I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love fall, but what I haven’t talked a lot about is Halloween in particular. While Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday, Halloween isn’t far behind. I like the cute and friendly decorations, but I also love creeping out friends and visitors with something scary and maybe a tad gory. This year’s venture includes putting on an awesome Haunted House as a fundraiser for the kids’ Science Adventure Club at school.
My husband doesn’t love (okay, he hates it) being scared, but he’s helping me build the haunted house anyway. That’s true love right there. Just don’t ask him to go through it when it’s done! After doing research, shopping, and trial and error, I’ve come up with my very own tips to make a haunted house. I hope you find some of them helpful in setting up your own!
1. First you need a good go-to shopping destination that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Let’s face it, decorations can be quite pricey and you don’t want to go broke building your haunted house. For this year’s adventure I’ve turned mostly to Oriental Trading. I took my time researching the website, reading reviews, watching videos of the products, and trying to figure out what would give the best scare factor. I think what I’ve come up with is pretty darn good. I’ll spare you the time of researching and give you my favorite buys from Oriental Trading:
Undead Cathy Hanging Head – I just call her Cathy. Family laughs at me because I talk about Cathy as if she’s part of the family now. Let me just say she is CREEPY! With batteries, Cathy makes some really horrible sounds, and with lit up eyes and exposed- mangled skull, she gives a pretty good fright.
The Plush Shaking Spider is simply incredible for those with arachnophobia (which I happen to have). What’s worse than a giant hanging spider? A giant hanging spider that shakes and makes loud noises! I only wish the batteries lasted longer in this guy.
For a haunting scene, the Asylum Hospital Backdrop Banner really sets the stage for an entire room. I couldn’t believe how real some of the details looked. The faux window and light shining in – it’s all part of the backdrop! Add the right props in front and someone to jump out and scare visitors, and you’ll be set.
I was skeptical of how scary the Standing Witch with Red Apple would be, but she creeped my kids out the most! I thought, come on – she’s obviously not real. However, I think because the witch is missing pupils, she totally weirded the kids out. The first few days we had her, the kids covered her with a blanket and shoved her in a corner. She also takes batteries and makes several sounds.
Of course, add some spooky touches with hairy rats and creepy cloths.
2. Find the perfect venue. Whether you have a covered area or need to build a spook alley with PVC pipe and black plastic sheeting, make sure it’s dark, has room for your haunters, is near electrical outlets, and is safe for your guests to walk through. We happen to have an unfinished basement with concrete floors and stone walls and exposed air ducts, so it’s perfectly scary on it’s own.
3. Don’t be afraid to use your DIY skills to add some scary touches of your own. We have an old sofa we weren’t using so we stuck it in one corner of the basement and covered it with a white sheet. Then I found an old doll with ratty hair and spray painted her white. There’s something oddly haunting about an all white doll, in white clothing. I just used a plastic bag and tied it around her hair, to just spray paint her face and limbs.
Another easy DIY is fake hanging dead bodies. Elicit all of the senses in your guests. A lot of what makes a spook alley scary is the unknown. Making them have to push their way through what appears to be dead bodies is enough to send anyone screaming.
The easiest DIY of them all is to simply place a full-length mirror just around a corner in the haunted house. When guests walk around the corner and see themselves, they’ll be startled into thinking someone is jumping out at them!
4. Sights and sounds. I’d say one of the key components of any haunted house are the sights and sounds. You want there to be so much going on that the guests are slightly over-stimulated and don’t know where to look. Give them enough to look at so they are distracted when a haunter pops out to scare them. Add a fog machine, strobe lights, black lights, and of course music and sound effects.
There are my top tips for putting on a haunted house. I’d love to hear if you have any go-to scare tactics!