Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Halloween Row House Countdown Calendar

Tomorrow is October 1st, so it's time to start the official countdown for Halloween! I was inspired by those Christmas advent calendars that count down the days in December. You know the type: open a little door each day and get a waxy piece of chocolate. I wanted something similar, but no chocolate, just Halloween fun. I used a couple of chipboard haunted houses and lots of spooky images from Alpha Stamps to make this, my Halloween Row House Countdown Calendar. It stands 8" tall and almost 17" across.

If you stick with me here, I'll show you lots of pictures, including some in progress photos and a bit of a tutorial. Meanwhile, here's what they will look like a few days into the month of October. There are some scary things in those houses!

Bats are flying around, and scary black vines are growing. The residents have put out their jack o' lanterns in anticipation of the big day. A black cat waits by the door of the center house. A couple more days have passed, and more creepy guys are showing up!

It's hard to see all the details, but you sure don't want to miss the kids trapped in the upper attics. Here are a few of them. Poor little dears.

On the 30th of October, the countdown is done. It's Halloween eve!

The center house has a shadowbox back to it, so it holds 3D Halloween fun: ghosts, skulls, goblins, owls, cats, and gargoyles, oh my!

I had fun figuring out how to make this all work. Here are some photos I took while I was constructing the houses. I began with the two houses on the sides. I covered the chipboard back of the house with black paper, and then took several of the collage sheet images I had cut out and placed them in the windows for position. Once I liked where they were, I took a photo for reference. You can see that several of these photos need to be cut down to fit correctly. After this photo was taken, I covered the front with a heavy paper, and cut out the windows.

Now the cut out photos are in position. It helps to place each one with the window panel on top so you can make sure you like the position of the character. You may notice that I wrote "NO!" on the back of the window side of house. That was to keep me from checking the position of the figures with the wrong side of the front, and to make sure I glued the paper on the correct side. If you look closely, you'll see that there's also a black line on the right side of each window. That is so when I cut out the window flap, I would remember to leave that side attached. I didn't want to make any stupid mistakes!

Here's the middle house. I painted all the sides of the box black, and after determining where each figure would go, chose a background paper to show it off. Here again, you can see my warning to myself and the black lines showing where not to cut. I also wrote under each window what would be behind it, so I didn't have to figure that each time I placed the 3D elements. The two squares up by my "NO!" warning are the backs of the background papers for the kids in the attic windows. Those windows have to be completed before the house facade is attached to the shadowbox.

I used white glue on the shadowbox, and held it together with rubber bands until it dried.

Depending on what you put in those cubbies, the floor can be a little low for some of the windows. I used small pieces of scrap wood and a few wooden spools to help give my guys a little boost. Here I am trying them out for size. The three ghosts are buttons, so I used a dab of hot glue to hold their shanks into place. It looks like they are flying.

Once the three houses were done, it was time to figure out how they go together. For some it might have been "past" time, but hey, I like to live dangerously. I was going to try to have them stand up with a small bit of fence between them, but in the end decided it would be way more sturdy to make them row houses. I cut off the right roof point of the first house, the left point of the third house, and both points from the house in the middle.

I used a piece of wood to attach the three houses together. The end houses are not very thick, so they needed something a little wider to attach them too. The wood is not set flush with the edge of the center house, so the front of the row has a bit of a staggered effect. At the bottom of this photo, you can see the wood piece glued to the side. I painted it black behind the roof line, in case my cuts weren't exactly straight. The rest of the wood is natural, because because I know that side won't show; the other sides are black. In this photo, I'm patiently holding the top house tight while its glue dries.

Here's the back of the completed row, with the two wood pieces keeping the flanking houses firmly attached.

I'm in love with my countdown calendar, and will be excited to use it this Halloween.

For a complete list of supplies, click here!


  1. So. Much. Darn. FUN!!!!!! So glad you showed how. I was already lost at the chipboard windows being already cut out, how did they get flaps LOL. Love this project!! xoxo

  2. This is amazing, your work is always superb and very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing.


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