by Amanda Formaro
Decorating your front porch, yard, or walkway for Halloween can be loads of fun. While there are probably hundreds of ways to spiff up your yard and adorn your door, let's focus on a few simple solutions that your pocket can live with.
Scarecrows are actually very easy to make and look like you spent hours assembling them. For a friendly scarecrow, use either a plastic smiling pumpkin for the head, or a carved or painted pumpkin with a happy face. Choose a long sleeved shirt or coat, a pair of pants or jeans, and a hat if you choose. You may even go so far as to include shoes for it's feet and gloves as it's hands.
Stuff the clothing with newspapers or dry leaves to keep the scarecrow from getting too heavy that you can't carry him. If you have straw available, poke some out from inside the shirt collar and wrist cuffs of the shirt. If not using gloves, you can use straw or sticks for the hands. Secure all the clothing together with safety pins, or by hand sewing 8-10 stitches every 4-6 inches or so.
Follow the instructions above for the clothing, simply replace the happy pumpkin face with a scary or angry expression.
Another option is to use planks of wood set up easel style, then drape lengths of cloth all over to form ghostly apparel. Using more wood, and a few nails, hammer arms so that they are pointing out to the sides. Using a spooky carved face and leaving the hat off gives an eerie appearance! A Grim Reaper can also be constructed this way by using black sheets or cloth and forming a hood over the pumpkin head.
An alternative to carving is painting. This is very popular with families with small children. Kids want to be a part of the process, and this is a wonderful way to let them decorate their own pumpkin. You can use markers or tempura paints. Because you are not cutting into the pumpkin, it will last longer and you will be able to use it in recipes after the holiday. Just be sure to wash all the paint off!
Ghosts, Webs, & Spiders
Simple hanging ghosts can be made from squares of white fabric. Place the square of fabric down flat on the table. In the center of the fabric, put a balled up wad of fabric scraps, cotton, or yarn. Using newspaper as the stuffing is not recommended because of rain drenching the paper and possibly bleeding the ink through the white fabric. Wrap the fabric around the ball in the center and tie off with a piece of orange or black yarn. Use a black marker to paint on eyes and a mouth. Make longer ones by using larger scraps of fabric. Hang ghosts in a tree or from your doorway.
Spiders and webs are fairly easy to decorate with. You can purchase small plastic spiders and webbing at craft and discount stores. Thread webbing across bushes and windows to create an eerie effect. String it through trees and branches and over doorways.
To make large yard spiders, fill a black plastic garbage full with dry leaves or old newspapers. Tie off the end. Using another black garbage bag, fill again, but only 1/3 of the way. Tie off. The smaller bag is the head. Attach the head to the larger bag (body) with packing tape. Using yet another black garbage bag, cut lengthwise into thin strips, enough for eight legs. Tape or hot glue sides together once you have lined them with a filling such as leaves or newspaper. Hot glue or tape legs to body.
Halloween is such a fun holiday. Be sure to make the most of it and follow good safety precautions for a fun night of Trick-or-Treating!