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Hi everyone! This is my first post as a new member. I can't believe I didn't join this forum years ago - I am a Halloween junkie year-round.

Anyway, what finally kicked me into joining and posting on here is my outdoor theme this year, which is going to be all things Harry Potter. I am a HUGE HP fan and have wanted to theme something around HP for years. Now, I am a tight budget so pretty much everything will be DIY. I also just re-discovered paper mache thanks for a couple YouTubers (thanks Unhinged Productions and Drachenfang), so I would like to construct as many items as possible out of that or something similar. I know I can buy the items needed in bulk and save quite a lot of money that way. After browsing the forum for a couple hours, I see many of you regularly build props using paper mache/paper clay so I think I am in the right place :)

My general ideas for props/decor so far:
- Floating candles and the night sky on my front porch overhang, where we will be passing out candy.

- Floating candles and floating pumpkins in my tree. Pumpkins will be paper mache/paper clay. I'm starting on making these next weekend, yay!!

- Giant cauldrons to set up near my steps. I'm thinking I could build these myself using paper mache/paper clay.

- Giant spider web off the front side of my house (I'm thinking a triangular shape, one that will have one point connected to my eaves and two more points anchored in the ground)

- Trail of spiders from my front door to the giant web, spiders getting progressively larger. All spiders except the giant Aragog will be dollar store or maybe I can build a few on my own

- (my favorite part!) The giant spider/Aragog from Chamber of Secrets. This will be built entirely DIY. Rough idea - wood base with joints screwed in, paper mache/paper clay body with wire inside to help hold the structure, PVC pipes connecting to the base with 3 different joints to create angles in the legs. I don't want the body to be a flat color, I definitely want some texture/roughness. If anyone has any advice on how to achieve that, please share! I also saw this super neat idea on a tutorial of a giant PVC spider to wrap the PVC pipe leg in burlap and spray foam in between the pipe and burlap. The effect is really amazing and looks pretty creepy after painted over.

- Floating dementors, maybe 4 or so in various locations in my yard. For some reason, this is the one I am most nervous about. I've seen a few tutorials so I know what I'm in for. I think I'm nervous about making the hands look right. I am also kinda of peeved that I can't find cheap $1-$3 foam skulls anywhere, at least ones that are the actual size of a human skull. I refuse to spend $8 on a plain foam skull (looking at you, Michael's), so I will have to look at ways to make my own. Of course, the dementors will be covered in black cheese cloth. I want to dip the cheese cloth in liquid starch and leave to dry in positions that make the dementors look like they're flying.

- Finally, my husband and I plan to put a table up on our front porch the night of Halloween and hand out candy dressed as Hogwarts students! I am always down for dressing up for a theme. I think our table set-up will have a few potions bottles, maybe a DIY sorting hat, some spooky cheesecloth overlays. I'm least concerned with this part.

I would absolutely LOVE to hear anyone's ideas or advice. This is really my first DIY Halloween (first year as a homeowner with an actual yard), so I am a little nervous because I am so inexperienced. Words of advice to calm my DIY nerves would be great, too! :D
 

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I'm not sure how much space you have got, but if your good with a paint brush how about doing a large painted cut out of the Hogwarts Express steam train, from the front view, like the one below. If you usually get ok weather you could make it as a cardboard cut out or out of a wood sheet. If you have a smoke machine, or you could use dry ice to give the effect of the steam coming out, and light it up . I find that doing some big prop pieces takes up the space and saves you trying to fill it with lots of little things that don't have much impact.
hogwarts.jpg

For some smaller props, what about some hanging broomsticks and owls. You could also try your hand at making the talking monster book with a box and some furry material and the Sorting Hat. If you have an MP3 player you could record the sounds they both make which would be effective:)

book.jpg hat.jpg
 

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I also do a Harry Potter themed haunt. Here is a link to my Hogwarts in Hartland Facebook page with lots of pictures.
https://www.facebook.com/hogwartsinhartland/
Last years addition was a life-size Hogwarts Express with steam, lights and sound. It was constructed out of mostly recycled styrofoam, but took a bit of time to build. There is an album on the page which shows how we built it. I also have a Dementor/Patronus set-up with lights and sounds as well. There are videos on that page as well so you can see everything in action!
20161031_170733.jpg
 

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1. PVC pipes cut down--battery powered tea lights in top of them--hot glue dripped down sides for fake wax appearance.
2. Use cereal box to make monsters book with scrap cloth and black marbles for eyes/.
3. A urn with pillow stuffing inside with color changing tea lights under stuffing.
4. Small black owls disappear in the dark..use white ones-glow sticks under leaves in front of them illuminate them cool.
5. Broomsticks made out of on thick stick and small branches tied to them from the woods.
6. "Broomsticks"--small paper bags sliced and tied at top with pretzel as the broom handle and treats inside bag.
7. Dementers out of cheesecloth..or even cheaper..black plastic garbage bags, coat hangers--hung in trees.
8. Cheap dolls painted all brown/duct taped with leaves stuck in top of head set in clay pots.
9. Hogwarts school uniforms--old school robes..try goodwill
10. Invitations..print up undesirable no1 posters with a picture of each kid inside their own poster!
11. Old beer/plastic bottles spray painted black and brown with stickers on them--poison..unicorn blood etc..
12. Building a Magic Pensieve..use an urn with an Ipad inside playing the harry potter movie surrounded by pillow fluff.
13. Customize "potion" bottles..small bottles with.."Johns posion" ..lisa's love potion..sam's bat wings..what ever the kids name is.
14. The "golden Egg"..just an easter egg painted gold with treats inside.
15. Wands out of real wood sticks-clay-paint-and hot glue gun for decorative scrolling.
16. Small toy trophys with the words wizard cup written on them.
17. A card board cut out of the prison banner that kids can hold and take pictures of themselves "inside" the prison.
18. Giant cauldrons made out rope handled plastic tubs, cardboard, and duct tape.
19. Anywhere there are spiders and overhead trees..hang fishing line about head level so it brushes their face as they walk up...gets kids and adults.lol.
20. Sign post with hogwarts..diagon alley etc..signs.
21. Don't forget the house banners!
 
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