Bring some bone-chilling excitement to your outdoor holiday decor with a crew of cavorting skeletons.
If you like to display your grinning ghouls for a while, opt for poseable plastic skeletons. They can hang out in the weather for the entire season with no ill effects. After all, they’re dead!
How you hang or pose your skeletons will depend on what type you have. We made use of nearly invisible monofilament and staples to secure our capering cadavers. If you have the option, purchase skeletons with screwed joints like our seated guy on the rooftop. The reaching skeleton below has joints that pop together and one windy night we had body parts flying all over the yard. Lesson learned!
One skeleton gets a leg up from an evergreen while his companion leans down to lend a hand. Another sits on the roof waving to passersby. It’s easier to relax on a pitched roof when you don’t have to worry about a broken neck.
Scampering skeletons wreak merry mayhem while capering over the rooftops. Even when reduced to bare bones, these guys are expressive enough to look like they’re having a good time.
Zooming around the corner of the roof , this flying ghoul presents a menacing aspect. A good breeze or wind will blow the filmy fabrics about but enhance the illusion of motion by stapling some of his draperies upward and behind him.
When time takes its toll on an old skeleton, don’t toss it. Find new ways to display the broken body parts. Here, we smothered the leftovers in cheesecloth to create a wrapped captive next to a large spiderweb.
Seated on a dead man’s chest, this startled skeleton strikes a petrified pose as an eerie arm reaches out under the lid.
“Rest in Pieces” says it all when all you have left is a torso and skull. Seemingly rising out of the ground, this skeletal spook reaches for a detached limb before returning to the netherworld.
When populating a graveyard, look for examples that feature skulls and skeletons in high relief.
A hooded reaper hugs this tombstone while clutching his ominous scythe.
If all you have to work with is a cranium, you can still set up a frightful display. When we found this disembodied hand, we had to add the skull to its clutches. Sort of like a zombie Hamlet contemplating Yorik’s demise.
At the edge of the graveyard, a prostrate body reaches for its detached head. Stuffed with packing material and secured to the grass with ground staples, the old witch’s gown makes a pretty convincing ghoul.
Tucked beyond the tombstones, the headless ghoul makes a haunting figure in the graveyard.
A Jack Skellington-esque figure strides into the scene on his skinny legs. Made from chicken wire, painted PVC pipe, an old pinstripe jacket, and Styrofoam head, he stands sturdily on long rebar set into the ground.
Figure designed by Ginny Randall
At 13 feet tall, our lantern-toting Jack figure dominates the graveyard. His spidery hands are made from white-painted twigs.
Human skeletons aren’t the only desiccated denizens of our fright night display. This large and menacing dragon skull lurks amid the borders and glows a fiery red as evening draws in.
Give a detached skull some quick roguish character with an old piece of torn and faded fabric. Wrap it around the head in a pirate bandana and secure with hot glue (or epoxy for a weatherproof attachment). Thread the fabric with hemp twine and hang the scurvy pirate skull from the yardarm.
This grim reaper and his bad-to-the-bone hound guard the skeletal cemetery day and night.
Glowing eyes turn toward you as the Grim Reaper patrols during the graveyard shift.
A sociable chap makes a spirited first impression by the front door. He’s enjoyed his happy hour so much he can’t give it up, even after passing on.
This poseable old duffer is made of rubber over a bendable wire armature. Wrapped in a heavy velvet hooded cape, he rests his weary bones on the porch and cradles a laughing jack-‘o-lantern.
Add a gruesome ghoul with an axe to grind—that will up the threat level of your eerie ensemble. Want to increase the shiver factor? Paint the edge of the axe in blood red.
Wake the dead with a funereal atmosphere on the porch. Ready to make a new addition to the family plot, the recently deceased sits in a wood coffin (painted wood panels jointed with black duct tape and set into a routered platform) atop a catafalque fashioned from a pair of moss-draped urns.
Our perpetual mourner wears a black veil and looks suitably sedate, but maybe the frilly red attire signals a less than sorry aspect?
Now, of course, these displays are all very well in the light of day, but how do you get them to spook passersby after the sun sets? We used brilliant LED lights from Smartpond to illuminate our creepy characters through the evening hours.
The mini light string of 6 nestles nicely in the plant beds all along the front of the house giving each specter his (or her) due.
We’d love to know how you celebrate Halloween. Share your photos on our Facebook page or tell us all about it in the comments section below.
© Caruth Studio