DIY / Holidays / Tutorials

Halloween Crafts: Packing Tape Ghost

From inside the house to out, here’s an easy but slightly more time consuming project to make an awesome and unique ghostly figure for your outdoor Halloween decorations.

Packing tape ghost

Materials: 3 rolls of clear packing tape (give or take depending on size)

You’ll need a dress form, mannequin, or other human-ish shape to form your ghost over. I used a dress form and a wig head.

To start, use decent lengths of packing tape, sticky side out, to wrap your form. Do it in pieces and cover the whole torso. It is okay if the tape sticks to itself in places – the wrinkles will be desirable in the final shape. Make the skirt from long vertical strips, folding the ends over to the length you want. It is okay if there are some gaps in the bottom, but you’ll want to keep these gaps when you do the next layer.

Once you have a complete sticky layer, go back over with the sticky side in (so sticky side to sticky side). Use longer pieces to wrap horizontally, pulling it tighter to your form, creating both better shape and better wrinkles. You’ll want to make sure you cover all sticky places.

If you are doing as I did and using a dress form and a wig head, do it in two parts and combine them after they are done to better match the necks.

When it’s all covered, cut a slit up the back until you can remove your tape construction from the form. Once it’s removed, take the slit back together.

All told, you’ll end up with about three layers of tape. If you have a tall tree, you can hang your ghost. Or, if like me you are putting her in an open yard, pound a piece of PVC pipe into where you want her standing. Use a straight connector for another piece so that the total height is greater than the height of your ghost, making her appear to float. I painted my pipes dark green to better hide in the yard. At night, the pipes will barely be seen.

For the final piece to complete your illusion, buy a small spotlight. I used a blue LED one from Spirit Halloween, but you can use one in whatever color you like. Shine the light up her skirt and it will catch all of the tape wrinkles you created. You now have a creepy, striking figure for your Halloween display.


111 thoughts on “Halloween Crafts: Packing Tape Ghost

  1. Pingback: My Blog

    • If you come up with an understructure that you like the shape of, you could totally add arms. It would be the same basic technique, and you’d have to cut it open down the back of the arms afterwards to remove it, then tape it back together.

  2. You can wrap the form with saran wrap first, then tape over that. It’ll save you the trouble of the inside out tape. Cut the tape off the form, retape over the seam, and you’re good to go.

  3. I had seen the chicken wire thing and wanted to try it but I am glad to have run across this.. It seems easier and more affordable

    • I was having a hard time getting the skirt to be full and strong so I flipped a tomato cage upside down and used it as a base! It worked great and I can’t see it at all under the tape!

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  8. You could probably cover the outside (after you have the sticky side facing out) in white tissue paper – might save you a few rolls of tape! This is an excellent idea. I’m gonna see if my friend will let me tape her since I don’t have a mannequin haha! Maybe I will do one of my stuffed doggies as well for a ghost pet! Thanks for the wonderful post!

  9. I Just love this idea! I’m going to do this today with the kids, we will make a cat, and if it works we will try and do the lady ghost. So cool!

  10. I bribed my teenage daughter into being my ‘dress form’! She trusted me but I could tell she thought mom had finally cracked! It worked out GREAT! (teehee – while I had her good and taped, before I cut her out, “So…. about that English grade…!”

  11. I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail about how to display the ghost free standing with the PVC pipe? Like how long of a pipe do you need and how to attach the ghost to the pipe. We already made the ghost and it came out really great. Thank you so much!

  12. Awesome effect! I may try to incorporate this into my Flying Crank Ghost- maybe put the muslin cloth over it to see if the ghostly shiny blue glow still comes through. I have also been thinking about making a life size Peppers Ghost display and this may work well for that as well. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I am so doing this for a Halloween party at my apartment complex. Hope the elderly residents don’t have any health issues. Love the idea.

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  16. I used to work for Macy’s in the Visual (Display) Dept. so I thought I had seen it all. This was so easy. I used an old mannequin that I had bought when another store closed and it worked perfectly. I’d like to hear anyone else’s ideas for lighting and standing. I’m thinking about using the small LED ‘Fairy Lights” because they are battery operated and I have enough things the require electricity.

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    • I’ve used this original one for 2 Halloweens now and have not had any issues with sagging. If you do, you might fill in with clear plastic or cellophane in those areas. It would still diffuse the light.

      • Aaaaaa…. thank you Cynthia. I was thinking of using a milk jug inside too….if I can get it to look like the head. cj

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  23. This looks amazing! and I love that it requires little or no special or out of the ordinary materials. Thank you for sharing this awsome, fairly easy to do craft!

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  25. Great idea! I am thinking about doing this, but using a toy stuffed animal for the form, probably a cat. I might use a LED strobe light, but have not decided yet how to hide the light source. The plan is to set the cat inside so it is visible from the street through the sliding glass door.

  26. other than some of these people making rude ass comments I think u did an awesome job and am looking forward to trying this myself.

  27. I haven’t done a form like that yet, but so far I have done one son’s leg, one son’s hand, and one daughter’s baby doll!
    This is addicting! 😀

  28. This looks fabulous! I’m making one tomorrow. But I don’t know how to attach the pipe for the standing. (I’m not too handy!) Any details would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

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  30. Help! Cynthia, how do you create the floating look? What kind of connector did you mean?? I have the PVC pipe. Thanks!

    • In my ghost, there is a layer of the tape between the head and the body that rests on the pipe. Or, the top of the head can rest on the pipe, so long as the overall length is longer than your ghost. Paint the pipe to blend in with your yard, and at night you’ll barely see it. 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Cynthia! Does this layer of tape serve as the connector? Sorry for my ignorance. I’m new to the crafting game. Your packing tape ghost inspired me!

      • Glad to inspire! The connector is a small pipe connector, so the stand is in two pieces. That way you can get the leverage to anchor it into the ground. Start with a small piece of pipe and hammer it in. And a straight pipe connector, then another long piece of pipe and your ghost on top and you should be good to go!

  31. I made one of these this afternoon. The neighborhood we just moved into goes all-out for Halloween, so I can’t wait to get her set up in the yard! Thanks you so much for the wonderful project!!

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  36. I’d like to tape up my mother in law. She’s scary enough as she is but the benefits of keeping her under wraps (pun intended) is just to tempting! Sorry ladies….I was reading all your posts and that’s all I could think of until you all mentioned the slit open the back! Your ideas are adorable, my lack of sense of humor set aside.

  37. I live in Chicago and can not wait to try this, but has anyone figured a way to protect it from the elements? Here it can be nice one moment and next thing you know it’s raining or snowing….I would hate for it to be ruined after one bad weather day. Greatly appreciate any ideas as I too am new to this. Love love LOVE this idea! Thanks again and hope to find a way to protect it.

    • Hi Nancy! One of the great things about it is that packing tape is, well, plastic. The one in this post has now been used for 3 years, and while we don’t get October snow here, it’s been in a lot of weather. Aside from a little dirt that has stuck in the tape here or there (and doesn’t show at all when lit) it is in almost as good of condition as when I made it. I think your biggest concerns would be best way to anchor/hang it for where you want it, and it should be fine.

  38. Hi Cynthia,
    I’d like to feature this craft on a gardening/DIY blog, linking to your tutorial. Please contact me. Thanks.

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