Halloween is just around the corner, and no night of trick-or-treating would be complete without at least one neighborhood haunted house. Whether you opt for a graveyard scene, a mad scientist’s laboratory, or a zombie apocalypse, the setup doesn’t have to be expensive or labor-intensive to be spooky. Follow these simple steps to make your haunted house the creepiest on the block!
Create a Spooky Atmosphere
Just a few simple steps can transform your front lawn, driveway, or patio from an everyday home to a place that sends shivers up the spines of trick-or-treaters. Firstly, black lights and/or flickering lights are a must. Black lights will make everyday t-shirts and sneakers glow an eerie white, and flickering lights create atmosphere, and make it difficult to see what’s coming next.
Find a soundtrack of scary noises to accompany your scene: wolves howling, witches cackling, chains dragging, and ghouls moaning should do the trick. Many spooky soundtracks are available for free download or as YouTube videos, and you can play them on your laptop or through Bluetooth speakers throughout the evening.
Finally, the creepy element that every haunted house needs to set a mood is dry ice. It has a short shelf life, so don’t bring it out until just before show time. Just prior to the trick-or-treating hours, pour the dry ice into buckets, cauldrons, or beakers of warm water to make bubbling noises and produce an eerie mist that will make the place appear truly haunted. Always handle dry ice with care, as contact with the skin will burn. Place dry ice containers in areas where they can’t be accessed by little hands.
Try These Easy and Convincing DIY Props
There are countless possibilities for how you could decorate your home or set the scene, and many creepy props can be purchased throughout the month of October. If you want to go the DIY route, these are a couple of favorites:
- The Head in Jar Prank. For this surprisingly convincing prop, you will need a large jar, water, food coloring, access to a laminator, and a photograph of a face that blends front and side views. If you want to make one yourself, you can create a suitable image by photoshopping three images together yourself, or you can search online for existing images that are easy to download and print. Once you have your picture printed, trim it to fit in your jar, laminate it, and place it in the jar with the image facing out, curved so that the photo takes on the shape of the jar. Finally, fill the jar with water dyed green, yellow, or another creepy color that looks like preserving liquid.
- Chicken Wire Ghosts. To create spooky figures that can either stand alone or hang from trees, mold chicken wire into the desired shape of the apparition. You can try making a full body, from head to legs, or just the shape of a dress standing alone without head or limbs. Don’t worry about getting the details exactly right – these decorations are meant to be viewed from a distance. If desired, you can also drape the final project with white linens or tie on scraps of cloth that flutter with gusts of wind.
- Creepy “Ingredients” You Can Touch. This is a classic, especially if your haunted house caters to children. Play the role of the mad scientist and allow kids to reach (but not look) into your containers to feel icky ingredients: peeled grapes for eyeballs, Jell-O for brains, cold cooked spaghetti for veins, and anything else you can think of.
Don’t Forget the Candy, and Have Fun!
After they’ve braved your haunted house, reward your visitors with treats, and above all, have fun. If the festivities leave an unplanned mess, and you need help removing fake blood, sticky candies, silly string or other debris from your driveway, the team at COIT is happy to help.