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 

Enchanted Forest Crafts

We’ve got our big preschool party coming up and the theme is “enchanted forest”. Given my love of wee villages, gnomes and unicorns it was impossible for me not to volunteer to help with some crafty decorations. So today I diverge from our usual foodie topics to share some kid-friendly crafts which will whisk you away to fairy tale land. Most of these projects take advantage of recycled materials you probably already have around your house and none require advanced crafting skills. I guarantee that we’ll be scheduling some forest-y themed playdates and spring picnics so we can keep the magic going. For more ideas, wander over to my Enchanted Forest Party Pinterest Board and another good one compiled by a friend from our school.

All you need is some bright red felt for this one. If you don’t like to sew, I bet duct tape or staples would work out just fine. Some guidelines for making gnome hats can be found here.

A must for any fairy sprite, this flowery garland is easy to make with a few fabric scraps, fake flowers, a bit of elastic, ribbon and your trusty hot glue gun. I’ll create a separate post with the instructions, so stay tuned.

We made fairy wands using some cheap plastic chopsticks from our local Asian store (about a buck for 20 chopsticks), used manila folders, cheap ribbon, glitter and some hot glue. Those disposable wooden restaurant chopsticks would work too. Just cut out two stars the same size from your manilla folder. We secured a few ribbons to each chopstick with a dab of hot glue before sandwiching them between our stars. Apply a little hot glue (or regular old school glue) around edge of your stars and press it all together and let it dry. Then you’re ready to grab glitter, pens, paints or whatever magical decorations you wish.

Celebrate your inner unicorn! Just make some cone shapes out of old manila folders, securing the edge with tape, staples or glue… then get decorating. We used basic school glue to seal our edges shut and dried them flat under a stack of heavy books (make sure to protect your books by inserting a sheet of waxed paper between your unicorn horns and the books). We’ll be attaching a bit of elastic to these of course so that they will stay on our heads! If you happen to have some laying around, you could also use one of those cone shaped birthday party hats as your base. Open it up and flatten it, then cut the triangle in half. Glue tape or staple the the edges (you may need to trim the bottoms of the cones) to get two skinny and more unicorn-ish horns.

All the credit for this ingenious mini rainbow goes to my son. We cut a paper plate in half then cut off the edges (you’ll get two rainbows from each plate). We then cut 2 cloud shapes out of the middle part of the plate as our base. Just use a can to prop up your rainbow while the glue dries. Paint your rainbow up and glue on a little basket of gold for the leprechauns to find.

You can get pretty creative with a milk carton. Since detailed cutting will require an X-acto knife, invite young crafters to create the design using markers and leave the cutting to the adults. The waxy surface of the carton isn’t the best surface for markers or paint, but after a few coats of paint we ended up with a nice effect. We fashioned some shutters and windowboxes from a cereal box and used a piece of unpopped popcorn for our doorknob. A little moss glued to the roof gives it that rustic flair and the flickering LED tea light inside makes it easy to imagine a friendly gnome putting his feet up by the fire after a long day among the toadstools.

We made this mushroom house (see the picture at the top of this post for a better view) with a coffee cup and a paper plate. You could create a family of mushrooms by mixing it up with different sized paper bowls and plates and cups or adding in some paper towel or toilet paper rolls and cardboard coffee sleeves. My favorite part are the gills underneath the mushroom cap. Very mushroom-y!

For a touch of candy land in your enchanted forest, I am obsessed with these giant candy lights. The idea comes from a favorite blog, Oh Happy Day. You’ll want to check out their write up for the full details, but the materials include recycled clear plastic clamshell containers (the kind that fruit comes in), a string of Chistmas lights, cellophane in candy colors (available at most craft stores) and some cheap ribbon or floral wire.

Calling all crafters.....

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!]