Glow in the Dark Walls.
Halloween DIY

Halloween is one of those love it or hate it holidays.  I happen to love it.  The goth, the decorating, the darkness, the creep.  I love giving my house a dark, eerie quality.  Of course when you own a 150 year old house, you could fill it with marshmallows and rainbows and it would still have a dark, eerie quality.

I decorate for Halloween about 2 weeks before the event.  2 weeks seems just the right amount of time to freak myself out for.  I have a mummified cat that terrifies me every time I see it.   There’s black netting and lace thrown around, spiders, weird things in jars, and bones piled up in weird places.  You know.  In places one wouldn’t normally pile their collection of bones.

Hate the kids though.  Well not the kids specifically so much as opening the door for them every few minutes.  That bit I hate.    Stupid kids eating all my candy.  Also it really kindda ruins the dark vibe I have going on when little Susie shows up with her bright smile and sparkly princess costume.

So I guess I was wrong about that whole love it or hate it thing regarding Halloween.  Seems like you can both love and hate it.

If it were only about the decorating and eating all the Halloween candy yourself, it’d be the world’s most perfect holiday.  The damn kids ruin it. Don’t even get me started on how they can ruin a perfectly good Christmas.  Try making rum balls without the rum.  Go ahead.  TRY it.  Rum balls without the rum are just a bunch of balls.

Every year I like to add something new to my Halloween decorating repertoire.  Last year it was The Bone Wreath made out of genuine bones.  This year it happens to be something kids would like, which is just a fluke, and not based on my desire to make children happy at Halloween.  If that were my desire I’d hand out full sized chocolate bars like my sister does.

Today we’re (that’s you and me I’m talking about) going to make a HUGE glow in the dark skull portrait on a wall.

All you need is a tube of glow in the dark makeup which you can find just about anywhere this time of year.  I got this tube for about $1 at either Walmart or Dollarama last year. I can’t remember.  You can see it in my left hand in the picture below.




To do your skull portrait there’s really only one thing you have to keep in mind.  Placement.  The glow in the dark makeup “charges” under light. So you have to do your picture on a wall that gets direct light for most of the day. Either from natural sunlight, or even better, from a nearby lightbulb.   It also needs to be in a place that’s going to be very dark during  the night so you can see it when it glows.

I drew my skull on the wall freehand with  a small artist’s paintbrush.  It’s fairly hard to see where you’ve put the paint because it’s basically clear, so feel free to do a really light pencil outline first on the wall.

(note:  Don’t do this on really dirty walls because when you go to wash the glow in the dark paint or pencil marks off you’ll have a big clean spot where the drawing was and you’ll be forced to either live with it, or wash your entire wall/s)




I chose to do the skull portrait at the bottom of  my staircase because there’s a pendant light right there to charge the glow in the dark paint and the area is really dark in the middle of the night (which is when I wanted the skull to show).  If you strain you can barely, barely see the outline of the skull in the photo above. That’s what it’s like during the day.  You can’t see it unless someone really points it out to you.

But at night, when the staircase is dark …




… it shows right up.

This Halloween craft WORKED OUT GREAT.

These are real pictures of my real staircase with the real glow in the dark paint.  And  yes. Those are my real stairs.  I’m either going to paint them or install a runner.  I’m thinking about it.  I’ve been thinking about it for 5 years now. Stop rushing me.




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This is the image I used as reference for my skull.  I originally did a crow but it didn’t look like a crow for some reason.  It looked more like an elbow with a beak.  So I  washed it off and started over.

Which brings me to my next point.  The makeup washes off the wall no problem.  I just used a damp cloth to get rid of it, so don’t worry about that. HOWEVER, test your walls first just to make sure.  That’s me covering my ass by the way.

You can do this project from beginning to end in about 15 minutes.  That’s less time than it takes to eat a $18.99 box of assorted mini chocolate bars.

And just slightly more time than it takes to run out and buy another box.



  1. Tess says:

    We had a human skull, too, when I was a kid. My uncle acquired it during his studies in medical school. Fast forward about 50 years, when my sister tried to get rid of it, she discovered it’s illegal to possess one. Oops. What do you do now?? It might be different in Canada…

  2. Cyd says:

    Karen, you buried the lead! When you were a kid, WHERE did you get a human skull? Asking for a friend.

  3. Mommiedawn says:

    Wow…Hate the kids? Hate opening up the door for the ‘stupid kids that eat all your canyd’? Gee….I kind of love that part of Halloween. Sorry. Couldn’t read the rest of the article because I can’t get past calling kids stupid.

    • Karen says:

      Phew. That was a close call. Had you read any further your head may have actually exploded. Sorry to disappoint you by not being incipient, but there are plenty of other blogs out there that should fit that bill for you. ~ karen

  4. Erin says:

    We’ve lived in the sticks for the last eight years so no trick-or-treaters for us. I did discover that a number of people around here leave entire bowls of candy out on their porch for you to help yourself from while they drive their kids into town. Mind blowing!

  5. Julie says:

    that’s pretty cool….since you only use basically a dab on the kids you have a whole tube left over! maybe i’ll put a glow in the dark to-do list above my husband’s side of the bed!

  6. Carol Hogan says:

    Mummified cats and rats available at World Market. Just there yesterday. Rats already on clearance. I wanted a cat, but was too cheap. I may have to go back.

  7. Pam'a says:

    We of course did Halloween when my son was “that age.” Then, the damned newpaper started publishing an annual list of the Best Neighborhoods to Trick or Treat In.” Guess where we live? Yup. They descend in hoards– many of them far too large, uncostumed, and carrying plastic WalMart bags. So nowadays, we dress up like an abandoned house every year. Shades drawn, porch light off… And more candy for me! Heh.

  8. Mindy says:

    This is pretty cool. I’ll have to look for the makeup. I bought a craft size bottle of glow in the dark paint over the weekend. Then I found a package of table tennis balls at the Dollar store. I gave them two coats of paint today, then colored a black circle in the middle with a Sharpie. They’re stuck in a columnar cypress, in pairs, in the front yard. I can’t wait for it to get dark to see how my creepy little eyes turned out. :)

  9. Amber says:

    Okay freaky bone-wreath lady, check out
    All new Halloween ideas, and she’s in Ontario. You’ll love it. The niece may not…

  10. Linda Blacklock says:

    Hi Karen
    Could you please change my email address to I don’t want to not get your blog. I just had a great laugh at one of your old blogs where you showed a video for Leslie on how to open a bag that is closed with string. Too funny!!!!!! Thanks Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda. I’ve reregistered your email address but you’ll have to reply to the confirmation email that should be in your inbox right now. :) ~ karen!

  11. jainegayer says:

    Hate the kids too! But LOVE the candy!!

  12. Shauna says:

    LOVE IT!!!! I have glow in the dark make-up for my face this Halloween, so now I might need to get some more because I have massive amounts of decor that needs to be glowing!

  13. God… Halloween, the holiday, not the kids. When my kids were in elementary school I volunteered to create the haunted house in a portable for their fall festival. I have friends in the morgue business, so I had some vintage coffins and horrible monsters that would sit up and scream…it was so great that we were disappointed if a kid ran out the back and wasn’t crying! We would yell back in “too many happys” and the volunteers worked their asses off even more to make them cry! This was the last year they had the festival and my kids wouldn’t even go in because they knew how good I was at creating the “scary”. Also had several letters to the principal that it wasn’t appropriate for the younger children. Man….that was a great Halloween!

  14. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Do you still have the creepy baby?? I hate the creepy baby..hate..her..

  15. SarahP says:

    I share your love of Halloween. I can’t wait to set up my graveyard, flying bats and spider webs.
    I’m going to try the glow in the dark makeup for handprints on my graves or footprints up my front path.

  16. biplob says:

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  17. martina says:

    You left out a vital detail: your sister’s address please?

  18. JeannieB says:

    Halloween gives me the creeps too.
    Some years ago, after the little kids were all done with their trick or treating, i was alone in the house. It was after 9 p.m. There was a knock on the door and I opened it to find ,standing on the lower step of the porch, someone ( an adult male) dressed as a witch with a frightening rubber mask on, and carrying an open handbag.
    I didn’t know who it was and never did find out. I just wanted them gone. The street was deserted and the witch had “her” purse wide open. I was taken aback but, jokingly said, ” aren’t you a bit old for going door to door?” and proceeded to step forward to drop some candy into the handbag . In one quick move, the “witch” grabbed my wrist tightly.and wouldn’t let go. No words were said, but I was quite terrified as I wriggled loose, stepped back and closed the door. I’ll never forget that feeling.
    And that’s why I feel nervous now at Halloween!
    But, I have been thinking about painting some rocks in the driveway with Glow in the Dark paint.

  19. Natika says:

    One night a few weeks after moving into my university dorm, I woke up at 3am with dark-adjusted eyes and realized someone had once drawn pentagrams on the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark something-or-other. Freaky indeed.

  20. Magdalena says:

    Great idea! Love it! Keep up the great work! And BTW! …

    LMAO!!! ; )

    Little creeps takin’ ALL MY candies!

  21. Love it. Off to get some paint for the garage door now!

  22. Kari says:

    I LOVE this idea!

  23. Feral Turtle says:

    Very cool! Great idea.

  24. LazySusan says:

    Do you have another set of stairs? Is your bedroom upstairs? I’m just wondering how in the heck you’d get furniture up or down those stairs! I like Halloween, but I’m pretty easily spooked, and my memory is leaving me, so if I decorated the inside of the house, I’d terrify myself, most especially if I lived alone. I’ve always managed to live somewhere there were few, if any, Trick or Treaters, so have lucked out in that regard. Love the idea of the makeup. I wonder if it would work on our picture window? We have heavily-lined curtains on that window, and it gets plenty of sun during the day. Draw something on the inside, close the drapes, spook the neighbors. Off to the dollar store tomorrow! Oh, and we’re getting a SECOND dollar store – different name, much larger, and less than 2 miles from our house! Can’t wait for that grand opening!

    • gabrielle says:

      You could tape a photocopy of whatever image on the other side of the glass and use it as a template for your drawing (unless you are good with winging it!). Also, places like Staples or architectural services, etc. often have services where they can blow up a digital image extra large using banner paper, etc. and in my experience, costs next to nothing.

  25. SuzyMcQ says:

    Hmmm. I’m thinking the day glow makeup on the mummified cat….it could work.

  26. marilyn says:

    i hate halloween

  27. Susan says:

    Dang..spell check, my neighbor woman dressed as a witch…

  28. Su says:

    I like it! There was a teacher in our neighborhood growing up who in real life was the sweetest lady but come Halloween dressed up as a witch, decorate her huge wrap around porch and scared the bee-jeebies out of us trick or treating!
    BTW why are you making fun of my sparkly princess costume????

  29. Susan says:

    We had a woman in my neighborhood, dressed in a fantastic with costume, with a huge cast iron cauldron.never there any other time, but she put dry ice in there and would stand there stirring it with this big stick, and say, “Come on up here, you know where the candy is…” and shriek when we came closer, the you had to put your hand into the cauldron and take your candy. Frightening?….never missed her house.
    The fond memories. ..

  30. Tigersmom says:

    I have totally slacked on the Halloween decorating this year. My glitter skull and creepy cloth wreath broke last year when it fell from its hook and I haven’t had the chance (translate to “the inclination”) to fix it.

    Plus, I’m in a bit of a funk which tends to bring project-y things to a grinding halt. I think this may snap me out of it, though. There you go being all inspirational again.

    • gabrielle says:

      Argh! Funks can really spoil things! My prescription: Forgetaboutit. In fact Forgetabouteverything! I endorse doing anything you want for yourself – 20 things! And if you are not feeling better, do 20 more. I mean it! I am a professional defunkifier.

  31. Linda J Howes says:

    Creepy words written on the wall would do me in more. Things like “all work and no play make Jack (you could insert your own name here) a dull boy” (or girl) or how about “You’re next” make the “t” like a cross. Be careful not to slip on the stairs or you could be, next that is. I definitely think words could be creepier. And why take them down? Leave them up all year and imagine the fun when you have guests stay over. Bwahahaha!

  32. mimiindublin says:

    Thanks for pre-empting the stair questions.
    I’m really enjoying the comments on this one, even though I hate halloween.

  33. Sia says:

    If my mom saw those stairs, she’s think it was enough of a Halloween horror!!!
    I, on the other hand, would probably need a few more years to think a bout it.

  34. marli says:

    ok, this was great, it really was, but all that aside…

    You have a mummified CAT??? Is there a picture of said cat somewhere? I’d love to see this!! I think I might need a mummified…something. Not sure my actual living cat would be thrilled with me if I had a mummified one, but who knows? She’s not too fond of live ones, maybe this is the way to go.

    Seriously, the bone wreath last year was amazing, now this. My sister does the Halloween house and I’ve passed along some of your ideas, and I’ll pass this one along too. Thanks! :)

    But really…a mummified cat…I’m intrigued.

    Smiles, marli

    • Ru says:

      That’s exactly what I want to know about as well :-)

      Mummified cat sounds positively ghoulish and might come in handy for some interesting practical jokes…

      Can’t wait to try the glowy skull thing!

  35. TucsonPatty says:

    I LOVE Halloween best of all…I’m at my door, being an ugly scary witch on a chair, pretending that I am a stuffed object, my hands in the candy bowl and when the reach in to get some candy, I grab their hands and say Boo! They jump and scream and laugh and then they have to tell me a joke to get their candy and I love love love it and all the kids. Cemetary in the front yard, things hanging in the trees, body parts and heads strategically placed around in the bushes. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah, the candy is pretty awesome.

  36. Ev Wilcox says:

    My house is 208 years old, and it has it’s long time residences for sure! They seem non-violent, that is, except for years ago when we tried to get them (it?) to move on. Thought we were doing the right thing. Never tried that again! Halloween is my favorite time also. We deemed our family “The Addams Family years ago, because we enjoyed thunderstorms. Our kids grew up with that. Oh well, happy Halloween. Doing a pictorial?

  37. gabrielle says:

    Our stone farmhouse was built in 1872 and we used to really fix it up for halloween, something new every year. One of use had to lurk outside and communicate with the other if the kids were little and tone down the theatrics at the door so no kids freaked out. I wanted to collect larger baby dolls and have them back-lit behind sheer curtains, hanging from ropes in our 10-ft windows, and run the ceiling fans to make them sway, but my husband nixed it. Too bad, but in these PC days, probably for the best! When the demographics shifted and fewer kids came trick-or-treating, I used to wear a black balaclava and slip around the neighborhood on roller blades, moaning “wheeere are my my little childreeen?”

    Good times, good times!

  38. Rachel San Diego says:

    Awesome idea! Hoping this will work outside on a stucco wall? Oooh, maybe even on a garage door? Love the idea of a floating skull peering down on poor little unsuspecting kids. Karen, how can you not love the side of Halloween that let’s you scare small children? That seems right up your alley!

    • SeaDee says:

      That’s what I immediately thought – Garage Door! Mine faces due east and gets at least six hours of direct sun. Dang it! Another project.

  39. Laura Bee says:

    Mighty freaky. I have a little bit left from a body paint thing I did . . .

  40. Cred says:

    That’s excellent!

  41. Kat says:

    OK you are no longer in trouble, I was thinking you were not going to do a “Halloween Thing” this year but you did not disappoint me. This is awesome. I changed jobs this past year and now work at Value Village where we get to dress up for 2 months! I have not missed a day yet. I now have 27 freakish costumes that I make myself. My Captain Jack Sparrow is to die for I really look like Johnny Depp! I put together a Rasta man dude I can’t wait to wear, it is so hilarious. Anyway gotta go out tomorrow for some glow in the dark makeup. Thanks!

  42. Jamieson says:

    I don’t think you’re actually afraid of skulls at all. How’s about next time you draw a big glow-in-the-dark Brussels Sprout?

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