Creepy haunted houses and over-the-top Halloween decorations don't require a giant budget, just a giant imagination. If you plan ahead, you can create a super-spooky atmosphere with repurposed and recycled items. Coffins, for example, needn't be heavy-duty wooden affairs. Cardboard, especially the industrial kind, will hold up easily during your scary celebrations. Plus, if you budget carefully, homemade coffins may give you room for a few high-tech touches.
Lay the industrial cardboard on a flat, sturdy surface. Industrial cardboard has a corrugated layer between two smooth layers of cardboard. This kind of cardboard is sturdier than one-layer board.
Draw a straight line on the cardboard about 4 inches longer than the height of the person or manikin you want to place inside. For instance, if your coffin and you are 5 feet, 4 inches tall, the line must be 5 feet, 8 inches tall. This gives you room for a little movement.
Measure down from one end of the coffin about 18 inches. Draw a horizontal line across your first line about 4 inches wider than your shoulder width. If your shoulders measure 2 feet, 3 inches, the line must be 2 feet, 7 inches.
Draw a horizontal line at either end of the long, central line about 18 inches wide. Draw diagonal lines connecting the ends of the 18 inches lines to the ends of the 2 foot, 7 inch lines. This should give you a classic, Dracula's coffin shape. I.e., a long diamond with the points missing.
Cut out your coffin base with a utility knife. Measure the long and short edges of the base on the left side; add the two numbers together. For instance, if the long diagonal line measures 4 feet and the short line 2 feet, your final measurement is 6 feet.
Cut two rectangles 6 feet long and about 2 feet wide. Cut two more rectangles about 18 inches long and 2 feet wide. These are the sides of your coffin.
Place the long rectangles along the left and right sides of your coffin base; the cardboard should bend slightly, conforming to the shape of the base. Tape the sides together along the edges of the base. Repeat with the pieces for the top and bottom of the coffin. Use lots of tape; the more the better.
Spray paint your coffin inside and out. You may use black, brown, red, purple, or even white. Allow the paint to dry for two hours before using it.
Cut out cardboard appliques and cover some cushion foam in velvet fabric to create coffin embellishments and a cushion for its undead inhabitants.