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Easy, Cheap Halloween Craft Project--Recycled Bag Ghosts
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
Do you prefer home-made or store-bought holiday decorations?
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.
- Permanent marker, felt, or wiggly eyes
- fishing line, yarn or thread
- Long needle with a large eye
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.
- Smooth your bag out and cut the handles away where they meet the bag. Lay these to the side.
- 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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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!
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!