DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary (aka Skull Kebab)

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Make this DIY light-up skull topiary & take your Halloween decor game to boss level! You’ve seen skull topiaries before, but never like this!

You know the end is near when skulls have gone mainstream.

There was a time when a well-placed skull could actually frighten and cause the flesh to crawl on an unsuspecting visitor, bystander or innocent child.

Sadly, those days have gone the way of dodo birds and common sense.

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

Now every Fanny Facebook, Tootsie TikTok and Suzie Social Media has skulls festooning every square inch of their Insta-homes during the fair autumn season.

I mean, when did it become hip to be showing off your brand of recycled ferret claw rugs and line of alpaca wool jogging sweaters one day and then hawking skulls the next?

What are the true Creep-heads supposed to do when their favorite holiday has been usurped by Stanley-sucking social media vampires whose only interest in a skull is how many likes and comments it will garner?


DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

So yeah, you’ve doubtless seen a skull topiary online somewhere gracing the immaculate front stoop of some perfect house in a perfect neighborhood while two perfect kids play with a perfect dog who only craps in the back yard.

This ain’t that house.

We ain’t those people.

And our dogs crap wherever they damn well please.

So let’s take back Halloween, starting with the skull topiary!

Yep, it’s been done. But you see, Betty Bubbles and Guy Smiley forgot one thing…

Skulls taste better when roasted over a smoldering fire.

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

And that’s why this year I’ve made this delightfully tasteful skull kebab topiary for my babes! Inspired by Turkish shish kabob and large spits of lamb doner kabob roasting vertically, these skulls are a delight for all the senses!

Let’s get to it!

This is an easy craft made with mostly Dollar Tree materials. When it comes to skulls, we buy them from by the caseful. They’re just too useful around the holidays not to have around, and we’re always in need of them!

For the spray foam, any kind will do – you won’t need the pure-white foam we used for our Snowy Village Wreath last Christmas.

A note about the black hot glue sticks we use. They are not only perfect for Halloween crafts, but the black sticks we get are made from a stronger glue that holds better in the heat and in general.


Affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

We love to see our DIY Halloween decor out in the wild! If you make this Halloween DIY decor for your home, take a picture or video and post it on Instagram, be sure to tag us @TheNavagePatch!

Skull Kebab VIDEO Tutorial

Watch our short and fun video below for an overview of our roasting skull topiary before you read the detailed step-by-step tutorial.

Watch Our Tutorial On YouTube

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary Tutorial

Step 1 – Skewer some skulls

A Dollar Tree broom handle makes a wonderful skewer – why pay more when it’s all you need?

I marked my skulls top and bottom where I wanted the skewer to pierce. I wanted some skulls to be centered, some facing up, and some tilted to the side, so I marked accordingly.

man marking a plastic skull

Next, I cut a round hole in the top of the skull the same diameter as the broom handle.

man cutting a hole in a plastic skull

Under the jaw, I used the X-Acto knife to make an asterisk.

man cutting a plastic skull

I poked the bottom of the broom handle through the top of the skull and pushed through the asterisk under the jaw.

man threading a skull onto a skewer

This was the first of five skulls. I pushed him up to the top and repeated four more times.

man holding skull on a stick

Optional Improvements

Age the skulls:
Plastic skulls are easy to age, if you want to up the creep factor. Since I was on a time-budget, I skipped this step, but I recommend it for skull aficionados. Stain and shoe polish are commonly used, but you could also try dirt, mud or even spray paint to give the skulls a more ancient and menacing demeaner.

Char the undersides:
These skulls are roasting over a smoldering fire. Do you really think the lower jaws would be so lily white? Of course not! They’d be deliciously browned! A little black spray paint can char them right up for you. This was a great tip from someone on social media. I wish I’d thought of it when I started!

Step 2 – Add moss

When I had five skulls skewered and arranged, I hot glued Spanish moss between each skull. This not only looks good but it holds the skulls in place.

man putting spanish moss on a skull stick
man putting spanish moss on a skull stick

This next step is optional, but since I had a bunch of smaller Styrofoam skulls kicking around, I glued a trio of them on top.

man making skull topiary

Here are the two skewers I made, all ready for the next step.

two skull kebabs

Step 3 – Make the fire mound

I cut a Dollar Tree laundry basket as shown below.

man cutting a plastic laundry basket

Then I placed the cut bottom in the middle of a Dollar Tree wire wreath form and zip tied the two together . This will help mound the fire without having to use too much spray foam.

man zip tying  a basket to a wreath form

I cut a hole in the middle to accommodate the broom handle.

man cutting a laundry basket

I sprayed Great Stuff Big Gap Filler spray foam in a layer around the outside of the laundry basket. This is the first of two layers, so it didn’t need to look perfect.

Don’t forget your nitrile gloves and eye protection for this step! Spray foam is nasty business!

man spraying foam onto a wreath form

Step 4 – Add lights

I waited a few minutes until the foam formed a skin, and then I placed the LED string lights all around the foam and the wreath form. Since the back won’t be seen as much, I concentrated the lights more on one side.

man putting lights on spray foam
man putting lights on spray foam

Step 5 – Add skulls

Before I started, I had cut the backs from a bunch of plastic skulls, I placed several randomly around the foam, concentrating on the front and sides. The skin prevented me from nestling the into the foam, so I just placed them on. I then secured them in place with Great Stuff spray foam – the red can, not the Big Gap Filler in the black can.

man putting skulls into spray foam

I only wanted a thin layer of foam over the lights to allow them to shine through. Big Gap Filler might have buried them too deeply.

You’ll notice there’s a hole in the skull I placed on top of the fire mound. That is where the skewer will be mounted, so anything put up top needs a hole in it. Alternatively, you can leave the are empty and simply stick the skewer through the foam at the end.

man putting skulls into spray foam

I stopped foaming once I had all the lights just covered, and then I set the fire mound aside to dry overnight.

man putting skulls into spray foam
halloween foam fire ready for painting

Step 6 – Paint the fire

The next day I painted the fire with gloss red and flat black paint. This is the most fun step, and the smoldering look really comes alive during this part!

halloween foam fire ready for painting

I like to concentrate the reds in the nooks and crannies and then lightly spray black over it.

man spraying painting a halloween foam fire effect

Here are the two I made – one is a little heavier on the black than the other.

man spraying painting a halloween foam fire effect
man spraying painting a halloween foam fire effect

Step 7 – Insert skewer and display!

I displayed my smoldering skull topiaries in two urns we’ve been carrying with us since Connecticut – they’re the perfect size for these delightful kebabs!

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by
DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by
DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by
DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

What do you think of our roasting skull topiary?

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by
DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

Let us know in the comments!

DIY Light-Up Skull Topiary by

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  1. You and Handan are ingenious. How did ya’ll come up with this briliiant idea. Just watching ya’ll craft and decorate for Halloween sometimes makes want to decorate for Halloween again (my youngest is 30 so no Halloween decor in a while). Great job again!

  2. Never fear Greg, your work stands alone. We, who love and admire you, know who created the originals and will happily call out the imposters. I’ve been told, “Imitation (attempting to copy) is the best form of flattery.” So take your bow. You are the best!!!

  3. I live in the boonies so no one would appreciate the hard work this takes. Instead I will share your fabulous tutorial with my niece. She too is a Halloween freak – I mean aficionado. You two are simply amazing.

  4. Love to see your work. I might make this or perhaps use the burning skull piece on the ground as a fire pit to roast a skeleton over the spot like you see in the old movies (or Ewoks do in the Star Wars movie 😉
    ) where the islanders cook the invaders. Hmmm. Depends on the time I have left. Making a version of your spooky chandelier right now.

  5. I’m gonna need you to post Handan’s kebab recipe, ok? 😀

    My hubby used to work with Middle Easterners and he came home with a recipe for kebab once that was absolutely AMAZING. SO GOOD. Wouldn’t mind learning a Turkish recipe, too, I’m sure it would be DELISH!

    This Halloween topiary is DARLING. I LOVE it. Gonna make one for my porch ASAP!

  6. You guys are so creative, never ceases to amaze me!
    But on a totally different subject, I was going thru your fall blogs looking for ideas and came upon an affiliate link for purchasing stuff on LTK. I saw the pic of your home all lit up with govee lights! Wowza! Can you do a blog about that? Is there anyway to link the lights to get the length you need? Couldn’t find any info on that in the reviews. Thanks!

  7. Holy smokes, this is great! I usually put mini tombstones, skulls and pumpkins in my front porch flower pots. I think I’m going to switch it up this year! 😁 And yes, I think it would look better if the skulls were roasted in the kabob. One question though, who the heck is peeking out from the front window curtains? 😬😱😲🤣🤣 It’s never too early for Halloween!!

  8. Love this!! I’m in the process of putting everything on my urns. How did you keep the base on the urn and the pole from falling over. I’m from MA and next town from Salem. We’re pretty serious about Halloween.

    1. Thank you, Sheryl! The pole is held in place by the foam, and the whole thing just sits on the urn. As-is, it’s not entirely wind-proof, but it wouldn’t be hard to rig up a weight underneath the fire.

  9. I’ve been looking for this tutorial after seeing a photo. Buying all the materials to make this tonight! Thank you for sharing!