Sunday, September 18, 2011

Halloween Count Down Clock Prop

Countdown Clock

This is a tutorial on how to make the Nightmare Before
Christmas Countdown Clock. This clock appears in Halloween Town in the movie, but more famously it hangs over the main entrance to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday (October - December). The Disneyland original is several feet tall, this tutorial is a scaled down version. Here's how i made it:

Supplies Needed: 
Cardboard or Foam-core Board
Pink Insulation Foam
18" Floral Craft wreath made of Twigs
Assorted Fake Leaves & Berries
(and the metal stems from the floral items)
or Wire
Acrylic Paints
Hot Glue
Exacto Knife

Approx. Cost: $5 or less

Time Invested: 2 Hours

(Detailed description corresponds with picture tutorial above)

1. a) Decide how big you want your clock, and what material you want to make it out of. This tutorial shows how to make a cheap clock out of recycled cardboard, but it could be constructed out of wood. 
   b) Step one shows the basic shapes that will need to be cut out. Face, Hands, Base x2, Sides, Bottom (sides and bottom can be one continuous piece or segments, however it works out). 
   c) Paint the clock face white with black details.
NOTE: The clock hands are actually not shown in figure 1, but they are one single piece, cut from cardboard, and attached with a "brad". They spin!
2. Buy a floral wreath made from sticks and twigs. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby. It was marked $4.99 (but, I had a 40% off coupon! <Get them on their website for free!) They come in various sizes ( mine is 18"diameter). Spray paint it flat black. Dry brush some brown acrylic paints to give it depth. Hot glue a few holly berries, and some dead leaves.

3. Use a square piece of insulation foam for structure. Piece the front and back cardboard base pieces around the foam (like a sandwich) . I placed the front and back first and then used hot glue to attach the 2" wide strips along the bottom and sides. The insulation foam is naturally 2" thick, this is why I chose to make my base 2" thick. Please make your base 2" or wider or else it will not stand on its own.You should now have the cardboard base constructed. Paint it with  metallic silver acrylic paint.

4. a) Using a knife or foam cutter, scoop off a slight curve on the top of the foam to support the shape of the floral wreath.
    b) Using wire (I happened to use some old wire floral stems I had left over) make an anchor to  hold the floral wreath. Stab the wire into the foam and wrap it around the wreath to securely attach the two.

5. Cut out white pieces of card stock or printer paper for the countdown numbers & "days till halloween". Write the numbers and words on the cards. Use pens and markers to add edges and details to the white paper.
NOTE: You can make your clock say "000" ,or you could make all the numbers on cardstock squares, then tap small nails or those twist-in hooks into the front of the countdown area, and hang your own numbers that you can change every day! . . . just an idea.

6. Bolts: I used some left over flat back crystals from another project. They were green....Spray paint them silver, instant bolts!

7. a) Attach the "bolts" with hot glue
    b) Use watered down brown, gold or copper paint dripped on the bolts to make them look rusty.

8. Attach the clock face to the back of the wreath with a few dots of hot glue around the edges

Finished clock! 

If you choose to,  you can also make the drop down rope "XMAS" sign. I would use jute twine for the rope, and cheap Dollar Tree foam-core board for the sign. I use my prop for Halloweentime decor, so I did not make that Christmas sign (yet...)

I hope these instructions are clear. 
Please leave any questions in the comments. I will do my best to help. 
Good Luck....


  1. Hi, do you have the detailed tutorial?
    Thank you!

  2. Not written yet. But I will get started on it, and post it ASAP for you . Thanks

  3. Your blog has changed my life! Thanks for doing all this... it is AMAZING!!!

    1. Zach, that is quite the compliment! Thank you so much for your kind words

  4. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I made my count down clock yesterday! and I love it! next I will be making the jack in the box! thank you so much for this blog! :) will you have any frankenweenie stuff!?

  5. I am so excited for your blog. MY 3year old son loves loves loves The Nightmare before Christmas.It is our christmas theme this year, trying to get as much done as possible : ) You take the guesswork out of the projects and a very very happy 3 year old boy and his mama : ) THank yo!!!

  6. I just completed my for my daughter's party. It looks amazing!!! Thank you so much for posting!!!

  7. Did you ever finish the detailed blog? Also what dimensions are the base?

  8. Did you ever complete the detailed instructions? What dimensions is the base?

  9. you're seriously the best thing to happen to me. i've created a few of your tutorials and my life is exponentially better. thank you!!


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