Generate Scares by Transforming Planter Holders into “Severed” Head Cages!

You will lose your head having so much fun when you turn outdoor plant holders into creepy Halloween decorations.  Combine the talents of Martha Stewart with Freddy Krueger by upcycling mannequin heads and metal plant holders into these spine-chilling, gory pieces that will make your trick-or-treaters shriek with delight!

Age level:  Kids of all ages with minimal supervision

Time requirement:  An hour and a half each, not including paint drying time

Cost: $15 per cage

  • $3 per plant holder
  • $9 per mannequin head
  • $3 for fake spiders, plastic skeleton hands, knitted webs
  • $2 for paints

Step 1: Go hunting (& haunting!) at Goodwill for inspiration

Part of the fun about hitting your favorite Goodwill store on a regular basis, is that you never know what might catch your eye and unleash your creative spirit. 

While there hunting for items for another DIY project, I encountered four, metal plant holders that had chains to hang them. 

Given their half-sphere shape, I envisioned that they could be put together to make a circle-shaped cage.  And no, I am not totally twisted, but I immediately thought that fake, severed heads would look ghoulishly great in them!

Step 2: Become a head-hunter

Head on over (oops, another pun!) to your local beauty supply store and pick up two Styrofoam mannequin heads, used to hold wigs or hats.

Step 3: Draw on death and paint on pain

Most Styrofoam mannequin heads are white with no details so look at them as canvases on which to express your inner demons.

  •   Consider spray painting various shades of browns, beiges and grays to make then look a little more life-like. 
  • Spray red paint on the bottom.  Do this step outside and on a drop cloth. 
  • Let dry.


  • With a sharpie, add details to the face.  Draw in scary eyes, lips, scars and other features.  
  • With craft paints and a small brush, add various colors and tones to give each head visual and spooky interest.  Rather than red lips, make them scary by using dark purples, black and even greens. 
  • Add red tones along the base where the head, if real, would have be cut away from the rest of the body.  
  • With black paint, brush in hair along the back and add circles under the eyes.  This part is the most fun so be sure to tap into your most happy hauntings!

Design idea: I had several plastic eyeballs that I picked up at the dollar store.  I cut one in half and used my glue gun to secure it in place.  I added red paint around it to make it the perfect gory touch!  Who doesn’t love an eye that is bulging out of its socket? Charming? No. Gross? Yes!

Step 4: Put your heads & holders together

  • Remove the chain hangers from each of the plant holders. 
  • On your work surface, place one of the holders upright and position one of your scary heads in the center. 
  • Keep the head in place with glue from the glue gun. 
  • Flip the other plant holder upside down and place over your head and line up the plant holders edge to edge.
  • With black string or wire, secure the two holders/two halves together by wrapping or tying them.  

For this project, the chain hangers were re-used to hold/display the cage.  It was looped through several openings and clipped into place.  I love it when reusing parts work well and come together easily!

Step 5: Embellish with delightfully evil accessories

Two black, knitted spider webs, also purchased at a dollar store, were cut in pieces, draped over the chain hanger and around the cage.  Use your glue gun to secure it, along with fake spiders and skeleton hands and other items, into place. 

Step 6: Display and delight!

Hang your severed head cages by your front door to scare kids of all ages as they visit your place for Halloween.   

You will be shaking, not from fear, but from excitement as you admire these creepy and eye-catching decorations!  (Is it kooky that I want to leave them up all year?!)


Tim Kime

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, connector. He is President of Kime Leadership Associates offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating and motivational speaking. He is also Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, part goal setting.