Sunday, October 27, 2013

Simple Crafts for Halloween: Ghosts, Pumpkins, Spiders (and the Boo Cannon)

I have generally not considered myself particularly crafty (as in: thank you cards, holiday decor, scrapbooking...).

I think it's because I'm too practical. I tend to use my creative time to produce things that have clear utility. Since crafting doesn't add to my health, enrich my mind, or clean my house (quite the opposite, in fact), I have not often sought them out. Even when I look through a book of fun and easy sewing projects, appearance is second to function. (It wasn't until recently that I decided that it might be okay to include some non-edible flowers in my garden, alongside the vegetables.)

I feel very boring admitting this.

But recently I've been thinking back with great nostalgia at some of the decorations that adorned my childhood home around the holidays. At Halloween, it was the big pumpkin in the front window, the "elegant witch" on the mantle, the gangly skeleton hanging on the wall, the flying ghosts on the kitchen ceiling fan. I can't imagine my childhood empty of these festivities.

So last week, I thought, we need some ghosts to brighten up this holiday! I ended up spending the afternoon making some inutile but completely awesome little Halloween decorations with my kids. They are a cinch (had to be for me). You probably have everything you'll need already.

I hope one of these adds some fun to your Halloween week!


Items needed: tissue paper, string, marker, tape

I have kept every piece of tissue paper I've been given for the last seven years, so I have lots! If you don't have any, it would work equally well with regular old tissues.

1) Lay a tissue paper out on the table (cut smaller for smaller ghosts).
2) Crumple a second piece of tissue paper into a ball, placing it in the center of the first.
3) Gather the corners of the flat tissue paper up around the ball and tie with some thread.
4) Draw eyes (and mouth if desired) and hang.

I used an extra long piece of string to tie up the necks so I'd have some leftover for hanging the ghosts. To help them hang straight, I brought the string up the back of the head and taped it to the top. We like watching them slowly turn as people walk through the room.

Sammy made some all on his own, preferring longer "floaters" (his term) to the smaller ghosts I made.

Items needed: paper, scissors, stapler, tape

This is basically just cutting, folding, and a little taping and stapling. These were fun to make, but I really wouldn't have made so many if Sammy hadn't insisted he needed 10 for a project he had up his sleeve. Instead of doing a step-by-step for you, I'll direct you to the YouTube tutorial I found. I tried all the sizes she suggested, then made up some of my own.

Isn't it a sweet little pumpkin patch?

Note to those who make up their own sizes:
The width of your strip of paper = the squatiness (width) of the pumpkin
The length of your strip of paper = the heighth of the pumpkin

Items needed: egg carton, paint, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glue gun

This idea came from my neighbor's bush, and actually, but not surprisingly, exceeded my scant crafting supplies. I lacked the googly eyes and a glue gun (Keenan says every home should have a glue gun hiding near the back of some cluttered cupboard... apparently his home was like mine!). I'm thinking about investing in one for these spiders. Anyone know of another kind of crafty glue that would stick tight and dry fast??

Each spider is a single section of egg carton, painted black, with pipe cleaner segments hot glue gunned to the sides and eyes on the front. Too cute to be spooky.


My 5-year-old was thrilled with my holiday craftiness and jumped right on the decorating bandwagon! The following gradually appeared around the house:

Window ghosts and witches
Some quick-sketch scares
A sparkly knight
The "Boo Cannon:" pull the string
and the mini-ghost pops out!

He tells me he has decorating plans to last us all week! Personally, I'm glad he's taking over so I can get back to my boring, functional life. ;)

Have you made anything fun to display at your house this year?

Happy Halloween!!


  1. I also am not crafty, but maybe for different reasons. I like creating just for creation's sake, but don't have a lot of skills/equipment/time!

    Thinking about it, you're right that our holiday decorations are a wonderful memory from my childhood. I loved the flying ghosts attached to the fan especially. And LOVED decorating the Christmas tree. It's easy to say I want to keep my house clean and functional, and just not deal with the holidays, but it really is special for kids. I'll probably go one more year without any Halloween crafts, but once Peter is 2.5 he'll be ready to enjoy them.

    I really love those pumpkins. I might have to invite my 4 year old neighbor over to make some.

    1. Time is definitely a big issue for me. I spend so much time on real food prep, children, and household stuff, I have to be highly selective with anything leftover. That's why it was so nice doing these with the kids!

      Along those lines, I find I have the same problem with my mothering. I don't get down and play with my kids enough. We do a lot of learning, reading, and activities together, but I don't typically downright PLAY (fencing with Sammy, building with Daniel, toddler play with James...). They play well with each other, but I know they'd revel in some adult participation. I have a new goal to do at least a little of that kind of play and imagining every day. :) Won't it at least have the function of extending life and happiness a little? :)

  2. p.s. Sammy is so inventive. I REALLY MISS that boy.

  3. I am also partial to functional projects, but it's been nice having a school-age kid. He's brought home all varieties of Halloween art which we have displayed around the home, and I didn't have to do a lick of it. :) My only contributions were the dollar store skeletons and clearance window-cling spiders I picked up last year. That's my kind of "crafting."

    I love the hanging ghosts. I might have to add that to our homeschool-preschool curriculum for the week.

  4. School contributions are great! I'm sure the big orange pumpkin in my mom's window was brought home by someone some year. That's partly what got me thinking: my kids won't be bringing anything home for me to hang up since they learn at home. I have to provide it!

    The ghosts were my 3-year-old's favorites!

  5. Love these, Nonie! George would love making the spiders. I actually have this crazy spider phobia that I have to work at keeping at bay. I've made a point to never speak negatively about them in front of the boys, because I read a sociology paper in college that kids more often than not absorb their mothers phobias and make them their own. So, now a Halloween George has been getting a kick out of the giant spiders everywhere :) Makes me happy. He told me the other day, "Mommy, spider like tickling people, huh?" (From a book we have.) anyway, thanks for the fun simple idea!

  6. Fun ideas! I think Sammy's creations are my favorite part. It would be worth it for me to do more crafts if Aaron took the initiative to create his own decorations! He's a bit young for that, but someday... Aaron was very excited when someone gave him a kleenex ghost, and I actually have a memory of being thrilled to make countless tissue ghosts at a young age (a smaller version of your hanging ghosts). The idea that you could take simple materials and create another recognizable object out of them was nothing short of magical to me.

  7. I like all this. You guys are fun.