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Create Your Own Haunted House

As the weeks wind toward Halloween, perhaps your family would like to make its own spooky house this holiday season. This spooky house could beckon the trick or treaters to take a tour before they receive their treats (or tricks?) or to spook up some holiday fun the weekend before the big night in the neighborhood. Whatever your motivation, here are a few tips to bring the haunts alive:

  • Decide on the space you want to use. This could be your yard, your home or just one area of your house, like the basement.
  • Plan your entrance and exit and think through what types of spooks and scares you want to include in your plan.
  • Get help — to not only transform the Haunted House, but to participate in spooking it as well.
  • Don’t forget to add eerie lighting, scary sounds, and darkness. Throw dark sheets or black garbage bags over the windows so no light will be able to get through.
  • Replace your outside bulbs with orange bulbs. Also, you could have a black light bulb for your porch light if you have some glow-in-the-dark decorations hung close-by.
  • If you have some leftover Tiki torches from your summer parties, use those to light the path to the front door of your haunted house.
  • Alternatively, string clear or orange Christmas lights, or if you are going for cuter, rather scary, try these fun spider lights.
  • Hang spider web netting all throughout that your guests will get entangled in!
  • Hang a “dead guy” in the front entrance: stuff a pair of jeans and a shirt with newspaper, and use an old bleach container cut out into a face.
  • Top with an old hat.
  • Decorate your doors to look like coffins, using butcher paper and paint
  • Using large appliance boxes, you can make coffins, fake walls, crypt chambers, etc.
  • Set up a spooky dinner table, have a silver tray with a Jell-O brain mold atop, finger food or a severed hand or head. Set a Monster dummy or a real person at the table about to eat the feast. Creepy!
  • Hang wet yarn from the ceiling for your guests to walk through.
  • Have bloody hands lying around.  As a DYI, fill surgical gloves with sand and tie them off with a rubber band. Add the effect of blood with red paint on the fingers. Creepy!
  • Spritz cold water on the guests as they enter the Haunted House.
  • Use dry ice to make a boiling cauldron or for a foggy effect, but be very careful to not let the dry ice touch anyone! A better option would be a fog machine … it is a bit pricey, but you may be able to rent it out to others throughout the year!

Some helpful tips:

  • Small children may be afraid or may not be able to handle going through the scary house. You can always alert your actors to be “gentle” and take off their masks and hand out treats to make the spooky house a friendlier one. You can also set an age limit for entrance. Although it will be dark, make sure you have enough light for people to see their way through. Again, clear Christmas lights placed strategically will work well if you are on a budget.
  • Don’t let the dry ice touch anyone! It can cause serious injury! Do not use candles or other flames — too much of a safety hazard. Try battery operated candles or glow sticks instead.
  • Make sure that the actors don’t touch anyone as they make their way through the haunted house … just play their acting role, i.e. looking creepy, playing dead, etc.
  • Make sure your space has adequate ventilation.
  • Make sure you have enough help!

Happy Haunting!

By Lisa Kothari, Peppers and Pollywogs

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