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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Four Steps to Creating a Dazzling 'Witching Hour' Haunted House

Today I bring you a guest post!

Want to turn your home into a bewitching, "trick-or-treating" haunt for the kids? Read on to find our four simple yet devilishly delightful ways to make your home memorable for the holiday . . .

The Whimsy Within

The end of any good haunt is the indoors, and since it is the easiest to maintain we will begin here. Decorating indoors is also a great way to enjoy your own Halloween decorations as the outside, while you will take great pride in it, is designed more to impress the neighbors and passersby - and their awe is your glee! (Cackle!)

If you don't know where to start, a bookshelf or a mission table is a great place to begin adding your whimsy. Glass bottles or sand art bottles can be used to create potion vials. Simply fill them with colored water and place them within eye's line of the door.

Old broomsticks add a wonderful bewitching style, so don't forget to place one of these in a nearby corner and hang a witch's or wizard's hat on your coat rack. A bubbling cauldron can also be made with a simple punch bowl or store bought Halloween cauldron and food-grade dry ice – which makes for a great end-of-the-haunt treat when paired with fruit juice.

Another great idea to go along with our theme? Fill these sand bottles with drinkable liquid like Kool-Aid dyed black. Don't forget to dim the lights and light the candles!

Think it Outside

Indoor scenes are easily set because we know our living room's layout in the dark. But outdoor scenes are a bit more tricky. Local corn maze experts and haunted house owners recommend beginning with a graph or sketch of what you want to do and where. The best way to do this is to take scale of your yard – what bushes, shrubs or nooks and crannies make good hiding places for figures, lights or other haunt worthy items?

Pulling off the Theme

There are many great themes out there for haunts but the best is the one that strikes your imagination the most. If you aren't a fan of our Witching Hour haunt, you can alter the steps in this article to better suit your favorite theme.

We love the idea of spells gone wrong, which is a great way to lead kids to the doorstep of the wicked witch. Use your imagination. A scarecrow can easily become a disaster with a mask from the Halloween store. Animal masks make the most peculiar sights but you can go for scarier masks if you are aiming for an older audience. This is a great place to hide a tape player that repeats "Don't mess with the witch." Check out this scary sound effects tutorial on how to make your voice really scary! Or if you chose to complete our sand bottle ideas for passing out to children you know, you could say "Don't drink the water."

Plastic feathered ravens are a hot commodity at Halloween so they are easy to find. Place them high in trees with lighted features. Again, a great place for a recording. How about "Quote the raven – Nevermore. Nevermore."

Storing Your Haunt

Depending on how complicated your haunt is you will need to store items in different ways. Decide what items can be safely housed and what items may need to be rebought. Flimsy props like scarecrows and garbage bags will need to be tossed but other pricier items like lighting and other sturdy props can be recycled.

Halloween lights are easily stored with garden hose holders. Small items can be tossed into clear bins for easy finding. Larger items may be best served in the garage or attic. Thus you might consider going vertical with large shelving units or hanging racks to safely store these items that can be dangerous with little ones around.

While these four steps are just the basics of bringing your haunt to life, the true spell of Halloween lies within your imagination. Garage sales, junk yards and other like stores are a great place to find items. Remember, it doesn't have to make sense . . . if you like it, get it and work into your decor. The results might just be magic!

Written by Chris Molnar, editor of the Halloween blog With the leaves falling, the air growing crisper and the wind beginning it's cold howl at night, friends around him will note a springier step and strange look in his eyes that they don't see during the summer! 

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