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December 3, 2013

My husband LOVES the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's an enchanting tale about expanding your horizons and following your dreams, and trying again if you fail.  Plus it's Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, a combination of awesomeness that's hard to beat.  When I discovered on Pinterest that people were doing Nightmare Before Christmas themed trees, I just knew he had to have one of his own.

This is why I haven't been posting much.  This project was just as time consuming as a miniature house, with many of the same problems.  The worst problem was the price of the ornaments.  There's lots of official ornaments and toys for sale, but they're all REALLY expensive.  I couldn't justify the cost.  However, I had a printer and fun foam and a great imagination, so once it dawned on me that I could make my own, I made my own.

A great website I encountered was Spoonful, a craft site with lots of Disney themed projects.  Searching just for "Nightmare" will bring up all kinds of projects!  Two of them were especially perfect for a small tree.  The first was this paper Jack Skellington printable project. I didn't know what to do with him at first, but eventually got the idea to use him as a tree topper.  I printed him out on card stock.  He feels pretty sturdy, but I'm not sure how well he will pack for next year.  I'm considering printing the right arm again and replacing the left with it so that he can hold the snowflake with both hands.  (I was rushing to finish the tree last night, so his bowtie isn't on yet.)

The spider snowflake was a little easier to make than Jack.  I found a pdf pattern to follow on the Instructables web site, and cut it out on regular printer paper, using an Xacto knife.   I may go back and trace the entire thing out onto cardstock so it will last longer.

Going back to the Spoonful site, another great printable was the Nightmare Before Christmas Playset.  All the major characters in one pdf!  You're supposed to use them to put on plays, or possibly substitute game pieces with these (Can you imagine playing the Game of Life with Lock, Shock, and Barrel?)  They are designed to be double sided, but I ended up just cutting that part off.  All of these are also on the tree.  Then I began just doing image searches and printing out pictures on cardstock that I thought would make good ornaments.  Even though they're paper, they make great ornaments!

 Having gotten the major characters covered, I started thinking about accessories.  What would make the tree more Halloweeny?  I started this project thinking I would be buying a white tree, but was fortunate enough to find a 4' black tree at Walmart for $25.  I decided that red, white, orange, and lime green glass balls would be great colors against that dark backdrop.  All but the orange were easy to find.  I even found red icicles, which seemed creepy for a regular tree but perfect for this.  I don't know how to describe that red drop ornament on the left, but it also seemed perfect!  I thought purple would also be a good Halloweeny color, but couldn't find any small balls the right color.  I ended up finding some holiday stems the right color, so I just stuck purple branches into the tree to add color.

I bought some fine point paint pens and drew on the balls to make them NBC themed.  They worked out well.  Lots of Jack faces, some pumpkin and bat faces, an Oogie Boogie man, and that spirally hill.   I have plans to do more, maybe some short phrases ("What's this?") and other faces.

Since it was after Halloween, I found some great deals on colorful spider rings, which clipped perfectly to the branches.  I also found some GREAT Jingle Bell spiders at Big Lots.  I still need to string them so they can hang, but right now they're perfect just sitting on various tree branches. Small white balls for Jack's faces were really hard to find, but I was able to pick up a pack of red, white and green balls at Michaels.  It was a tough choice between those and the ball with the fun swirls on them.  I will draw swirls on the leftovers, too!

In my searches I found an awesome blog: http://diynmbcprops.  She's going all out and making detailed props of Nightmare Before Christmas items, and sharing the tutorials with the public.  I got so many ideas from her!  She did a really detailed prop of the chalkboard on which Jack tries to solve Christmas. She had a picture of the board, but it was black on white.  I managed to play with it until I got it to look like a chalkboard.  Mine didn't print out properly (I think the printer got hung up on the edge of the cardstock and it never finished)  so I will be reprinting it soon!  Here's my file if you want to use it.

For a while I kept confusing Nightmare Before Christmas with The Corpse Bride, both of which would still be perfectly acceptable on the tree, come to think of it.  I decided dancing skeletons would be perfect for the tree, and again, did image searches for what I had in mind.  There's an old Disney short featuring dancing skeletons, which proved to be a great reference.  I ended up making 5 of them, cutting them out of white fun foam.  They're a bit fragile, and if you draw on fun foam with a pencil, YOU WILL NOT GET IT OFF.  Oops.  I glued button thread to the back of their heads in order to hang them. 

Another great find was the garland.  That is actually yarn I found in the clearance section at Michaels.  The checkout lady gave it a look and asked what you could make out of it.  "I haven't the slightest idea!" was my reply.  But it seemed perfectly Burtonesque and slithered right around my tree.

So that's my Nightmare Before Christmas tree! So far.  I have lots more ideas, but I was trying to keep it a surprise for my husband, and if I didn't 'give' it to him soon, I wouldn't have gotten anything else done.  I'll put it up at Halloween next year with a few more surprises.  Perhaps I might splurge on some official ornaments, too.  I did buy two using a leftover Disney gift card from several years ago, but they were on sale!