Create your own lawn decorations this Halloween. ATTRIBUTION: Wildcat Dunny (Flickr)

Every year, I look for new ideas for my Halloween landscape. To save money, I prefer to make most of my decorations myself using materials found around my home. This October, try your hand at creating some spine-chilling Halloween décor using these ideas.

Halloween Luminaries

You can make inexpensive Halloween luminaries out of ordinary paper lunch bags. These vintage-style luminaries feature paper cutouts of Halloween designs. Create just a few to decorate your porch or create dozens to line your driveway.

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Colored paper bags
  • An X-Acto knife or small scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Painters’ tape
  • Sand
  • Votive candles
  • Design patterns (optional)

Start by flattening your brown paper lunch bag, folding the sides outward and the bottom inward so that it’s symmetrical and you have more room to create your design. Next, use painters’ tape to tape your pattern to the front of the bag. Use the X-Acto knife to carefully cut out your Halloween design, then remove the tape and pattern.

Open up your brown lunch bag and insert a colored bag inside. Use the double-sided tape to secure the two bags together. Fill the inside bag with enough sand to prevent the bag from tipping over, and place a votive candle inside to light up your design. Battery-operated candles are a safer alternative.

Wooden Witch Silhouette

With a piece of scrap wood and a coat of paint, you can create your own wooden witch silhouette, cat, and cauldron to raise the creepiness factor of your front yard, porch, or patio.

For this project, you will need:

  • ¾-inch plywood
  • A jigsaw
  • Black paint with primer

Start by sketching out some fun silhouette ideas on a piece of paper. You can copy the idea of a witch with a black cat and cauldron or create your own Halloween design. Once you’ve decided on your design, enlarge the sketch using a photocopier. Then, you’ll want to transfer your drawing onto a piece of ¾-inch plywood using chalk.

Next, go over the chalk with a marker so that it stands out while you’re cutting. Use a jigsaw to carefully cut out your silhouette from the plywood. Use black paint with primer or black spray paint to paint the wood. Allow ample time for it to dry, then build a support for your silhouette so that it stands on its own.

Hanging Ghosts

Gather the kids for a fun afternoon of making Halloween décor and create eerie ghosts that sway back and forth when you hang them in trees, on lamp posts, or from your porch ceiling.

For this project, you will need:

  • White, circular Mylar balloons
  • Fishing line or black string
  • Cheesecloth
  • Black duct tape
  • Scissors

Fill a Mylar balloon with air or helium and attach a piece of line or string. Cut six pieces of cheesecloth: two short (about two inches longer than the sides of the balloon), two medium (about 5 to 10 inches longer), and two long (about 12 to 18 inches longer). Create a hole in the center of one of the smaller pieces of cheesecloth and thread the string from the balloon through the hole. Drape the cheesecloth over the balloon. Repeat with the rest of the cheesecloth pieces, alternating sizes to create texture.

Next, cut out two eyes for the face from black duct tape. Place the duct tape eyes behind the top layer of cheesecloth. Add a mouth, eyebrows, and other features if you wish. Replace the top layer of cheesecloth and hang your ghost.

Pallet Jack-o-Lantern

Have extra wood pallets lying around? Reuse them to create a scary pumpkin display for your yard. This durable decoration can be used year after year and requires just a few materials you may already have around your home.

For this project, you will need:

  • Wood pallet
  • ½-inch MDF cut into two 15-inch-by-15-inch squares
  • 1-inch-by-½-inch craft strips: two 15-inch and two 14½-inch
  • ½-inch finishing nails
  • ¾-inch nails
  • 1½-inch wood screw
  • 24-inch clamps
  • Spiral saw
  • Wood glue
  • Floral tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Green tissue paper
  • Orange craft paint and paint brush
  • Wire
  • Battery-operated candle
  • Artificial leaves (optional)

Disassemble the pallet and construct a box out of the pieces of wood and MDF. Drill the screw into the top of the box, screwing it in from the inside so the threaded part sticks out of the top. Glue two small pieces of scrap wood together to make a stem for the pumpkin. Then, use a marker to draw the jack-o’-lantern’s face onto the front of the box. Use a spiral saw to cut out the face design. Create a vine for the top of the box using a piece of floral wire cut 4 feet long. Wrap green tissue paper around the wire from one end to the other, securing it with tape along the way. If desired, add artificial leaves.

Next, paint the pumpkin using a mix of one part water to two parts paint to create a rustic effect. Once the paint has dried, wrap the wire around the screw on the lid, and then screw the dry stem onto the top of the vine. Place a light inside the jack-o’-lantern to make it glow.