When our children were little, we went with family-friendly Halloween décor in our yard and throughout our home. As they aged, they begged for a change in our Halloween routine. They wanted to be the spookiest house on the block, so we delivered. From fog machines and spooky music to a “haunted” graveyard and “haunted” maze we constructed in the garage and driveway, ours was the house that the teens in our neighborhood lined up for.
There was a lot of trial and error the first couple of years, but we eventually delivered the fright on Halloween night.
Here are a few tips and some of the hottest trends on decorating to put the scream in your Halloween.
Set up a child friendly area
Small children rarely look to be scared on Halloween. Often dressed as their favorite cartoon characters and super-heroes the littlest trick or treaters are looking for fun and candy, not ghouls and goblins designed to give them nightmares. Always set a haunted maze up away from the street and keep the front-end kid friendly. Use cartoonish inflatables in front of the maze and graveyard and station someone at that end to keep things fun for the smallest witches and warlocks.
Fog machines for a spooky effect
A few years ago, we bought a fog machine, and I love it. We have two now because they are so versatile, one I use in my garage for the haunted maze and the second, I use in the “haunted” graveyard for a spooky effect. Speaking of haunted graveyards…
Create a haunted graveyard
The haunted graveyard takes a little more work than just throwing up a bunch of decorations, but it’s by and far my favorite every year. To keep from spoiling the fun, I set up my graveyard a few days before the holiday. The first thing I always do is set up my tombstones. I made my own using two-by-fours, plywood and spray paint. (Lowes.com has some free templates available for download.)
After I set up my tombstones at angles to make it look neglected, I like to pile rock with a shovel or two wedged into it and even throw a skull or two on top of them for the “scare” factor. I also use cobwebs and a few other items like scattered “bones,” blue lights and a rickety looking fence around the edge to dress it up.
Be as creative as you like but remember, a fog machine and homemade arch at the entrance (easy instructions at www.instructables.com/id/Cemetery-Archway-Entrance) completes the look.
Create a haunted maze
A haunted maze is a bit trickier and requires a bit more work and while I put together individual aspects of my haunted maze beforehand, I usually finish it the day of Halloween.
We use spray painted cardboard and two-by-fours to brace them up as the walls (black plastic works well too) and hang things like cobwebs, spiders and other spine-chilling décor to give visitors the creeps while they make their way through the maze. To separate halls or rooms use some shredded cheesecloth or black plastic trash bags cut into strips.
It’s good to have a theme, so when you shop for your haunted house décor, have a plan in mind so you can minimize your bang for the buck.
The best part of a haunted maze is the scare factor, we have a few holes cut into the “walls” and covered with cheesecloth so we can poke an arm through and grab at our guests as they make their way through. We also have things like small tables with skulls and other creepy items on them. One of our favorite items is an old wardrobe box saved from a previous move. We painted it black and cut a hole in the top. My son likes to pop his head through (complete with creepy makeup or an eerie mask) to scare guests. Don’t forget the fog machine, weird lighting and ominous music. Be creative and have fun.
It’s important to remember to mark the exits for your maze so people can get out quickly if they need to. Plan a clearly marked entrance and exit for your haunted house with a light source so that people can see where to go.