Home Craft

In the Woods Paper Lantern

Every year on the Saturday before Halloween, costumed revelers line up and illuminate Baltimore in the Halloween Lantern Parade. Yet, in all the years since I learned that it even existed, I’ve never managed to join in the fun myself.

But until the day when I can finally become part of the shining spectacle, I can get to work on my lantern-making skills. Today, I’m starting with a simple luminary constructed from wooden craft sticks and tissue paper. And since I won’t be going on any walks through a haunted forest either, hand drawn branches help set a Halloweeny mood.

In the Woods Paper Lantern - Materials


  • Tissue paper
  • 12 craft sticks (or popsicle sticks)
  • Hot glue gun
  • White glue
  • Black permanent marker
  • Craft knife and/or scissors
  • Battery-operated tea light

In the Woods Paper Lantern

1. Cut 4 of the craft sticks in half, so that you have 8 short sticks and 8 long sticks. Arrange the sticks into four rectangles, each with two long sides and two short sides.

2. Attach one short stick to each end of a long stick using a dab of hot glue at each end. Attach the other long stick to the opposite ends of the short sticks. Make sure that the short sticks are attached on top of both long sticks (or underneath both — just make sure both ends of the short sticks are on the same side of each long stick):

In the Woods Paper Lantern - Frame Assembly

When the glue is completely cool, use a craft knife to carefully trim excess glue.

3. Fold a sheet of tissue paper into fourths. Lay one of your stick frames on top of the folded tissue paper and trace around the outer edge. Cut the rectangle out with scissors or a craft knife, cutting through all four layers so that you end up with four rectangles.

4. If you wish to paint your frames black (or any other color) now is a good time to do it. This will allow them time to dry while you complete the next part of the project!

5. Using a black permanent marker, draw branches on each of the tissue paper rectangles. Don’t fret about your drawing skills here — the more scrawly and scraggly the better, in my opinion!

(Of course, you can leave the paper plain if you prefer, or you can draw other shapes, figures, or faces.)

In the Woods Paper Lantern

6. Flip the frames so that the back sides face up (it doesn’t really matter which is front and which is back, so long as it’s the same for all four). Apply a very thin line of white glue to all four sides. Take one of the tissue paper rectangles and turn it wrong-side up. Line the paper up with the frame and gently press along the outer edge to adhere the paper to the frame, making sure to keep the paper from buckling or wrinkling. I find it’s easiest to start by lining up the top edge and working my way down. Repeat for all four frames.

7. Using a dab of hot glue at each corner, attach two frames at a 90-degree angle along the long side. Add a third frame at a 90-degree angle to one of the attached frames. Add the fourth frame to create a tall box shape (with open top and bottom). When the glue is completely cool, trim any excess with a craft knife.

8. Place a battery operated candle inside the lantern.


Jack O'Candy Jars

At this festive time of year, one of the most important decisions we all face is what to do with all the candy. You could hide it away in a drawer in a plastic bag, dust off that fancy dish, or plop it in a plastic pumpkin. Or, you can use it to turn glass jars into colorful little totes for your Halloween sweets.

Not only are they a good way to repurpose that rather large collection of empty jars that you just can’t bear to get rid of (you do that too, right?), they’d make a fun little pre-Halloween treat for somebody special. And when they’re empty? Add a tea light!

And the best part is that they’re so simple — a few twists of wire, a few strokes of the paint pen — which means you’ll be reaping the rewards (and satisfying that sweet tooth) in no time flat.

Jack O'Candy Jars - Materials


  • Clear glass jar, cleaned and label removed
  • Aluminum floral wire, 12 gauge
  • Black paint pen
  • Wire cutters
  • Round pliers
  • Candy (such as candy corn, Reese’s Pieces, or M&Ms)

Jack O'Candy Jars

1. Measure the circumference of your jar just below the threaded area for the lid. Cut two pieces of wire whose length is equal to half the circumference plus 3 inches.

2. Bend both pieces of wire around the neck of the jar just below the threads, so that the ends overlap. Twist the overlapping pieces together to form a collar around the neck of the jar, leaving at least 1/2 inch untwisted.

3. Bend the twists upward.

4. Use the wire cutters to trim the excess of one end. Use the round pliers to bend the other end into a loop.

5. Cut another piece of wire that is equal to about three-quarters of the jar circumference. This will become the handle. (Make this longer or shorter as you see fit.)

6. Use the round pliers to bend each end of the handle into an open loop.

7. Bend the handle into a U shape. Use the jar to help you get an even curve.

8. Hook the loops ends of the handle into the loops on the collar. Use your fingers or pliers to close the handle loops.

9. Use the paint pen to draw a jack o’lantern face on the jar. Fill with candy!

Leaf Printed Linens


To be perfectly honest, this project is the result of one of those moments when I’m at the store looking at kitchen and table linens that I really don’t need (but I don’t have an autumnal leaf tablecloth!) and one catches my eye — the colors! the pattern! Then I see the price tag, and a case of “I can make that” inevitably sets in.

As an art major in college, I ended up with three semesters of printmaking under my belt, so I immediately started running through the list of ways that I could create my own leaf printed linens. Yet, if you’ve ever walked down a leaf-covered sidewalk after a heavy rain, you’ve probably noticed that leaves are pretty good at making beautiful prints on their own. Simplicity wins every time.

This just goes to show that you don’t really need fancy equipment or special supplies — or a small fortune — to spruce up your kitchen and dining room with seasonal linens. All I started with was an inexpensive, plain tablecloth (I’ve also used white floursack towels, too, which work great), a little paint, and some leaves gathered twenty feet from my front door. But I ended up with a stack of dinner party-worthy linens that are sturdy enough for every day use — because there’s always room for just a little more October.

Leaf Printed Linens - Materials


  • Leaf (or leaves)
  • Acrylic craft paint or fabric paint
  • Foam brush
  • Linens (such as a tablecloth, tea towel, etc.)
  • Scrap paper (such as newspaper) and cardboard/paper plate


Look for leaves that are freshly fallen — they should still have bright color. These will be sturdy enough to withstand repeated painting and printing. Leaves that are too old and dry will be too brittle; leaves that are young will be too thin and soft. If you’re out in the woods, make sure you can clearly identify what kind of plant a leaf came from before you pick it up (visually, as in “It is obvious that this leaf has fallen from that giant tree there!”). A case of poison ivy/oak/sumac might put a damper on a crafty afternoon.

Fabric paint is good if you have some; I used acrylic craft paint because I tend to have it on hand in a variety of colors. Acrylic paint is permanent once it has set into fabric (or any porous material), which makes it a good choice for painting fabric on purpose. However, make sure to cover your work surface underneath the fabric, and wear a smock or apron so that you don’t ruin your clothes. Your fingers will get a little messy!

A thin coat of paint is key to getting a good print. Dispense some paint onto a paper plate or scrap of cardboard. Using a plate will help you get the right amount of paint on your brush by spreading it around thinly, whereas dipping the brush will load it with too much paint. Practice on a scrap piece of fabric first.

(It’s also a good idea to wash and iron, if necessary, your linens before printing on them. I didn’t, and had to stretch the fabric slightly as I worked to keep creases and wrinkles from ruining my prints. Don’t be like me.)

Leaf Printed Linens - Process

1. Dip the foam brush in water and blot on a rag or paper towel. You want the brush to be more wet than damp, but less than soaking. This will thin the paint out just enough to soak into the fibers and remain flexible, but retain enough viscosity to make a clean print. Play around with the amount of water you use. You can get away with more for darker colors to create a watercolory look, but I add almost no water to lighter colors like yellow and white.

2. Use the tip of the brush to pull out a bit of paint from the blob. Evenly coat the tip of the brush with paint by spreading the paint around a small area of the plate, using short, even strokes on both sides of the brush.

3. Apply a thin, even coat of paint to the back of the leaf using short, even strokes.

4. Carefully place the leaf — painted side down — onto your fabric. Hold in place firmly, but gently, with one hand so that the leaf doesn’t slip. Use one or two fingers on your other hand to tap firmly all over the leaf from the center out to the edges, pressing the leaf downward onto the fabric. Avoid rubbing the leaf as this will create unnecessary friction, which may cause the leaf to become more brittle, and can smear paint over the edge of the leaf onto the fabric.

5. Peel the leaf straight up by the stem. Do this slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the leaf or smudging the print.

6. Repeat steps 2–5 to create the desired pattern.

Leaf Printed Linens

If you want to change colors with the same leaf, you can clean it by gently wiping off the wet paint with a damp paper towel.

Allow the paint to dry overnight.

Set the paint with a hot iron on the “cotton” setting: press the iron over a painted area (in one place; don’t slide it around) for 10–20 seconds. Repeat until you have ironed over all painted areas. You should then be able to machine wash your painted linens in cold water and dry on low heat as needed (or follow manufacturer’s instructions if gentler laundering is required).

I ran around town to do a few errands this morning and it was obvious that it is October and Halloween is quickly approaching.

The first stop was CVS – where there was an entire aisle of Halloween candy. My local pet store, Doggie Style, was ready for Halloween as well. They had dog costumes in the front and back of the store. And there were so many gourmet Halloween dog treats that I was in shock.

A quick lunch at Chipotle brought a flyer for Boorito. If you wear a Halloween costume at Chipotle on October 31st from 4 PM until close, you get a $2 burrito (or other item). Up to $1 million in proceeds from the event will benefit the Chipotle Cultivate foundation. While you are there, take a photo of yourself in costume and submit it to the Chiptle costume contest. The grand prize winner gets $2500. My camera phone photo of the flyer turned out blurry, so you’ll just have to visit the Chipotle link for details.

Then I walked around to check out the Midtown Village Fall Festival in Philadelphia today. The roads were closed down and they were just finishing setting up as I walked through it. Should be lots of people there this afternoon with a beautiful fall day. I know that everyone reading this won’t live in Philadelphia, so don’t forget to check out our list of October festivals near you for other options.

And, if you like to make crafts and decorate your home for Halloween, you should know that bloggers across the internet are producing alot of Halloween crafts. I have seen a number of different tutorials for decorating pumpkins cross the front page of Craftgawker in the past week. Even as I draft this post, I’ve got a Food Network pumpkin carving competition on the television. Although I bought myself a pumpkin last weekend, I haven’t had time to carve it yet.

Let’s see what else has been happening while I have been juggling my day job, Funtober and sleep.

Pink fountain at Love Park

On Monday, the fountain at Love Park was pink to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I also noticed pink on the accessories of football players on Monday Night Football. There are a few more October charities worth supporting as well. Next year, I’ll be adding charities related to bird migration. The Fatal Light Awareness Program is definitely worth mentioning.

The Presidential debate on Wednesday generated a lot of election news coverage. It was the first Presidential debate that I have watched in years. After about twenty minutes, I had to move on to other things. I had reached my tolerance limit for listening to two politicians.

Fall leaves made Google’s hot searches last week. The Weather Channel is once again keeping track of peak fall foliage in your area with its maps. If you are in New England this Columbus Day weekend looking for colorful leaves, be sure to check out the reports on Yankee Foliage and Jeff Foliage as well.

I’ve also been enjoying fall television all week long. From NBC’s Revolution and ABC’s Last Resort, my favorite new shows so far this Fall, to my returning favorite Person of Interest, I’ve been trying to keep up with them despite my busy schedule. I’m also looking forward to catching up on The Walking Dead before its Season 3 premiere next Sunday.

The MLB Playoffs started last night. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t mentioned Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown here yet. Cabrera led the American League with his batting average, home runs and RBIs this year. The last time that a player has achieved the Triple Crown was 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. It’s quite an accomplishment. In other baseball news, the infield fly rule call during last night’s game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals resulted in a stoppage of play as fans littered the field with debris in protest.

Only in October!


Spider Mobile

Here’s a little secret I’m reluctant to share: if anyone ever wanted to give me a good Halloween fright, all it would take is a fake spider. No strategic placement needed! So this mobile, with plastic spiders cascading down from a string and hoop web, is just about the creepiest craft project I’ve ever done in my life. Although I’ve taken pains to make it as nice as possible to look at, I’ve already startled myself half a dozen times just trying to make the darn thing. It’s really a marvel that I managed to finish it at all.

(My five-month old daughter, on the other hand, can’t get enough of it.)

Creepy-crawlies aside, this is a simple project with inexpensive supplies that took me no more than two hours to complete. If you can measure and make simple knots — and if you can stand to work with artificial arachnids — then you’ve got it made.


  • Wood embroidery hoop, any size (we’re only using the inner hoop)
  • White string (I used crochet thread)
  • Plastic spiders
  • Large button or wooden bead (~3/4″)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hot glue or adhesive dots
  • Scraps of black fabric, felt, or paper


Although this project only uses the inner hoop of an embroidery hoop, you could use the same web-making process to create a wall hanging with the outer hoop. Just glue a spider (*shudder*) right onto the web, or let it dangle on a string.

I used a wood hoop for three main reasons: (1) they’re far less expensive than plastic hoops, (2) they have greater friction than plastic, so the string will better stay in place, and (3) I prefer a more subdued, natural look. But there’s no reason why you can’t paint the hoop first, if you want some fun color (or white or black for even less color). You could also wrap it in yarn, ribbon, fabric, or washi tape.

That said, you’re also not limited to white string. If you’re feeling colorful, go colorful. I’m a big proponent of using one’s imagination.

There are many different kinds of fake spiders out there; choose whichever you like, or make your own, if you’re so inclined (I was most definitely not inclined). I used plastic spider rings and cut off the ring.

Spider Mobile - Make the Web


1. Cut four (three if your embroidery hoop is less than 6 inches) pieces of string at least 18 inches PLUS the diameter of the embroidery hoop. I used a 7-inch hoop, so I made my string 25 inches long. Stretch one string out underneath the hoop and center it as best you can (string A). Tie the string to the hoop across the hoop’s diameter, keeping the string fairly taut.

2. Take the next piece of string (string B) and center it under the first string. Tie string B to string A. NOTE: I tied B slightly off the center of A because I wanted an asymmetrical look. You can put this knot wherever you want, as it will determine the center of the web.

Tie the ends of string B to the hoop, spaced evenly between the ends of string A, keeping string B fairly taut.

3. Repeat step 2 with the remaining strings, but begin by tying each to string A in the same place you attached string B (the center of the web).

4. To make it easier to work, wrap the loose ends around the hoop and secure with small binder clips or tape. (You need these later to hang the mobile.)

5. Measure a new string by wrapping it around the diameter of the outer hoop five times. This will be used to make the cross-pieces of the web (string X).

6. Tie one end of string X to any of the existing strings close to the center knot. It may be easier to make your knot further away from the center and slide it into place.

7. Knot string X to the next adjacent string, slightly further from the center, keeping X fairly taut. Continue knotting X to each adjacent string, creating a spiral out from the center until you reach the hoop (or until you run out of string). Try not to become fixated on making the spiral perfectly even. I think the web has more of a naturally creepy look when it’s uneven.

8. To help keep the knots in place, apply a little glue to each knot on the web and the hoop.

Spider Mobile - Make it Mobile


1. Gather together all of the loose ends of the strings attached to the hoop. Thread them through the hole of a wooden bead, or a large button in the event that you are unable to find the wooden beads you know you have somewhere. (My button had four holes, so I threaded two adjacent strings through each hole). Hold the loose ends above the bead/button, and let the mobile dangle. Use the bead/button to help you level the mobile, then tie the strings into a knot above the bead/button.

2. If you have enough string left above the knot to make a loop, braid or twist the extra and tie a knot to create a loop to use for hanging the mobile; otherwise, make a separate loop by measuring six 6-inch pieces of string, braid or twist them together, thread the braid between the mobile strings between the button and the knot, and tie the braid into a loop. Cover the knots with glue to keep them from unraveling.

3. Measure and cut enough strings to have one for each “branch” of the web (multiply the number of strings you started with by two; so if you started with 4 strings, you’ll need to cut 8 new ones). Make your first string 4 inches, and add 2 inches for each additional string: one each at 4 in., 6 in., 8 in., 10 in., 12 in., 14 in., 16 in., and 18 in. long.

4. Tie each string to the web at one of the knotted intersections, near the hoop. You can keep the strings in order by length as you go around to create a cascading spiral, or you can mix them up. You can also add as many as you want, placed wherever you want.

5. Glue plastic spiders to the strings either with hot glue or with adhesive dots. I used adhesive dots because they tend to be safer and they don’t tend to peel off of plastic easily. I cut tiny pieces of black scrap fabric to cover the adhesive/string; felt or paper would also work.

Spider Mobile

Hang someplace where the mobile can catch a draft — such as near a window, door, or vent. And try not to startle yourself every time you pass by.

This cute paper pumpkin is wrapped full of all sorts of tricks and treats. It’s a great way to occupy bored kids (or adults.) The recipient starts by pulling the ribbon tab and as they unroll the pumpkin bits of candy and creepy crawlies fall out!

– 1 (81 foot) roll orange crepe paper streamers
– part of 1 (81 foot) roll green crepe paper streamers
– rubber cement
– decorative ribbon
– lollipop or other object to form a stem
– assortment of tricks and treats – candy, erasers, plastic bugs, etc

Check dollar stores for the streamers and fun little prizes to wrap into your favors. Each pumpkin will use 1 roll of orange crepe paper (more if you have lots of stuff) but you can probably make 6 or more stems from one roll of green.

Start by wrapping the lollipop with green crepe paper. You can use a dot of rubber cement to hold it in place at the start.

Then start wrapping it with the orange crepe paper. As you wrap, tuck in the tricks and treats.

When you get everything wrapped up make a little pull tab from the decorative ribbon and glue it and the end of the streamer down with a bit more rubber cement. When the recipient is ready to unroll it the rubber cement will easily pull loose and they can start unwrapping from there.


Ghost Story Dice

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

Honestly, I’ve never been good at telling ghost stories. The best ones are too spooky for me to want to remember and anything else, well, just isn’t worth telling. But I’m always game for inventing a tale or two and for having a laugh with friends, and that’s exactly what story dice — or, in this case, ghost story dice — are good for.

Story dice are exactly that: dice, but with images printed on each of the sides to act as random visual cues for ad lib storytelling in turns by a group of people. But ghost story connoisseurs are notorious for becoming easily bored, which means that ghost story dice calls for more variety than the traditional six-sided cube could offer. This paper dodecahedron boasts twenty cues for ghost story characters, props, settings, and plot twists. With a printer, something to cut with, and a little glue, you’ll be ready to whip up dozens of spooky stories in no time.

Here’s how it works: A player rolls the dice. He or she must then continue (or start) the story, incorporating whatever image lands at the top of the dice.

The fine details are up to you, but here are a few suggestions to help get the wheels turning:

  • The player whose birthday is nearest, but not past, goes first. (Or the youngest. Or the oldest. Or the best at storytelling as determined by majority vote.)
  • You may just instinctively know when a person’s turn is over, but if you want more control, use a timer and give each player two or three minutes to tell their part of the story.
  • The same goes for ending the story. Usually, stories have a way of ending themselves but if yours refuses to lie down, set a limit to the number of rounds. Or offer the title of “winner” to the player who comes up with the killer ending. (Ha! Haha.)
  • Be flexible! The possibilities are almost limitless: the skull could be bones or a skeleton; fire could be a flame, torch, or candle; the graveyard could also be a grave or gravestone. Think about what the images represent rather than what they depict.
  • Record it! (If you dare.) You might just end up with something worth keeping.

Ghost Story Dice - Materials


Ghost Story Dice - Assemble

1. Print and cut out the template. Print on regular text-weight 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Cut around the perimeter of the template along the solid lines using a craft knife and straight edge or scissors. If you use a craft knife and straight edge, I recommend keeping the knife toward the outside of the template; that way, if your knife slips away from the straight edge, you are less likely to slice into the actual die.

2. Fold the template. Fold along the dotted lines. (If you’re using plain printer paper, it isn’t necessary to score first with a bone folder tool, but you can if you like to make the folds crisper.) I like to start by folding in the gray tabs and then folding the rest to create the facets. By creasing the fold lines first, it will make gluing easier as the die will begin to take form and it will be more apparent which sides go together.

3. Glue the tabs. It’s easiest to start from the center of the template (the graveyard) and work outward. Draw a thin bead of glue along the tabs closest to the center and adhere to the underside of the adjacent facet. So, you’ll start by connecting the shadow to the pumpkin, the fire to the bats, and the spider to the skull. Continue working up and around.

HINT: Glue the house side last.

As you get closer to the end, you may find it more difficult to work with the tabs. I found it helpful to use one finger inside the die to help guide and press the tab from the inside, while adjusting the facets with my other hand from the outside.

When you’ve finished gluing, allow the die to dry for 30 minutes or more before use.

Can a house have too much orange and black decor this time of year? I doubt it.
Around these parts, we love candles.

They’re cozy. They’re festive. And when you take a quick trip to the craft store, customizing them for whatever occasion you fancy is pretty easy. I had most of this on hand and had a few extra buttons in the sewing box that fell into the orange and black theme.

The best part of this project? It’s incredibly inexpensive. The total cost didn’t go over $4, and now I have extra glitter for more Funtober goodness!


  • Small glass votive holders
  • Mod Podge
  • Glitter
  • Glue gun/glue sticks
  • Decorative Ribbon
  • Buttons


These are so simple to make I almost feel guilty.

I started by removing those remarkably stubborn and remarkably annoying price stickers from the candle holders. (Did you know that baby wipes are a crafter’s secret when it comes to removing glued on bits of paper from glass? It’s true. And now you’re in on the big secret, too!)

You have a choice here when it comes to your set up. You can put the glitter on the inside or the outside of the glass. I went for the inside because I wasn’t looking forward to vacuuming glitter for the next six weeks. When you choose to put the glitter inside the glass, however, I recommend you use a battery-operated LED votives. Real flame votives might be a fire hazard.

I didn’t have much of a theme in mind for the first glass. I coated the entire inside with the Mod Podge and went crazy with the orange glitter. It was fun. I’d recommend shaking glitter around as a form of stress relief to anybody!

With the first one down, I got creative and painted a stripe in the center of the inside glass. I added black glitter and let it dry. I followed up with Mod Podge on either side of the black stripe and shook in orange glitter. Voila! A masterpiece!

To make it extra fancy, I fired up the glue gun and added a ribbon around the outside and secured it into place. To hide the glued-down ribbon flap (the scientific name for that annoying bump in your decor) I glued on a button or two.

The patterns and ribbon/button combinations are endless and can vary depending on what you have on hand.

Happy Funtober!


I’ve learned a thing or two about crafting both with kids and crafting when the kids in the house are awake. And bored.

1. It’s got to be simple. There’s no room for fancy sewing machines (as I’d originally

intended to use when making a fabric Halloween bunting) or other fancy equipment that require sharp needles around little, inquisitive hands.

2. It’s got to be fast. My kids give me about 10 minutes worth of good, focused attention on any given project. After that, I’ll find a baby with a gallon of glitter dumped on her head and my walls covered with cave drawings (created using my super-expensive scrapbooking markers, obviously).

This project fit the bill. We don’t have much by way of Halloween decor since we moved across the country this past June. Lucky for us, my craft supplies made it.

The inspiration for this project came from a blog I blindly clicked through a few weeks ago. I really liked the book pages used as the individual flags and after a quick trip to the local craft store, I came back with plenty of material that would be useful embellishments for a spooky theme.

Truth be told, I did feel a small pang of anguish as I ripped apart a book to use it’s pages for my Halloween fun…but it soon passed as soon as we got the glue and glitter on it.

They’re just too cute.

This particular project had pretty inexpensive and plentiful materials, so I made a smaller version for my 3-year-old (nicknamed “Boo” since birth, by the way) to work on while I did the larger version. He used stickers I had around the stash box to decorate his flags and it gave me a chance to work on my own project.

Use the supplies you have on hand!


  • Ribbon or raffia cut to desired bunting length
  • Book pages (I used a trade paperback and it was the perfect size)
  • Hot glue (I’m sure normal white glue would work, too…I just don’t have the patience to wait for it to dry!)
  • Acrylic paint and brush
  • Construction paper
  • Various colors of glitter
  • Assorted Halloween stickers or embellishments (I found medium-sized black bat stickers)


Glue ribbon edges down to prevent fraying.

1. I used my hot glue gun to secure the edges of the ribbon down to guard against fraying.  (And yes, I realize it was a gamble to bring this smoking hot accessory out with my 3-year-old around,but it was a risk I was willing to take).

2. Tear enough pages from a book (I used a book I picked up at a garage sale) to populate your banner. I used seven. Two for candy corn decorations, two bats, and three for the letters. Cut the rough edge you got from tearing, and then stack them together to cut some sort of fancy edge along the bottom. I chose to get rid of the page number, too.

Fold pages over the ribbon and secure with glue.

3. Lay the ribbon decorate side down and space out your flags. I placed the pages underneath the ribbon with enough room at the top to put a line of glue. When the glue was down, I folded the top down and secured the flag. I used tape to mark out the spacing between flags.

4. When the glue is no longer a danger to your fingers, children, or counter tops (I learned the hard way, thankee very much), flip it over and decorate. I used construction paper to make candy corn appliques and the bat stickers. The center three flags became B-O-O.

5. My last step was the glitter. What fun is a project without glitter? I dotted white glue randomly around the flags and sprinkled black and orange glitter around. I think my 15-month-old tried to eat some of the orange sparkles at one point, but, you know, no harm no foul. Everything’s better with glitter–even my kids!

Happy Funtober!

Dip-dyed Pine Cones


My mom used to decorate for every single holiday and season when I was a kid. Of course, things always got exciting when October approached. There was natural and crafted bounty galore: pumpkins, gourds, and hay bales from the farmers market, homemade scarecrows, paper bats, leaves, spider webs, and jack-o-lanterns.

It’s a tradition I’ve carried with me into adulthood, albeit in my own way. I tend to like my seasonal decorations to be subtle, at least to begin with: blending in with my existing home decor, rather than adding a layer on top of it. And natural elements are always welcome.

This is why pine cones hold a special place in my heart. They’re natural, sturdy, and free, and the orderliness of their design says both “rustic” and “sophisticated.” But while pine cones look great on their own, I think they also look great with a little color. In orange and black, it’s a quick and inexpensive way to sneak some Halloween into your home — even if it is a little early.

The look of this project is meant to mimic the dip-dyed trend that’s been happening in fashion and home decor. Despite the name, however, these pine cones aren’t actually dipped. In order to make the paint thin enough for dipping, you would have to water it down. But when pine cones get wet, the scales close. Normally, they’d open again when dry, but the paint causes the scales to stick together and stay closed. So if we were to actually dip them, we’d end up with half-closed painted pine cones.

Dip-dyed Pine Cones - Materials


To make your own, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Water
  • 1-inch, flat paintbrush
  • Pine cones


It’s important to note that this project calls for acrylic craft paint as opposed to acrylic artist’s paint. Craft paint is thinner and less viscous and will be easier to work with for this type of project. It’s also significantly less expensive.

Acrylic paint is great for crafts like this because it’s easy to work with, easy to clean up, dries quickly, and is water resistant once it’s dry. What this also means is that if you drip or splatter it onto your favorite shirt or dining room rug, it is very difficult to remove — and basically impossible once dry. When you’re painting pine cones, paint WILL splatter. Make sure you cover your work surface and wear something that you wouldn’t mind accidentally ruining. (Likewise, you probably don’t want to keep your iPhone right next to you — unless you don’t mind giving it a festive, speckled custom paint job.) Keep some clean, cool water and a rag handy for emergency clean-ups.

Additionally, pine cones can be sharp! I’ve never actually cut myself on a pine cone but I won’t say it can’t happen, and trying to handle an especially prickly one can be kind of a drag. Please be sure to inspect the pine cones before handing them over to young children or grown-ups with delicate fingers.

Ready? Me too!

Dip-dyed Pine Cones - Steps

1. Define the painted area. Take your paintbrush and dip it in some clean water. (Don’t blot it.) Then, dip it in paint. Try to get an even coating on the bristles by pouncing the brush lightly and then tapping the flat side of the bristles against the edge of the cup (or whatever vessel you’re using to contain the paint). You want the brush to be heavily loaded with paint, but not dripping.

Decide how much of the pine cone you want to be painted, and paint the outside of the scales in the portion you choose. It’s easiest if you take the pine cone in one hand and the paintbrush in the other, and hold the paintbrush in one place while you rotate the pine cone against the flat side of the bristles.

NOTE: Because the scales are arranged in a spiral — rather than rows — from top to bottom, it can be difficult to know where to stop your top border. I tend to pick a spot and end up painting more than I intended because I think too much about creating a perfect line. If you look carefully at photos 1 and 4 above, you can see that I originally made my top border about one-third of the way from the bottom (1), but ended up painting half of the pine cone (4). Don’t be like me. Relax and remember that “approximate” is okay.

2. Paint the tops of the scales. Next, you want to paint the inner part of the pine cone — the tops and bottoms of the scales. It’s easy to paint the tops because they’re fairly flat; the bottoms are trickier because of the spike at the end of each scale. Load more paint on the brush, if necessary. Hold the flat side of the brush parallel with the tops of the scales, insert the brush between the rows and apply paint to the scales while pulling the brush back out again.

3. Paint the undersides of the scales. Turn the pine cone upside down and repeat the same technique used in step 2 to paint the undersides of the scales. To cover the back side of the spike, angle the brush a little higher and give it a wiggle from side to side. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to remember this: it doesn’t have to be perfectly perfect.

4. Dry. When you’ve finished painting, let the pine cone dry for at least 30 minutes before handling the painted area. I like to let the paint dry for several hours before doing anything else with them.

Dip-dyed Pine Cones - Finished!

These would look nice lined up on a mantle or shelf, tossed in a bowl, or tied to some twine as a garland. It’s a nice, subtle way to add a festive touch to your home.

Dip-dyed Pine Cones - Candy Corn

You’re not limited to one color, either! And you can paint the whole pine cone if you want, although it’s a bit easier to paint a portion, let it dry, and then paint the other portion so that you can hold onto it without getting paint all over your fingers.

If you’d like the pine cones to last for several years, you can seal them with an acrylic spray sealer, which you can usually find at an arts and crafts store. It’s typically available in gloss, satin, or matte finishes; choose whichever you like (I tend to go for matte for a more natural look). Spray outside on a mild day or in a very well ventilated area, away from open flame, and let the sealer dry for an hour or more before bringing the pine cones inside to avoid bringing the fumes in with them.