Introduction: Trick-or-Treat Tree
Looking for a way to hand out candy to wee little ghouls and goblins without doing it in person? Create a Halloween candy trick-or-treat tree!
You could use a real tree or maybe a plastic prop tree bought from a seasonal Halloween store. We made ours from cardboard, spray foam, paint and creativity (my favorite building materials!)
This was a fun experiment for us for a contact free candy delivery option. Since we don't get too many trick-or-treaters we could offer full sized candy bars without going into debt and it saves us from having to hang a hundred bits of "fun-sized" candy.
While cardboard and spray foam is a good cheap and easy way to build a large prop, I did find that it didn't hold up perfectly in drizzly, wet weather. You'll notice that the cardboard branches droop more and more as the steps progress. I personally think it helped everything look extra spooky but it's something to keep in mind if you wanted something to stay outside longer than just Halloween night. On the plus side, cardboard and foam are incredibly lightweight.
A supply of large sheets of cardboard
Hot glue and glue gun
Box cutter/scissors/hobby knife
5-6 cans of spray foam (gap filler and big gap filler)
Spray paint for base coats
Acrylic paint for details
Step 1: Plan Out Your Tree
Don't be afraid to get in there and test the heights you want your tree limbs to be to make sure all those mini superheroes can successfully reach their treats.
Now translate those super accurate measurements to a large stretch of cardboard....and sketch out something vaguely tree looking.
Don't stress out about getting too detailed, this framework is going to get buried in spray foam. You can always add branches or modify things as you go; anything can be fixed with enough cardboard and hot glue!
Step 2: Cut, Glue, and Assemble
This step is pretty self-explanatory:
You'll need to create some support structure to hold the branches in place. This will also help create a guideline for how thick your tree is going to be. You'll want to add a lot more cardboard than we did if you want to prevent future sagging limbs.
I decided to only do half a tree to conserve foaming efforts knowing that only the front half was important for our needs. A fully formed and foamed tree might be sturdier, more weather-proof, and less droopy.
Step 3: Foam, Foam, Foam
I used large gap filler foam to lay down the base foam and create the depth I needed to cover the supports and round out the tree. This 7ft tree took about 4 cans of big gap filler. I only got a little more than halfway through filling the tree using the cans shown in the picture before I had to run to the hardware store again to grab more.
Again, no need to be a perfectionist on this step. As a matter of fact, this whole project can be done with a fair degree of sloppiness. It's a tree afterall, it will just look more organic. Nobody tells a tree it's not growing right!
I used the 1" gap filler to create a more detailed outer layer. If you lay the foam in lines following the vertical direction of the trunk and branches it'll create a great bark texture. If you spray it randomly it ends up looking like a tree made out of worms. I had a wormy tree until I figured out I needed to make bark lines....
This is a good time to make final adjustments, I ended up:
- Adding another tree branch
- Creating roots that'll fit our steps
- Digging out a hole in the trunk with added foam detail
Step 4: Paint, Paint, Paint
I painted the entire tree black with spray paint in order to create depth with the bark. I used semi-gloss and it ended up being shinier than I wanted. I recommend using flat paint, especially if you going to detail with acrylic paint as it's also very flat. I had planned on doing a brown coating over the black to look like a standard tree.... but the black looked so perfectly Halloweeny!
I wanted to create a fire and brimstone look so I took to my acrylic paints. If you are curious how I captured the look of a tree smoldering from the inside out then follow along:
- Lay down a white layer and make sure it's the whitest in the deepest nooks as that'll need to be the brightest. The white base allows the layered colors to really "glow: instead of disappearing into the black.
- Next layer is adding yellow in the center-most portions of the gaps you've chosen to ignite. Follow that with a bright red layer that'll overlap with the yellow to naturally create that orange transition.
- Finally, I hit the edges one last time with black again to deepen the look and blend out some of the sloppy red brush work.
Step 5: Lights, Cameras, Action!
For our final step, use the trusty hot glue gun to secure stealthy little black clothes pins to the tree branches and any other decorations you want to add. Hot glue holds well on both the foam and the cardboard, so go wild!
Need a little extra grip for your clip? Just add a glob of hot glue to one side of the clip, clamp it down on some parchment paper, and you have a nice grippy edge! I found that adding glue to both sides is a little too effective at being sticky.
When you set up your tree make sure you somehow secure it so an overzealous little Frankenstein doesn't accidentally pull the whole thing down onto themselves.
Finally, clip on the generous full- sized candy bars and wait for the brave souls to pluck a treat from your custom creepy Halloween candy tree!
Participated in the