10 Minute Halloween Crafts: Mummy Jars & Monster Hands

Halloween is about costumes and candy of course, but it’s also about that special feeling of fall in the air,  pumpkins patches and (my favorite) having some fun with spooky decorations and treats. When we lived near Belvedere street in San Francisco’s Cole Valley neighborhood we used to eagerly await the transformation of this normally quaint and quiet tree-lined street into “Hell-evdere” in the weeks leading up to Halloween. It’s a hot spot for trick or treating on Halloween night, but even more than that we loved the chance to take October afternoon strolls to look for ghosts up in the trees, admire the pumpkins decorating the beautifully preserved Victorian homes and to crunch dry leaves along the way — and of course end our walk with hot chocolate at Boulange de Cole.

We love bringing a little of that Hell-vedere spirit to our current digs, so when October 1st rolls around Luca and I waste no time getting to work. This year we put up a giant spider web in our window, invited some friendly ghosts to inhabit the tree in front of our house, and made a mini graveyard out on the sidewalk. We also made some time to do these two super fun, and super easy spooky crafts which we recommend for anyone with the craving for a little Halloween fun.

Mummy Jars 

I’m filing this one under “stuff I tagged on Pinterest and actually got around to making”. Because loose and messy wrapping gives the best result (even more loose and messy than our mummies above would be good), it’s a great project that even younger kids can do from start to finish. And if you ask me and Luca, any craft that involves googly eyes gets an automatic thumbs up.

you’ll need:

  • glass jars
  • first aid tape or gauze (you can also use strips cut from paper towels, tissue or toilet paper, see note below)
  • glue dots, clear tape and/or white glue
  • scissors
  • googly eyes
  • votive candles or LED tealights
  1. Wrap first aid tape or gauze around the outside of each jar to cover it completely. Tuck in the ends or use a glue dot or clear tape to secure them. We found that that you get the best result by wrapping in an irregular pattern (zagging up and down as you wrap). For this craft, loose and messy is the way to go.
  2. Stick on googly eyes with glue or glue dots. If using glue you will have to allow some drying time for the glue to set before your mummy jar will be ready to use.
  3. Light with a votive, or better yet and much safer, an LED tea light (you can find them at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and sometimes your local drugstore.)

We also got a nice result by wrapping one of our jars with 1 1/2″ – 2″ wide strips of paper towel (strips of toilet paper, white tissue paper would work too — but I wouldn’t use a regular sheet of paper because it will be too stiff). If using paper, paint the jar with a thin coat of white glue before wrapping it to help make everything stick. You may also need to dab on additional glue as needed  as you wrap to make sure paper strips adhere well the the jar. 

* * * * *

Monster Hands

These popcorn-filled monster hands are a fun little snack meets mini craft project — easy to put together, with just a touch of sugary fun. Keep it simple or make this more of a cooking project by customizing popcorn with your favorite sweet or savory spice mix, or even try our favorite white chocolate popcorn recipe with a dash of witch-ly green food coloring. What a cute goodie bag for a Halloween bash, a school carnival or just to take to friends in the neighborhood.

you’ll need:

  • Food Service Plastic Gloves (like this kind here)
  • Candy Corn
  • Popcorn or snack mix of your choice
  • Yarn or Raffia

Making these monster hands is pretty self-explanantory. Just push a candy corn down unto each finger to make fingernails, then fill the rest of the hand with popcorn leaving enough room at the top to tie the glove closed. The two sides of the glove have a tendency of sticking together making it hard for kids to push the candy down into the fingers. Adults can help by using a chopstick to separate the layers of the glove before filling.

You might also like: Spooky Snacks for Halloween (Mimi’s Creepy Fingers and Wiggly Orange-Mango Tummy Ticklers), What to Do with Leftover Halloween Candy: Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies 

Play Time Potsticker Craft

Gung hay fat choy & happy year of the dragon!

To get into the New Year spirit, we came up with this little play time potsticker craft, cobbled out of  some scrap fabric we had lying around. These potstickers are sealed with velcro making them fun little pouches for storing your special knick knacks. In Luca’s case, that means a few sticks of gum — or maybe that first tooth for the tooth fairy when the day finally comes. Do you think the tooth fairy likes pot stickers? A paper version, sealed with a glue stick, would be a fun little wrapper for a small gift.

We were loving our faux potstickers, so we decided to keep going with our Chinese take-out theme. We cut out some circles of fabric to stand in for our dipping sauces (dark brown for the standard soy-vinegar sauce and some fun red fabric for either chili sauce or ketchup depending on your taste), a few shreds of green fabric for sliced scallions, and muffin papers as containers to hold our sauces. To complete our tableaux we grabbed a pair of bright orange chopsticks, wrote up an order slip and decorated a paper Chinese take-out container with our restaurant logo “Lucky Potsticker Co.”

When we finished our pretend snack and had a chopsticks lesson, we tucked everything into the take out container and put it away for next time. We are already scheming about what to create next.

Play Time Potstickers

  • A small bowl or cup (about ~5″ diameter) to trace a circle pattern
  • 6″ square light colored scrap fabric
  • 6″ square of lining fabric
  • 5″ x 3″ scrap of brown fabric.
  • 4″ sew-on hook and loop closure (velcro) — we had a strip 3/4″ wide and cut it half lengthwise so this is enough for 2 potstickers
  • thread, needle and pins

Instead of writing up a complicated instructions, I made a little slideshow to show you how to make these. Feel free to get in touch if you need more details.

[PS: I found this great article by author Amy Tan about making pot stickers with her sisters and it includes her family recipe. Enjoy!]

Rainy Day Craft: Paper Towel Roll and Foil Rocket

Luca brought this rocket home from school this week. You know something makes the cut when it shows up at the breakfast table, rides along in the car and sleeps on the pillow at night.He has not stopped playing with this since he brought it home.

I thought I’d share it since it’s an easy craft that you can make with items around your kitchen: a paper towel roll and a sheet of aluminum foil. A good activity to keep little hands busy on a rainy day.

Maybe we’ll take a trip to Jupiter to try some of their famous orange twiglets.

Here’s How To Make It:

  • Notch one end of the paper towel roll and shape it into a cone and secure it with tape. I like to use gummed paper tape since it’s sticks well to paper surfaces and you can draw, paint and glue on top of it. It’s a great addition to your craft supplies.
  • Paint on some school glue and then cover the whole thing with foil.
  • Add some stickers, paint or other decorations and you’re ready to blast off!

Family Crafts: Fortune Cookies for the Lunar New Year (or Valentine’s Day)

Gung Hay Fat Choy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wanted to get a jump start on a Valentine’s Day craft that Luca could bring to his friends at school. We spotted this cute felt fortune cookie craft over on good old Martha Stewart’s website. Bingo! You could fill these with a couple pieces of candy, write up funny fortunes, or just tuck in some stickers or doo-dads from the dime store. A cute one for the Lunar New Year or Valentine’s Day, but a quick and fun craft project or party favor for anytime of the year, too!

Felt Fortune Cookie Craft (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Materials: felt, floral wire, sewing machine and thread (or hot glue).

  1. Cut some felt circles 4.5″ in diameter.
  2. With your leftover felt scraps, cut some pieces less than 4.5″ long (We did ours about 3.5 inches, you don’t have to be exact) and about 1/2″ wide.
  3. Cut some thin wire (floral wire will do) in pieces 6-7″ long (about twice as long as your felt scraps), bend them in half and twist the ends to secure. You can use some pliers to crimp pointy ends so they don’e poke through the felt.
  4. Place your wire across the center of your felt circle and place your felt scrap on top to cover the wire. We tacked ours down using a large zig zag stitch on the sewing machine, but you could use hot glue. If you use a sewing machine, it’s a good idea to back stitch both ends fairly well.
  5. Bend the circle into a fortune cookie shape. First, bend in half like a taco with the wire on the inside along the bottom edge. Then, bend the two wired ends towards each other and shape the felt until you like the shape.
  6. Tuck in your surprises and give to someone special.

 

Speaking of fortune cookies….. “Sparkletack”, a great podcast for anyone interested in San Francisco history, has an interesting episode on the disputed origins of the Fortune Cookie. Check it out!

Luca’s Fish Shop

;

With Christmas boxes and gear for the new baby (did I mention we have a new baby here at Casa Stacie?), we have boxes upon boxes upon boxes around here. The upside is that we have about as much crafting material as we can handle.

Luca happens to love the aquarium, fishing and eating fish so one of the projects we dreamed up was (surprise surprise) a fishing game. The pole is just a stick with a piece of yarn tied to it and a magnet hot glued to the other end of the yarn. Then we created a school of colorful fish and attached paper clips to them so they would stick to the magnet. Voila, instant fishing derby! These fanciful fish also inspired a pretend fish store and made for some very inventive dinners in Luca’s play kitchen.

We were able to squeeze out several days worth of fun just putting all the pieces together: decorating our fish and making funny things to fish for like Luca’s contribution, a pickle wearing a hat (which happens to be the punchline to most of his jokes these days). I made an old shoe and a tin can because no fishing derby would be complete with out them. Another day we put together our fishing pole and attached paper clips to our fish. This was the perfect activity for a preschooler: gluing, glitter and googly eyes, what more could you want?

Materials:

  • a stick, a magnet, and a piece of yarn
  • hot glue and white school glue
  • cardboard (corrugated is sturdier and easier to work with than thin cardboard from cereal boxes and notepads, but thin cardboard will work in a pinch)
  • whatever decorating supplies you can scavenge such as aluminum foil, party napkins, glitter, wrapping paper, tissue paper and markers

For our sardines, we glued pieces of aluminum foil to both sides of a piece of cardboard and then cut out fish shapes. You can use a sharpie to draw on some details, or “emboss” the details using the back of a ball point pen or a toothpick. Using the same technique, we also got instant pattern and color for our fish by gluing printed party napkins to our cardboard (separate the layers of the napkin and use just the printed layer — or use some colored tissue paper or wrapping paper). If you want, you can seal the surface by watering down some school glue and brushing it over the top.

For those competitive fishers, you can assign points to each fish and make a contest of it. Just scatter the fish in a big shopping bag or a box and fish away!