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The following 101, on making Halloween jar-o'-lanterns (yep, from Mason jars), comes from a HOMEGROWN Life post by Michelle Wire, a Pennsylvania homesteading mama and the voice behind the awesome Dust and Wanderlust. Check out her original post for more Halloween crafts for kids, including another candle project. Thanks so much, Michelle, and please keep the good-idea lamp burning!

Halloween is the favorite holiday in our household, hands down. We decorate heavily in October, but many of our Halloween accents never make it into storage bins because I can’t bring myself to pack them away. I love all kinds of reminders of everyday magic, whether it’s the turning of the leaves or a walk in the brisk fall air. I even find my hens a little magical. Seriously, an egg almost every day? That’s magic to me!

Because we celebrate in such a big way, we’re always looking for ideas to add. Things can get a little stale if we don’t refresh them here and there, with new traditions added in for good measure. So this year, I went on the hunt for Halloween crafts for kids that would be simple and wholesome. (We don’t do gory Halloween here; we like the old-school stuff. No blood and guts, only ghosts and witches and crisp fall leaves. And candy, of course!)

Since my daughter is prepping for the PSATs, my son and I put on some Halloween music (“Purple People Eater,” anyone?) and set to work. We love candles, so a candle-based craft made sense for us. We also wanted to work on a budget and reuse where possible. Hence, the jar-o'-lantern, a project that repurposes Mason jars, especially appropriate since we always have some spare jars without lids floating around. I know in most homes it’s random socks that disappear, but in our house, it seems to be Mason jar rings.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

» orange paint (house paint works well)

» spare jars, Mason or otherwise, no lids needed

» black acrylic paint

» sponge or small brush

» jack-o'-lantern face stencil (optional)

» wire for hanging (optional)

WHAT TO DO

Earlier in the day, I’d coated the inside of the spare jars with some orange paint I had in the garage. Depending on the number of jars you're using, this craft takes a very minimal amount of paint, so check the “oops” selection at your hardware stare, buy a small sample pot, or share the cost of paint with a friend. Simply pour the paint into the jar and roll it around until the entire inside is coated then leave the jars to dry upside down.

While the jars are drying, you can trace a jack-o'-lantern-face stencil on cardboard or card stock and cut it out with a sharp blade. I printed my face templates from a website; there are plenty to choose from if you have limited artistic ability, like me! (For those who are especially skilled, or brave, you can skip the stencil step and paint your jack-o'-lantern faces directly on the jars freehand.) I cut out the templates, and my son taped them to the jars. Once the stencils were in place, he used a sponge and dabbed them with black acrylic paint. Mason jars are bumpy, so you’ll need a light hand when painting.

Zack did most of the work on this project, and he loved picking the faces and imagining the jars were locked in a spooky stare-down. Once the faces are dry, you can loop some thick wire around the lip of the jar and attach another loop of wire for hanging. (We opted to set them on the table instead.) You can make lots of these easily—especially if you’re a jar hoarder, like I am—and line your walkway with tea lights tucked inside. Happy haunting!

SPEAK UP!

Got a question for Michelle? Or another Halloween craft to share? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling. If you've got loads of Mason jars on hand, you might opt to turn a few into mummies. For more fall projects, check out the Book-Page Pumpkin 101 and the Scarecrow 101, and if you're looking for more kid-friendly crafts, check out the Potato Stamp 101. You can always find more things to make, craft, cook, preserve, plant, grow, and illuminate in the HOMEGROWN 101 Library.

ALL PHOTOS: MICHELLE WIRE

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