Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Sunken ship Halloween party aboard the RMS Albatross!


Published by Manning on July 14th, 2015

This was my Halloween party theme in 2011! Halloween in a sunken cruise ship! Basically an underwater Titanic-type thing. Our color scheme for this party was blue and green, and we made tons of decorations to go with the theme of a formal ball underwater. Here’s the animated invitation I made. (It has audio, and it’s made with Flash, so it won’t work on an iPhone/iPad.)

Halloween 2011 party invitation

Here are some of the decorations we made:

Paper fish — I printed out tons of photos of fish on blue and green paper; I arranged them in Photoshop so they’d be double sided and mirrored so I could cut them out, fold them up, and staple them closed. I stuffed a tiny bit of bubble wrap into each one to give them a little bit of volume, and then I hung them up all over the ceiling with tape and fishing line and thumbtacks. I think I made about fifty of them! I also took a few of them and taped them on the walls in the stairwell of our builing, in a line leading people right to our door. Oh yeah, I also draped a big net over our bathroom mirror and stuck a bunch of the fish in there, like they’d just been caught.

Paper fish and other underwater Halloween decorations

Seaweed — We made seaweed buy taking green crepe paper ribbon and crumpling it up by hand. We hung this stuff everywhere; in doorways, over the curtain rods, taped to the ceiling, etc. The seaweed and the fake fishes hanging everywhere created a really neat feeling of being underwater.

Hand-made DIY seaweed!

Inflatable shark — I broke a rule of mine by using a store-bought decoration, but this thing was too good to resist! I hung this seven-foot long shark on the ceiling with fishing line and three of those little screw-in hook things. This was way before I was addicted to doing big paper maché projects, so if I had it to do all over again I would try making my own paper maché shark.

Inflatable shark Halloween party decoration

Lighting — I replaced all the light bulbs in the apartment with blue and green fluorescent party bulbs. I also bought a great (but expensive!) lighting effect: the American Dj H2O Led Water Effect Light. This thing projects an animated image of rippling water on your walls and/or ceiling, and you can set the color to whatever you want, or set it to rotate through all colors in a sequence. I set the color wheel to the spot just between blue and green, and projected it onto the walls and ceiling of the whole dining room and living room area.

Spooky underwater Halloween party lighting

Wallpaper — My biggest challenge with decoration for Halloween parties is: what to do with all these big plain white walls? White walls in a modern apartment are the least spooky thing in the world. I’m always looking for a way to transform our space into something darker and spookier. This year, since I was going for a very old-timey feel, I decided to try to make old-timey wallpaper! I used rolls of brown wrapping paper and I made my own stamp out of foam board using an X-acto knife. I found an old wallpaper pattern online and modified it to include a skull and some seahorses, printed it out, traced it onto foam board, and cut it out. I glued that onto another piece of foam board, and that was my stamp. I boguht a huge bottle of cheap black tempera paint, painted it onto the stamp with a wide paintbrush, and pressed that onto the paper. It worked great! The end result is definitely a little imperfect and sloppy, but this is a haunted ship, so who cares?!

Hand-made wallpaper using a foam board stamp

Note: I put the wallpaper pattern onto the paper while it was laid out on the floor, and then hung up the paper when it was dry. I wouldn’t risk applying the stamp with the paint directly to paper that’s already on the walls; too risky, you never know if the paint might seep through and stain the wall.

Ghostly portraits — We have a lot of black picture frames on our living room wall, and I usually design images in Photoshop to print out and put in ’em for every year’s Halloween party theme. This year I did nautical-themed pictures using a combination of photos of our invitees as well as the hosts (and our bunnies!), mashed up with old-timey nautical pics. I put together a whole post with all of them here.

Ghostly nautical portraits

Costumes — I don’t have any great pictures of our costumes, but my fiancée and I were both dressed in old-fashioned formalwear and made up like drowned zombies. I drew on a pencil-thin mustache, slicked my hair back, and I had a plastic fish in the front pocket of my jacket. Fun!

Drowned zombie Halloween costume

That’s about it! I loved exploring this theme and coming up with all these decorations. I’d love to do another sunken ship party down the line, but instead of Titanic-era, make it all about pirates and mermaids!

Halloween guests

Halloween underwater zombie costume

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