I have a confession to make: I’ve always envied those tricked out front yards transformed into eerie graveyards and monster’s lairs at Halloween time. Problem was, I didn’t have the time or money to recreate a scene from the Addams family. Then came the perfect assignment: create affordable and simply Halloween decorations for a Home & Garden article. Essentially, the job was requiring me to turn envy into reality, or at least a scaled-down version of it.
Imagination took over. I wanted something spooky, but more eerie-like than frightful. The whole glowing fog image topped my must-have list. And so, the Ghoulish Cauldron was born, and less than $25 later, I had a make-it-yourself monster standing over a brewing black cauldron. In the light of day, it looks almost cute. But after dark, it startled both my unsuspecting husband and stepdaughter the first time they came home to find it waiting in the front yard. To try it yourself, follow these instructions (and to learn about more Halloween decoration ideas, check out the Home & Garden section):
What you need: Black plastic cauldron (available at party stores); black hooded child’s costume with long sleeves, batting material, safety pins, 3- to 4-foot dowl (available at craft stores), rubber mask with elastic band at the back, skeleton gloves, half-circle plastic foam, two large glow sticks, two flashlights (available at discount stores); one bag dry ice (available at grocery stores), large stock pot or small foam container, two medium-sized rocks.
1. Insert dowl at least 3 inches into the ground.
2. Cover circular side of plastic foam with the rubber mask and use the elastic band to keep it in place. Push top of dowl into foam. (Suggestion: Place a nail in the top of the dowl first to give the foam extra support on the dowl.)
3. Wrap batting material around the length of the dowl. Secure with safety pins.
4. Drape the child’s costume so that the hood covers the back and top of the foam (the masked face should remain visible) and the rest covers the batting. Stuff more batting into the arms.
5. Safety pin one finger from each glove to the edge of the cauldron. Then safety pin the open ends of the gloves to each sleeve of the costume.
6. Prop flashlights using medium-size rocks so the light shines on the masked face.
7. Place pot or foam container inside the cauldron. Lay glow sticks across the top (not inside) of the pot or foam container.
8. Break dry ice into small chunks. (Note: Dry ice can cause severe burns, so wear gloves when handling it.) Place the dry ice in the pot or container. Pour one cup of hot water on top to create a fog-like steam. The effect will last only a few minutes. Add more hot water to keep it going. (For longer lasting fog, invest in a fog machine — but this will set you back $30-$40.)
Extra: To create the skeleton, hang a decorative skeleton off a garden stake; tie a lanyard or string from each of the skeleton’s shoulders (on the inside of the “bones”) and hang two small red glow sticks from the lanyard/string.