Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
Halloween is one of my favorite “holidays” and decorating is definitely a part of celebrating. Tight budgets, however, can put a damper on decorating and celebrating. I have found that homemade decorations can be just as exciting as store-bought and the process of making them and displaying them can become a part of the actual celebration. Not to mention the fact that it gets the entire family involved in the process, which lends to a wonderful source of quality time with your children.
Static cling figures are all the rage for decorating windows; however, construction paper works well and allows for more creativity. Let the kids draw a variety of ghostly forms with varied facial expressions consisting of eyes and mouths only. Get creative! You can make “partial” ghostly forms that are “peeking” from around the corner of the window. Think about the ghosts from “Casper” and you will find that the sky is the limit in what you create. Jack’o’lanterns can be just as varied. Orange construction paper makes the “body”, brown for the stem, green for leaves, and black for the cutouts that form the face. Again, a variety of shapes for eyes, nose and mouths lend to diversity. Black cats and bats come alive with black construction paper. If you don’t have white gel pens to draw in features, white chalk also works well. A bit of fishing line ran through a small hole in the top of the ghosts and the bats allows them to be suspended from the ceiling and doorways so that they can “fly” with the draft from the vents, the ceiling fan, or just when someone walks by.
Ghosts can also be made with small balls, balloons, and larger balls (depending upon the size you want) covered with tissue paper or old sheets (depending upon whether they will be outside or inside creations). Drape the tissue paper or sheet (cut to size) over the ball or balloon and tie at the neck with string. Then run fishing line through the necktie for suspension. Use black construction paper or black marker to add the ghostly face.
An old pair of jeans or overalls, an old plaid shirt, a pair of work gloves, old shoes, a hat, and a brown paper bag are the making of the victim of a horrible Halloween murder. Convince your kids to rake up the pinestraw in the yard so that it can be stuffed into the clothing to form a body. The brown paper bag, stuffed with pinestraw, and molded into an oval shape with the neck of the bag stuffed into the neck of the shirt makes a head. The hat can be draped over the face to hide the fact that there really isn’t a head there. Sit it in a chair on the front porch or lean it against a tree in the front yard. White Karo syrup tinted with red food coloring makes great fake blood. Apply it liberally to your victim’s wounds. (Caution: This mixture does stain. Make sure that the clothes you use are old and expendable.)
Turn your yard into a cemetery with cardboard boxes from the grocery store or paper boxes from your office. Cover the boxes with black spray paint. (This eliminates having to “shape” them and allows the edges to blend in with the darkness.) Then use white paint to paint the shape of headstones on the box bottoms. See who can come up with the most intriguing epithet and use a small brush and black paint to inscribe them on the head stones. Place them in the front yard, weighing them down by placing a brick or heavy stone on the inside. Fake flowers lend a “realistic” touch to your front yard cemetery.
There is still one Halloween decoration that I haven’t found a substitution for yet and that is the spider webs that are sold in a bag at the drugstores that you stretch out over the outside (or inside) of your house. A small bag goes a long way and they are not expensive, so they are a reasonable investment for your decorations. As a bonus, most of them come with a few plastic spiders included. Change out the front porch light with a black light bulb and your webbing will eerily glow.
So get those imaginations cranking and turn your house into the spookiest haunted house on the block! Happy Haunting!