DIY Halloween Trash Bag Yard Ghosts Tutorial
I wish that I could say that these super cute trash bag ghosts came straight from my imagination, but that would be a total lie. In fact, these fun trash bag ghosts are kind of a little Halloween for me. You see in the very first house my family ever lived in my mother came up with a brilliant idea for us to make a little ghost family that was just like us and put in her flower beds. We went to the store and got foam discs and dowels. The rest we improvised with our crafty stash we already had at home. I think I must have been 7 or 8.
We made our ghosts and put them out, so proud and they got stolen that first night. That was a good lesson that people will steal anything that is cute and easily accessible so we made more and placed them closer to the front door, where would be thieves would have a more difficult time of a grab and dash without being heard. We moved across town and that first Halloween we made our ghosts and then when we moved states, we made a new set for our new house in Oklahoma.
As an adult, I’ve made some of these ghosts every move I’ve made. There was a set in my first apartment, my first townhouse, my first real home. In all I’ve made 7 different sets of these sweet ghosts from the time I was a kid to now. And every time I get so many compliments on them though they are really inexpensive and simple t make. So I decided that I’d make a set just to share the how to with you!
For t his project you will need:
- sheet of styrofoam, 1 inch thickness preferred (one sheet will make 3) OR foam discs
- one dowel rod for each
- white trash bags without colorful handles
- yarn or string
- bread knife (like from your kitchen)
- pocket knife
- hot glue gun
- craft foam
- googly eyes
- ribbon and other embellishments
You have two options here. The first is to buy premade round styrofoam discs and make ghosts with round heads. The upside is you won’t have to cut styrofoam which is messy business but the downside is the cost will be significantly higher. Plan to spend around $4-7 per disc.
The more cost effective alternative is to purchase styrofoam sheets, sold in craft stores. One sheet that will produce 3 heads, round or otherwise, will cost you around $8. If you happen to have a 40% off coupon, well that’s all the better.
If you prefer round heads, use a plate or other round item to trace the shape of your circle. If you want to have a big head for papa, medium for mama and so on, graduated mixing bowls make an excellent set of templates.
Working slowly use your serrated bread knife to trace along the top side where you drew your shape. This is just going to be a shallow guideline.
Next take your knife and use a sawing motion, following the shape you drew on and traced. Work slowly and every inch or so the cut area will pop away. Keep a trash bag handy as this is insanely messy. It STILL looks like it snowed in my office and on my cats and I have no idea where it’s still coming from!
You can also purchase any number of styrofoam cutting tools, but as much as I craft I very, very rarely would require one so that’s why I started using a bread knife. What can I say, I’m cheap and low on crafty storage space!
If you don’t want round heads the options are pretty well endless! Draw on the shape that you prefer (a Google search for cartoon ghosts is quite helpful) directly on to your styrofoam sheet. Cut out just as you would a circle.
If cutting a complex shape you might accidentally break the foam. If that occurs, use your hot glue and thin sticks, like Popsicle sticks to anchor back together on the backside only.
When set, turn over and fill the cap with hot glue taking care that it can easily seep out of the backside (and burn the heck out of you as I can attest!)
On the backside of the head cut a divot the width of your down and a good 6 inches up from the bottom, or to about the center of the head. You only want the rut to be about half the size of the width of the dowel.
Squeeze hot glue into the channel you created and hold until the glue sets.
Trim a little snip in the center of the closed end of a bag.
Run the bag up to the foam for the head and tie on with string or yarn. Make sure it’s light colored so it doesn’t show through the bags.
Place another bag over the head and situate so that the seam doesn’t run along the front side of the face. Twist up as neatly as you can and staple the bag through to the foam. Just use an office grade stapler anything more could break your foam. If you don’t have one, you could always use thumbtacks.
When you come around to the bottom, gather and staple well at the very bottom of the backside. This will prevent needing to tie any string to keep the bag securely on the ghost. If you find you have trouble with this, use fishing line or white thread to secure the bag just beneath the head.
Decorate the front side of your ghost with colorful craft foam and other embellishments like googly eyes, rhinestones and ribbon.
When anchoring your ghosts outside, be sure to push into the ground using the dowel only to prevent tearing the bags or breaking the styrofoam head. Also take into consideration which way the wind blows so they don’t just look like a ghostly head on a white stick when the bags billow behind them.
If you make a set, will yours resemble your family at all? FYI – I always make a nerdy dad and a chic and fancy mom (just like we always made when I was a kid 🙂