Gold at the Dollar Store, Halloween Party Pt 3

And then there were 4.  I figured I’d just close out the Halloween Party Series with a final post of decorations on the cheap.  I didn’t want to keep in you suspense from the last post.  Believe that?  I didn’t think so.  Actually, I am relying on images that were preloaded on our Smugmug site due to some web access limitations we are fighting through at the moment.  Since all the decoration pictures were uploaded at once, I can simply reference those rather than fighting any new image uploads.  Hopefully concentrating on this post will help take my mind off the Cardinals’ second blown game of the series.

As mentioned previously, we originally went to the Dollar Store to find specific materials for our Halloween Party Haunted Trail (link here).  The pumpkins mentioned in that previous post were a bonus find.  What I was really looking for was some round looking objects that were made of glass or plastic that was roughly 6 inches in diameter.  That was pretty much the entire description we were heading in with.  Oh, and it needed to deflect or reflect light in some manner.  “Should you choose to accept this mission …”  After the euphoria of the foam pumpkin find had fallen off we started down each of the aisles trying to find something that fit the bill.  This resulted in 20 minutes of “Nopes” until halfway down the glass and candle aisle.  Right there on the top shelf was the perfect item.

It is actually pretty heavy glass similar to what you would put on a ceiling fan light except it has a flattened bottom. I have no idea what the real purpose is, but this was going to be a nice add to my Halloween decorations … if it worked out as planned. Since this was an unproven idea, we went with 4 of them – each for a very respectable $1.00. Going this route made the decision on which of the two ways to go on the design. If they were plastic, I was going to cut out shapes and put a candle in them to help light the path. Glass as the base resulted in the second option to simply paint the globes. A quick stop at Home Depot was needed to get some paint. After a lengthy discussion with the paint clerk, it was decided that the Rustoleum Multi-Purpose Orange Gloss would work best on the glass. There isn’t enough time to go into details on my checkout experience, but it is worth mentioning I had to go through nearly the same process to buy spray paint as you do Psuedophedrine.

Hit the jump to see how this and an another Halloween decoration turned out

Now that the major components were in hand, it was time to get cracking on the decoration. The idea was to create safe path decorations. At one time I was planning on using real tea lights which made the glass option the most appealing. Since then that concept was replaced with battery tea lights which is how the second option came to be. Unlike the fake pumpkins, these decorations needed me to add material to the glass in order to create a pumpkin face. The big decision was whether to use painter’s tape or some sticky backed craft foam as a mask. I never pick right and only these two ideas popped into my head so rather than roll the dice a fool proof method as selected… do them both. Much like the other pumpkins, the pumpkin pattern was made free hand on the foam and blue tape. Once the pattern was created a scissors was used to cut them out and slap’em on the glass jars. It was about 11:30pm on a weekday at this point in the project so I decided it was time to hit the sack. Something delayed me long enough to notice the foam pattern was coming off of the glass. CRAP. It was unlikely that the patterns would last through the night and they would probably lose stickiness making them useless the next day. There was only one thing to do and that was to break out the paint.

Ten minutes later I was outside in the dark ready to paint. To assist in this process, two stakes were driven into the ground and the globes turned upside down on them. Nice even strokes prevented the paint from running. The nice thing about this paint is it worked great upside down so I could spray the inside of the top ruffles very easy. As soon as a good coat of paint was added, the foam started peeling off the glass again. There was some fear the foam would pull the paint off along with it, but it worked perfectly. This is what the foam ones looked like after they dried for 24 hours.

Now, it is impossible to tell from the pictures, but a light misting of paint ended up on the inside of the glass thanks to spraying the ruffles. The other thing is the edges of the pattern looked anti-aliased due to the porous foam, but it still produced the desired effect. Here is the end result with a tea light dropped in it.

The orange tea light worked great for the cheap pumpkins, but the orange coloring matched the glow of the orange glass making the image blend in too much. No worries, I switched to a white LED light and it cleared that problem right up.

You can see the anti-aliasing in this shot along with the speckling on the inside, but it just makes it all the more spookier.  The next night I painted the blue taped globes in the same manner as the first with one improvement.  Newspaper was stuffed into the globe to protect it from the paint splatter.  After it dried, I took an exacto knife to the tape to peel it off.  Good news is the lines were nice and crisp.  The bad news is it did have a tendency to peel the paint off with it.

If you look closely you will see some tears at the bottom of the nose and on the mouth. It also took some time to get that tape off especially with the detail in this particular pattern. You live and you learn. The newspaper did the trick by the way, so the interior was nice and clean. I took this photograph with a top light giving it a crisper look.

As a summary, both pattern approaches produced a nice product, but the foam route is the much better option. Not only was it easier to get the pattern off, but making the pattern on the foam was easier than cutting it out of the thin tape. The can of paint cost me about $4.00 and easily did the 4 jars. Guessing another 4 could be produced with the same can. Time commitment was about 20 minutes to design, cut out and affix the pattern with another 10 minutes to paint it. Add the $0.33 tea light and you have yourself a safe and spooky trail decoration.

While shopping at the store, I came upon another idea for a decoration. They had a pack of 8 gumdropped shaped Tupperware containers for $1.00 (you probably guessed that by now). An idea for ghosts popped into my head. A cruise back down another aisle found some pillow cases and a queen size sheet that would work for the body. Leveraging the foam approach used in the glass jars above, I created some black eyes and stuck them to the inside of the Tupperware (which was turned upside down). Using the same fishing line as in the pumpkins in the previous post I strung a random length through a drilled hole in the top. The bedsheet and mattress cover were cut into rectangles and draped over the container. To make them visible at night, I put a tea light on the bottom of the container lid and simply slid it back on. This what it looks like in full light:

and here is what it looked like out on the trail:

I love it when a plan comes together. All in all, pretty easy to make and probably took me 10 minutes to cut the two eyes, 15 minutes to drill the hole and string the line through (that would be 5 minutes to do that and 10 minutes to get the drill ready) and about 15 minutes to cut the material up into appropriate sized lengths. Here is a shot of how it was made.

There was some question as to how well the eyes were going to show up on the trail. After making a few of them the first way, I simplified the design to get more of a pop in the eyes.

Now those will definitely show up. Here is what it looks like in the dark.

Basically the design change was to simply use the teal lights as the actual eyes instead of backlighting the foam cutouts. This simply required drilling two holes in the side of the container to stick the tea lights through. Be careful when doing this. I pressed too hard on the side and it ended up cracking. No worries though, it still held the tea lights snug and putting the lid on the bottom kept everything in place.

And that is what I call decorating on the cheap. All in all the trip to the Dollar Store netted me 10 foam pumpkins, 4 glass walk lights and 8 tupper-ghosts for a grand total of $25. Take into account they are reusable from year to year and that price point is very attractive. It was also a lot of fun to make and added to the enjoyment of the party preparation. There was some time fretting and Linda was convinced I’d bitten off too much, but the last ghost was hung a mere 10 minutes before everyone started showing up.

There is still time before Halloween to impress your neighbors!

2 thoughts on “Gold at the Dollar Store, Halloween Party Pt 3”

  1. Wow!! I wish I could have gone, but I was there in spirit (ahem).

    Do you remember when we were kids and hung a fake man over the front door from a rope that was thrown over the roof so we could drop him on the unsuspecting kids? That was fun. Wonder where those kids ended up…



  2. You missed some fun, maybe you can make it to next year’s – I do remember putting that dummy over the house and I think we signaled someone in back to release the rope so the dummy would drop down on them. I can only imagine with the sterilization of society that some soccer mom would be horrified that little Thad might experience a scare that would traumatize them through most of the grade school life – or at least until they pulled themselves out of the overprotective wing. Basically, if you want my candy… you gonna have to earn it!!. By the way, is that the year you or Dad (can’t remember who) sat still out in the lawn chair with the gorilla mask on.. and then came to life when the kiddies walked by! those were the good times for sure.


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