How to Create Your Own Haunted House on a Budget
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Here are a few DIY tips to help you stage a family-friendly homemade haunted house. Hint: You'll need a lot of empty toilet paper tubes.
Nights are getting longer, the night air is getting colder, and Halloween stores and online retailers are getting busy. Children are already strategizing and mapping their neighborhoods. Adults are getting the spirit too.
It’s time to transform your own home into a haunted house and add a little spooky ambiance, and maybe a few jump-scares for little trick-or-treaters. We thought we’d some tips for creating a DIY haunted house. It’s safe, a lot of fun, and just scary enough for the little monsters and superheroes roaming the neighborhood.
Presentation, presentation, presentation!
You have to set it off right, with a spectacular entrance. That doesn’t mean you need a second mortgage loan. Get some jack-o’-lanterns, cornstalks, and maybe some tiny hay bales.
Need more creep factor?
Cut out some cardboard tombstones, and make or buy some ghosts to hang on your trees. If you’re an overachieve like me, spray-paint your pumpkins white, or add different color LEDs inside of them. Line your walkway with inflatables to guide trick-or-treaters to your doorstep, where your slightly mischievous teenager (or significant other) is disguised, doing their best to mimic an inflatable (not unlike when it's time to do their chores) ready to say “Boo!”
As professional haunted house designer, Angela Colone tells ThePioneerWoman.com, “You can cut costs by buying one professional prop and using it as a guide for making your own version of it.”
Your home likes to play dress-up too. Wrap the door with gauze or paper streamers and add a pair of terrifying plastic eyes.
Voila’! Mummy’s home!
See what I did there?
Thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace are your friends. You can probably find a portable fog machine relatively cheap to add just a little more spookiness. Make sure you leave the porch light on though. First, it lets them know that your home is “Open for Business!”. It also helps prevent unnecessary accidents. It also helps put timid or apprehensive children and their parents at ease.
Costumes, adrenaline, sugar, children…
What’s the worse that could happen?
Somebody’s Watching You
You can make floating candles very easily from toilet paper rolls with this short tutorial. It’s a low-cost way to introduce a little magic and mystery into your haunted house. There are several other uses for toilet paper and paper towel rolls. You can cut eyes out of the rolls and tape glow sticks inside, or you can paint them to look like ghosts and cover them with cheesecloth. If you’re really crafty, you can buy googly eyes from a craft store, or add origami wings, and any number of other options.
You can set up separate areas or rooms for different haunted house attractions. (It would be helpful to cordon off certain areas you don’t include in your haunted tour).
Here are a few ideas:
Head to your local thrift store (or your closet) and load up on children’s books. Have someone dress up like a wizard, or Dracula and invite the children to pick one to take home.
Have a refrigerator box or other large box laying around?
Use it to create a cardboard box ticket booth. Have someone hand out tickets (and small trick-or-treat prize bags) for easy indoor games like mini bowling, or a bean bag toss.
Mad Scientist’s Lab:
Have someone don a lab coat and become a mad scientist! Have them guide guests to tour the lab, where you have organs, and body parts, and other unsightly projects. Paint grapes like squishy eyeballs, baby carrots as fingers, or oddly long toes. Mold or carve some Jell-O into a brain.
It may be best to host this attraction in the kitchen, just in case.
It helps to have easy finger foods, and mocktails if you’re hosting family and close friends.
Make sure you have a parting gift for your guests. Plastic spider rings, cool pencils (preferably not sharpened…), or other small gifts are a great way to send children home with something besides candy.
Most importantly, have fun!
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