Halloween is right around the corner!  This year, my electronics-loving son and I worked together to make a Halloween candy holder--a not-too-scary, open-mouthed dracula, whose eyes glow and shift when trick-or-treaters stick their hands inside to grab candy.

How to Build a Halloween Candy Holder with Open Mouth Dracula

When sketching out the design for our Halloween candy holder, I wanted to make something that would "pack down" and store well.  If it was going to take up tons of space in my garage for 364 days every year, I knew I would quickly get rid of it. I came up with something that can be stored flat, taking up far less room while in storage.

DIY Halloween Candy Holder Design Sketch: flat pack large mouth dracula

The visible part of the candy holder is a 2 foot by 4 foot sheet of OSB, framed by 2x4s attached with pocket holes.

The structure is supported with 24" 2x4s in the back, but instead of attaching it to the framed OSB with screws, it is held in place on each side with a 3/8" hex bolt and nut.  This way, when Halloween is over we can take it apart and store it flat, then easily put it back together next year.

DIY Halloween Candy Holder Design Sketch: flat pack large mouth dracula

The small candy holder behind the mouth was another piece that needed to "pack down." I built a three sided "box" out of 2x4s, with a hardboard bottom.  It's attached to the back side of the OSB with hinges so it can fold down flat when not in use.  On Halloween night, rope (attached through screw eyes on the small candy holder and back of the "frame") will keep the candy holder up and in place.

How To Make A Dracula Halloween Candy Holder

DIY Halloween Candy Holder building front

Step One: Build the Main Structure

Begin by making the front part of the Halloween candy holder.  Drill pocket holes on the back side of a 2x4' sheet of 1/2" plywood or OSB, then attach 2x4s to the sides and top.

Halloween Candy Holder Pocket Holes
Halloween Candy Holder Pocket Holes
Halloween Candy Holder Pocket Holes

The front side of the OSB will not be flush with the front sides of the 2x4s. It should be about 1/2" from the front so that the pocket hole screws don't poke through.

Building Halloween Candy Holder Front View

Next, sketch (I found using a washable marker worked best) your Halloween figure. Anything with a large open mouth will work.  I chose to draw a friendly-looking Dracula.

Sketch of Dracula for DIY Halloween Candy Holder with moving and lighting eyes

Step Two: Cut out Dracula's Mouth

Cut out the mouth. Start by drilling large holes at the edges.  I made four holes at the top and bottom of each of Dracula's vampire teeth, then cut it out with a jig saw.

Cutting Out Dracula for DIY Halloween Candy Holder with moving and lighting eyes
Cutting Out Dracula for DIY Halloween Candy Holder with moving and lighting eyes

At this point you can also cut out the eyes, but I waited on this step as I wasn't yet sure what size they needed to be.

Cutting Out Dracula for DIY Halloween Candy Holder with moving and lighting eyes

Step Three: Build + Attach the Support

Now it's time to make the 2x4 base/support. I cut the sides 24" long, then cut another piece to join them horizontally.

2x4 Support for Back of DIY Halloween Candy Holder

Make pocket holes, then join to the sides with 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.

Pocket Holes in Halloween Candy Holder Supports

Clamp the 2x4 support to the bottom of the structure:

Attaching Removable Support for Halloween Candy Holder

Then drill through both 2x4's with a 3/8" inch bit.

Attaching Removable Support for Halloween Candy Holder

Add a 3/8" hex bolt (4-1/2") through the hole, then tighten with a washer and nut.

Attaching Removable Support for Halloween Candy Holder
Attaching Removable Support for Halloween Candy Holder with hex bolt and nut

Repeat on the other side.

Removable Support for DIY Halloween Candy Holder

Step Four: Build + Attach the Small Candy Holder

Make the inside-the-mouth Halloween candy holder using three 2x4 scraps and hardboard for the bottom.

Building candy holder for mouth of dracula DIY Halloween Candy Holder

I drilled holes on the four corners with a 1/2" bit.  Eventually, dowels will be in these holes, holding in place a black cloth (or unwanted dark t-shirt), so that trick or treaters won't see through to the other side.

Building candy holder for mouth of dracula DIY Halloween Candy Holder

Add two hinges to the bottom of the candy holder, then attach hinges to the back of the framed structure, underneath the mouth.

Building candy holder for mouth of dracula DIY Halloween Candy Holder
Building candy holder for mouth of dracula DIY Halloween Candy Holder

I added two screw eyes to the candy holder, and two screw eyes to the frame. You'll keep the candy holder supported in place with heavy duty string attached through these screw eyes.

halloween_candy_holder_diy_flat_pack
Building candy holder for mouth of dracula DIY Halloween Candy Holder

Step Five: Cut out Eyes (if making electronic, moving eyes)

Cutting Eyes for Dracula Halloween Candy Holder

Now is when I cut out the eyes. I traced around a simple paper template to ensure each eye cutout was the same size.

Cutting Eyes for Dracula Halloween Candy Holder
Cutting Eyes for Dracula Halloween Candy Holder

Step Six: Make It Colorful!

Prime it!

Priming DIY Halloween Candy Holder

Paint it!

Painting DIY Halloween Candy Holder
Painting DIY Halloween Candy Holder
DIY Halloween Candy Holder. Large Mouth Dracula with moving eyes and Candy inside Mouth

I have a couple shelves of paint a friend gave me before she moved across the country, so I had lots of good options. I tried to choose "happy" colors because I'm hoping not to terrify the little trick-or-treaters.

DIY Halloween Candy Holder. Large Mouth Dracula with moving eyes and Candy inside Mouth
DIY Halloween Candy Holder. Large Mouth Dracula with moving eyes and Candy inside Mouth

Add 1/2" dowels (about 12 or more inches in height) to the small candy holder. Support holder in place with heavy duty string through the eye screws.

DIY Halloween Candy Holder back side

Drape a black cloth or black t-shirt around the dowels, and along the bottom of the small Halloween candy holder.

DIY Halloween Candy Holder back side

At this point I turned it over to my teenager. He added a sensor right above the mouth, that will detect when a hand enters.  The eyes of dracula will move from looking away, to straight ahead at the trick-or-treater. I'll write another post and have him put together the electronics instructions . . . because . . . I have no idea. 🙂

DIY Halloween Candy Holder back side electronic parts for movable eyes. Electronic Parts from SparkFun
DIY Halloween Candy Holder back side electronic parts for movable eyes. Electronic Parts from SparkFun

Once the styrofoam eyes were in and functional I added black felt behind them. Throw some candy inside Dracula's mouth and you're ready for the trick-or-treaters!

How to Build a Halloween Candy Holder with Open Mouth Dracula
DIY Halloween Candy Holder back side with snickers
DIY Halloween Candy Holder Dracula's mouth with candy inside
DIY Halloween Candy Holder Dracula's mouth with candy inside
How to Build a Halloween Candy Holder with Open Mouth Dracula

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