Famed TV artist icon Bob Ross was know for painting Happy Little Trees and everyone loved them. How could you not?! Well if you’re in the mood for the creepy version of those happy little trees, you’ve come to the right place. First, let’s gather some supplies:

  • cardboard tubes (mailing tubes, wrapping paper tubes or architect tubes)
  • pool noodles
  • cling wrap
  • Great Stuff Foam Insulation
  • Charcoal Matte Chalked Spray Paint
  • latex paint
  • heat gun
  • drill
  • small thin zip ties
  • off white/tan acrylic paint.
  • razor blade
  • heat resistant gloves

Start off with the cardboard tubes. I found an architecture company here locally and asked if they had old tubes from tracing paper. They did! A TON. I wound up running by there and taking it off their hands for free. Each tube was about 3 feet tall. So I knew I wanted to double stack the tubes to give me six feet of tree before the branches. I took the tubes and drilled holes at the tops of four of them and then on the bottom of the other four and used zip ties to attach them. then clipped of the zip ties.

Once you have the tubes zip tied together, next it was time to use the Great Stuff foam to make the “bark” of the trees. Be sure to wear gloves with this stuff. It will expand as it dries so go lightly with it otherwise you might end up with very large lumpy trees which could also be cool. Start at one end and go to the end in one long spray. Then go back to the top and start again. You may have to spray one side, wait till it cures and then turn it over to do the other side.

TIP: A spray bottle of water will help cure the foam faster. Don’t douse it, just lightly spray.

Once the trees are covered in foam, you’ll want to start on the branches. Using a razor blade, take the pool noodles and slice them in four sections. So each pool noodle has 4 branches from the one base. Also take one pool noodle and cut off smaller branches for the sides. Once you have your branches, slide the pool noodles into the top of the tree top in the cardboard tubes and secure with more Great Stuff.

Take the cling wrap and wrap it around the pool noodles and create ripples. You don’t want it to be smooth. Take the heat gun and begin to melt and bend the pool noodles to make the branch shapes. BE SURE YOU ARE IN A WELL VENTILATED SPACE. Outside is best!


After the branches are in we are ready to paint. Spray paint will melt or disintegrate the foam so you will first need to prime the whole tree (trunk and branches) with a latex paint. When the whole thing is covered in the base coat, you can use the matte spray paint to coat the tree in a non glossy matte finish.

Some happy creepy trees coming to life!

Be sure the trees are completely dry, be patient. Time to dry brush the tree to show off some of the textures. Using a new dry brush, lightly take the off white or tan acrylic paint and go over most of the tree. The white/tan should only accent parts of the tree.

After all is dry you can decide to attach a plywood base for sturdiness. Myself I opted to use a hook to attach to the frames of the wall. Next year I think I will get some plywood and plumber pipe as a base and slide the bottom of the tubes over the plumber pipe to keep it standing upright on it’s own. Also adding some uplighting is very effective in helping with a spooky look. I bought some great stage uplighting from Amazon.


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