I'm going to set my feelings about Halloween aside here (that would be opening a big can of worms!) and tell you that we had so much fun with this project for our church's Trunk or Treat party this week! I thought I'd give you a rundown of what we did and how we did it. It was really pretty easy and cheap since we had almost all the materials sitting around already.
My oldest son, Micah, and I are both suckers for Arthurian legend, so making a Camelot castle seemed like the right thing to do! Between the 2 of us we have read The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by R. L. Green, Idylls of the King, Bulfinch's Age of Chivalry, and the entire Pendragon Cycle* by Stephen R. Lawhead. Good stuff.
- 2 4x8 sheets of plywood
- 3 scrap pieces of plywood, 2 about 2x4ft each, 1 about 1x4ft.
- 5 cardboard boxes
- 4 cans spray paint: 2 light gray, 2 dark gray
- Curtain rod and curtains (from my house, haha!)
- 2 buckets of rocks
- zip ties
- 2 lengths of heavy chain (rope would also work)
- hay bale
- toy sword
- 2 small dowels
- construction paper
- decoupage glue
- black and red sharpie marker
- staple gun and staples
- 2 large screw-in hooks or brackets
- 4 small brackets
I realize that looks like a long list, but really I had everything I needed lying around the house, except the spray paint. The whole project only took a couple hours! To start, I had my husband cut a 4x8 sheet of plywood in half lengthwise. The kids cut 12 "blocks" out of cardboard from a template, about 4x6" each. We stapled 3 of these on top of 4 of the plywood pieces to look like a castle on top. I tried duct tape first, but that was no good! My husband pulled out the big guns (staple gun!) and that worked great. I may be hooked on that tool.
Then we stapled 3 boxes to the top of the 1x4 piece of wood, using the top flaps of the box to staple them down. This piece will sit on top of the back hatch to create a castle entrance look.
Next, Micah and I spray painted all the pieces. We did the 2 tall "towers" light gray, and the shorter towers and boxes darker gray. We did the spray painting outside (of course!) but it was only about 40 degrees out, so as soon as we were done we brought the pieces inside to help them dry faster.
While "watching the paint dry" I printed the King Arthur lion design on cardstock, and colored the cross design on another piece of cardstock, and trimmed them into a shield shape. Solomon helped me cut "window" pieces out of black construction paper...it was his idea to make them arched on top instead of square and I think it was a nice touch! He also picked out the right sword for the "sword in the stone" setup and got his knight costume out of the basement. We cut flags out of red construction paper and stapled them around the dowels. It took one staple from the staple gun to keep them from sliding up and down the dowels. Or I may have just been looking for a good reason to use the staple gun again...
As soon as the spray paint was more or less dry to the touch, I used exterior decoupage glue to glue the shields and windows to the towers, and drew on "bricks" with the black marker. We attached the dowels for the flags to the backs of the 2 tall towers using the 4 small brackets.
Next, outside in the Excursion, I put my curtains on the curtain rod and used zip ties to attach it to the clothing rack hooks in the back of the vehicle. My husband screwed the 2 brackets to the corners of the other piece of plywood--these are for the drawbridge chains to hook onto.
Finally we loaded everything up in the Excursion, including the extra piece of plywood, chains, buckets of rocks, hay bale, toy sword, etc. From this point assembly would be really simple except...it started snowing pretty heavily, and then the snow turned to rain, and our church decided to hold the event indoors. So my dear husband took everything there early to figure out how to get it to be free standing rather than leaning on the vehicle! Otherwise, assembly would go like this...
Open the back hatch and lean the 2 towers against each side of the trunk. Lean the 2 shorter towers against the back doors that open out to the side. The piece with the 3 boxes just sits on top of the back hatch. Set the big piece of plywood on the ground leading up to the trunk for a "drawbridge" and attach the chains to the brackets, and on the other end to the cylinders that hold up the hatch. We used zip ties to attach them. Line the base of the castle with rocks and set out the hay bale "stone" with the sword stuck in it. Arrange the curtains so they cover the bumper, fill trunk with candy, and voila!
And of course, don't forget costumes! Solomon wore a knight costume that my aunt made for my oldest son almost 10 years ago. Levi wore the Robin Hood costume, complete with antique longbow for "authenticity." And I wore my princess gown I made for myself last fall for our local Renaissance Festival. My sister in law (who is a very talented makeup artist!) came over and did my Queen Guenevere makeup and a quick queenly updo. So much fun!
And...the Trunk or Treat was a great success, even though the weather was nasty. The church was doing it as an outreach and we saw lots of new families! The sword in the stone was a big hit, although we had lots of hay cleanup to do afterwards...which, again, would not have been an issue if we were outside! All in all our whole family had a great time putting this together.
Take the next step:
Have you ever done a trunk or treat? How did you decorate?
Do you also love Arthurian legend? (haha!)
If you try this setup, I would LOVE to see your pictures!
*word of caution: I read that series and although they are generally clean and in good taste, there are a few parts that may not be appropriate for teenage boys...