Make Your Own Halloween Decorations: Thrills and Chills

These homemade Halloween decorations are fun and easy to make, and exceptionally spooky.

| October/November 1992

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    Adding fluttering plastic to the rubber wings of a toy bat gives it an animated, living appearance.
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    A smoking jar of witch's brew is one of the easiest props you can make.
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    Print and cut out this label to affix to your jar of witch's potion, or hand-letter your own.
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    A large fire in a cauldron makes a scary display—but you can make this one without fear of burning down the house.

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Halloween decorations have begun to rival those of Christmas in popularity. Adult suburbanites who grew up trick-or-treating simply refuse to give up decorating. Communities often hold at least one "Haunted House" or "Haunted Woods" festival, and store employees often deck themselves out in their most ghoulish garb come October 31st. All of this creates quite a commercial market for innovative store-bought Halloween displays. But you probably own most of the materials already—so why not make your own Halloween decorations? The projects below are fun to make, professional-looking, and quick to assemble. The only trouble is that you may attract so many trick-or-treaters, you risk running out of treats. 

Dancing Fire in a Cauldron

The fiery candle placed inside the jack-o' lantern has a suitably haunting effect. So a larger fire, seemingly coming out of a witch's cauldron, is even more scary. And now you can create one—without burning down your house. In fact, you don't even have to strike a match. 

Materials needed: 

  • a portable electric fan
  • a red light-bulb with socket and cord
  • a black plastic trick-or-treater's witch's cauldron
  • about one square yard of red transparent gift-wrap material (available at hobby shops or department stores) 

Procedure: First, cut the red plastic gift-wrap material into three fire-shaped "flames" about 18 inches long, two to three inches wide. The tops should have the forked, tapered look of a flickering flame. Then fasten the bottom of the flame to the grill of a portable electric fan so that when the fan is turned on, the plastic strips will be blown upward, dancing vigorously in the breeze. Next, cut the bottom off of the witches' cauldron until it is about 12 inches high. Place the cauldron atop the blowing fan so that the "flame" tops will be visible coming out of it. (Note: prop the cauldron on top of the fan with pieces of wood so that the fan's blades will have a two- to four-inch space to draw air through; otherwise the flames will not move as vigorously. You may also have to tie the cauldron to the fan in order to prevent it from being blown over.) 

You have now finished the main construction job. All you need to do now is place the red light bulb atop the fan's grill with the wire running under the cauldron, then plug in the whole thing for an outstanding fire effect. A red glow will emanate from the cauldron as flames leap hauntingly from its interior like something from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia. Place this fiery spectre on a chair beneath a window so that only the cauldron and flames are visible to trick-or-treaters. Then turn the house light out. This project is so good, someone may call the fire department. 

Fluttering Vampire Bat

The same principle of the cauldron effect can be used to transform a rubber toy bat into an animated vampire. 


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