As the crisp autumn air settles in and the leaves start to rustle, it can only mean one thing – Halloween is just around the corner! For this blog post, we are going to dive headfirst into creating the world of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in our front yards for your next Halloween party! 💀
For all of us who adore Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, the idea of bringing Jack Skellington, Sally, and their quirky crew to life right in our front yards is a spine-tingling delight.
The Nightmare Before Christmas theme has a charm that transcends both Halloween and Christmas, making it the perfect choice for your outdoor decorations this year. I even used this theme for both Christmas in July and Halloween!
But what’s even more thrilling is that we’re doing it ourselves! DIY decorating for Halloween is not just about saving a few bones; it’s about embracing the creativity and fun that comes with crafting your own spooky displays.
So, get ready to unlock your inner Halloween decorator, because this blog post is your ticket to a DIY adventure like no other. Let’s light up the night with Jack, Zero, and all things spooky and kooky! 🌟🎃
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What is the movie Nightmare Before Christmas all about?
Tim Burton doesn’t disappoint in this eerie film about Jack Skellington, the leader of Halloween Town, who dreams of becoming the leader of Christmas Town and becoming Sandy Claws (Santa) himself. This movie is a hit for either holiday season because of its crossover storyline.
There are many interesting and spooky characters and props in this movie which makes it perfect for recreating a holiday theme in your own home and can work for both Halloween and Christmas home decor.
Read on to see how we brought the joy of this movie to life with our lifesize DIY props, Halloween decorations, Christmas decoration ideas, and fun DIY costumes.
Oogie BoogieMan and His Gambling Wheel
Oogie Boogie Man is the basic boogie man of little kids’ minds and gives the best nightmare under-the-bed vibes. He looks like a large dirty sack man who carries a bag of bugs, spiders, and worms with him. He is a gambling-wheeler dealer who wants to overthrow Jack Skellington. I made a life-sized Oogie Boogie by tracing and painting on a 4×8′ sheet of insulation board and also made his gambling wheel and a set of dice to go along with him.
For all of the foam board projects, you will simply project an image onto the board with a projector, trace it, and then paint. Start with a black background so that it disappears into the night and you just see the image. If you do start with a black background you will need to use a white pencil to trace your image. You will also need to make sure your room is dark so that you can see the image projecting on the black.
Your alternative is to paint the image and then the black outline. Be sure to trace the image with a white paint border line to really make it pop! It almost looks like he is glowing.
To make the dice simply purchase a styrofoam cube or use a cardboard box and paint it with red glitter paint then cut out black circles to glue to each side. I hung them with a fishing line so it looked like he threw them.
Christmas Jack Skellington out of PVC Pipes
Jack Skellington is the main character who wears a black striped suit and is the pumpkin king of Halloween Town in the movie. He has a pet ghost dog named Zero and is loved by all of the people in the town, especially Sally who has a crush on him. But Jack is sad because he keeps wondering what he is missing in life because he always celebrates Halloween and longs to see what Christmas is all about.
So when we decided to make Jack we dressed him as Santa for our Christmas in July party and then changed him to regular Jack for Halloween. You can make your Jack whatever size you want but ours stood about 10′ tall and he was sitting. 🙂
Paint all of the pieces red if you’re making him into Santa or just leave them white if you’re doing regular Jack.
Use a 4-sided T to connect his arms, neck, and body. And then add a head, or mask like we did, and gloves for his hands. Use a 3-sided 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. 45-degree PVC Socket x Socket Elbow Fitting to connect the body to his legs.
You will need some way to support him but you will get some stability with his legs if you move the knees at an angle slightly in front of him.
Then simply decorate him as you like with either a Christmas banner or sign, a hat and beard, and lights, or for Halloween add a Halloween banner, a pumpkin, or a lantern.
Zero Nightmare Before Christmas DIY
Zero is Jack Skellington’s friendly companion ghost dog. Zero consists of a long white head with a cute pumpkin nose and a sheer flowing body with no legs. I made our Zero out of an egg-shaped styrofoam ball and a sheer white tulle fabric and suspended him from the fishing wire so that he appeared to be floating. I added small pieces of wire inside the tulle to make his ears stand up and give his back a little structure.
You can use a string of white Christmas lights in his body and ears to make him glow then replace one bulb with an orange bulb and glue it to his nose. If you don’t use lights on him make sure to shine a spotlight up on him so he looks like he’s glowing.
We also made Zero’s doghouse out of a traced and painted image on foam board.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Holiday doors
In the movie, there are 7-holiday trees in the forest with 7 doors that have symbols on them to represent different holidays. There is a heart for Valentine’s Day, a 4-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day, an Easter Egg for Easter, a firecracker for the 4th of July, a Jackolantern for Halloween, a turkey for Thanksgiving, and a Christmas tree for Christmas.
Jack Skellington chooses the Christmas door because he wants to see what Christmas is all about and learn how to become “Sandy Claws”. Jack is surprised to learn that Santa doesn’t actually have claws! LOL
To make these trees, I used a 16×20 brown tarp that I cut so they were about 8′ tall and thin. Then I painted them with black and white paint to look like tall spooky tree trunks. I then painted the corresponding holiday symbols and strung them from a rope that was attached between two trees.
I hung the Christmas tree last so you had to push through it to get to the rest of the display (like you were choosing to go into Christmas Town.)
Lock, Shock, and Barrel
Lock, Shock, and Barrel are Oogie Boogies henchmen but look like children dressed in Halloween costumes. They are obsessed with Oogie and are often seen giving him bugs and other gross things to eat and even offering him Sandy Claws near the end of the movie.
Again, I traced and painted them onto foam boards with a black background and stood them up around the yard. These characters were between 3-4′ tall.
The Christmas / Halloween Tree
We needed to set up a Christmas tree for Christmas in July but wanted it to be a little funky like the rest of the movie. I happened to have a 5′ flocked Christmas tree at home so I literally bent over the top of the tree to give it a curved look and that alone changed the entire feel of the tree.
I also used some black balls and black and white patterned ribbon to tuck in and around the tree and finished it off with some large orange Goard-type picks to give it a little more of a crooked and quirky Halloween look.
The Snake and Other Props
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”, being a Tim Burton film, is filled with wacky, erie, and bizarre characters and props. So anything your imagination can dream up would work in the background of your display. Here are a few of the things we made as background props.
I again traced and painted an 8′ tall scene of Jack on top of a hill in a pumpkin cemetery with the moon behind him as a backdrop to some of the display items. This is an image directly out of the movie.
I made the snake that was under the Christmas tree out of a piece of dryer vent painted green with black duct tape along it for stripes. I put a pair of black, stuffed socks on the ends for the head and tail and glued a piece of white fabric on for the eyes.
I made spider pumpkins by gluing black pipe cleaners to the bottom of cheap foam orange and white pumpkins.
We had some crooked black fence pieces that we made for our first Halloween decorations years ago out of pallet wood and used them as another background-type element. We also had some garden fencing that we painted black and used in the entryway to the display.
Wrap some presents in black patterned paper for creepy gifts under the tree.
The countdown to Christmas calendar or the monster wreath (green wreath with cardboard teeth inside) makes great front door Christmas decorations. We made our countdown calendar out of painted foam board and then added a fall wreath and the X-Mas sign to the front for a 3D effect.
Oogie boogie Halloween Treats
We made Oogie Boogie Halloween treat bags by using small muslin treat bags. I used my Cricut cutting machine to make some Oogie Boogie faces and ironed them onto the bags filled with candy worms and bugs. This project was one of the easiest Nightmare Before Christmas DIY crafts that you can do with the whole family.
Nightmare Before Christmas DIY Costumes
For our Nightmare Before Christmas-themed party, we had quite a few costumes that were both store-bought and homemade. I dressed up as Sally but purchased my costume that came with the dress, wig, and gloves but I did my own makeup. My husband was Jack which was also a purchased costume and a mask.
We dressed my dad up as Dr. Finkelstein and it was hilarious! My dad uses a scooter and Finkelstien has a wheelchair and they are both bald so it was a perfect fit. All I did for his costume was take a white mixing bowl and glued large screw nuts around it and painted them white. Then we dressed him in a large gray shirt/dress and put on some dark circle sunglasses and it was perfect. He was comfortable for the night…except for maybe the bowl on his head. LOL
My brother and his wife dressed up as the corpse kid and corpse mom. They were so funny. My brother wore a pair of grey shorts and a grey T-shirt that we covered with black duct tape stripes. Then he cut the base off an old orange traffic cone, made duct tape stripes, and put it on his head. He finished off the costume with face paint and a metal Pumpkin Halloween bucket.
The corpse’s mom was dressed in a granny nightshirt, wig, cat glasses, and face makeup.
My granddaughter dressed up as a cute witch and we made her costume out of purple and black tulle and a tank top. And my grandson just wanted to wear a mask. He wasn’t feeling the whole costume thing that year. LOL
We had so much fun doing our displays and dressing up to fit the theme. Just remember, you don’t have to purchase store-bought costumes or know how to sew. Have fun with what you have and make them into something unique.
In the spirit of The Nightmare Before Christmas, we’ve embarked on a thrilling DIY journey to transform your outdoor space into a spooktacular wonderland that will leave your neighbors in awe.
This Halloween, let your creativity run wild, and celebrate the magic of both Halloween and Christmas with these enchanting DIY decorations. Thanks for joining us on this eerie and enchanting adventure, and remember: stay spooky, my friends! 🌙🎃💀🍂