Whether you’re transforming your home into a festive haunt for trick-or-treaters, gearing up for a killer (kids’ or adults’) costume party, or creating a haunted house of your own for fun or fundraising, you just can’t celebrate Halloween without doing a spooky little home makeover. All it takes to make haunting your house safe, affordable, and fun is a little creativity.
DIY Your Décor
You could spend a fortunate haunting your house – a fog machine here, an animatronic monster there – but you don’t have to. A creepy craft is perfect for Halloween, and there are so many do-it-yourself ideas to choose from that you can easily make enough personalized decorations to fill your house with fright. The best part? You can tailor every project to your personal style, whether it’s eerie elegance, blood and gore, zombie apocalypse, or creepy clowns.
A few ideas to get you started:
These awesome spooky silhouettes will dress up the windows of your home without a lot of expense or even materials. You just need black paper, a white chalk pencil, scissors, and the free downloadable stencils. Photo and idea credit: Make: blog via TrendHunter.
Inside your house, what’s freakier than dozens of glowing faces staring from a pitch black room? Cheap white masks, neon spray paint, and a black light create this distorted effect. Photo and idea credit: 102 Wicked Things to Do.
These human-sized ghosts are creepy enough to look professionally made (and expensive), but you can construct them yourself with chicken wire, cheesecloth, and semi-sheer fabric. Photo and idea credit: DIY Network.
Your DIY projects don’t have to end here. From classics like carved jack-o’-lanterns and fake spider webs to mirror ghosts cut from clingy frosted window film, your options are endless. Just remember to follow any safety precautions necessary for the tools you’re using, and you’ll be well on your way to making an affordably (and safely) scary haunt.
Set the Tone
Nothing makes for a creepy scene like a little music – music of the night, that is. You can use a free online music streaming radio site like Pandora or build your own playlist (again, for free) with a service like Spotify.
What kind of music makes for eerie Halloween listening?
For classical tastes, Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous organ composition Toccata and Fugue, often used in haunted houses and scary movie scenes, is a great choice. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
- Popular classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
- Soundtracks from your favorite Halloween movies, whether horror films (think Psycho or Friday the 13th) or comedies (like Beetlejuice or Ghostbusters)
- Television soundtracks, like themes from The Addams Family or The Twilight Zone
Feed the Ghosts
What’s Halloween without a treat? For trick-or-treaters you don’t necessarily know, your best bet is to use prepackaged candy or other snacks – after all, a good rule of thumb for children and their parents is to only accept Halloween treats from strangers if it’s certain that the food hasn’t been tampered with.
For private parties, though, anything goes.
Deviled “eyeball” eggs? Photo Credit: Flickr.
Mummy mini pizzas? Photo Credit: Flickr.
“Bleeding” vampire cupcakes? Photo Credit: Flickr.
Do’s and Don’ts of Haunting Your House (and Keeping It Safe)
Crafty decorations, festive music, and a frightening feast are all you need for a party, but suppose you’re going for something truly chilling. Many people transform their homes into a haunted house for trick-or-treaters or adult celebrators, but it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you avoid creating any real safety hazards for your guests – or legal problems for yourself. One thing you don’t want is for your Halloween fun to become scary for real.
- DO use your favorite special effects – fog machines, strobe lights, black lights, sound effects, and more – but DON’T forget to warn guests what they might experience. Sure, you want the element of surprise, but what you don’t want is to cause someone to suffer a seizure or asthma attack. DO read the instructions and safety precautions before you set up these effects. DO use props instead of real weapons (like chainsaws) to protect everyone at the site, not only from accidental injuries but also from exposure to fumes and excessive noise.
Only use fog machines outdoors or in rooms that have enough ventilation, and know where these and other electronics can safely be plugged in and whether they will get hot enough to burn someone. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
- DO use darkness and dim lighting to disorient visitors, but DON’T allow there to be any real tripping hazards in their paths. You don’t want someone to fall and get hurt. Also, DON’T use candles or real flames of any kinds if there’s a chance they might be left unattended. A fire would be frightening for all the wrong reasons. Make necessary lighting part of the scene with fake cobwebs or dark draped fabric and consider replacing regular light bulbs with colorful ones that can complement the room décor and theme. Take advantage of the shadows your lights create to hide moving decorations or actual human scarers.
- DO use a combination of props and people to do your scaring, but DON’T assign roles without planning first. Effects that seem like props but turn out to be real people can easily startle guests, but make sure neither your scarers nor your guests will be in danger.
When the head on a platter begins moving and talking, unsuspecting guests jump. This is a safe and effective trick. The long tablecloth and a hole cut in the “table” makes it easy to hide the rest of the scarer’s body. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
If you want a human scarer hanging from a tree, though, you’ll have to make sure you buy and correctly install a safety harness – otherwise the actor could fall. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
- Finally, DO be aware of any legal or insurance risks you could open yourself up to while hosting your haunted house. Even in commercial haunted houses, the kind that are created and staffed by real businesses, there are limits on what actors can and can’t do for purposes of protecting visitors and reducing the liability of the actors and the company. As the owner of a private residence, you should set down some ground rules, too. While it might a fun prank to scare a friend by grabbing them, grabbing a stranger in the same way could put you at risk for assault charges. If you open your haunted house to the public, DON’T touch guests to scare them. Also, DO make sure that the property is insured and that you’re not doing anything that could void the terms of your insurance policy in case someone were to get hurt.
A little Halloween fun never hurt anyone – at least, as long as no real danger was involved. By keeping important safety tips in mind, getting crafty with décor and food, and setting the mood with music, you can make this Halloween a ghostly good time.