Kids heads in jars in the refrigerator, with a carton of milk.
Crafts

Put your kid’s head in a jar for a gory Halloween decoration!

Does your child like gore and scary stuff? Put their head in a jar! This easy Halloween decoration can be done by anybody, even non-crafters.

Not crafty? No problem!

I am not crafty. I don’t like cleaning up the messes that crafts tend to leave, and I’m not visually creative. But this craft doesn’t involve any messy parts (unless you spill the colored water, and that’s on you!), and there’s basically no clean up.

Plus, a head in a jar isn’t just a great home, porch, or garage Halloween decoration. If you’re looking for office or cubicle Halloween d├ęcor, I can’t think of a better way to freak out your co-workers.

Let’s get started!

What you’ll need

Putting a head in a jar

Get a picture

Selfie of Amy's face.

Take a picture of the person whose head is going in the jar. If you already have a picture you want to use, great. If it’s on a phone, even better. If it’s already printed out it will work, but it won’t look as good as a picture that you can distort and manipulate.

If you’re taking a picture just for this, a dark background looks better, and no collars – a bare neck works best. Eyes open or closed? That’s up to you. Personally I think that eyes open looks way creepier.

Find a jar

The best jars for this craft are ones that don’t get narrower at the top. If you can find a jar that just goes straight up, it will look best. If not, try to find one that doesn’t get too much smaller at the top.

Mason or canning jars work well. Or these plastic jars, if you’re worried about breakage.

The bigger the jar, the bigger the picture you’ll need, so keep that in mind. If the jar doesn’t have a lid, you can make one out of aluminum foil.

Distort the image

The easiest way to do this is on your phone, with an app. Using your phone’s photo editing software, crop the image to the parts you’re going to use, cutting out any space above the head and below the neck, and extra space on the sides.

There are tons of free apps that will let you drag parts of your face around. Search for something like “face distortion” or “face warp” in your phone’s store. (I use a free Android app called Photo Warp.)

What you want to do with this app is widen the face, and even distort it a bit.

With most apps you can just put your finger on part of the picture and move it. Pull the picture so that the nose and mouth are wider, and stretch the edges too. Then save it to your phone.

Amy's face in an image editing app after being widened.

Print out your picture

You want the picture to be about as high as the straight part of your jar, plus a little extra (the picture is going to be laminated, and you don’t want too much of the picture to be jammed into the narrower top part of the jar).

If you have a straight jar, you can print the picture to go all the way up to the lid, minus about an inch (we’re accounting for the lamination here, which is going to extend about a half inch out from the picture all around).

Some printers let you print images at different sizes. Pick the one closest to what you need.

This is the newer version of my printer, which I adore.

Cut and laminate

If there’s extra space above the head or below the neck (especially if you weren’t able to crop the image before printing), trim it off with scissors.

Now you have to laminate it. Most office stores will laminate pictures for you. Even better, buy your own laminator – they aren’t expensive, and are really handy to have around.

Contact paper is also an option. Just be aware that the seal won’t be as good as with lamination, so you might want to wait until Halloween to put it in water, or make a few extras and swap them out when one gets too wet to look good.

Once it’s laminated, trim the lamination to be about a half inch bigger than the picture all around (don’t go smaller than this – you want a good seal so that water won’t seep in).

Fill the jar

Fill the jar with water (leaving enough room for stirring), and start adding food coloring to make the water murky and green-ish. I usually find a mix of green and red works well.

You want it dark enough to be spooky, but clear enough that the picture will still be seen.

If the water is too dark by the time you get it the right color, just dump some of it out and add clear water to lighten it.

A large jar of murky green water next to some containers of food coloring.

Wad up a large piece of plastic wrap so that it will fill the bottom couple of inches of the jar, and put it in (it won’t go to the bottom yet). Curl the laminated picture into a circle and put it in the jar, using it to push the plastic wrap to the bottom. Wad up more plastic wrap and put it around the top of the image, so that it helps camouflage where the picture ends.

Put the lid on the jar, or cover it with aluminum foil.

Tape a glow stick to the back, and voila! Head in a jar.

Amy's head in a jar in a pantry next to some cans.

Amy Oztan is the founder of SelfishMom.com, FilmingInBrooklyn.com, and AmyEverAfter.com, as well as a founding member of the podcasts Blogging Angels and Parenting Bytes. She has two kids and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and cats.

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