7 craft ideas to keep your kids safe from Hungry Ghost Festival smoke and spirits

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Keep your little munchkins happy during the Hungry Ghost Festival with these seven fun craft ideas you can do together, all in the comfort of your home -- away from smoke and spirits!

The Hungry Ghost Festival is here again and your kid might have been told not to go out after dark and to avoid going swimming so as not to cross paths with any wandering spirits.

For those who don’t observe this annual affair, some of you may also prefer to stay put at home away from the all the incense smoke outside.

So if your little one is feeling a little bored from being cooped up indoors, here are seven fun crafts to keep him happy during this seventh month of the Lunar Calendar!

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Stage your very own Hungry Ghost Festival getai show at home with this adorable puppet theatre

1. DIY puppet theatre

During the Hungry Ghost Festival you may notice a getai (song stage) set up around certain neighbourhoods.

This is where elaborate traditional opera, upbeat song and dance numbers, amusing stand-up comedy, and even fun puppet shows will be performed for people and spirits alike.

So why not build a mini puppet theatre and let your kids stage their own puppet show to entertain mum, dad and the family pet at home?

You will need

  • Large cardboard box
  • Paint
  • Fabric scraps
  • Ribbons or string
  • Scissors
  • Penknife
  • Craft glue
  • Paintbrush

What to do

1. Cut out a window on one side of the cardboard box

2. Let your kids paint and decorate the box however they like

3. Glue on the fabric scraps to the top on the inside of the window as mini curtains and tie them with ribbons/ string to keep them open

4. Your children can now use puppets or plush toys and go inside the box to perform their very own puppet theatre show!

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Don’t kill that little moth in your house — it might just be a visiting ancestor!

2. Folded paper moths

If you see any creepy crawlies during this period, put down the fly swatter and step away from that can of insect repellant because it just might be someone’s dearly departed great grandfather who has fluttered by for a short visit!

“Rare” insects such as grasshoppers, butterflies and moths are believed to be ancestors who have come back to check in on their family.

Pay tribute to these gentle creatures by crafting up some lovely paper moths with your munchkins.

What you will need

  • Coloured paper (cut into squares)
  • Ribbon
  • String
  • Colourful pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes (optional)

What to do

1. Choose two square papers of different colours

2. Fold each piece of paper “concertina” (like an accordian)

3. Hold the two folded papers together and use a small piece of ribbon or string to tie in the middle

4. Wrap a coloured pipe cleaner around the middle into the moth’s fuzzy antennae

5. Stick on the googly eyes

6. Decorate your home with these adorable DIY moths!

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Use oranges as stamps to create beautiful print art

3. Lucky orange prints

You probably have noticed by now that oranges are rather important fruits in the Chinese culture.

This delicious citrus is seen as a symbol of good luck and wealth, and is used as part of the offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Spruce up your home with an orange printed tablecloth made with love by your child!

What you will need

  • Mandarin oranges or tangerines
  • Paints
  • Mah jong paper or plain tablecloth
  • Small bowls
  • Knife
  • Clear plastic sheet (same size as your table top)

What to do

1. Put different coloured paints in separate bowls (or paper plates)

2. Cut the oranges in half

3. Spread out a large sheet of mah jong paper or plain table cloth on the floor

4. Let your kids dip the oranges into some paint and press it onto the paper to create pretty print images

5. Once the paper/ cloth has been filled up and the paint has dried, cover it with a clear plastic sheet on a table to be admired during your family’s meal time!

Go to the next page for some more Hungry Ghost Festival themed craft ideas!

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Turn a small milk carton into a miniature house and a tall milk carton can become a two-storey house or even an HDB flat!

4. Milk carton house

The reason why some people burn paper offerings in shapes of houses, cars, clothes, handphones and other luxury items is due to an ancient Chinese folklore.

Most of these paper offerings are so well crafted and look like impressive works of art!

Get creative with your child and make your own mini house while also doing your part for the environment by reusing materials that otherwise will just be thrown out.

What you will need

  • Empty milk carton (with triangular top)
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Craft glue
  • Scrap book embellishments
  • Penknife
  • Colouring markers

What to do

1. Carefully cut out windows and doors

2. Let your child paint a base colour on the milk carton

3. Decorate the tiny house with the scrap book embellishments

4. Enjoy playing with the teeny tiny house!

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Floating river lanterns are believed to help guide spirits along

5. Floating river lantern

If you want to send the spirits along on their merry way, you can let some floating river lanterns set sail and it is said that ghosts will follow them.

These lanterns come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours and you can have lots of fun making one from scratch with your child.

What you will need

  • Styrofoam
  • Coloured rice paper
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Craft glue
  • Tea light candles
  • Scissors
  • Penknife

What to do

1. Use the styrofoam as the base and cut it into whatever shape you like

2. Bend the wire to create the frame of your lantern

3. Stick the coloured rice paper onto the wire frame

4. Place a tea light candle inside

5. Light the candle and release your floating river lantern into a body of water to guide the spirits far, far away…

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Use any size bowl you like to create your very own handmade clay bowl

6. Clay bowl of love

Legend has it that one of Buddha’s disciples, Mu Lian, displayed great filial piety towards his departed mother by making offerings with the hopes of easing her torment in purgatory.

This could even possibly be how the whole Hungry Ghost Festival originated!

One of the gifts was a bowl of rice, so in honour of Mu Lian’s gesture of love, you and your kids can try your hand at creating a clay bowl together.

What you will need

  • Air dry clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Bowl
  • Paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubber stamps (optional)
  • Plastic knife
  • Baking rack
  • Varnish (optional)

What to do

1. Roll out the air dry clay until it is flat

2. Place a bowl upside down onto the clay and help your child carefully cut around it with the plastic knife

3. Peel away the excess clay, leaving behind a circular piece of flat clay

4. Gently press the clay inside the bowl so it takes shape

5. Decorate the clay by painting in it free-hand, or stamping on designs (be careful not to press down too hard)

6. Allow the clay to dry and harden overnight and carefully remove it from the bowl the next day

7. Let the clay bowl dry completely by placing it upside down on a baking rack

8. You may choose to brush on a layer of varnish to give it a glossy look

9. Use this beautiful new bowl to hold your jewellery or just for *decorative purposes 

*Do note that the clay bowl will not be safe to be used for eating

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Avoid covering your forehead during the Hungry Ghost Festival

7. Snazzy hair bands

There is a belief that you should not cover your forehead during the Hungry Ghost Festival, as this the centre of your qi (life energy) which helps to ward off evil entities.

It is recommended for you to use hair clips or a hair band to keep your locks out of your face.

Jazz up some plain old hairbands for your kids to wear and keep them safe from spirits during this month.

What you will need

  • Plain hairbands
  • Ribbons
  • Beads
  • Glitter
  • Artificial flowers (without stems)
  • Colourful buttons
  • Bows, lace
  • Feathers
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors

What to do

1. Wrap the plain hair bands with ribbon 

2. Let your kids have a ball of a time glueing on bits and bobs of whatever their hearts desire!

3. Your little ones can now use the new spruced up hair bands to keep spirits at bay

 

We’d love to see all your creative Hungry Ghost Festival themed crafts — do share your beautiful pictures with us in the comments section below!