Start by making sure that any windows which face the front of the house have been blacked out from inside. Black plastic garbage bags work fine. You may have to split them or double them up but they're cheap enough. Black plastic shower curtains can often be found in the dollar stores. Grab a lot if you can find them because we'll be using them later.
Replace your porch and outside lights with blue, red, or orange bulbs. A black light works great on the porch if you have some glow-in-the-dark critters or effects you can place nearby. If your street is well lit then the black light effect is reduced, so save your money in that case.
Portable spot or flood lights with colored bulbs can be aimed at your roof or door to add additional lighting effects. If you have some Tiki Torches left over from the summer then place them strategically up and down the front walk.
Wal-Mart and the better Dollar Stores have Halloween lights that are a lot like Christmas lights but have little pumpkins or cats on each bulb. They're cheap and you can string them around railings and lay them in bushes. Of course you'll need some black cats, jack-o’-lanterns and fake spider webs hanging from the porch.
Decorate your front door to look like a coffin. It’s a great effect. You can also buy the Styrofoam grave stones to put on your lawn or you can make them yourself out of spare lumber and some black or grey paint. Don't forget the scary music, wolf howls plus some moans and groans!
Inside the Front Door
When your gory guests first set foot inside your haunted house, set the tone for the remainder of their visit by having a body hanging from the inside light fixture or some other convenient point of death. Stuff a pair of jeans and an old shirt like you're making a scarecrow. You can use an empty bleach container for the face and cut out or paint on the features. Top it off with an old hat. Or, as an alternative, hang a huge papier-mâché bat instead of the dead guy. Don't forget plenty of plastic spiders and webs.
If there are rooms or staircases leading from the entryway which are not part of the tour, cover them with those extra shower curtains that I told you to get, or use more garbage bags. If you have a friend who is a cop, see if you can score some crime scene tape to wrap around off-limit areas. Hey, the local PD might even donate some if you agree to put up a sign somewhere thanking them for their assistance. Police Departments have community outreach officers so they're the ones to call.
The remainder of the house
Close off doors to rooms where you don't want visitors to go. Decorate the doors to look like coffins, or hang ghoulish effects over them. You can also block them off using black plastic or shower curtains. Most visitors won't even know that the doors are there. Doors to off-limit rooks are also great places to station your human ghoul helpers who will be jumping out and scaring the dickens out of your guests. Just make sure that they know to never actually touch anyone. That can open you up to a lot of legal problems and it might get them into a fist-fight with a visitor with no sense of humor.
Create you inside effects by using dark and colored lighting in each room. Black light sensitive decorations work great inside but only if you have black light bulbs installed!
Sprinkle gruesome props throughout your rooms. You can make great bloody hands by filling surgical gloves up with sand, tying the open end off with a rubber band, and then some “blood” effects with red paint Dry ice creates great fog effects but it will burn the skin if touched so don't leave it where guests can get at it.
Hang creepy things from the ceilings. Wet (not dripping wet) yarn feels really creepy when it brushes across someone’s face as they are entering a dark room. Spirtz it throughout the night to keep it wet. Remember that most fishing line will react to black lights so use black thread instead.
Walk through each room as if you were a visitor. Fill in empty areas with appropriate props. Re-walk the house several times until you are 100% happy. Remember that you have a lot of flammable things in your haunted house. Candles, smoking and lighted flames of any type are off limits! Keep several a fire extinguishers handy and spread them around the house. Make sure that your helpers know how to use them. Also make sure that each helper has a flashlight and knows where the room’s light switches are in case anyone gets hurt or a young child becomes too frightened to continue the tour.
That’s it. You're on your way to having the dream haunted house that you've always wanted. Better get busy. It will be Halloween before you know it.
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