With crooked branches and flickering candle lanterns, this DIY Halloween tree will increase the scary factor in your home this fall.
And it’s so fun to make! Start with a heavy base, like an urn planter, and then add several dead branches to create your eerie tree.
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Halloween Tree DIY
- Container (like a heavy vase, urn or planter)
- Paint (black and white to create shades of gray)
- Floral foam
- Knife (or florist foam knife)
- Aleene’s Tacky Glue
- Dead stick branches (shop your backyard!)
- Pruning shears as needed
- Decorative moss
- Flickering LED tealight candles
- Black craft wire, 12-gauge
- Wire snips
You might want to check your local Dollar Tree and Jo-Ann Fabric, too. I got my floral foam and moss at the D Tree, and my black wire and candles from Jo-Ann’s.
1. Paint Container
Start by finding a spooky container and giving it an even spookier makeover. It helps to pick a heavy vase, urn or planter to use as your base, so it will be sturdy enough to hold your tree and lanterns.
Note: If your container isn’t heavy enough, you might be able to pour some concrete into the bottom to help weigh it down.
I found this intricate urn-style planter at Goodwill. It had a beachy, whitewashed appearance, but I wanted it to look like it came straight out of an old cemetery. Enter paint.
Thoroughly wash and dry your container. Then mix black and white paint to create a base coat of dark gray, covering all the little crevices as well as the inside top of the container.
Once that is dry, you can do the next coat in a lighter cement gray color. Just lightly brush over the planter, so that some of the darker gray is still exposed.
After that dries, create an extra dark gray paint, and a very light gray paint. Water them down slightly. Then use a hard-bristled paintbrush (like an old toothbrush) to splatter little speckles all around the container, one color at a time.
This adds texture and breaks up the solid streaks of gray paint, so you have many shades of gray to look like a natural concrete planter.
Note: If you over-speckled and don’t like how it looks, you can just brush your previous gray paint over it and try again.
2. Insert Floral Foam
Next, cut the floral foam to fit inside your container. You’ll want it to sit about half an inch below the top so there’s still room to cover it with moss later.
I used a serrated steak knife to cut the foam, and it worked well.
Once you get the foam cut to size, then glue it inside the container. Aleene’s Tacky Glue is a good option (rather than hot glue, which can melt the foam).
3. Insert Sticks
The next step is the best part, when you get to arrange several branches into a creepy little Halloween tree.
Head to your backyard to track down some crooked, scary-looking dead branches. I had pruned these branches off my rhododendrons awhile back, and they were just right. See what you can find in your yard.
My branches were about 1–2.5 feet long, which was a good size for this tabletop tree. Larger sizes might also work if you have a bigger display in mind, as long as your base is heavy and sturdy enough.
Once you have your branches, start arranging them into a tree shape in your floral foam. They poke right into the foam. You can use pruning shears to cut them as needed to fit and create the shape you’d like.
Keep in mind how big the canopy is. Since I was planning to place my tree against a wall on a skinny console table, I made sure the back branches didn’t stick out too far.
When you’re happy with the arrangement, you can pull the branches out one at a time and add a dab of glue to secure them into the foam.
4. Add Moss
To complete the tree, you just need to cover that unsightly floral foam. Decorative moss works well for this, but you could also try pebbles or another festive fall material.
If you go with moss, rub tacky glue onto the foam, let it set for a minute, and then press the moss over it. Make sure to get down along the sides of the floral foam and in between the branches so no foam is visible.
5. Create Lanterns
At this point, you could put your Halloween tree on display. But if you want to make it extra creepy, I recommend adding flickering tealight lanterns that hang from the branches.
I chose black candles, but there are lots of options. Try pumpkin-shaped candles for a cuter Halloween vibe.
Use black 12-gauge craft wire to create “lanterns” to hold the candles, with the help of pliers and wire snips to shape and cut the wire. I spiraled the wire to make a base, then added three prongs around the base, and a hook to hang the candle lanterns on the tree.
The resulting lanterns may be a bit wonky, but I say the wonkier the better! That is the beauty of Halloween decor. If your lanterns look a little off, the tree will just be that much creepier.
Light up the candles and commence with the hauntings.
There are endless ways you could style this Halloween tree.
Make it more of a neutral fall decor piece in autumn hues. Try painting the branches and base in all black, with black pebbles instead of moss. Or go for a glam Halloween with sparkly glitter paint and colorful candles.
In my case, this tree is part of a haunted doll Halloween display. I’m talking ghosts and witches and vampires…oh my!