Make: DIY Monster Treat Pails from Plastic Containers

I was working in the lab late one night…when I stumbled upon a box of empty plastic containers taking up tons of much-needed shelf space. Horrors!! Having just designed a set of Frankenstein, skeleton, and vampire faces, it occurred to me these ready-for-the-recycling-bin containers could be cleared from the shelves and put to good use as DIY treat pails. The perfect upcycled monster mashup!

Our DIY Frankenstein and skull treat pails against a white background.

They’re quick and easy, don’t require paint or drying time, are durable enough to go door-to-door, and are an adorable accessory for kids to take trick-or-treating.

Watch the simple tutorial video below for different ways to bring this project to life…

Using a collection of containers (an old peanut butter jar, a recycled nut container, etc.) and a sheet of our printed faces, I whipped up this trio of iconic monsters in literal minutes.

Our three DIY monster treat pails against a white background.

Though I created a printable, using this upcycle as a Halloween art project is a no-brainer. Present paper-lined pails, drawing supplies, and construction paper as an opportunity for kids to draw and cut out their own monster features. Make a mummy, whip up a werewolf, or create a creature the world has yet to discover.

A kid-made monster treat pail created with cut paper and a recycled plastic container sitting on a white background with paper scraps.

For more freaky fun, design a pair of your very own chic witch or warlock boots, make black cat luminarias, or build your own cardboard jack-o-lanterns.

To make your own DIY monster treat pails you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • A plastic container (we used a peanut butter jar, etc.)
  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • Scissors
  • A glue stick or Mod Podge
  • A pipe cleaner, ribbon, or similar to use for the handle.



  • A flameless candle or tealight (like this kind)

Note: I had to take off labels and clean the glue they left behind for each container. The very best way I’ve found to do this is to let them soak in hot water with dish soap for about 20 minutes, then scrub with a stiff bristle brush. In my experience, soaking works even better than GooGone or similar products you can buy.

DIY Monster Treat Pail Instructions:

  1. Rinse and recycle a plastic container

    Take a look at some of the plastic containers you have around the house – a peanut butter jar, snack packaging…I quickly found quite a few containers I could recycle into treat pails. You’ll want to make sure they’re a comfortable size for your kids to toss treats into. Prep by rinsing and taking off any labels. If the labels give you difficulty, I found it was easiest to let them sit in hot, soapy water for about 15 minutes before scraping the labels off.
    Gather plastic containers to clean and reuse for your DIY treat pails.
    I prepped the containers for handles by drilling two small holes on either side of the top of each jar with a drill bit. You can also use a hammer and nail to make the holes, or wrap a piece of floral wire around the rim to tie the handle to.

  2. Cut two strips of paper to line the inside of the container

    Cut a couple of strips of paper that are the same height as your container to use to line the inside of your monster treat pail.
    Cut two strips of cardstock or construction paper to line the inside.
    Insert and secure with a couple of small pieces of clear tape if necessary.

  3. Cut out monster features

    You can download and print our monster treat pail printable templates, or cut out your own monster features!
    Cut out monster face features.
    We used the first page of our template set for all of these treat pails, but if you need a larger size you can use the second page. For SUPER quick DIY treat pails, print our trim-to-size monster pail template pages. Trim to fit the height of your jar, then slip inside for an instant monster pail!

  4. Glue your monster face to the outside of the plastic container

    Use a glue stick to glue your monster’s features to the outside of your treat pail. I noticed a big benefit of using square containers once getting to this step – they sit flat. This is a huge plus if your kids are making these on their own.
    Use a glue stick or Mod Podge to glue the monster faces to the front of your treat pail.
    Headed outside with these? You may want to use Mod Podge instead of a glue stick for maximum durability.

  5. Add a handle

    You can thread a pipe cleaner or ribbon through the holes on either side of your treat pail rim, tieing each end in a large knot to secure.
    Thread a pipe cleaner or ribbon through the holes at the top of the pail and knot to create a handle.

Your little trick-or-treaters can also use these as mini lanterns to light their way on Halloween. Instead of using them for treats, drop a flameless candle or tealight in (affixed with a glue dot or piece of tape to hold it in place).

Our three DIY monster treat pails against a white background.

More ways to use our Frankenstein, vampire, and skull features…

These little faces can be used on just about anything to add a monstrously cute Halloween touch to favors, treat bags, and more...

  • DECORATE PUMPKINS. Print onto sticker paper or temporary tattoo paper, cut out, and present with mini pumpkins as a Halloween invitation for kids to design their own no-carve jack-o-lantern monster.
  • MAKE PUPPETS. Paste onto brown bags and add decoration and details for instant paper bag monster puppets.
  • USE AS DRAWING PROMPTS. Combine with our printable haunted picture frame set for a spectacularly spooky drawing prompt! Print out the frame set and glue one or two features into each frame. Invite your kiddo to scribble up their own imagined monster from there!
  • USE FOR HALLOWEEN PARTY FAVORS. Glue onto folded paper takeout containers or a folded piece of paper you can staple to the top of a Halloween treat bag for party prep.
Our DIY Frankenstein and alien treat pails against a white background.

For a Halloween activity that you can prepare in a pinch and stuff in your monster treat pails, download our free printable mini Halloween doodle books. Or dress up the cutest set of little haunts with our printable costume-a-ghost sticker set. And be sure to queue up our Spotify Halloween playlist while you craft – monster-recommended,kid-approved, jams!

Our three DIY monster treat pails against a white background.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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