Halloween Tombstones: Easy DIY Decorations

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Funny Halloween tombstones are a classic lawn decoration, whether you just want to add a bit of spookiness for trick-or-treaters, or you’ve got a full-on haunted house theme. These Halloween gravestones are easy to make and and have a 3D look that makes them appear like they were really carved out of stone. It’s time to learn how to make tombstones for Halloween!


Halloween tombstones on display in the dark.

Classic Halloween Lawn Decorations

These Halloween tombstones are made with inexpensive craft store materials, so you can make a full Halloween graveyard without breaking the bank on materials. I also found a few alternative materials you can use to save even more money if you’re planning on making a bunch of gravestones.

With a few homemade tombstones, some cobwebs, and maybe a giant spider or two, your Halloween lawn decorations will be the envy of the neighbourhood!

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Materials and Tools for Halloween tombstones

There are a few options for tools and materials for these Halloween tombstones. I’ll go into that in a bit more detail later, so be sure to keep reading and see which method is going to work best for you.

mATERIALS

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Bulk Batch Tip

Sheets of styrofoam can be quite expensive at the craft store. It’s not bad if you’re planning on just making one or two Halloween graves, but if you want a whole graveyard it can add up. Your local hardware store should have large 4ft by 8ft sheets of insulation styrofoam, at about the same price as a small piece at the craft shop. Even if you’ve only got a small car you can easily cut the sheet up with a utility knife in the parking lot! For this post I bought a couple sheets at the craft store, and scrounged the rest from a recent furniture shipment.


Step 1: Layout your DIY halloween tombstones

The first step is to figure out what the shape and layout of your DIY tombstone will be. Using a black marker, draw the general shape of the top of the stone on your styrofoam sheet. You can go with a classic swoop, or just a semi-circle curve, whichever tombstone shapes you prefer. Then draw another line about an inch and a half from the sides and top of the tombstone to plan where your border will go. Your lettering will need to fit in between the borders.

Using the marker, plan out where your lettering and skull will go. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re just getting an idea where and what size your cutouts will be. You can see in the pictures and videos that I made a few mistakes and ended up moving the skull later. It’s all going to be painted over later!


Using a felt marker to draw the shape of the top of the Halloween tombstone on a block of styrofoam.

Step 2: Cutting stone with a utility knife

Now it’s time to cut the basic shape of the tombstone. Using your utility knife, cut along the top line of the tombstone shape. It’s easiest if you extend the blade all the way (make sure it’s sharp!) and use a sawing motion across the edge of the styrofoam. If your blade is sharp it will cut right through the little foam pills, so they won’t fall all over your floor!

Once you have the top shaped the way you like, you can start on cutting the border for the stone. You may be tempted to skip the border entirely, but I think it really makes the tombstone look like it was really carved out of stone, rather than just having letters stuck on. Trace the top edge of the Halloween tombstone onto a piece of craft foam, then draw a second line about 1 1/2 inches below it, making a 1 1/2 inch border that follows the top curve of the tombstone. Cut it out using a utility knife. Just like with the styrofoam, it’s important to have a sharp blade, or the craft foam will tear.

Cut straight 1 1/2 inch strips to make the border for the sides of the stone.



Step 3: Cutting out lettering and shapes

This step is where there are a few different options for how to make Halloween tombstones. If cutting really isn’t your thing, you can buy pre-cut foam letters and use them. If you’ve got a Cricut you can let the machine do all the work while you make a coffee!


freehand method

If you’ve got a steady hand and artistic talent, you can freehand draw the lettering for your Halloween tombstones and shapes, then cut them out with your sharp utility knife. Use steady pressure and smooth movements for best results. This method is best suited to one or two tombstones, because cutting all the letters can take some time. If you want to make more, I recommend simple gravestones with just “RIP” and a design.


The letters and shapes for a halloween tombstone cut out on a cutting mat.

stencil method

If you’re better at tracing than drawing, you can make stencils to transfer the lettering to your foam. You can download my pre-made designs at the bottom of this page, or create your own using your favourite image editing or word processing software. Then just print out your design and cut it out with a utility knife or scissors. Lay the cutouts on your craft foam and trace them out with a marker, then cut them out with your sharp utility knife. To save foam you can bunch all the lettering together. Once it’s cut out you’ll be able to spread them around as needed.

Bulk Batch Tip

Cutting out all the letters by hand can take a bit of time. If you are cutting by hand, I recommend using a simple design that just says “RIP” with a skull. Your wrist will thank me.


Premade lettering method

If you don’t want to cut out all the letters by hand, you can buy pre-cut foam letters and numbers at the craft or dollar store. Make sure you’ve got an idea what your Halloween gravestones will say before you buy the letters, so you can make sure you’ve got enough of each letter. This is definitely the easiest method, but it is a bit more expensive, and you can’t choose what font to use.

Cricut method

This is the best method if you want to make a large number of gravestones with lots of lettering or designs. You need a Cricut with a deep cut or knife blade. Either download my designs below, or create your own in design space using your favorite funny tombstone sayings.

Follow all of Cricut’s directions for cutting craft foam, load your material and let it work! Craft foam is a bit tough on blades, but it definitely does the job! My machine was able to do a full sheet in just one pass. If you’re looking for more Halloween SVG files, check out this post for some free designs!

Cricut Tip

By default the Cricut will want to make 2 passes on craft foam. I found that even with the recommended mat my material moved a bit, so the second pass was off. I cancelled the second pass and the letters came out with just a bit of picking.


step 4: glue your DIY halloween HEADstones together

Now that we have all our lettering and designs cut out, it’s time to glue them down. Lay out all the lettering and designs where you want them on the gravestone. You may decide that your original layout wasn’t quite right, so feel free to move things around now before you glue them down. Having the other letters already in place helps keep the letters all lined up as you glue them down.

Once you’ve got your design set in stone, flip over one letter at a time and apply hot glue to the back of the letter, then press it into place. Don’t apply the glue directly to the styrofoam, it’s too hot right as it comes out of the gun and will melt into the styrofoam. For more information on which glue to use on which project, check out our guide to craft glues.

Repeat the same process to glue down the 1 1/2 inch strips from step 2.


Using a hot glue gun to glue the letters for the Halloween gravestone to the styrofoam sheet.

step 5: protective coating

Styrofoam does not play well with spray paint, or any aerosol products for that matter. Before we can paint it we need to give it a protective coating with Mod Podge or white glue. Using a paintbrush, spread a generous coat of Mod Podge to the entire tombstone.

Make sure to get the tough to reach spots in and around the letters, and cover the top, sides, back and bottom of the tombstone. Once it has dried, give it another coat and let it dry, too. I found 2 coats of Mod Podge worked great, but if you are using plain white glue you may want to give it a third coat.


Do not skip step 5!

If you don’t give styrofoam a protective coat before spray painting it, it will literally melt! I tested a few different products, and Mod Podge was the best. Be sure to do 2 coats. Don’t try to use an aerosol waterproofing spray, either, it will also melt your project!


Applying Mod Podge to the Halloween tombstone with a brush.

step 6: Painting your DIY HEADSTONES FOR HALLOWEEN

Once the Mod Podge is dry, it’s time to paint! I tried two different types of stone-texture spray, and by far I liked Rustoleum’s Accents Stone Texture better than Krylon’s Natural Stone. It had more coverage per can, and had a much better colour and texture.

The stone texture spray is expensive, so I wanted to avoid using multiple coats, especially since I made more than one tombstone. So before you break out the fun spray, give the entire gravestone a coat of grey primer. Using smooth sweeping motions, spray the tombstone from about 8-12 inches away. You’ll notice in the video I skipped this step on my first tombstone, and I ended up regretting it later.


Spraying the Halloween tombstone with Stone Texture spray.

Once the primer coat is dry, give your tombstone a coat of the stone texture spray, again using smooth sweeping motions from about 8-12 inches away. Less is more with this product, so don’t keep going over the same area again and again. Once there are multicoloured flecks all over the tombstone, you’re done!

After the stone paint has dried completely, you may find that the raised lettering is a bit hard to see. To give the illusion of a bit of shadowing on our Halloween tombstones, take a black permanent marker and outline all the text, designs, and borders. Then go over it with another very light dusting of the stone spray.

Spray on just enough to make the lines get a bit fuzzy around the edges, but still show through the texture. This will make the letters really pop, especially since these Halloween tombstones will be viewed mostly in the dark.

To make sure my tombstones were safe from the weather, I also gave them a coat of clear spray as a topcoat.



STEP 7: Set up your DIY Halloween tombstones

Now that the tombstone is all painted, all we need to do is set up a whole Halloween graveyard on your lawn! Take a length of heavy gauge wire, or wire coat-hanger, and bend it into a U-shape, except with a flat bottom. Like a croquet wicket! In fact, if you have croquet wickets kicking around, you can use them!

Stick the pointy end into the ground, using a hammer or mallet if needed, until the wicket holds firm, and is sticking a few inches out of the ground. Now just use your trusty duct-tape (or gaffer’s tape) to tape it to the back of your finished tombstone!



Don’t worry about the look of the tape, it’s on the back, and won’t be visible in the dark. I tried other methods for sticking the wire to the styrofoam, and this method worked best without damaging the gravestone.

Once you have your Halloween tombstones all set up, don’t forget your props! I used an LED lantern from the dollar store, a cheap plastic zombie hand, and a shovel from my shed to complete the look. To add extra age and texture to your Halloween gravestones, you could also stick on some fake moss from the craft store!

Happy Halloween!


A full Halloween graveyard, with a zombie hand reaching out of the ground, and an old lantern casting a yellow light.


Editorial Note: This post was originally published on October 19, 2021, and was updated for clarity on Sept 4, 2023.

More halloween craft ideas:

Now that you know how to make a tombstone for Halloween, check out these posts for more crafty Halloween spirit:

2 Comments

  1. Awe sum idea for large thick tombstones–Look for old hot tub covers..they are nice thick heavy Styrofoam pieces! I can get 4-6 large tombstones out of each cover..I glue on wood letters and drill holes in the bottom of the tombstone and use rebar (12″) stuck inside them..paint with stone finish spray paint..

    1. Love this idea, my only add is to make sure that the foam isn’t chemically treated. But if it is just foam thats a great idea because it’s nice and thick and a big sheet you could probably pick up used for a not a lot of cash. Sorry for the late reply Darrel but your comment ended up in our spam folder and I just found it this morning. Our apologies!

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