This year, we’re giving you gnome trunk or treat ideas. Why gnomes? Well, for mother’s day I was gifted a 5 foot tall garden gnome…and I was delighted. I suppose I wanted a way to show him off, and what better way than to build a gnome garden to stand in for all the trunk or treaters??
Trunk or treat is a competitive sport at my house. You can check out my other trunk or treat ideas here. I really am thankful that the whole family doesn’t mind getting into the fun. My brother and sister-in-law were also supposed to be a part of our trunk or treat fun this year, but the timing didn’t end up working out. Boo. I’m going to post up their cute little picture anyway because they were adorable. They did visit Halloween weekend, and we went axe throwing at Stumpy’s Hatchet House. It was hysterical.
As with every Trunk or Treat display, it’s important that the people giving out the costumes are dressed for the Trunk or Treat theme. It was gnome costumes for everyone–the boy’s costumes we were able to DIY! I’ll share how and where we sourced the female gnome costumes later in the post.
The Gnome Trunk or Treat Garden
My idea was to build what essentially turned out to be a “man-eating” garden for trunk or treat. You can straight up buy parts of the garden, but there was some elbow grease involved in the large scale items.
I’ve got a great video of the whole garden on my Instagram account, if you click here, you can check it out.
Man Eating Audrey Plant
It was always an intention to make an “Audrey II”-type plant, but in my mind I had imagined a really large scale Audrey. Then I ran across this post from Epbot and changed my mind. She showed how to make a man eating plant out of a dollar store football!
I took the advice of using the football and then did the rest on my own. Definitely use EVA foam for the lips–the pool noodles are too porous to be easily painted and are very hard to sculpt. EVA foam is easily found, think yoga mat or foam exercise squares. I cut my footballs in half and glued their mouths into an open positions. Since so many small children visit us, I wanted to make them a little more cartoon-ish than scary, so I used white craft foam to make the teeth.
To paint them, I used some of my Plaid FX paint specially made for EVA foam. The footballs were coated in plastic, so I used a base coat of green acrylic paint on all of them. Given more time, I might have used caulk, etc. to make my Audrey plants much more finished looking, but in reality these plants were going to be seen at night and no one was going to be criticizing a few wayward seams on these short-term decorations.
How did I anchor the Audrey plant for the gnome garden? I used my handy 5-gallon buckets I sank PVC pipe into several years ago. These bucket have been used so much, I highly recommend you have a set if you do a lot of parties or crazy decorating.
Love these ferocious flowers that started out as footballs!
The Gnome Arbor
This piece was mostly purchased and went together really quickly! Here’s what Amazon Prime provided to me:
- Garden Arbor
- Ivy vines
- Rose vines
- Fairy lights
- Crepe flowers
- Eyeball ping pong balls
I supplemented the flowers on the arbor with a few bunches I picked up at the dollar store. They made it look a little more full.
In the center of the roses on the flower vine and yellow crepe flowers, I added a few eyeballs so you’d feel like someone was always watching in the garden.
The “Wilkommen” sign I made with my Cricut! Here is the link to the Design Space file if you would like to make your own. I used an old wooden sign I found at the thrift store, painted it and applied the stick-on vinyl. I usually like to iron-on my vinyl to wooden signs, but since this was a short-term decoration, I chose the less expensive stick-on vinyl.
Man Eating Flower
Since there was no larger than life Audrey, I made a larger than life lily and gave it some teeth! Again, trying for humorous in our garden and not downright scary.
The flower was constructed from those lock together foam mats you use for under exercise equipment or padding baby playrooms. Mine were scavenged from a neighbor who was getting rid of theirs.
The flower itself was made the same way a paper flower is–same shape petals, just much, much larger! More hot glue gun burns were suffered in its construction, though, haha.
I painted the exercise foam with base coat of white latex paint (I had some leftover from my kitchen renovation) and then used yellows and reds to finish up. A giant set of lips was cut from craft foam and glued into the center of the flower.
Again, I used a concrete bucket to anchor the plant, and painted the “stem” green.
Toilet Plunger Flowers
If I had a favorite thing making this set, it was my plunger flowers. If you asked my son, these flowers were his least favorite, and he complained daily about how freaky they were.
I took a trip to the dollar store to see what I could use to make some big flowers to put on the ground. I found three things: plastic buckets, toilet plungers, and some crazy Halloween beak masks. I was pretty shocked no one even gave me a side eye as I walked out of the store with SIX TOILET PLUNGERS over my shoulder. I mean, if I saw that, I’d think there was a really good story there!
Anyway, I used some E6000 to glue those crazy plungers to the bottoms of the red buckets, and painted the wood dowel green.
For the flowers themselves, they were all cut out on my Cricut machine. I enlarged the flowers from my paper flower hoop wreath project here for these critters. Same process to make them…just bigger.
Finishing them up, I glued the beak masks to the center of the flowers after I attached them to the plunger dowels. I did use eyeballs on two of my freaky flowers for a bit of variety.
The dollar store really is a treasure trove for crafty supplies. I found some pumpkins that said “thankful” on them that were the perfect shape. A coat of paint later, and I provided my own uplifting quotes.
Like this one. It says “Get off my lawn” in German.
This one is offensive in gaelic. The German, well, that’s the tag line from an old German beer ad. These signs were really just here to amuse *us*, but thought I’d share.
DIY Gnome Costumes
The boy costumes were all a total DIY project. I visited the local Goodwill and went hunting for gingham shirts and suspenders. There was total success with the gingham shirts, but only one suspender find. I bought the other two sets on Amazon.
My brother and husband wore brown pants with their gingham…I might have found a pair of pants for my brother an elderly man probably owned once upon a time that my brother loved entirely too much. For my son, I found a bright red pair of shorts in the womens section that were perfect; it didn’t matter that they didn’t fit, the suspenders held them up.
The gnome beard was an Amazon purchase, but the hats were DIY for all our gnomes. I enlarged a party hat pattern and used stiff felt and hot glue to make them.
The girl costumes I bought. Most female garden gnomes look like they’re wearing traditional German dirndls, so went on the hunt for a few affordable costumes that looked like they were well made. I did my purchasing in July, so I think I was able to find a better price than if I had waited…I think they were each around $25 per costume. Amazon, as always, is heaven sent when it comes to this stuff! Our dirndls were all made from cotton with the undershirts and aprons as separate pieces. They were all topped off with the same hats as the men gnomes were wearing.
The Candy Bucket
Everything–I mean EVERYTHING–has to be put in theme for these trunk or treats! My gnome trunk or treat was no different. I found a really strange planter at Home Goods and used it to give out candy from. Was I the only one that noticed it? Maybe, but it was an awesome detail.
Light Up Your Trunk or Treat
The trunk or treat we usually attend is held mostly in the dark. I use that as an opportunity to make my trunk or treat even cooler! LED lights have come such a long way, you can find strings of 100 lights that will run on batteries. I stretched two sets of 100 white lights all over the arbor, and found a pack of 10 strings of green lights that I wrapped over each flower (and plant). For the home trunk or treat display on Halloween, I added a string of cafe lights to create even more atmosphere.
All in all, our gnome trunk or treat ideas were a HUGE hit with everyone that came by to trick or treat. It’s a different enough theme from those you always see at trunk or treat events, and there are so many possibilities for making crowd-pleasing details!