Homemade Halloween Decorations

Make homemade halloween decorations using recycled materials. This is an easy craft project using styrofoam packing material. You can also use leftover scraps of styrofoam insulation. This is a bit expensive if you have to buy it though, but it carves nicer. It also isn't as messy to use. The packing material on the other hand, is free.


Spooky signs

Age: 12+

Difficulty rating: Easy

Time scale: 2 out of 5


  • Craft paints
  • 1 inch thick styrofoam
  • dremel
  • serrated knife or jigsaw

Start by drawing out the shape that you want your sign. Use a one inch thick piece of styrofoam packing material. The pirates cove sign was cut jagged on each end. It is about 9 inches wide by 21 inches long. Now mark out your pattern and words on the styrofoam with a pencil.

If you don't like doing lettering free hand, print it up on the computer. Put the paper on the styrofoam and trace over it with a pencil. Push hard enough to transfer the lines.

Cut out the sign shape with a serrated knife or with a jigsaw. Use the dremel to carve your words into the styrofoam. The letters should be carved down about a quarter of an inch deep. Make sure you don't go through to the other side.

For an alternative, you can carve the background partially away, instead of the letters. This will make the letters stand out, instead of being sunken in to the sign. This is harder though, and more time consuming.

Dremel horizontal lines and knot shapes to make it look like wood grain. It is a good idea to use a dust mask when you are doing this. If you are using styrofoam packing material to make your homemade halloween decorations, it is going to be messy!

Use black to paint the letters on the sign. With brown, paint the rest of the sign. When this is dry, water down black paint, and do a blackwash over the whole sign. The black paint will go into the carved woodgrain lines, making them show up better. Now with almond color paint, dry brush lightly, to add highlights.

When complete, hook a string on it to hang it, glue it to a surveyors stick to put in the ground or attach it to the wall with two sided tape. If you are using glue make sure it is safe to use on styrofoam. Some glues will eat it away! There is a contruction adhesive for styrofoam that works well.

If you want to make a sign that has a rocky texture instead of a wood grain look, you can use a heat gun to melt the styrofoam. Put the heat gun on low and do quick passes over the styrofoam. Be careful though, this will produce fumes and should only be done with proper ventilation. You also have to be cautious not to melt the styrofoam completely away.

Another thing that will create this effect is spray paint, but you never know how deep it will eat away the styrofoam. It is a lot harder to know what the true end result will be. I've tried this and thought I had the look I wanted, only to come back later to discover holes eaten right through. One more craft wreck to add to my list!

There are many homemade halloween decorations that can be made using recycled styrofoam packing material. I have also made doors, an anchor, crowsnest, and a ships wheel for a pirate ship.

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