My favorite Halloween decorations are the ones that evoke the past and happy childhood memories. That’s why I decorate my home with Halloween costume photos of the boys, and seasonal arts and crafts projects they made way back when.
In, How to Create a Kid Keepsakes Gallery, I explain how I use a long wall in the finished basement to display arts and crafts created by my sons. I rotate the artwork seasonally, and in September swapped the pictures to back-to-school, fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving subjects.
Now that it’s October, I also bring out framed photographs of family members in Halloween costumes; placing them around house. I’ve also taken some of those Halloween costume photos and turned them into stand-up cutouts.
Let me show you a fun way to take pictures of your kids or grandchildren, and create easy DIY Halloween decorations the whole family will enjoy.
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Trick or Treaters
That’s me as Guinevere, with my sisters and cousin. Sistah B was a clown stuffed with newspapers, and I can still remember the crunching noise she made every time she moved LOL!
I wish I had more of these old Halloween costume photos. Do you have photographs of yourself dressed up for trick or treat?
A Family Halloween Tradition
An excellent seamstress, my mother always made our Halloween costumes. Our outfits were often complimented with wigs, makeup and other accessories. We never wore those store-bought plastic costumes and masks. As the oldest, I got to choose what I wanted to be. It was always a fun outing going to the store to pick out costume patterns and fabric.
My younger sisters and cousin often wore the costume in subsequent years. I especially love seeing the pictures of each of us in the same Halloween outfit. My favorite, was the year I was the colonial lady in the white powdered wig with a beauty mark on my cheek. That’s Sister A wearing the same costume in the picture above.
The tradition of handmade costumes continued with my sons. Although nowhere near the seamstress as my mom, I can manage my way around a pattern and sewing machine. Many costumes were actually a combination of crafting and sewing projects. Between my mother and I, the boys always had Halloween costumes that were the talk of the neighborhood.
Here’s my son at a Gymboree class. I was amazed at how agile he was in that dinosaur costume. He’d simply grab one of the spikes in the tail and move at full speed ahead! When it was his female cousin’s turn to wear the outfit, my sister added pink winks and turned it into Puff the Magic Dragon.
Cast of Characters
We also made costumes for plays, school activities and even for college parties and events. I always had the best costumes in my sorority for Halloween and theme events thanks to mom.
Once, I was a Greek goddess in a chariot racing down College Avenue! (I was chosen, because I was one of the two lightest weight members in the sorority, LOL!).
I have kept many, if not all of the costumes; stored in a walk-in cedar closet in the basement. I call them my cast of characters. And I still have that Greek goddess costume! There’s also a Spanish flamenco dancer and Zorro costume that hubby and I wore to a Halloween party as newlyweds.
Recognize the fan? My dad brought it back from Spain for me when I was a teenager. And, I took it back to Spain with me in Seductive Seville Entices with Arabic Palace, Flamenco Dance.
And like with my sisters, the costumes were often passed down from one to the other, as well as to cousins.
Some costumes that my mom made when the boys were toddlers, like the dinosaur and Donald Duck, I consider family heirlooms. Who knows, maybe one day my grandchildren will even wear them?
Monster Mash Halloween Costume Photos
As the boys entered elementary school, they wanted to be scary monsters. I made them stick to the classics; Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula and Wolfman. That’s also when I started including wigs and makeup in my Halloween costume designs, rather than have them wear plastic or rubber masks.
Those monsters are some of my favorite Halloween costume photos of the boys. After they graduated from high school, I turned several of those pictures into tabletop Halloween decorations.
Photo Cutouts Decorate Grad Party
Originally, I made about a dozen photo cutout standups of the boys for each of their graduation parties. Each one served as a table or buffet centerpiece. See more details at, DIY Photo Graduation Party Decorations & Momentos.
I choose photos of them from across the years; including in sports,marching band, plays, the first day of school, and dressed in Halloween costumes.
Cut-out photographs are stuck in clay pots, and decorated in their school colors of blue and gold. Because their high school mascot was a Blue Devil, I spray painted small pitchforks (bought ahead of time at Halloween) blue, and made tails from felt.
After the parties, I had three or four of each son in a Halloween costume. So, I decided to turn the photo cutouts into Halloween decorations.
DIY Halloween Photo Cutouts
Photo stand-ups are easy and fun to create.
- Photo printed on 11×17 sheet
- Sheet of foam board
- Photo adhesive spray
- Large wooden dowel rod
- White medical tape
- Floral foam
- Small clay pot, basket or decorative container
- Assorted floral picks
- Optional: foil wrap, fabric or netting to cover pot, decorative ribbon & embellishments
Step 1: Print Costume Photo
Choose photographs where the subject is standing.
For pre-digital pictures, you will first have to scan the prints onto a computer. Open an 11×7 inch page size in Word, and paste the image into the document. Crop out as much of the background as possible;making the image fill the space.
Then, print the image on an 11 x 17 inch sheet of paper. I didn’t go to the expense of using photo paper. You could also take image files to somewhere like an Office Depot to print the Halloween costume photos.
Step 2: Attach Printed Photo to Foam Board
With scissors, cut around the photo(s), removing any large areas that do not include the main image.
Spray the adhesive onto the front side of the foam board. With clean, dry hands carefully press down the paper and smooth out any wrinkles. Move quickly as the spray adhesive dries fast. If you are doing multiple images, you can fit as many as possible photos onto a single sheet.
Step 3: Use Exacto Knife to Cut-Out Image
Now, cut-out the photo image carefully, using a sharp Exacto Knife. Be careful not to apply pressure to the image, or you might crease or crack the foam board. While sawing/cutting, let part of the board hang over the edge of a table.
This is the most difficult part of the entire project. Just work slowly and in small sections at a time.
Each of the boys as Frankenstein, several years apart.
Step 4: Attach Photo to Dowel Stick
Lie the foam board with the photo side down on a clean surface. Lie the dowel stick so that in covers the bottom two thirds of the image.
Attach with white medical or clear packing tape.
Step 5: Insert Photo Cutout into Container
I have made photo standup cutouts for a number of occasions; including a bridal shower and rehearsal dinner. Choose the container to fit the occasion or party theme. For the Halloween costume photos, I used mini orange baskets (Michaels).
I also place one of the Halloween costume photos of each son in their old bedrooms. Here, I’ve also set a paper lunch bag pumpkin crafted while R was in kindergarten — yes, I saved it all! I’m a sucker for sentimentality.
Clay pots work well because they help to counterweight the height of the photo cutouts. You can spray paint the pots or cover them with foil or fabric wrap — as I did for the grad parties.
Simply fill each container with floral foam, then insert the dowel rod with the photo already attached.
Step 6: Decorate, Embellish the Container
Lastly, insert tall floral picks and other embellishments to hide and decorate the backside of the photo cutout. Use shorter elements to decorate in front.
You can also tie ribbon around the container to fit the occasion. I added the blue tail to the grad photo cutouts to fit the Blue Devil theme.
I like to display a pair of the Halloween costume photos at the bottom of the basement steps, across from the art gallery wall seen in the mirror reflection.
Seasonal Update to Kid Art Gallery
Come September, I also swap out the summer seasonal artwork for fall subjects in the kids art gallery.
Now there are black cats and each child’s version of the nursery rhyme, Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater.
There’s also Jack-o-Lanterns, turkeys, Indians and even the Santa Maria for Columbus Day.
Fall leaves and spooky Halloween trees decorate the wall.
Many happy memories of past Halloweens and fall seasons.
Do you decorate with Halloween costume photos or your kids’ arts and crafts?
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