Halloween Bone Crown. For a Creepy Costume.

A Halloween bone crown that you can use for decoration or a costume? Um, YES!  For optimal “creep” effect use real bone, but for the squeamish (or vegetarian/vegan), you can DIY it out of plastic bones from the Dollar Store.   

Gold skull with real DIY bone crown on black background.It’s chicken bones. 
Skip right to the tutorial.

When I was in grade 2 or 3 my friend Susie brought her prized possession to school for show and tell. A stuffed bear named Razzmatazz.  Everyone clapped wildly and wanted to hold Razzy.  It was a feel good, Hallmark moment for everyone.  Susie, and her cutsie bear, finally took their seat.  Then I stepped out from behind my desk and walked my little feet up to the front of the class, one hand gripping a plastic bag.  The slightly crumpled grocery bag held my prized possession.

The class was still on a sugar high from Susie’s sweet stuffie so I waited for them to settle down. Once the class settled and I knew all eyes were on me,  I reached a hand into my bag and pulled out my prized possession. 

A human skull.  An actual human skull.

I held it up, perched on the palm of my hand, Othello style and watched as each and every eyebrow in the room shot upwards.  Except for the teacher’s, whose eyebrows went in the opposite direction.

Karen Bertelsen wearing crown of bones.

That’s me! I Photoshopped a wrinkle away from the corner of my mouth!

O.K. I get it.  Some of you don’t wanna wear chicken bones on your head.  That’s O.K.  This also makes a GREAT Halloween party decoration. ORRRRRR you can turn chicken bones into this bone wreath.


Weirdly elegant Halloween decorations of gold skulls with crowns on marble table.

These bone crowns look good all on their on set on a table but are at their best when resting on a skull.

Halloween bone crafts.

How to Make a Halloween Crown (out of bones)

I’ve found the easiest way to make fake bones look real, is by not using fake bones.  I’m not suggesting you use human bones. That’s just weird.  But you can save all the bones from your chicken and turkey carcasses throughout the year and use those for Halloween decorating. Which is not weird at all.

Where to get Chicken Bones

  • I bet you eat rotisserie chicken the odd time don’t you?  Turn those carcasses into broth (here’s my tutorial on making and canning chicken broth) and then save the bones! Ask your friends and family to save their carcasses for you. I actually ask my neighbours for their bones at Thanksgiving.
  • High end butcher shops will sell or save chicken carcasses for you. You just have to ask them. I haven’t had as much luck with grocery store butchers doing this but you can try.
  • If you get a local food delivery or are a part of a CSA program they sometimes have bones and carcasses available if you ask as well.


Looking down on gold skull wearing a crown.

How to Clean the Chicken Bones.

  • Clean the bones of any meat. If you use them to make broth first there won’t be much to clean.  Scrub them with a scrubby pad or the rough side of a sponge. 
  •  Once the bones are clean, put them in the sink with a little bleach and water. Around a cup of bleach for a sink half full of water.  This lightens them and takes away the yellowish tinge they have.
  • For REALLY white bones, soak them in 3% hydrogen peroxide.


Classy halloween decorative skull DIY.

How to Make the Halloween Bone Crown.


  1. Gather your cleaned chicken bones and plug in your hot glue gun. 
  2. Start gluing your bones together in a circle. Put hot glue on BOTH surfaces you’re gluing.
  3. Form your bone crown on whatever or whoever is going to wear it.  The bones need to conform to the surface you’re putting it on or it’ll slip off.   If you form it on a flat surface like a tabletop, the crown will be completely flat and it it won’t fit the shape of a skull (human or fake) and will slip off. 
  4. Let the glue dry and add extra glue and bones where you think things are shaky. The more bones you use the more stable the crown will be.
  5. Now make another crown of bones on top of the first one. You’ll end up with two levels of bones.
  6. If you want to get fancy, add some bone ends around the top of the crown and add jewels.
  7. You’re done. 

Hot gluing bones together.

** If you plan on wearing this as part of a Halloween costume a good tip is to measure the size of your noggin and then mark a circle onto a piece of plastic. For the crown around that so it’ll be the right size.

Use a lot of hot glue. Don’t be shy.  It’ll disappear once the crown is formed. You DON’T want it to fall apart while you’re parading around in your award winning creepy Halloween costume.  


Using shorter bones will make a better fitting crown than using huge turkey leg bones.  Unless you have a MASSIVE head.

Once you finish the first circle, do another row on top.

A gold Halloween skull on a marble table.

I really love Halloween decorating. It brings me back to those carefree days of my skull wielding youth.

If you have blobs of hot glue don’t worry about it. No one will notice them  because they’ll be busy looking at the bone crown you made and assessing your mental state.

Several skulls displayed on marble table with white lacquer buffet in background.

See? Creepy but still elegant Halloween decorations.  I mean, compared to plastic vomit or something.

Halloween Bone Crown.

Halloween Bone Crown.

Yield: 1 Halloween Crown
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Make this Halloween crown out of bones for a creepy finishing touch to your Halloween costume or for decoration.


  • 10-15 medium sized chicken bones


  • Hot glue gun and glue


  1. Clean cooked chicken bones* by scraping the meat off with a knife and then scrubbing the bones clean with a scrubby pad. Make sure you scrape off any fat, marrow, etc. from inside the joints.
  2. Submerge bones in a sink half filled with water with 1 cup of bleach mixed in.
  3. Let bones soak for 30 minutes. (* for TRULY white bones see notes*)
  4. Allow bones to dry overnight.
  5. Hot glue a circle of bones together. Either place them on your fake skull to form them or measure your head and draw a circle that size on a piece of plastic. This acts as a pattern for sizing your crown.
  6. Repeat, adding another circle of bones on top.
  7. Add additional bones and jewels if you're feeling fancy.
  8. Let the crown set to dry.


- * If you're using raw chicken bones, boil them in water for 10 minutes before moving to step 1 of the instructions.

- Using shorter bones will make the crown easier to form. Chicken drumsticks bones work well.

- Store your crown in some sort of hard box for safe keeping throughout the year so it doesn't get damaged.

- To get the crown to stay fixed to your head glue it onto a hair band the same colour as your hair. You can also glue hair combs to the inside of it but I haven't tried this so I can't guarantee it would work.


Halloween Bone Crown Tips

  • If it’s to wear, mark a circle that’s the size of your head on a piece of plastic and form your crown on that.
  • If you’re having trouble getting your bones to glue you can sand them to rough them up a little bit.  But if you glue BOTH sides of the bone and let them sit before fiddling with them you shouldn’t hav any problems.
  • To make sure the crown stays secure on your head all night glue it to plastic headband the same colour as your hair and then just put the headband on. 
  • Remember this IS bone and it is only hot glued together so it’s moderately fragile.  Be mindful when you’re wearing it.


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Halloween Bone Crown.  For a Creepy Costume.


  1. CJ Long says:

    So the instructions are great and all (and now I totally want my own bone crown), but mostly I’m dying to know details about the 2nd or 3rd grade class. How did you get a skull at that age? Who’s was it? How did they die? Did your teacher arrange a meeting with your parents? Etc.

    The only show and tell I vividly remember was the time in high school when I did a book report on marijuana, complete with a faux plant and demonstration pipe. Coincidentally, my teacher’s eyebrows also went the opposite direction of my classmates, but at least I didn’t get arrested.

    • Karen says:

      LOL!! It must be a LOT of fun to be a teacher sometimes, lol. The skull was originally found by my grandfather apparently. The story is he found it around Ottawa, Canada when an area was being dug up to put in a parking lot. Who knows if that’s where it really came from though! I do come from an “interesting” lineage. ~ karen!

  2. Lisa Pizza says:

    Just woke up on a Monday morning feeling blah – this has energized my day!! Thank you! *goes on a bone hunt*

  3. Vikki says:

    Oooo—this did me a scare! But what a great idea…..just don’t wear it where your chickens can see it. Love the idea of the glued-on jewels.

  4. Jan in Waterdown says:

    You are rockin’ those smoky eyes girl!!

  5. jody says:

    You look a bit like one of the Olsen twins in the photo. Love it.

  6. Marie Anne says:

    Going to share this with a friend who is obsessed with Halloween, she’ll love this.
    Question though, is google making you put the most recent comments on top? I love reading all the comments and reversing them makes it a bit confusing. I’ll deal if it helps you of course lol, but hoping they can stay chronological. I don’t care if there are old comments. They’re probably funny too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marie Anne! Well they aren’t “making me”, but it’s “best practice”. I checked around and most blogs do it with newest comments first because people usually want to see the most recent comments first, but I’m testing it out. It could return to the other way! ~ karen

      • Alena says:

        I am from the old school and I prefer the see the oldest comments first. So comments should be displayed in ascending order (rather than descending). It seems to make more sense that way.
        I know. I am weird.

  7. Stephen says:

    Really enjoy your blog, Karen, and appreciate the hard work that goes into it. A few comments:

    1. I was expecting a ‘Game of Bones’ pun, but it never came. I herein give it to you for free.
    2. Othello (?) or you may be thinking of Hamlet and alas poor Yorick? (Could be wrong.)
    3. This is the most I’ve seen you respond to comments on a single story (could be wrong, again) so it is clearly a displacement activity for doing what you are supposed to be doing – cleaning up your 50 gazillion old posts. Get back to work!

    • Karen says:

      Ah, that’s because this post was originally published 2 years ago and I updated it this week. So most of those comments were responded to 2 years ago. Finally – YES! Hamlet. :) ~ karen!

  8. Karen F says:

    I never thought of using these. I want to do a like a sleigh out of them to be pulled by one of my spooky model toyhorses that I have on me. hahhah. What about turkey ones?? I do cook whole chickens in the crock pot. Also too if our building here has a turkey supper I could see if I can get them. I know the best place would be our Turkey supper at the Church. But sometimes they save them for this person to make stock with. Maybe I can ask them for one lot of them when I go to it see what they say.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen! Yes, there are actually a lot of turkey bones in there. The bigger ones are drumsticks. Because Thanksgiving in Canada (where I’m from) is before Halloween, I asked everyone (friends, neighbours) to save me their turkey carcasses from Thanksgiving. :) ~ karen!

    • Sabina says:

      What a GREAT idea and I’m stealing it!!! I bought some vintage bottle brush trees at a yard sale last year and they were in an ugly gold sleigh that just got tossed on my workbench because, well, it’s ugly. I cleaned and saved a slew of chicken bones last year after Karen’s bone wreath/crown post to make something for this year and just dug out all my Halloween stuff yesterday. I will be testing it out as a frame to glue the bones on! Thanks Karen F!

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Very cool…😎 you know I like your Halloween stuff!

  10. Wisconsingal says:

    You know, Shakespeare’s skull is missing. Could it have made the journey across the ocean to end up in a dentist’s possession??????

  11. Barb says:

    Ah, I can completely sympathize… as I too have a collection of bones; raccoon sculls though. ‘Found pretty clean on my walks with little wiggly teeth. Anatomy studies for life drawing gave me quite the appreciation for bones and how amazingly beautiful they actually are.

    And yes, finding a great beautiful scull is amazing.

  12. Topo says:

    Love that you raise chickens and re-use their bones. Did you make a Cuddles crown? Or a Cheez Whiz crown? Cool. How macabre, how stlylish. Waste not, want not I guess…

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      Those are pets…not just chickens that you eat…would you eat your pets?…Karen is much to kind and sensitive to do that…

  13. kelli says:

    Sigh. I worry about you sometimes, you know.

  14. BARBARA H. says:

    About 30 years ago, my husband & I were visiting a guy’s backyard jewelry shop. He mostly worked with silver, and had some really nice creations.

    After choosing a couple of pieces for purchase, I rummaged further to an obscure case with bits & pieces of random stuff.

    I found a box of small carved skulls. They were all around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches each. I held one up and asked if they were made from real bone.

    He said “Yes. They were carved from the thigh bones of Khmer Rouge victims in Cambodia. Survivors dug the skeletons up and carved the skulls.”
    I was so creeped out that I immediately walked away.

    Long afterwards, I wished that I had bought one. Odd that they had traveled all the way from Cambodia to Florida.

  15. Carolyn says:

    I hope some kid finds my skull, several years from now, and brings it to show and tell. I’d finally get a trophy, I mean be a trophy.

  16. Ev Wilcox says:

    Well OK, bones are OK. They are not scary to me, so I kinda don’t get it. Must have something to do with the Anat/Physiology course at Akron U. Held real sculls in my lap, even baby ones, while learning the different aspects of structure. Halloween time is my favorite time of all. My daughter feels the same way. But since her daughters are pretty young-I went in another direction this year. Tomorrow I will see them and be taking them all their very own sugar scull shirts. I got one for this Grammy also-I will be wearing it whilst handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, most likely in the rain this year. I really like the creepy stuff though- bones and sculls just don’t creep me out! Your decos are awesome Karen. Happy Halloween!

  17. Alena says:

    Of course I planned to start saving bones right after I read about your wreath years ago, but somehow I forgot. So this year, I will at least wear a little bone necklace.

    P.S. I am surprised you are not planning to spring for the Neanderthal skulls, at $925.83 they are a bargain. I quite like their teeth.

  18. Heather says:

    I like the way you think.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Well there are plenty on the “cant’ understand the way you think” side too so I’m happy to have you on the like side. ~ karen!

  19. Eileen says:

    I so love this! And I can’t wait to see what starts popping up in the ads now that I’ve checked the links to the skull and to that Nose Desserts site!
    I have been saving wishbones for a mixed media work…ever since I saw a strange piece at a vintage store: an old wooden ladder that had wishbones tied to it everywhere with various bits of brightly colored yarn and twine. It was amazing. And showcased probably 150 sacrificial chickens if not more….And way too big for anywhere in my house….

  20. Bunguin says:

    Also, human skull for show and tell? Are we related?

  21. Bunguin says:

    I just figured out what I’m going to sell at next year’s Annual Town Flea Market… Bone crafts and bone related items.

  22. Mary W says:

    We celebrate this Saturday so no skull bones since I just threw them all out – apparently because I knew I would need them within a week. We are going to do Giligans Island out front. Have to make a boat from cardboard boxes, get the creepy smoke machine out and fired up, dress like the crew (I’m the rich old lady with a boa and sunbrella) so no creep in our house. We give out drinks for kids and parents – all the leftovers are used up quickly this way.

  23. Jen says:

    I have to know. WHERE did you get a human skull???????????????

    • Karen says:

      It was my grandfathers. And I’m not sure where he got it but I seem to remember something about someone digging up a parking lot? Could have just been a story though ~ karen!

      • Teresa Chandler says:

        Good grief! For a moment I thought you were saying it was your grandfather’s skull, not that he owned it. (Which would have totally worked, coming from you.) now, I’m kind of wishing you had left the explainin’ out, or at least strung us along for a bit -you do that so well- it makes a much better Halloween story that way.

      • Lez says:

        Here’s where it gets really weird! I don’t think they had parking lots in your grandfathers’ day, did they!? Hmm…
        You could get the DNA tested, & see if it matches yours, then look back through your family tree to see if anyone went ‘missing’, years ago!!! ;)

      • Claire says:

        Do you still have the skull??

  24. Nicole Sparks says:

    I was very amused by the name of the manufacturer of your Dream Skull. :) “Nose Desserts”. I kept waiting for a pun to show up. But no, apparently (which I know thanks to the magic of google) they make incense. And have a whole variety of skull/bone things including a open-mouthed skull candy dish and exact replicas of human arm bones.

    (just keep scrolling down)

    Pretty exciting! :)

  25. Sabina says:

    Hmmmm, how many bones can one save in a year? I’ll let you know next October 1st!

  26. TucsonPatty says:

    O.M.G. I want you inside my head. Well, that was creepy sounding. Sorry, not sorry. You do Halloween like I like it!! I just finished my graveyard out front of my house, dug a child size grave this year. I love Halloween so much. I have cheap-o skulls out front and I’m going to find some gold paint for at least one of them. I’m a vegetarian, so there aren’t any bones at my house, but do you think it would be weird for me to ask all my coworkers to bring their used up bones? I need a wreath, too. I’m going to do it!

    • Alena says:

      Just tell them you need a digit replacement surgery on your left hand and that you are planning to do the surgery yourself.

    • Karen says:

      Not weird at all. The first year I delved into making things out of bones I asked all of my neighbours and friends to save their Thanksgiving carcasses for me, lol. Knowing me, none of them even batted an eye. They just said, Sure! ~ karen!

  27. Paula says:

    The link for the fake human skull is the one that you have used but you have spray painted it gold?

    • Karen says:

      No, it’s just a really great fake human skull. Astonishingly good. My gold ones have always been gold, I didn’t paint them. ~ karen!

      • Cyd says:

        Yeah, but if you WERE going to paint one of them gold, assuming they are the realistic-looking plastic ones that you can get at Target or seasonal Halloween shops, HOW would you paint one gold? What type of paint will likely stick, etc? Asking for a friend ;)

  28. Thandi says:

    You really get Halloween. It’s a deep appreciation and understanding that I can really get behind. South Africa doesn’t really do Halloween, which breaks my heart every year. I have to get very creative with my DIYs. It’s my favourite holiday and I don’t care that I’m probably one of 63 people in the country that celebrate it!
    Now I’m off to make a blood-soaked Japanese ghost out of a dress form, some rubber gloves, and a very freaky mask.

  29. dana says:

    Yeah I’m definitely going to start saving bones now. Really I am. I still love your bone wreath. Should I ask where you got a human skull when you were a kid? My hubby went to a garage sale many yrs ago. The man, who hubby described as an odd bird, had human bones for sale. We probably should have notified police. Creepy. I need to start decorating for Halloween like you do. I really only do fall decor.

  30. Lynn says:

    Nice job on the crown , would not have thought of using the turkey and chicken bones . Good up cycling Karen.

  31. Kath says:

    You were 8? How do you know it was real?

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