The pumpkin is the #1 Halloween icon, and it's perfect for homemade Halloween decorations. The sharp edge of a knife poses danger for children, so give them ways to decorate pumpkins other than carving jack-o'-lanterns.
Perilous Paint: The options are endless when painting a pumpkin. Turn younger kids loose with tempera paints (mixed with a few drops of liquid dish soap to help it stick) and a brush and see what they come up with. Older kids, who want something more creative, might try applying chalk paint using a sponge brush and stencils. Another fun idea with paint is to use a thicker paint squeezed from a bottle to the top of the pumpkin and allowed to drip down the sides. Check out The Imagination Tree for a tutorial.
Creepy Clay Dough: Have your kids create 3-D facial features out of clay dough. Start with eyes, nose, and mouth for little kids. Older ones can add ears, teeth, and hair. Affix them to the pumpkin with a glue gun.
Frightening Frills: Raid your craft box for googly eyes, self-adhesive gems, feathers, and sequins to make your kids' pumpkins hilariously haunting. If the strategically placed eyeballs aren't enough to make the pumpkins frightening, try ghoulish foam stickers or plastic pushpins to make your pumpkin terrifying.
Kids go for something scary, but not too scary, cute, but not cutesy. Spiders fill the bill. Basically a round body with 8 legs, spiders are easy to make out of different materials and work well as homemade Halloween decorations to complement your store-bought ones.
Sinister Pipe Cleaner Spiders: Spiders look scary cute hanging on drawer pulls, curtain rod finials, railings, and more. For sparkly ones, brush the inside of a plastic lid with glue, sprinkle with glitter and add googly eyes. Then glue pipe cleaner legs to the body. You can also use a paper plate for the spider's body, color it with crayons or markers and add the pipe cleaner legs. Bottle caps painted black also work as spiders' bodies.
Scary Giant Milk Jug Spider: All you need is an empty milk jug, black tape or paint, and black pipe insulation. Cover the jug in tape or paint it, cut the pipe insulation into pieces long enough to pass for a spider with a milk jug body. Fasten the legs to the body with hot glue and paint on terrifying eyes and frightening fangs. Along with gauze stretched out to make a spider web on your front door, you may scare away your trick-or-treaters!
Paper Spiders: Adapt the classic snowflake garland technique to make spider garlands. Using black or orange paper folded accordion-style, draw a spider silhouette, with connection points at the sides. Cut it out, making sure to cut through all layers. Unfold and hang.