost from bag handle
Plastic bag ghost--baby ghost from bag handle | Source
Small ghosts can be glued to a variety of Halloween projects.
Small ghosts can be glued to a variety of Halloween projects. | Source


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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I made some spiders out of black trash bags yesterday for Halloween night. Today we'll make some ghosts. Thanks Sharkye!!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      @mary615--Great idea! I didn't think to hang them from the fans! And my living room fan has lovely decorative hooks on the globes. Hmmm...can't wait for next Halloween! Thanks for the comment!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      @lovedoctor-Yes, they are very fun for parties! We lost most of our outside ghosts this year in some really strong wind storms. Its okay though, they are free to make!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      What a clever idea! We make little ghosts from Kleenex, and hand them from the ceiling fans. These are great for hanging outside.

      I voted this UP, and shared.

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Rusticliving--We used to make the Tootsie pop ghosts too, for inside and hang them from the ceiling! I guess you could say that even our candy was decorated. That is a great idea making them the treats for the trick-or-treaters!

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Tammy-Thanks! I love recycling stuff whenever possible!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very creative idea for a Halloween party

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Liz Rayen 

      7 years ago from California

      Oh gosh Sharky... You brought back a lot of memories growing up. We used to make ghosts like these to hand on our tree in the front yard.

      We also had a branch by the front door and took tootsie pops and wrapped white tissue around them, added the eyes and mouth and then hang them on the tree. Those would be the treats for the little tricksters on Halloween night! Great job. Thumbs up and shared.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      This is super cute and a great way to recycle. Excellent hub! It is always a wonderful thing when a craft is good for the environment.

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      @lipnancy--Thanks! I have been hanging them up outside (and the wind has been un-hanging them). When I get them all done I will update the hub with a picture.

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Carol--Thank you! I love these and the trash bag ghosts. They make a neat sound when the wind blows them. Plus I always have way too many bags stored in the pantry! This is a fun way to reuse them.

    • Sharkye11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      @Billy-Thanks! They are very easy. Even my husband helped and he HATES crafts! :)

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      7 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      What a cool idea! I would love to see a picture of them hanging outside your house.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      YOu are so clever. I love anything recycled that is usable. You did a great job and I have enjoyed all the photos.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'll have to add this to my frugal Halloween ideas hub; great job my friend!


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