If you're like us, you're counting down the days to Halloween. Candy corn, costumes for the whole fam, painted pumpkins...what could be better? To help get you in the spooky spirit, we've concocted a craft full of treats (and maybe even a few tricks): A Halloween Countdown Calendar with 13 surprise balls to count down the 13 days leading up to the big day. Think of it as a Halloween advent calendar of sorts. The little excited ghosts and goblins in your family will love unwrapping a surprise ball from the Halloween tree on each of the 13 days before Halloween.
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Things You'll Need
Crepe paper streamers
Small toys and treats
Hot glue gun
Large jar, bottle or can (to hold tree branches)
How to make Halloween surprise balls:
1. Wrap and roll
First, create the surprise balls to hang on the tree. A surprise ball is typically made of rolled crepe paper—as you unroll the crepe paper, surprises like candy or small toys are revealed.
To create the surprise ball, measure a piece of crepe paper about a yard long. Fold it in half so it becomes narrow. At one end, place a treat or toy and then wrap the crepe paper around it. Keep wrapping, forming a ball shape, until you're ready to hide your next treat. Then repeat your process—wrap the crepe paper around the second treat, hide a third treat, wrap the crepe paper around it, and so on. We recommend hiding one to three treats, though the number is totally up to you. When you finish wrapping the treats, secure the end of the crepe paper with hot glue.
2. Decorate the surprise balls
Now it's time to decorate the surprise balls! For this next part, we'll demo how to make surprise balls that look like bats, black cats and mummies. But you can add as many different Halloween characters as you can dream up.
For the Bat Surprise Ball:
Start with purple crepe paper. Once you've rolled the surprise ball, cut out bat wings, ears, eyes and a mouth out of white, black and purple construction paper or card stock. Use a hot glue gun to attach the cutouts to the surprise ball. Add a 3-inch piece of black yarn to the top (or bottom, for making your bat hang upside down) in a loop to hang the ball from some dead branches on the Halloween Countdown Calendar.
For the Black Cat Surprise Ball:
Start with a surprise ball wrapped in black crepe paper streamer, and cut paper ears, whiskers, nose and eyes out of black, white and green construction paper. Use the hot glue gun to attach the paper pieces to the face and a 3-inch black yarn loop to the top.
For an extra special nighttime fright, use glow-in-the-dark paper for the black cat's green eyes.
For the Mummy Surprise Ball:
Use white crepe paper streamers to wrap up a treat or toy. Then, out of black construction paper, cut out an oval and two small eye dots. Out of white construction paper, cut out two slightly bigger eye dots. Hot glue the black eye dots onto the white eye dots, then glue the eyes onto the black oval. Attach it to the white surprise ball for a mummy that's sure to "gauze" some excitement.
3. Add more characters
Fill your Halloween Countdown Calendar with 13 characters and critters. Get as creative as you'd like when decorating your surprise balls. A witch, vampire, monster or ghost—it's up to you!
How to assemble the Halloween Tree
1. Pick tree branches
Venture outside (if you dare!) to find a few dead branches for your Halloween Countdown Calendar. For an added touch of the season, spray-paint the branches black, green, purple or orange.
2. Put the Halloween Tree together
Place branches into a spooky vase: an old amber jug filled with orange lights, a green potion bottle vase or even a spray-painted can filled with sand.
Hang the surprise balls from the branches. On each of the 13 days leading up to Halloween, unwrap one surprise ball.