DIY Milk Jug Skeleton Halloween Decoration


halloween skeleton milk jugs_pinnI Made One Of Those Milk Jug Skeletons (Only I didn’t have milk jugs to begin with…)

Have you seen those cute Halloween skeleton decorations you can make yourself, completely out of empty milk containers? I have, and I’ve been wanting one for awhile. so you know where this is going.

I started off using juice jugs and small 12 oz coke bottles. To be honest, I never buy milk by the gallon….It’s just me here, I don’t give milk to my cats, and I always prefer almond or coconut instead. Occasionally I might get the 2% in a half-gallon, but you need at least 5-6 of these for this project. Which I didn’t have.

Now as an update since the three years I attempted this, it’s me and the better half, and he buys milk by the gallon so I started saving them up.

I did have to do a little research to find out how to put this thing together…it was kind of tricky to find a good template for it. as far as individual parts go. But this one I came across is pretty darn good.

If you want to try this too, and you already have a nice collection of 1-gallon milk jugs, which according to what I read, you need at least 6 to 7 total. In addition you’ll need:

  • an X-acto knife
  • a good pair of scissors (to cut precise shapes easily)
  • string or wire for joining skeleton bone parts
  • a few permanent markers to outline cutouts and add interest

I stress “permanent” markers as the other kinds will just bead up on plastic when you try to use them.

Anyway, before you get started, let me first say that the juice jugs I attempted with were a bust. Most of the time, that type of plastic they are made of, is not “soft” like that of milk containers, and cracks under use of a cutting tools. So now we’re doing this the right way.

First thing you may want to do is remove the labels from the containers…I hate having to scrape off adhesive labels #aintnoonegottimeforthat  so I focus only on removing them from the containers that will be for the head and rib cage. For the other parts, they won’t show.

Now you’ll need to designate the different parts. You’ll need one jug for the head and another for the rib cage, and the other anatomical parts will include arm bones (4), leg bones (4) knees (2), feet (2), hands (2) and shoulders (2).You can cut several of these bone parts form more than one container.  To get a more 3D look, we’re going to make the feet, hands and shoulders from the handles of the containers.

So plan on using at least 6 of these containers –  I’ve got a tonal of 7 and I will need to cut the handle out of the one that will be for the rib cage – but i think that open space left will be fairly apropos for what a real rib cage looks like. I also notice that a few of the jugs i have, there’s a round depression one one side (foreground -second from right.)

milk cartons

I disqualified those for the head/rib cage as it’s going to show and make it look weird. Surprised I don’t see other people’s skeletons showing that depression as it seems common on gallon size jugs.

Also, I see some people construct the hip “bones” differently. Some just like to do a large oval cutout in the middle , but other people will cut a curvy shape off the bottom of the jug – I think the latter looks more accurate, so I’ll stick with that one. But that part is up to you.

I ended up labeling the parts like this …(later on you can use rubbing alcohol to remove the writing and outlines)

Here are all the parts, so you can see what they look like separately.

milk container parts laid out


Next we need to make small holes in the parts…one on each end of the bones, two in the sides of the milk jug neck for the head and ribs, and two sides of the hips. You can wrap the string around the hand/feet/shoulder pieces so ok to leave those out. Some people use a hole punch, but i like holes as small as possible, plus it’s hard to use a hole punch on the tougher areas like the neck of the container.  I used a small drill bit.

I’ll use fishing line to thread the parts together. It’s strong and durable, plus it won’t show easily either when “Mr Bones” is on display!

1.) Drill hips where I’ve indicated with arrows…one on two sides adn two in teh middle. 2.) For the skull head, look on the bottom, you see that part in the middle that the plastic is more thick? Drill a hole right in that spot. It will be much easier than thrying to thread cord through two holes an inch apart .

putting together halloween skeleton parts

3.) Thread knees (round circles) to the leg bones and do the same for the arms and elbows. 4.) Thread the leg/knee bones on each side hole you drilled into the hip bone. Lastly don’t forget hands on arm elbows and feet to the legs.

Edit: I used some crafting wire to connect the head to the ribs and the hips. Don’t use glue, I tried it and it had no staying power. I ran the wire through the holes I put in the neck of the cartons and lined them up with the parts. I also did the same for the shoulders (the trickiest part.) As much as I like fishing line, it has this one flaw-it’s tough to get the “slack” part right. Once you knot it it stays put.

With flexible wire, you can adjust the amount of slack so the parts of the skeleton can move around without being too stiff. Fishing line worked great for the other parts – just not for the “main” body like the head, and rib cage.

When you are done you can color in your skeleton’s  to give it a pop of color. Think Halloween colors like green, orange, purple. Or you could use glow in the dark paint I could do this with various parts with some of my art markers, but for now. I decided to leave mine as is. It was a lot of work but I’m pleased.

How all the different parts look…I like how the creator used a little outlining with a marker for more detail…

Painting on plastic is not something I would encourage you to attempt. I think there may be a brand of Krylon that does work, but I digress…

I saw something to do with Day of the Dead designs on it, which I liked, but that is a different holiday altogether. Anywhere here she is…or he? LOL. He actually came alive more when hung outside because the breeze blew him around enough to remind me of my old Halloween skeleton hangup from way back when.

🎃Good luck to you and Happy Halloween!

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