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How to create your own Halloween haunted house

Halloween is fun for kids of all ages! Want to try something that’s as fun to make as it is to experience? Then create your own haunted house! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Make Halloween spooky and fun

Prep your location

First you need to find a great location, then prepare it for your guests.

  • Pick a room or space that has good access and is clear of any safety hazards. While a haunted “house” can be almost anywhere, such as a basement, garage, living room or a large veranda, you need to have enough space for the victims — or rather, the visitors — to move around.
  • Use old sheets dyed black or panels of black garbage bags connected with black tape to cover or block off the everyday living world, including blacking out the windows.
  • Start to plan out an eerie lighting scheme. If you need to use regular lighting, switch to ultra-low-watt bulbs, and add dimmers. Under-mounted lights, black lights, strobe lights, coloured light bulbs and flameless candles can add to the macabre mood, but don’t use real candles for safety reasons. Makes sure to securely tape all cords flat to the ground or floor.

Include the outdoors

A huge part of the fun is the anticipation of what’s to come, so help build the tension by making your yard part of the fright fest!

  • Create a graveyard with ghostly apparitions, crosses, tombstones, skulls and bones. Use low-watt spotlights or landscape lights to highlight a few tombs and light up the pathway.
  • Hang or place oversized spiders and webs on windows, above doors and “crawling” up the side of the house.
  • Play spooky sound effects music to add to the atmosphere.
  • Use a fog machine to create layers of fog rolling in.
  • Instead of a door at the entryway, hang black curtains for your guests to walk through.

Involve your family and friends

The best Halloween haunts involve real, interactive people and not just props.

  • For bone-chilling entertainment, make sure to have as many ghouls — that is, your haunted team of family and friends — as possible inhabiting your “house,” and that includes everyone dressing the part!
  • Your helpers can hide behind curtains, masses of spiderwebs, curtains, tombstones, etc., or just blend in with all the other props.
  • There are lots of scary things they can do to freak out your guests. They can jump out at people, slowly peek out from behind a prop, peer through cut-out eyes of a novelty portrait, laugh menacingly, stand motionless behind the guests or sit brooding in a chair. If you have a theme, have your helpers play a specific part in the action.

The haunted house

Having a theme can give you something to plan your haunted house around, so consider something like a haunted castle, vampire’s lair, dungeon, evil laboratory or invent one of your own! Now get creative, and keep these ideas in mind:

  • Have a logical flow to the house. For the best experience, have the victims move through the house in one direction.
  • Keep the lighting low, and highlight some of your focal points, such as ghoulish faces or gruesome props.
  • Have at least five frightening things happen in the house. They could be big or small, but keep the tension by surprising the guests. To get a big scream at the end, create a huge scare, and before they can recover, give them another, even bigger scare.
  • Some freaky frights include bats swooping down, spiders dropping from the ceilings, the feeling of someone lightly brushing past in the dark, sudden movements by a helper hidden by props, and being hit with a squirt of cold water from a water gun, but just use these ideas as a starting point, and then let your imagination soar!
For a great selection of pre-made props and decorations, check out PartyCity, or for some spooky accessories and DIY projects, Michaels has some great ideas.

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