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How to Make Your Own Halloween Decorations

Updated on December 14, 2011

Making your own Halloween decorations is fun!

Are you trying to think of a way to make your own Halloween decorations to have an amazing display while saving money? It is possible to make some great decorations using cheap materials - or sometimes even free!

I absolutely love all kinds of arts and crafts- especially holiday crafts! I make a lot of papier mache Halloween decorations! Not just little decorations either- I make life sized decorations! This year I decided to take pictures during the process and share the instructions with you as I make three decorations.

This Halloween I am making some bones, a life sized grim reaper and a life sized witch! The coolest part about these decorations.... because I had the materials laying around the house, they were completely free!

I decided to make the three specific decorations above because I wanted to show you a very easy decoration (the bones), a moderately complex decoration (the Grim Reaper) and a challenging decoration (the witch). I hope that you enjoy making your own Halloween decorations!

Usually I get lots of compliments on my Papier Mache creations and most people comment that they would love to try them except that they are time comsuming- in fact, very little actual work time is required! Almost all of the time involved is the drying process during which you just set your creation somewhere out of the way! The Decorations on this page were fairly quick to make, the bones actually required less than 30 minutes excluding the time they were drying!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

How to Make Your Own Halloween Decorations: Bones - Difficulty: Easy

How to make your own cheap or free Halloween decorations
How to make your own cheap or free Halloween decorations

Bones are a classic Halloween decoration that are very easy to make yourself! These bones took me about 10 minutes to construct plus overnight to dry, then another 10 minutes to paint and less than 5 minutes to arrange in the dirt (placement matters).

For this project you will need....

* Toilet Paper tubes (1 for each arm bone, 2 for each leg bone)

* Some kind of tape- preferably masking tape or sports tape

*Toilet paper, paper towels or cotton balls

* A balloon blown up to the size of your head

* Newspaper torn into 1 inch strips

* 1 cup of flour

* 1 cup of water

* 1 tablespoon of salt (discourages mold growth!)

* Off white paint

* A bowl to mix the Papier mache in

*A paint brush, cotton balls, rag or sponge to apply the paint!

** Wear some old clothes, a smock or an apron!

Cut the toilet paper tubes lengthwise into two equal "halfpipes". Roll each piece into a narrower tube and secure the top, bottom and middle of each tube with tape. Now that you have two narrow tubes, gently insert the end of one about 1/2 inch into the other. Secure the joint with tape.

Toilet paper tubes with rolled up paper towels on the ends
Toilet paper tubes with rolled up paper towels on the ends

If you are using toilet paper or paper towels, fold into log strips about 1/3 wider than your tube. Find the center of the strips and tape the center to the end of the tube. Roll up the ends of the strips to create a bump on each side of the end of the tube. Repeat on the other end of the tube. For a femur one end should have only one larger bump at a slight angle.

Blow up the balloon to the size of your head! Use a small bowl or the roll of tape to balance the balloon.

Combine the water and flour in a bowl and slowly add salt. You can add more water or more flour until you have a consistency you would like to work with but it should be thick but not chunky. The consistency of pudding is about where I like it to be.

Wrap the papier mache around the bones!
Wrap the papier mache around the bones!

Dip the strips of newspaper into the mixture to coat and squeeze excess off. Wrap the strips of paper from one end to the other, carefully squishing it in between the bumps at the ends of the bones to clearly define the shape. Try not to get the paper wadded up! Only 2 layers are really necessary for this project (you can do up to 2 layers in one sitting without waiting for drying in between), but if you have the time or energy a few more layers tends to make it a bit more realistic.

Gently lay some papier mache strips on the ballon as well in a criss cross pattern. For this project you do not need to do the whole balloon- you are making a skull fragment! Cover a large patch of the balloon and when it dries you can gently cut out the shape of a chunk of skull!

Allow your shapes to dry overnight- if your mixture was very wet or if you put it on very thick then it may need a few extra hours. You can help it along with a hairdryer from at least 6 inches away- I avoid doing this unless there are time constraints!

Once your bones are dry, paint them with an off white paint. Allow the paint to dry, then display your bones!

The bones look best with dirt on them!

Please remember that these Halloween Decorations are made of Papier Mache and they are not waterproof! You should bring them inside if it is raining!

How to Make Your Own Halloween Decorations: The Grim Reaper - Difficulty : Moderate

The Grim Reaper is moderately difficulty and requires more materials BUT the majority of the materials are things that you can take back after Halloween! Really you are just making the head of the Reaper and using the other items to "dress him up".

The Grim Reaper took longer than the bones- 15 minutes to construct the head the 1st time, over night to dry, 5 minutes to apply more layers, overnight to dry again, 20 minutes to paint, a few hours to dry and 40 minutes to set up his "body" and attach his head.

For this project you will need....

* A plastic Trick or treating pumpkin or large balloon

* Some kind of tape- preferably Duct tape

* Newspaper torn into 1 inch strips

* 1 cup of flour

* 1 cup of water

* 1 tablespoon of salt (discourages mold growth)

* Off white paint

* Black Paint

* A bowl to mix the Papier mache in

* Aluminum foil

* A paint brush, cotton balls, rag or sponge to apply the paint!

* A shovel or broom handle ( something tall to place the head on- this part is like making a scarecrow)

* Extra broom handle or long stick (for the sickle) unless you have a costume sickle

* Piece of cardboard

* Three plastic hangers

* Old clothes for padding (anything that you can manipulate and secure onto the hangers and stick)

* Black or Brown Fabric (old sheet, t shirts etc- a cloak is best though)

* Rope or string (5 feet although you can do it with much less)

** Wear some old clothes, a smock or an apron!

I used the aluminum foil as I had to borrow my son's trick or treating pumpkin to make the Grim Reaper's head. I wrapped the pumpkin in foil before starting to keep the Papier mache from getting all over the pumpkin. If you use foil it does give you more opportunities to create a unique shape as you can manipulate it before you start!

Combine the water and flour in a bowl and slowly add salt. You can add more water or more flour until you have a consistency you would like to work with but it should be thick but not chunky. The consistency of pudding is about where I like it to be.

Making your own halloween decorations Grim Reaper
Making your own halloween decorations Grim Reaper

Dip the strips of newspaper into the mixture to coat and squeeze excess off. Gently lay some papier mache strips on the ballon or pumpkin in a criss cross pattern. Be sure to smoosh it down so that it will be sturdy. For this project I did not go the entire way around the pumpkin so that I would be able to get it back out for my son to play with! It is more like a mask...

Allow your Grim Reaper Head to dry overnight- if your mixture was very wet or if you put it on very thick then it may need a few extra hours.

I cut two c- shapes in his cheeks just under the eyes and pushed them inward and then cut out the eyes, thenI put 1 thin layer of mache on the inside of his head covering the new holes to give him a skull like appearance.

Once your Grim Reaper Head is dry, paint it with an off white paint. Allow the paint to dry, then paint the eyes, nose and mouth in black.

paint your halloween decoration
paint your halloween decoration

When you are ready to set him up in your yard, impale the shovel or broom handle into the ground (we will call it the "body"). Using duct tape, attach the hangers toward the top of the body, leaving some room to attach the head. When the hangers are secure, start dressing him with anything you have to pad him! I used LOTS of old t shirts and fabric left over from previous years!

When you are ready to really dress him, drape some black or brown fabric across his waste going down to the ground and tie (as if with a belt) with rope or string around where you imagine it's belly button would be. If you do not have anything long enough, start at the bottom and add multiple layers working upward. Throw a black t shirt on him- you can turn it inside out or backwards if there are graphics on it. Tie a little rope around the waste of the top as well, giving a layered look.

Attach the Reaper's head and if you have a cloak, throw it on! Try to arrange everything so that the hangers and shovel do not show and really incorporate the head so it does not look like a head on a stick.

How to Make Your Own Halloween Decorations: Witch - Challenging

This life sized witch decoration was free to make!
This life sized witch decoration was free to make!

The Witch is challenging! It requires more materials again, BUT the majority or the materials are things that you can take back after Halloween! Really you are just making the head of the Witch and using the other items to "dress her up".

The Witch took longer than the other projects- 15 minutes to construct the head the 1st time, over night to dry, 5 minutes to apply more layers, overnight to dry again, 10 minutes each time to build up the nose and chin allowing 8 hours drying time each time, 20 minutes to paint, a few hours to dry and 40 minutes to set up her "body" and attach her head. Allow about a week for this project with about 20-30 minutes per day to devote to it.

For this project you will need....

Witch's Face

* 2 large balloons (one just slightly more blown up than the other)

* Some kind of tape- preferably Duct tape

* Newspaper torn into 1 inch strips

* 1 Toilet Paper tube

* 1 cup of flour (each time you papier mache the witch)

* 1 cup of water (each time you papier mache the witch)

* 1 tablespoon of salt -discourages mold growth

(each time you papier mache the witch)

* Gray, Green or Skin colored paint

* Black Paint

* White paint

* A bowl to mix the Papier mache in

* Optional- Aluminum foil to help create the shapes of the chin and nose- in place of the toilet paper tube

* Small bowl to stand the balloon in while you work.

* A paint brush, cotton balls, rag or sponge to apply the paint!

Witch's Body

* A shovel or broom handle ( something tall to place the head on- this part is like making a scarecrow)

* Three plastic hangers

* Old clothes for padding (anything that you can manipulate and secure onto the hangers and stick)

* Black or Brown Fabric (old sheet, t shirts etc- a cloak is best though)

* Rope or string (5 feet although you can do it with much less)

* Old Dress

* Wig

If you make the hands as well see below for instructions....

* Stick or toy wand

* Flash Light

* Small clear plastic dome

* Disposable gloves

*Wire Coat hanger

** Wear some old clothes, a smock or an apron!

Blow up the balloons and use small bowls as a stand to hold the balloon while you work. One balloon will be simply the top of her head to give extra height- the other will be her head and face.

hame made Halloween decorations
hame made Halloween decorations

Combine the water and flour in a bowl and slowly add salt. You can add more water or more flour until you have a consistency you would like to work with but it should be thick but not chunky. The consistency of pudding is about where I like it to be.

Dip the strips of newspaper into the mixture to coat and squeeze excess off. Gently lay some papier mache strips on the balloons in a criss cross pattern. Be sure to smoosh it down so that it will be sturdy. For this project I did not go the entire way around the second balloon as it will simply be a half piece (like a cap that I affix on top of the other head to add height without adding width.

The smaller of the two balloons should be the top of the head. Apply two layers of newspaper the entire way around the larger balloon and covering 1/2 of the smaller. Allow to dry completely.

Apply a second layer of papier mache to the smaller balloon and set aside (it is finished).

Home made holiday decorations using cheap or free materials
Home made holiday decorations using cheap or free materials

Cut a toilet paper tube horizontally in half (making two short tubes). Use one of the pieces of toilet paper tube to create a chin! Cut the tube from top to bottom and make multiple small cuts about 1/2 inch into the bottom. Roll the tube into a tighter cone shape and secure with tape. Fold out the tube where the cutes are and secure the tube to the witches face with tape!

Fold some strips of newspaper into thick, 2 inch long strips (1/2 the thickness of a pencil), dip these strips into the mixture and then bend and position them on top of the witches face like a brow bone. Fold some news paper up into triangles and position them below the brow bones and slightly outside as cheek bones (it will NOT look good at this point- that will come when you add mache over it like skin later). Fold up some paper into wedges and dip it in the mixture and stack them up to start building the nose- this will need to be several times and must dry between each time. Add one thin layer of papier mache strips over the structures you just built. Allow to dry for at least 12 hours.

Continue to build up the face, allowing it to completely dry each time! Gradually build out from the chin until it looks as if it really is part of the face- wider at the base and narrowing as it protrudes.

Once her face is ready, get that smaller balloon and remover the mache from the balloon. position it on top of her face where it makes her head tall enough that the wig will not cover her face and secure with one or two pieces of tape. Papier mache the top of her head on to her face.

papier mache witch head holiday decoration
papier mache witch head holiday decoration

Once your Witch's face is dry, paint it with Gray, green or skin colored paint. Allow the paint to dry, then paint the eyes (and teeth if her mouth is open) white.

When you are ready to set her up in your yard, impale the shovel or broom handle into the ground (we will call it the "body"). Using duct tape, attach the hangers toward the top of the body, leaving some room to attach her head. When the hangers are secure, start dressing her with anything you have to pad her! I used LOTS of old t shirts, duct tape to help hold the shape and fabric left over from previous years!

When you are ready to really dress the witch, drape some black or brown fabric across her waste going down to the ground and tie (as if with a belt) with rope or string around where you imagine it's belly button would be OR put a dress on her! If you do not have anything long enough, start at the bottom and add multiple layers working upward. Throw a t shirt on her- you can turn it inside out or backwards if there are graphics on it. Tie a little rope around the waste of the top as well, giving a layered look.

Attach the Witch's head and put the wig on it. You may need to fold some duct tape with the sticky side out and place it between the wig and the head to help secure it. If you have a cloak, throw it on! Try to arrange everything so that the hangers and shovel do not show and really incorporate the head so it does not look like a head on a stick. For an extra touch, I place a cauldron near her and have added hands holding a wand and ball of magic (see below for hands). You do not need to do the hands if you are draping the fabric heavily but they can be easily made by stuffing rubber gloves and taping to the inside of the sleeves!

Hands can vary from very easy to extremely challenging!

They can be difficult to position as well

For this project you will need....

*Gloves (any kind- winter gloves require little work but they are not strong enough to hold things)

* Paper towels, toilet paper or shredded newspaper

* Small strips of cardboard (if trying to bend the fingers)

*Wire coat hanger if the hand is to be raised

* Papier Mache materials if making the hand rigid using disposable gloves.

*Duct Tape

*String

*Safety pins for fashion gloves

If you are using clothing types of gloves...

Simply stuff the gloves and pin them just inside the sleeves or tie them onto the "body" hanging at equal heights.

If you are making the rigid gloves....

Wrap the small strips of cardboard with toilet paper and insert into the fingers of a disposable glove. Continue to stuff the hand and wrist. Stick a toilet paper tube into the glove and wrap well with masking tape or duct tape.Bend the fingers into the position you want. Papier mache the glove and toilet paper tube. Allow to dry over night.

Paint the hand to match the face. Allow to dry.

CAREFULLY straighten the wire coat hanger. Then bend the hanger to the desired angle. Create a loop at the top of the hanger. Tie the hanger on to the body (the end of the plastic hangers) and wrap well with duct tape. Wrap the plastic hangers with duct tape as well right next to the wire hanger to prevent it from sliding inward. Create another loop at the bottom or the wire hanger and place it against the side of the hand/ arm. weave a piece of duct tape through the loop. Wrap the loop and wrist area with more duct tape!

Repeat on the other arm!

Did you notice the window? - Here is how to make that!

If you have blinds, you can easily make passers by feel as if they are being watched!

For this project you will need....

*Small Piece of cardboard

*Glue

*Scissors

*Aluminum foil or reflective tape

*Small Labels (x2)

*Black Marker

*Disposable glove

*Masking tape

*Toilet paper or paper towels (just a few to stuff the finger tips of the gloves)

Cut out the cardboard to create a small head shape- it does not need to be perfect as only a tiny bit will be visible.

Cut the foil or reflective tape into 2 eye shapes and stick them to the cardboard.

At night light bounces off of the reflective eyes, startling passers by! It was free to make!
At night light bounces off of the reflective eyes, startling passers by! It was free to make!

Draw any shape pupil (slits like a cat, round etc) on the labels. Cut the labels into the shape you have drawn and stick them in the center of each eye.

Use a piece of masking tape to gently lift the corner or the blinds right around eye level. Tape the eyes onto the blinds so that they are visible through the opening.

Fill the glove with paper, toilet paper, paper towels etc and stick it on the end of the opening with a bit of tape so that just the finger tips show.

Go check from the outside! Are you being watched?

Are you going to make any of these decorations?

See results

Have you ever used Papier Mache to make Holiday Decorations before?

See results

Need more help or inspiration?

Personally, I think it is harder to make your own costume, but maybe that is because I am not good at sewing! If you are thinking about making your own costume or need a little bit more help or inspriation to make your own Halloween decorations, maybe you should take a look at this great book!

This book has great Halloween Décor and costumes with 50 unique projects.

All images on this page are my own work unless otherwise noted.

Copyright Sidther 2011

Did you learn how to make your own Halloween Decorations?

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    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 5 years ago

      Nicely done! Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 5 years ago

      Wow! You are so creative!

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      this is a great lens - blessed

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 5 years ago

      This looks like such a fun and creative project for Halloween!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      You make it look so easy! No, I have never tried to make my own Halloween Decorations, but I am considering making the witch - your tutorial looks very easy to follow.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love this lens .. my dearest friend :) It seems I just found another LOTD or purple star work of you. Your picture and new avatar depicts one of most lovely great mom and beautiful lady at the same time. Tweeted to all my fans. Have a wonderful time.. always .. dear sidther :)

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 5 years ago

      Extremely well done here sidther, I'm googling +1ing this lens. BTW, I love your hair that way.

    • marianne sequeira profile image

      marianne sequeira 5 years ago

      Nice lens ... might try some of these next year

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      got some ideas indeed from your lens, here's a 'thumbs up' from me!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      DIY is always the way to go - adds a great personal touch. Awesome lens! :)

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 5 years ago

      There is nothing as beautiful as homemade Halloween decorations! And thanks a lot for all those how-to tutorials!

    • profile image

      prettyonlinemommy 5 years ago

      This is very helpful..im running out of ideas on how to make our frontyard even creepier.Tnx!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Very nice lens and Halloween crafts.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really well done. I feel inspired to make one.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really well done. I feel inspired to make one.

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 5 years ago

      Really great and fun project ideas.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 5 years ago

      Learned so much from this lens. The Grim Reaper is quite scary.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Helpful

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 5 years ago

      Congrats! I saw this on Squidoo's home page this morning. Great lens!

    • MagpieNest profile image

      MagpieNest 5 years ago

      Very cool. We've made a papier mache volcano before and I've been meaning to do (dinosaur) bones. We'll have to give these ideas a go.

    • profile image

      NidhiRajat 5 years ago

      I would love to do lots of creations...really!!!!

    • profile image

      djroll 5 years ago

      great lens. Can't wait to make some bones.

    • RichLeighHD profile image

      RichLeighHD 5 years ago

      Great lens. I really enjoyed it! Hope you have a very happy Halloween!

    • Amoonlighter2011 profile image

      Amoonlighter2011 5 years ago

      Look at you top of the front page!!!! Go you!!! I love lovce love the bones idea!!!!

    • profile image

      All-About-India 5 years ago

      Awesome lens How to Make Your Own Halloween Decorations ? Great work. You rock sidther.

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 5 years ago

      Super ideas, bet the kids love to visit your house! Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very cool! will have to try this :-)

    • jenniferteacher1 profile image

      jenniferteacher1 5 years ago

      Using paper mache to make decorations is such a great idea!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 5 years ago

      Lots of Halloween fun here!

    • profile image

      writer_villa 5 years ago

      Great lens here!

    • profile image

      newforestguides 5 years ago

      Halloween - that's a lot of stuff there

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Halloween is marvelous props. I here to study.

    • Zenchantress profile image

      Fayme Zelena Harper 5 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

      Following you on Twitter now. I can't resist craft ideas.

    • profile image

      sojourner-1 5 years ago

      I am not crafty- but these are really great ideas

    • profile image

      leatherfads 5 years ago

      crafting is very good.. seems to b creative project for Halloween...i enjoyed

    • profile image

      FreelancinFran 5 years ago

      Fun lens!!!

    • profile image

      Kelvinroger 5 years ago

      The day for i was waiting finally here i love Halloween Parties and i have way people dressed up and i love your lens such a great job.

    • profile image

      fashionugg 5 years ago

      That's cool,I love it and will try that !

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Very neat project. And the step by step instructions are easy to follow. Nicely done.

    • profile image

      airblastparts 5 years ago

      They all look great, wish i was that creative. :D

    • Robyco profile image

      Robyco 5 years ago

      Great ideas, something to try with the children tomorrow.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      lots of great craft ideas on here, blessed by a squid angel :)

    • iQwestArticles profile image

      iQwestArticles 5 years ago

      Fun homemade Halloween decorations! It's definitely fun using papier mache with the little ones. I'm not sure who enjoys it more, me or them! Again, great lens and Happy Halloween!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Really fantastic task, seems to be tough work but I will try myself.. Thanks

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      Just voted for your lens here: http://www.squidoo.com/squidquest-happy-halloween . Hope you WIN!!!

    • sidther lm profile image
      Author

      sidther lm 5 years ago

      @katiecolette: Thank you so much! I was so excited to see this lens as a finalist!

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 5 years ago from Houston

      Congratulations on a great lens. You have done some terrific work. I love your ideas. Great job. And congratulations on making it to the top 50 in the Happy Halloween contest, too. I'd vote but my Pug, Charlie, would really be mad. :) He's up for it, too.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Thanks for the fun and informative ideas. Congratulations on being a Happy Halloween Contest finalist!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      Several really good craft ideas. *Blessed*

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      Very cool. Too late for this year but I've bookmarked it for the next time Halloween comes around on the calendar....

    • profile image

      pearl 2 years ago

      thanks for the help

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Great hub with great ideas! Up+ Welcome to Hubpages!

    • profile image

      Kristina 19 months ago

      Halloween

    • listsnthings profile image

      Toya Christie 19 months ago from London, United Kingdom

      Very creative ideas for homemade Halloween decorations and so effective

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