Introduction: Headless Horseman Decoration

About: Designer of things, Maker of weirdness and Baker of the macabre.

This Halloween as we all know, was a bit "different". However, hope and joy are still all around us. What better way to prove that, than by using the powers of nostalgia and creativity to bring smiles and wonder to children's faces. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad has a special place in my heart. I decided to recreate the Headless Horseman that brought me so much Halloween joy as a child. Not only was this piece relatively easy to create, it was also very affordable! I only spent 35 dollars on materials. This fun, spooky piece will grace our Halloween doorstep for years to come. Let's get started!


  • R-Tech Styrofoam insulation board

    2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. R-7.7 Rigid Foam Insulation

  • Box cutter
  • Black duct tape
  • 2 cans outdoor satin black spray paint
  • Red, pink, white and silver craft paint
  • Small paint brushes
  • Projector (DIY works great) box/magnifying glass/phone
  • 2 (4 ft) wooden stakes
  • 10 lb Blue Hawk dark wire (optional)
  • 1 yard purple fabric
  • Hot glue gun/ glue sticks
  • 1/3 yard red, orange and yellow shiny fabric
  • Hollow plastic Jack O Lantern
  • Flickering red light for Jack O Lantern
  • Cardboard
  • Dollar store fan
  • Yellow party streamer
  • Hot knife (if pumpkin is not an open top)

Step 1: Step 1 Project Your Image

If you own a projector, this step is very simple. If you don't, it can still be extremely easy. You'll just need to make a DIY projector. You can actually use this simple homemade one right here on !

Once you've made you projector, stand your foam board up against a wall in a dark room. Project your image onto the board, keeping in mind it may be backwards (which makes no difference in the end). Adjust your image to the size you want, then outline your image with a permanent marker. You may find that to make the image fit, you need to cut out certain pieces separately. For example, to make this image as large as it could be, I needed to cut out the Horse's leg separately. I will connect it with duct tape later.

Step 2: Step 2 Cut Out Your Horseman

Using a box cutter or Exacto knife, cut out the Horseman, and any pieces you may need to add. Don't try using scissors, Styrofoam is very messy, and scissors only make the problem worse. I also recommend doing this in a carpeted area, so that you can vacuum up later. Styrofoam is nearly impossible to sweep up!

Step 3: Step 3 Duct Tape Edges

Take time to duct tape the edges of your Horseman for 2 reasons.

  1. To ensure that the edges look finished and smooth
  2. To prevent spray paint from touching the Styrofoam. Certain spray paints contain a chemical that can actually melt Styrofoam, so making sure that the paint doesn't leak into the project is important.

Add any pieces you may have cut separately, then edge the entire piece.

Step 4: Step 4 Spray Paint

Be sure and choose a spray paint that is outdoor use with a satin finish. A shiny finish will reflect the sun too much, and a matte finish will get dirty.

I chose to use black, but you could use any color you like. I also chose to paint both sides, as the back and front of the piece will be visable where I'm placing it.

Spray and let dry twice.

I used 2 full cans.

Step 5: Step 5 Paint Details

I used simple craft paint to create the detail lines. You could try eyeballing this part, if you are more of an artist type.

If you want to get the lines exact, get out your trusty projector for a second time, and trace the lines in pencil first then paint.

Step 6: Step 6 Cape

That ominous purple cape is such a fun part of The Headless Horseman' look! This cape was super easy to create.

Using a full yard of shiny purple fabric, simply round the edges of the piece, then hot glue the cape in place on the back of your horseman. You can also add this fabric to the front collar for dimension.

Step 7: Step 7 Jack 'O Lantern Flames

If your plastic pumpkin does not have an open top, you will first need to open it using a hot knife. You can smooth the edges with a box-cutter.

Using scraps of red, orange and yellow silky material, cover a flame shaped piece of cardboard with hot glue. Adhere the flame to the back of the Jack 'O Lantern opening.

Step 8: Step 8 Jack 'O Lantern Fan

To create the moving flame element, insert a dollar store fan into the middle of the Jack O Lantern with hot glue. If the fan is not a flame color (red, orange, yellow) then paint the fan, so it doesn't show through the face. Attach a thin strip of cardboard across the top of the opening with hot glue. Attach 2-3 6 inch strips of yellow party streamer to the cardboard strip. Turn on the fan, and make sure the flames move the way you want them to. If they don't, adjust the the flame piece until you get the desired effect. This part was a bit tedious, but the end result was so worth it!

  • Be aware that weather may effect the Jack O Lantern, so think about rain, when placing your Horseman.

Step 9: Step 9 Jack O Lantern Light/placement

I purchased a red, moving LED flame light for around 3 dollars. I then inserted it into the Jack O lantern for added effect, but any light will work wonderfully.

Attach the Lantern to the hand of your horseman with duct tape. The lantern is very lightweight, and stands alone once placed. For added measure you can use wire to stabilize the lantern, if you've chosen to place it in front of a tree, or post of some kind. For example, mine is placed in front of a tree. I attached the lantern to one of the branches for added security, but it does stand alone without it.

Step 10: Step 10 Stabalize

To make my horseman stand alone, I added 2 long (4 foot) wooden stakes to the bottom of the piece. The stakes are attached with black duct tape.The stakes go down through the bushes, and 6 inches into the ground. I dug the small stake holes with a gardening spade. Depending on where you place your horseman, you can add wire to help stabilize him in the wind. For example I placed my Horseman in front of a tree, and added wire around the waist of your horseman that attached to the tree. But the stakes alone work perfectly.

Step 11: Step 11 Enjoy

My kids absolutely loved this! They played in the yard every day of October, pretending they were running from the Headless Horseman! We also had so many people come by and take photos with the Horseman, saying they loved this movie growing up. It truly made our Halloween magical. Thank you for reading! Keep up the making makers!

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