The Unlucky Dip





Introduction: The Unlucky Dip

Trick or Treaters flock around our neighbourhood on Halloween night. Our own kids dress up and go out as well and generally I am left to hold the fort against the gruesome armies of hideous kids.

I put on some suitably spooky music, turn out the lights and prepare my own little trick, I dress up too.

When kids knock I say their treats are in the Unlucky Dip and lower it down for them to reach in...

As they rummage around, hoping for some tasty sweets, something unexpected and rubbery grabs at their hand!
The smart ones work out what is going on and smile, some shriek with shock, some of the older ones, who should not really be out, even swear, but they all get a treat in the end.

Step 1: The Unlucky Dip - Setting the Scene

The Unlucky Dip is a really simple project to make and to use. You can make it in a matter of minutes or you can take a little more time (potentially making it more interesting), if you are good at planning.

I deploy the Unlucky Dip every year at Halloween, to make Trick or Treating more fun (for me).

It can cost nothing to create, depending on what "prizes" you put in it (I use healthy treats, mainly because these tend to be most disappointing for teenagers and small children who just crave sugar).

I also like to dress up a little bit, turn the house lights off, play some creepy music and act a bit sinister, in order to supplement the effect.

The premise is simple, if you want a treat, you have to put your hand into the Unlucky Dip, which I am holding but you do not know what is in the box and my slightly odd look and quirky behaviour, may just lead you to suspect that the prize might be an unpleasant one.

Then, as you steal yourself and summon up enough courage to reach in and cautiously fish about in the box, something clammy brushes your fingers and grabs at your hand!

Step 2: The Unlucky Dip - Ingredients and Tools

1 x Cardboard Box

1 x Plastic Bag

1 x Rubber Glove

Sticky Tape


Scissors or Knife


Step 3: The Unlucky Dip - Basic Structure (Box and Bag)

Cut a hole in the cardboard box about 15 cm diameter (big enough to easily fit your arm through, up to the elbow, with clothing on.

The hole needs to be near the bottom of what will become the back. Don't make it too close to the bottom as to damage the structure of the box. If the box feels a bit weak afterwards, reinforce it with tape. It does not need to look neat at this stage, just functional, we will decorate it later.

Make a short sleeve out of the plastic bag and tape one end securely into the hole in the box. The sleeve needs to be roughly as long as from your elbow to your cuff.

Cover the open end of the box with the remains of the plastic bag and tape it down securely all around. Then cut a slit or cross into the covering bag. I reinforced the cover with tape, to make sure it did not split further.

Step 4: The Unlucky Dip - Decoration

I simply printed off some A4, Unlucky Dip signs, in a suitably spooky font but you could have fun with pens or paint or something even more creative.

I then taped the signs on and went over any exposed edges with gaffer tape, which also helped strengthen the shape of the box.

I chose a bag that was pumpkin coloured, "toxic" tape that I had lying around and black Gaffer, which added to the Halloween effect quite nicely.

Step 5: The Unlucky Dip - Treats, Padding and Practise

I used torn and screwed up cardboard (left over from my making) and newspaper for filling the box. You could equally use any packaging material like polystyrene beads or similar. You need to make sure that the filling does not just fall straight out of the sleeve and hole.

Next you need to add the treats and mix them up with the padding. I used a mixture of sweets fruit and nuts but my wife told me to remove the nuts in case of kids with allergies visiting.

Now you can practise holding and presenting the box in such a way as to conceal the fact that you have your gloved hand shoved down the hidden sleeve in the back!

It's a good idea to also rehearse a bland face or evil grin, something to match your costume and persona.

Step 6: The Unlucky Dip - Performance Time

Now, it is Halloween (or you could use this idea anytime really).

Get your costume on and get into character.

I dressed in a Victorian frock coat and short top hat, just because I happened to have one. Someone said I looked like Dracula, someone else said the Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and one teenage girl said I looked awesome, so I'll take that kind of compliment all day long.

When the kids cautiously poke the hands down into the box to search for the treats, they have all sunk to the bottom. As they dig deeper I rustle the paper to frighten them a bit, sometimes I grab their fingers (just quickly and then let them go).

They all get their treat in the end but first, they have to brave the Unlucky Dip.

I hope you like my instructable and, if you do, please vote for it on the Halloween contest.

Let me know if you make one yourself, improve on the design or think of some other interesting occasions where this idea could be utilised.



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