Fall brings with it a plethora of neighborhood traditions, the most popular of which are DIY haunted houses. From small-scale spooks to professional-grade haunts, there are homemade haunt possibilities for every experience level. These frighteningly fun tips will inspire you to roll up your sleeves to build the haunted house the whole neighborhood will be screaming about.
The first step to take is deciding the level of scares – and the level of budget – you will be utilizing. Simple scares tend to be friendlier to one’s wallet, but there are plenty of ways to provide solid scares on a budget. Take an evening out of your week to plan your haunt from top to bottom.
Age Appropriate Scares
If your neighborhood is mostly comprised of families with younger children, plan on keeping things on the lighter side and lean more towards silly than scary. With older kids, you can amp up the scares a bit more.
A DIY haunted house calls for you to get creative with your budget. While a trip to the home improvement store may be necessary for supplies such as lumber and PVC pipes, there are plenty of items you already have at home that can be utilized for scares on the cheap. These include sheets, garbage bags, and custom tarps.
Sketch it Out
It’s well worth your while to sit down and draw up a blueprint that encompasses the full scope of your backyard haunted house. Leave no stone unturned, from the scale and size of the house to the specs of supplies needed.
It’s All About the Details
Once you’re sketched everything out, make an estimate of how long it will take to set up your haunted house, how many people it will take to run, and how much time you’ll have to set aside for taking down your backyard boo-fest.
Don’t forget to send out your invitations! Design some spooky invites with all of the details of your haunted house. Drop them off in your neighbor’s mailboxes a week or two ahead of the big event.
Your garage, work room, and even the kitchen are home to some helpful haunting supplies. PVC pipe, chicken wire, and fishing line are your friends, as are cheesecloth, spray paints, and hot glue guns. These materials offer multipurpose potential to create everything from Grim Reapers to ghosts.
A Space for Scares
After gathering up your supplies, round up the handiest members of your family and begin the construction process. Using your previously drawn up plans, mark out a dedicated space in your Autumn-ready backyard. You may have to move pieces of your outdoor living room in order to make space, so put on your custom insulated covers and store them in a safe place for the time being.
Lay your base and support first before building up and out. PVC pipes anchored by U-shaped hoops and covered with curtains are a popular choice for walls. Plywood can also be used for a solid structure.
Spooky Yet Safe
Whatever method of construction you choose, be sure to implement safety features for both you and your guest. These measures include clearly marked entrances and exits and the use of only non-flammable materials throughout.
Now that your haunted house has been raised from the dead, you can focus on setting the spooky scene. Stream a playlist of Halloween sound effects and creepy music throughout the haunt. Strobe lights and red bulbs create a chilling ambiance, while fog machines add some doom and gloom.
Add in some unconventional accessories such as outdoor daybed covers personalized with some creepy graphics or splattered with fake blood made out of red food coloring mixed with a hint of chocolate sauce. These simple measures will make a haunted house that rivals the pros.
Activities for All
It’s important to remember that the best haunted houses offer more than scary strolls for their guests. Be sure to have Halloween themed activities on hand for post-house walkthroughs as well as for those who aren’t keen on scares.
Blindfold a guest and have them stick their hand in a “Mystery Bowl”- what feels like eyes or brains are actually peeled grapes, ground meat, or cold al dente spaghetti. Just be sure to put on table top covers beforehand to prevent any ghoulish goop from spilling over.
Classic activities such as bobbing for apples, pumpkin painting, or even a small scale costume contest will keep your younger guests entertained while the older guests are conquering your ferocious frights.