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tombstone decoration ideas for halloween

DIY Halloween Tombstones from Upcycled Cereal Boxes

October 17, 2017

Looking for DIY Halloween tombstone decoration ideas? Learn how to craft these fun, upcycled cereal boxes headstones. This repurposed holiday home decor is a great family activity you can make with the kids.

tombstone decoration ideas for halloween

Upcycled Halloween Tombstones

As both a sibling and a parent, I am well aware of how much waste a family can generate in their home. Food and everyday necessities really stack up to create a lot of both paper and plastic waste. And while most cities have a recycling program, many still do not. Therefore, I decided to repurpose the boxes of a common product most homes have — cereal boxes!

I love that this Halloween craft project utilizes common boxes from the pantry and turns them into lasting outdoor decorations. It’s nice to create something lasting from trash out of the recycle bin. However, hopefully this family Halloween craft project also inspires your creativity by encouraging you to find new ways to make use of craft materials you may ordinarily toss out. (Discover ways to reduce plastic waste here.)

Making your own DIY Halloween tombstones is both easy and fun. As this project doesn’t require any technical skill, the whole family can join in to help create custom headstone decorations for the holiday.

Keep reading to discover how to make easy tombstones using common cereal boxes for a frightening front porch display. Or craft several of these DIY decorations to create a faux graveyard for your outdoor Halloween decorations!

diy halloween tombstones

DIY Halloween Tombstone Decorations

© Rebecca Dawn Dillon

This easy Halloween craft is such a great way to get the family off the internet and interacting with each other! These cardboard headstones are simple to make and easily customizable. Not only is making holiday decorations together a wonderful way to bond, but it’s also perfect for building lasting holiday memories.

Supplies and Materials to Make Upcycled Tombstone Decor

These are are the supplies and materials I used to craft a tombstone out of a cereal box:

  • Large cereal box: Whether you use a box of Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch, any similar shaped box works well for this DIY Halloween project. However, I do recommend that you choose larger sized cardboard boxes to allow more room to customize the finished decorations.
  • Stone Spray Paint: I used Krylon Natural Stone Decorative Aerosol with a granite finish for this outdoor holiday decor for the texture. This product will give your headstones the look of real stone. While you can purchase this product online to give the finishing touch to your tombstone decorations, it is most affordable when purchased from a craft or big box store.
  • Foam letters: I use Tim Holtz block Upper Cling Foam Stamps to create raised lettering to spell out words and names on my cardboard headstones. This may be hard to find as they were purchased some years back. However, you can also use vinyl letter stickers or glue on foam letters that you paint afterwards.
  • Craft Paint: Craft paints are used to paint the details onto your holiday decor. They can be used to add decorative elements as well as names and dates to the cardboard headstones.
  • Glitter: While optional, craft glitter can be used to add decorative effects to your adult Halloween crafts. I like to use glitter as it does fun things when lights shine on it.
  • Clear outdoor sealer: In order to display these Halloween decorations outdoors, you will need to seal the upcycled cardboard tombstone decorations you make. Several coats of a good sealer should last the season. However, you may want to add a refresher coat to these cereal box headstones the following year to ensure they last. Make sure the sealer you choose you approved for OUTDOOR USE and is non-yellowing to best preserve your project.
  • Paint Brush: A liner paint brush was used to paint the details onto my DIY tombstones.
  • Tape: I used masking tape to tape the cardboard box into the shape of a headstone. However, you can also using electrical tape or duct tape.
  • Wooden Skewers: I used two 12″ wood skewers, such as those use for barbecuing or grilling, in the base of my cardboard headstone decorations. Wood skewers are an efficient and inexpensive way to hold the headstones in place in your yard when decorating.
  • Strong Glue: A strong craft glue, such as E-6000 craft adhesive, is needed to permanently adhere any elements to your outdoor decor.
  • Paint pen or Permanent Marker: If you aren’t using paint to add designs to this repurposed cardboard project, you can add them with either a paint pen or permanent marker. You can also use a marker or pencil to draw out your design on the box before painting or gluing on design elements.
  • Scissors: A sharp pair of scissors is necessary to cut the empty box so it can be formed into the shape of a tombstone.

How to Make Cereal Box Tombstones

Here is how to make a Halloween tombstone out of a cereal box:

1. Begin by cutting off the top front and back flaps of your cereal box. These are basically the flaps you use to close the box. Make sure to leave the side flaps intact.

2. Next, using a pen or marker, draw a half circle about 1-2″ down from the top of the box on the front of the cereal box. It should form a headstone shape when it meets the edges of the box. (Be sure to draw the line so that when the sides of the box are rounded over the top of the box where they meet or overlap in the middle.)

how to make cereal box tombstones

3. Carefully cut off the top front portion of the cereal box along and above the line you just drew.

upcycled cereal box headstone

4. Save the portion of the box you cut off the front so you can trace it onto the back of the box. Then cut off the top back of the cardboard box.

repurposed outdoor halloween decorations

5. Now round the sides over the curved edges of the box you just cut until they meet in the middle.

diy halloween tombstones

6. Then tape the sides of the box down onto the edges of the tombstone shape you cut.

diy halloween tombstone decorations

7. Follow with more tape, taping the sides of the box all the way around the curved top.

how to make cereal box headstones for outdoor halloween decorations

8. Next, carefully open the bottom flap of the cereal box. Cut two lines vertical lines on either side of the back bottom flap.

9. Then cut two more small horizontal lines off each of the vertical lines you just cut and fold the flaps you created over.

10. Now cut a small square out at the top of each flap, just big enough for your skewers to fit through.

upcycled outdoor halloween decorations

11. Place your wooden skewers inside the cereal box and tape them in. Then close and tape the bottom of the box up with the skewers sticking out. Reinforce with more tape as needed. Also be sure to tape tightly around and somewhat down the skewers to prevent moisture from getting inside of the cardboard cereal boxes.

TIP: Wooden skewers are a cheap way to prevent the graveyard headstones from blowing away if you experience weather at your residence.

faux stone Halloween tombstone decoration ideas

12. Now spray paint your upcycled cereal box tombstone on all sides using the decorative stone spray paint.

13. Once the first coat dries, apply a second coat.

TIP: Spray excess paint in some areas, then use dried leaves or paper or even your fingertips to distress the paint so it looks like weathered, chipped stone. This is an easy way to create faux stone look.

14. Apply additional paint as needed after the second layer dries, if desired.

15. Once the decorative stone spray paint has fully dried, you are ready to add details to your outdoor DIY Halloween tombstones. To do this, use a strong craft glue on your foam letters in your desired message.

TIP: E6000 craft adhesive is ideal for making upcycled outdoor decorations. Not only is i strong enough to bond glass and metal together, but it also holds up against the elements and other outdoor conditions.

Tombstone Halloween decorating ideas

16. Once the exterior paint on the headstones has dried, use craft paint to add details to the lettering. You can also paint a border along the front edge using a liner brush.

17. Now lightly brush on red accent paint as desired. In addition to using a brush for this step, I also used my fingertip to apply additional paint in areas.

TIP: Red is associated with blood especially during this spooky holiday. Adding red paint to your Halloween tombstones will make them seem sinister and spooky.

18. Next, lightly sprinkle glitter into the wet paint. (I used iridescent and red glitters for this step.) Then blow any excess glitter you don’t want.

TIP: While the glitter is optional, I love using them for this decoration idea as it reflects light.

19. Finally, spray one or two coats of clear outdoor sealer. This will not only protect the craft paint you added, but it will also keep the glitter in place. Overall, however, the sealer will protect your DIY tombstones from the elements.

how to decorate with tombstones for halloween

How to Decorate with Tombstones

Once you’ve made these DIY tombstones, all that’s left is to display them! Here is how to decorate your yard with faux graveyard headstones for the holiday:

1. To use these cardboard headstones as Halloween decorations, first mark where you want to display them on the ground.

2. Then, use an old ice pick, or similar, to drive holes into the ground.

3. Next, push the decorations into the ground by setting the skewers on each tombstone into the holes you created.

4. Push the cardboard headstones all the way in so they sink into the ground and the wood skewers are no longer visible.

TIP: Use your fingers to push the skewers into the ground as far as you can as pushing on the top of the headstone can cause the skewers to come loose inside.

5. You can then add additional decorative elements such as bones, skeletons and spiderwebs around each grave.

halloween graveyard decorations with diy tombstones

For my graveyard display, I added dried leaves, string lights and spiderwebs around my DIY tombstones to set the scene.

halloween tombstone crafts

Tombstone Decoration Ideas

Now that you’ve made your own DIY tombstone decorations, you may be looking for ideas on ways to use them. Here are some great ideas on how to use them to decorate your home:

  • Customize the names and dates on these graveyard tombstones to reflect characters from famous horror flicks and series, such as American Horror Story.
  • Use these cardboard headstones randomly place throughout your yard. Place plastic bones or skulls in or on the ground in front of each one.
  • Rather than making individual graves all over your yard, create a faux graveyard by grouping them together. You can then add a small, low fence created from stacked bricks or  flower bed edging such as wood stakes or common garden fencing.

If you love my tombstone decoration ideas, then you won’t want to miss these other creative, Halloween crafts for adults.

Easy DIY Halloween Decor

If you enjoyed my tutorial for making your own DIY Halloween tombstones using cereal boxes, then you may also like my other holiday crafts to decorate your home for the holiday:

  • Pumpkin Display: This pumpkin decor is a great way to decorate your home on a budget. It’s perfect for a minimalist or farmhouse style decor when you need fall decor on a budget. Whether you keep this project basic or add additional elements to express your personal style, this easy Dollar Tree craft is a great way to decorate with pumpkins for the holiday.
  • DIY Halloween Wreath: Wreaths are always a great adult craft to make for the holiday! This Dollar Tree wreath offers a beautiful take on a normally macabre element and utilizes Dollar Tree supplies to save you money. Make your own DIY skull wreath with this step-by-step tutorial to decorate your front door. Or create these handmade wreaths to sell on Etsy or at craft shows. Alternately, you can explore more ideas for wreaths here.
  • Painted Pumpkins: Rather than fuss with the mess of carving Jack O’ Lanterns that don’t last past the holiday, make DIY painted pumpkins instead! I hosted a pumpkin paint night for me and my friends when I mad these. I thought everyone came up with some really fantastic ideas for painting their pumpkins. And not only are these painted pumpkins perfect for decorating,  but they can also be brought indoors for a seasonal fall table centerpiece. Be sure to visit the post to see all the amazing painted pumpkin ideas!
  • Spooky Halloween Decor: If you’re a long time fan of American Horror Story, then you remember the intro to the series that features embalmed body parts inside glass jars. This clay craft project takes that idea and runs with it! Discover how to make unique decorations for your home all while inspiring your household’s creativity. Explore the steps to recreate this fun family craft today! Or invite over your grown up friends for an adult craft night.
  • Luminary Craft: I’ve since switched to using eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets from Grove to help reduce plastic waste in my home. However, if you’re still using laundry detergent pods, hang onto those pod buckets! These plastic containers can easily be upcycled for crafts. My DIY luminaries are a fun way to decorate your home with sugar skulls and other images.
  • Halloween Apothecary Jars: Need creative decorating ideas for you next holiday party? These printable poison apothecary labels are an easy way to liven up your decor! They can be used on upcycled jars and bottles to save money. Or buy unique containers to make extra spooky decorations for your home. Give this easy craft for adults a try to decorate those small spaces, corners, bookshelves and cupboards in your home.
  • Pumpkin Wreath: This modern hoop wreath, pictured above, is quick and easy craft you can make for your fall decorations. Display this farmhouse fall wreath on your front door or inside your entry way for a stylish way to decorate for the holiday. Other pumpkin wreaths you can craft for the holiday include this easy Dollar Tree pumpkin wreath. Or make these cute buffalo check pumpkins for your table centerpiece.

Do you have other creative ideas for upcycling your recyclables to create upcycled decorations? I’d love to see what you come up with! To share your DIY Halloween tombstones and other holiday home decor, be sure to tag your photos with the hashtag #soapdelishowoff when you share them on instagram.

In addition to following me on Instagram, you can also find and follow Soap Deli News on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. Or subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, projects and recipes.

2 Comments

  • Diane Sandidge

    October 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

    How do the tombstones hold up in the rain?

    1. Rebecca D. Dillon

      October 7, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Mine held up fine. However, I did use a sealer on them to make them more durable.

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