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.
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 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.
- Craft Foam (any colour)
- Styrofoam Sheet (for the tombstone in this post I used 28×12 inch)
- Mod Podge
- Rustoleum Accents Stone Texture Spray
- Grey Primer Spray Paint
- Heavy Gauge Wire (Clothes Hangers work great!)
- Hot Glue
- Duct Tape
- Clear Spray Topcoat
- Craft Foam Letters (optional)
Bulk Batch Tip
Step 1: Layout your halloween tombstones
The first step is to figure out what the shape and layout of your Halloween 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 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!
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. 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!
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.
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
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.
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. 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!
step 4: glue your halloween tombstone 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.
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!
step 6: Painting your halloween tombstones
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 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.
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 6: Set up your Halloween tombstones
Now that the tombstone is all painted, all we need to do is set up a spooky 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 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 latern 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!
More halloween craft ideas:
If you’re looking for more Halloween crafting ideas, check out these posts: