Friday, October 22, 2021

IT'S SHOWTIME: Our Halloween 2021 Theme Reveal!

John and I are waiting another year to bring back Ghostbusters for Halloween, since the new movie won't be out 'til November, and we were really banking on it to help this year's kids recognize the theme. (Seriously, the amount of kids/teens who had no idea who Stay Puft was crushed my soul.)

So instead we decided on another 80s paranormal classic that absolutely none of the kids in our area will recognize: Beetlejuice.

I already had Beetlejuice on the brain thanks to Universal's new haunted house and all the new Beetlejuice merch at Spirit: Halloween, but what really sealed the deal was this photo:

HEART EYES. This gorgeous hand-painted Sandworm is/was in Cleveland, as featured in this 2016 news article. I fell in love with the arch especially, but the idea of storing something so large - even flat - was a deal breaker.

So naturally, I wondered if we could do what we did with Stay Puft, and make the worm arch inflatable.

"But, Jen," you're probably thinking, "they already make inflatable sandworms! Look! You can buy this one and be done with it!

You are, of course, technically correct. However.

1) That one costs hundreds of dollars,
2) you can't walk under it, and
3) where's the fun in buying something when you can spend dozens of hours and every ounce of frustration trying to make it yourself?


We turned again to our trusty Dollar Tree tablecloths:

These things are tissue thin, but sew together like a champ. We used 4 to make our first arch: one per side tube, then two to form the arch itself.

For the bases we cut circles from pink foam insulation and taped the tablecloth tubes underneath them:

This gives the arch a flat base that we can later stake into the ground. (You could also use Dollar Tree foam board if you don't have pink foam.)

To inflate our arches I bought these USB fans from Amazon for $6 each. (The price keeps fluctuating between $6 and $10, I'm waiting for it to go back down to buy a few more as back-ups.) They're USB so you'll need a power adapter to plug them in, but happily Dollar Tree has those for $1. Score!

John cut circles into thick foam squares which we duct-taped to the side of each arch to form a little docking station. The foam is stretchy enough that we can pressure-fit the fan in place. We've popped the fans in and out of these little airlocks half a dozen times already, they hold and work great.

Arch #1 turned out.... a little big:


Yep. A little big.

Also the sides curved in too much, and my inner seams were unpleasantly wonky.

So we tried again. And again. And again.

Arch #3 (or was it 4?) was the perfect arch. A vision in architectural engineering. Trouble was, it looked TOO perfect:

"The wonkiness looked more wormy," I explained helpfully to a stone-faced John. (He's the math wiz, so he handled the pattern making.) "Can you make it arch OUT?"

And he did!

Yasssss. Put two of these together and we can open ourselves a McDonald's.

Oh right, at some point in all this we decided to start painting:

Now, I'm going to stop you right here: painting a plastic tablecloth is a terrible idea. It's not at all durable. It barely sticks. It peels right off. DON'T PAINT PLASTIC TABLE CLOTHS. Don't do it! Ok? Got that?

::looks around::

 Sure looks cool, though, right?

Yard Test #1:

Our neighbors enjoyed a complete episode of Benny Hill watching us try to keep all 4 inflatables upright on a breezy day. It was pandemonium, y'all, and to top it off, they didn't look wormy enough. We kept fiddling with the placement, but nothing looked right, and after an hour of sweating and swatting at mosquitoes, we packed it in to regroup.

I bet you've noticed our Sandworm is missing something, right? Besides the stripes?

Rest assured: there IS a head. Not only that, the head is a candy slide, because the thought of a Sandworm spitting out chocolate bars makes me happy.

But how do you make an inflatable candy slide?

Well, very carefully. Also helps immensely to have a John. My John, I mean. I'm not advocating a career change here. That is... uh...


John pulled his usual stunt of building something lightning fast before I could take process photos, so suddenly we had this:

The mouth interior is made of craft foam, because we wanted something stiff that wouldn't pillow out... the way it's still doing here, hrrrm.

So next John hot-glued a stiff wire around the mouth edges, and that did the trick!

We're also working out the mechanics of the candy slide here. And by "mechanics" I mean we cut some holes and jammed a PVC pipe through 'em.

::jazz hands::

 John made a stand from some 2X4s and pipe strapping to support the tube:

And that's how the head looks deflated, if you were curious.

The second mouth is made entirely of craft foam:

So our worm head is really an inflatable/foam hybrid.

Now brace yourselves, because this is where something completely unexpected happens:
our sandworm starts to get - unintentionally! - rather adorable:


My bad.

OH COME ON. Could you... BE any cuter?

(I'm testing out the head fin there to cover the candy tube.)

I promise we didn't set out to make a pre-school version of the Beetlejuice sandworm, but here we are. We debated changing the eyes to make them look, I dunno, more evil? But then we decided to embrace the cute, since we like keeping our decor kid-friendly anyway.

 John re-did the wooden stand to give the worm a better angle, which we like much better:

She still needs her second set of teeth, a curly tongue, and the fin re-installed, then we'll be painting the wooden stand black. (I also plan to zip-tie a plastic basket to the stand to hold the candy.)

As for the arches, painting those blasted stripes took forEVER, but it also turned our house into an inflatable obstacle course, which was kinda fun:

Another typical Friday night at the Yates' place.

We tested all the kinds of paints: spray paint, craft paint, and house paint, and found a good quality latex house paint sticks best to the tablecloths. But let's be clear: even that doesn't stick. These things peel every time they wrinkle, so we're forced to store them hanging upright in the garage and pray they don't stick to each other in the heat:

I expect we'll be doing a lot of paint touch-ups come Halloween day.

Of course the "correct" method would be to sew black and white tablecloths together to form the stripes, but figuring out that much patterning would have been a huge pain. Besides, I like my wonky stripes; they add to the kookiness.

And, most importantly, as I keep reminding myself over and over, these only have to last for one night. Come November 1st our lovely arch nemeses (see what I did there?) are going in the garbage, so I'm not going to stress too much if the paint peels or they look a bit off.

And finally, here comes Yard Test #2, which I'm happy to report was a resounding success:


That kinda looks like a sandworm, right? It helped when we placed them closer together. Then we added a support string across the tops of all the aches that's anchored to the roof, so they won't blow over. We left them up for an hour on a gusty afternoon, and though they do wiggle about a bit - which looks pretty fun, actually - they stayed up!

Process shot while we were attaching the support string:

We tied S hooks to the end of each string, which hook into a duct tape flap on the top of each arch. That way the strings are removable.

On Halloween night we'll have the whole wormy pathway lit with green lights and fog.

Now that the main attraction is done, John and I've turned to making more Beetlejuicy extras for the yard. We'll probably keep making things 'til we run out of time, so if you have suggestions, tell me in the comments! I won't tell you what we've already picked, since I'm curious how much we think alike, ha. Oh, and any guesses/suggestions for our costumes? (We haven't started them yet, but we have a funny idea for a couples' costume. Really hope it turns out.)

Stay tuned!


P.S. If you missed it, be sure to check out our Ghostbusters Halloween from 2019, it was so much fun! I can't wait to bring back Stay Puft next year, and maybe add things from the new movie. 


  1. It's the tail that does it for me...I so want to be your neighbor!

  2. That's one of the wormiest worms I've ever seen! :D

  3. I was super impressed and then you made the mouth spit candy and it's officially transcended amazing!

  4. You cannot be doing this! Amazing!

  5. Ok, Jen and John, I have this idea. You know that radio show "The Splendid Table" where the host gets a caller to name some things in their cupboard that they don't know what to do with and the host comes up with a recipe to use those things. You should do that with craft items. I have a bunch of craft stuff that I don't know what to do with. I love your ideas and I feel like someone could throw out things like - plastic pumpkins, tulle, googly eyes, and floral wire and you could come up with a cool idea to make something wonderful. I'd totally listen to that podcast!

    1. I second this! I would totally listen to an weekly hour of just you and John brainstorming random silly crafts

    2. I would love that kind of challenge! At least, I think I would. Until I got stumped and frustrated and lit all the random things on fire. :p

    3. Yes! Yes!

      And film the bonfire. We've all bern there.

    4. Jen -- Sometimes the only solution is a bonfire!! Nothing wrong with that!! I'd totally listen to the podcast or watch the youtube channel!

  6. could you just glue the tablecloths into stripes instead of having to pattern it?

    1. You mean glue the stripes onto the existing arch? We did consider that, but don't know of any glue that would hold, especially smoothly. I think we'd have to sew little tubes and slip them OVER the arch, then trust the air pressure to hold them in place. Which would be... fiddly.

  7. Black Gorilla tape for the stripes?

    1. Ohhh, I like that idea! Dangit, I should have posted this a week ago. :P

    2. I was thinking tape or taping on pieces of black plastic (garbage bags or tablecloths).

  8. Wow! I have no idea how you come up with all these ideas! Everyone must love y'all on Halloween. <3

    1. We're still relatively new to the Halloween game; 2019 was the first year we went all out making the giant Stay Puft. That hooked us, though!

  9. I'm going to take the easy guesses and say Adam and Barbara? Beetlejuice and Lydia? Lydia's parents (whose names I can't remember, but were wonderfully played by Geoffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara)?

  10. This is amazing. Though for some reason I really really want to make an inflatable loch mess monster now.

    1. Och aye, Ah think that is a braw idea 'n' ye shuid absolutely dae it, ye wee genius!

  11. Clearly you just need to wear the sheets with the eye holes. Despite what Lydia says...

    "If you are real ghosts, you guys better get another routine because those sheets, they don't work."

    1. This would be sooooooo Perfect!!! Old School, Easy and on theme!! (Add a little yellow sand too!)

  12. Sooo, just blue-skying here, but some of the spooks would be rad in a bunch of lawn chairs, (Florida!) lined up by the candy shute with a sign: Now serving 678,345 x 10 to the 13th power.

    Also, something to make you happy: This guy for your Halloween playlist: Such a pretty voice!

    1. And a 'now serving #1' sign on the end of the driveway! :-)

  13. Somewhere up in Party Heaven, my brother is looking down and saying "Dude. DUUUUDE! THAT is pretty fucking cool!" The one decorative detail that I don't remember having at our Beetlejuice party is Sandworms-- but we barely had enough room for the Dante's/Waiting room build and standing room for all the freaks (NO SMOKING IN THE WAITING ROOM!)

    I must say I'm surprised about its construction, as I had assumed it would be made with some sort of disposable, temporary (and collapsible) white plastic ducting-type-stuff... like that stuff hanging off the van at the end of "E.T.", but smaller around? And that there would be many Dollar Tree Hula Hoops as well? I'm not a Builder like you guys; I made the costumes for our parties (and some painting and decor) and the rest of the gang designed and built everything!

    May the Great Pumpkin find your patch to be The Most Sincere,

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  14. You guys are my favourite kind of crazy!

  15. how about Lydia and Beetle's wedding outfits for costumes and don't forget the wedding arch and minister for back drops.

  16. The fireplace! Unless you can make some of Delia's sculptures

    1. Oh, & pretty patterned sheets for ghost costumes 😂

  17. Hi! When I think of the Sandworm scenes, I think of Barbara's character getting into trouble. So if you're looking for couple costume ideas from "Beetlejuice," I'd pick Adam and Barbara in either their daily outfits or wedding outfits. But if you're wanting to go more iconic and fun, I'd love to see you as Delia and Otho when they are walking around the house talking about what to remodel. Gotta love Catherine O'Hara! With regards to more scene-setting pieces for the yard, the table during the Banana Boat song would be gorgeous and a fun build. And of course Lydia and Beetlejuice's wedding scene -- that would be fun to light with green flames. There are so many options -- it's difficult to narrow it down! Good luck this week -- I wish I lived in FL to go see your place!

  18. My costume guess is Beetlejuice and Lydia in their wedding outfits. I think a great scene to recreate would be the cemetery. That egg-cartony, cartoony green "grass" is so interesting!

  19. It would be really cool to have Beetlejuice's tombstone out front with red lights on the inside! You could make one out of cardboard/foam, cut out the epitaph, and tape/glue a red tablecloth on the inside and fill it with x-mas lights so it glows through the letters.

  20. I am so excited to see more pics of this extravaganza!!!!!

  21. The husbot and I have Maitland costumes that we wear in our Halloween rotation. It meets all my requirements of easy to make, ease of bathroom use, and ease of making warmer with insulated tights/long underwear for those very cold (northern Illinois) Halloweens.


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