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How To Make a Haunted House For a Kids' Halloween Party
So many activities make for an awesome Halloween party: food that looks gross and tastes yummy, Halloween music, themed games with funny prizes, costume contests, prizes, and more. But with some effort you can add a kid-friendly haunted house to your children's Halloween party this year.
Of course the decorations and spook factor in your haunted house will be tailored to the right age group for your celebration scenario. I've chosen to focus on an elementary-aged child's Halloween party here, but some of these tips are useful no matter how old your party guests are!
Where to Put a Haunted House
Usually the first question when it comes to building your own haunted house is, "But where?!"
Not everyone has the space in their home, it's true. But you don't need a barn to make this happen. How about a garage? A basement? I'm sure if the space can be cleared of clutter that any room in your house could become a part of your attempt at terror.
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 -- ahem, I mean guests -- try to figure out which ones are real and which ones might have just moved a little...
- Black plastic sheeting (I am assuming you don't wish to purchase real cloth sheets for this, since you need quite a few!)
- Helpers, some of whom will dress in costume and spook the kids
- Staple gun (optional; see below)
- Strong black tape like Gorilla brand
- Masks (Far easier than makeup, of course, but you mainly want them for building monster props)
- Old clothes (both for your homemade monsters and for working in - you will get dusty, if nothing else)
- Decorations (Yes, this is vague. There are so many choices of Halloween decor out there that I am going to leave style and price range up to you!)
- Some form of eerie lighting, be it strobe lights or the glow of a cauldron or even strands of Christmas lights
Haunted House Walls
Before you can begin the fun of decorating your haunted house and setting it up to spook your little guests, you have to build the haunted house. But the word "build" here isn't as intimidating as it sounds. No nails or hammers involved.
First, plan out your haunted house path. If you've got a cement floor just use chalk to draw the lines of all the hallways and rooms. Or, if you don't want to mark up a nice hardwood floor or carpeting, stick down masking tape to form the pathway.
The plastic sheeting will come on a long roll. You can measure the length you will need to cover floor to ceiling and then cut up the tarp accordingly.
If you have a ceiling with wooden beams running across it, such as in a traditional garage, you'll have an easier time hanging the black sheets. You can just use a staple gun to stick those sheets up there.
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 sheet to the ceiling.
Once the haunted house 'walls' are secured to the ceiling you may want to use black tape to secure them to the floor as well. This prevents fluttering of the plastic as guests wall through.
You'll definitely need to tape up the sides of the individual sheets so they become one wall! Otherwise they'll shift all over the place with any gentle breeze, not to mention leave gaps.
A trick we found incredibly simple and the kids thought was cool was to buy glow-in-the-dark bottles of paint and just go crazy squirting the colors all over the black plastic! We took two sheets of the plastic for our walls and laid them out on a table. Then we started drawing squiggly lines in random patterns all up and down. Let it dry for the time stated on the bottle. Then hang those sheets just like all the others. It's not scary, but it's a neat, weird effect!
Buy lightweight spooky portraits at your local Halloween store! The flat or cheap plastic type, as opposed to something heavier and bulkier, are best as you may be hanging these on plastic tarp. If you'll be using the real walls of your actual home then feel free to choose some weighty portraits with creepy old frames! In these pictures the eyes move and the faces change and only a blacklight is enough to make them glow. Use black tape, which shouldn't show up in a properly dark haunted house, to get them to hang from the walls and create a hallway of your ghostly 'ancestors'.
Another fun way to decorate the walls is with glow-in-the-dark (of course!) spiders. Hopefully the spiders come with strings. If not, just use some fishing line or any other thin white or clear thread. Again, a piece of black tape at the top of the string will fade into the surrounding darkness when the lights go off and your spiders will appear to be suspended only by their 'web'.
Like the multi-colored paint streaks above, not everything has to be frightening on its own to give off a sense of Halloween fun and mischief in your kid-friendly haunted house.
Strings of Halloween lights can be purchased at any Halloween store. They come in all sorts, from spooky orange and purple to regular white or ever-changing colors. A string of skeleton lights hung from the ceiling created a cool effect to "Ooh" over for the kids and provided a soft glow to highlight one of our scary monster statues. If you don't have hooks available to string the lights, you can once against use the black tape at the end points of the lights' wire.
Try layering decorations to create a spookier, 3-dimensional effect or a full wall display. For example: we hung plastic Halloween wallpaper and then added a skeleton window drape and a warning sign.
Who would think bubblewrap has a place in a haunted house? But it does! I'd recommend the kind with the larger bubbles, as the sound will be a louder surprise snap when walked on. In a particularly dark spot lay some over the floor, preferably right around a corner. You'll need to replace it ever so often, a job for the closest live monster. This simple little trick got the most squeals from the kids at our party.