Amanda is a huge Halloween fan! Every October she spends her time building monsters and planning family-friendly fun for the season.
Want to add a haunted house to a children's Halloween party? You can! The kids will love it and the adults are going to have a blast creating it.
While it will take some effort, you don't need to be Martha Stewart or a professional haunter to pull this off. You can change up the decorations based on the age group you wish to spook, and of course budget varies for everyone. But these tips for making a haunted house will be quick and easy enough to use no matter your skill or spending level.
1. Find a Place to Haunt
Usually the first question when it comes to creating your own haunted house is, "But where?" Space is possibly the biggest obstacle in making a home haunt. Let's get this issue out of the way!
Not everyone has the space in their home, it's true. But don't feel like you need a barn to make this happen either! How about a garage? A basement? I'm sure if it can be cleared of clutter that any room in your house could become a part of your attempt at scaring small children.
Don't worry about moving heavy furniture -- instead, use it! Drape a creepy cloth over a coffee table and put a fortune teller's ball on top, or seat your monsters on the couch and let your victims try to figure out which ones are real and which creatures might have just moved a little.
2. Gather Supplies
Almost every other step on this list will involve working with materials, whether they're simply office supplies or actual Halloween decorations. Consider the basics listed here while keeping in mind your own unique setting and situation. Make a list and head to the stores!
Check online ahead of time for best deals - though keep in mind shipping cost and time if you plan to order directly from websites. And be sure to track down any coupons too! Spirit Halloween often offers 20% off one item, for example. Craft supplies stores also generally have discounts.
Common DIY haunted house supplies: black plastic sheets, staple gun, heavy-duty black tape, scotch tape, PVC pipes.
And of course you will want to collect any needed decorations! Check places such as Salvation Army and your local swap groups on Facebook. Old clothes and cheap masks make for great "monster parts."
3. Design a Layout
Before you can begin the fun of decorating a haunted house and setting it up to spook your little guests, you have to build a haunted house. But the word "build" here isn't as intimidating as it sounds. No nails or hammers involved, unless you want them to be!
This is the floor plan of your "house." Will guests walk through tunnels and long hallways? Be left to explore a room freely? Be led from scare to scare by a mysterious guide? Based on the space you have available to work with, you likely have an idea of the layout of your haunted house.
To create an enclosed space or pathway, that black plastic sheeting is our best friend! If you have a ceiling with wooden beams running across it, such as in a garage, you'll have an easier time hanging the sheets - you can just use a staple gun.
If that isn't an option for you, then that's where heavy duty black tape comes in. It's a bit trickier to coordinate, but you can simply tape the top edge of the plastic to the ceiling.
Once the haunted house 'walls' are in place, you may want to use tape or pins to secure them to the floor as well. This prevents fluttering of the plastic as guests walk through. For the same reason, you should also tape (or pin, staple, etc.) the individual sheet hangings together where they line up.
...or lack thereof. But unless you have created a smooth, simple tunnel of terror (with nothing for people to trip on) then you don't watch pitch blackness. Plus after all your hard work, you probably want guests to see your cool props and pieces! Finding the balance between "too light" and "just right" may be tricky, but there are plenty of solutions!
It may go without saying, but: cover all natural sources of light with thick drapes or boards. If blackout curtains and the darkly colored walls you've hung still leave too much light, then don't rely on startling people. Instead, create an eerie atmosphere with props and decor that creep them out or make them gaze in awe.
You can also try drawing their eye away from certain monster-dwelling areas in order to keep future surprises in store. If they're looking at a ghostly portrait on the wall, they may not see that vampire creeping up behind them. Fog will hide the ground and strobe lights will force people to squint and turn their heads away.
Ideas for haunted house lighting include black lights, glow-in-the-dark objects, some electronic decorations, and strands of colored Halloween bulbs.
5. Spooky Sound
What would a haunted house be without clanking chains and shrill shrieks? You are probably familiar with basic Halloween sound effect CDs and machines. Nowadays you can even find options for apps to put on your phone. Cackling witches, bubbling cauldrons, howling werewolves, and more go a long way to create the spooky atmosphere you want.
Here's a cool idea: bubble wrap! It works best with little kids, of course; but if carefully hidden beneath a low-floating mist or a rug, even grownups will be startled when their next step creates a loud POP! You'll need to replace it every so often, a job for the closest live monster. This simple little trick is guaranteed to get squeals.
Let's acknowledge what we all know is true: the previous steps were all in order to reach this one. You did the work, so now comes the fun. Choosing the haunted house's decor is the best part!
Perhaps you have a theme in mind and I'm sure the age of your guests/victims affects your decisions too. You might also get crafty or thrifty to keep cost low, or perhaps you've got a nice budget to work with. No matter what your limitations, the options are still plenty!
DIY Halloween props: online tutorials fill the internet, thank goodness! One material commonly used to build your own Halloween monsters is PVC piping. Just try a quick Google image search to see what I mean!
Think lightweight when hanging decor on your haunted house walls. Dollar store skeleton portraits and plastic spiders can all be stuck to your black sheets with dark tape or even a strong glue, since you won't reuse the plastic.
Don't be afraid to keep it classic with cotton cobwebs and grinning skeletons, too.
Remember: you don't have to use "live" monsters. You have now made your own haunted house, so this final detail is your choice too! Considerations:
Who will "play" your creatures in this feature? In all likelihood there will be lots of your friends and family members who think this 'job' sounds like a blast! Do any of them have their own masks, robes, makeup, etc?
Remember, this is a kid-friendly haunted house. How will your guests react to a moving monster? Tone it down or play it up as needed.
What kind of monsters will lurk in the shadows of your haunt? Rather than simply thinking of what would be cool, consider what you have available for costuming or the pieces you can obtain easily and cheaply.
As you can see, making a haunted house for your children's Halloween party doesn't require any professional skills nor do you need to break the bank. Just be creative and keep in mind the whole point: having fun!
© 2012 Amanda