Neil Gaiman is promoting All Hallow's Read, his most excellent idea of making book-gifting part of the Halloween tradition. As a tie-in, our library is planing a kids' book prize drawing. Details are still being worked out, but we have the box. It's dirt-simple to make -- GRAVE dirt simple, bwahahaha...
What you need:
A cardboard box.
Contact paper with a wood-grain appearance.
Black construction paper.
Construction paper of other colors.
Dot stickers (optional.)
An old black sock.
Tape up the box so it's nice and solid, then cover it with the contact paper. (The contact paper I used was eager to stick to itself, so you might want to peel it slowly.)
Now create "shadowy gaps" in the wood with jagged pieces of black construction paper. You can glue or tape these on. Then you can use construction paper of other colors, or white paper and markers, to create weird glimpses of Things inside the box.
The tricky part is putting a hole in the top of the box. I decorated first and then cut a hole, which is probably not the wisest method, but it worked. Cut a hole in the top big enough to get your hand through. Take an old black sock, preferably one you don't want to wear anymore, and cut it above the bend. Now staple the cut end to the box, like so. (Be careful, I got bloodied in this step. How many more staple wounds will you inflict, accursed box, how many!?) I used a craft stick to blunt the staple ends poking through on the inside.
Now it's ready to go, and you can drop in tickets or trinkets or eyeballs or whatever. Speaking of eyeballs, here's another side of the box. These eyes are just pairs of yellow dot stickers, of the sort that proliferate in librarians' desks. A little black marker adds pupils and boo! more haunts for the box.
Thanks to Marlene Iwamoto and Karen Armor for ideas.