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How to Create a Scary Halloween Scene

Updated on October 14, 2011

Trying to beat the neighbors for the BEST Halloween display on the street?

Halloween is probably my very favorite holiday ever so I go a little crazy with the decorations! If you want to have the spookiest Haunted House on the street you are sure to find some great decorations here!

I have never found a Haunted House that actually scared me, although I really have tried! If you want the scariest Haunted house in the neighborhood, please remember, sometimes less is more.

You can set the mood and use the decorations as suggestions to get your visitors really thinking. When you use the decorations, imagine if it were real- would you be trying to hide some of it? If so, then try to make it look as if you DID try to hide it while still keeping it visible!

You can also visit this article for detailed instructions on crafting your own Life sized Halloween monster out of house hold materials!

Image copyright expired, Author unknown

Normally I write about autism and Autism advocacy, that is why you will see little notes about the sensory impact of these Halloween decorations. Most Halloween decorations are not sensory friendly so if there is a child in your neighborhood with autism, I hope that you will take a few minutes to read my article Tips for Trick or Treating with a child who has Autism for ways that you help make trick or treating a fun experience for them if they come to your door!

By William Miller (engraving, touched proof) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons{{PD-US/layout | text = ''This media file is in the '''[[w:public domain|public domain]]''' in the [[United States]]. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright ha
By William Miller (engraving, touched proof) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons{{PD-US/layout | text = ''This media file is in the '''[[w:public domain|public domain]]''' in the [[United States]]. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright ha

Image By William Miller

Buying the biggest, scariest decorations is not what makes a haunted house great

Attention to detail and careful placement are even more important!

The best way to create a really cool Halloween display in your yard while saving money is to remember a few simple tricks like using what you already have, creating a bigger effect using careful placement and light and shadow and sometimes, it's not what you see, but what you don't see!

Everyday items can be brought out and used as decorations! For example, when creating an area with skeleton bones on the lawn, I personally like to get a small amount of potting soil and make mounds around the bones to look as if the skeleton is clawing it's way up through the earth!

Around one grave I like to make a larger mound (I usually reserve this one for an area of lawn that is not so healthy anyway or in an empty area in a flowerbed) and lay a shovel and a lantern near them as if I had been interrupted and dropped them while working!

The human mind is the most terrifying thing- if you lay out the suggestions just right, then people's minds do the rest for you!

Having been a viewer of that TV show "it takes a thief" I recommend that if you do bring out anything like the shovel to place near the "grave" you bring it in when you are not outside- in fact, any items that could be used to break a window should be brought in when unattended!

You can also head to Spirit to save some money! 20% Off a single Item in the Cart from SpiritHalloween.com! Use Promotional Code: SPAFF20

Halloween Decorations: Deluxe Skeleton Bones - Eerily realistic!

Fun Express Bag of Skeleton Bones - 28 Piece Set
Fun Express Bag of Skeleton Bones - 28 Piece Set

This is a great set of 28 skeleton bones which has a pretty realistic look to it! This would be a great addition for any haunted house as it does make you look twice to check if it is real or not and with the proper lighting and placement of the bones, people might not be entirely sure!

 

Image By Netalloy (Own work) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

Halloween Decorations: Old Lantern - Properly placed raises questions and is one of those small details

I have found (in my years of scaring people) that the scariest decorations of all are those that trigger the viewer's imagination to run wild! Just a little gentle suggestion that this is not a friendly scene, but a scary one and a few well placed question raisers will really have your visitors feeling the Halloween spirit!

Seasons Old Lantern
Seasons Old Lantern

This is a great old lantern!You can do a lot with it like using it to gently illuminate a spooky scene without using a light that would break the mood, you can string it between trees and if you have a volunteer to stay out of sight you could even rig it to a pulley between trees or your house and a tree etc and make it appear to be a ghost pacing! If you can't do a pulley, what about a volunteer to actually pace with it either wearing a costume or some old torn up clothes with a little dirt rubbed on their face?

This is so versatile and simple and would make an great addition to any haunted house!

 

Halloween Decorations: Creepy cloth

Creepy Cloth Decoration
Creepy Cloth Decoration

This creepy cloth is a great accent piece for any Haunted House. You can use it to give your home a less than friendly appearance, cover your chairs or table with it if you happen to have nice outdoor furniture that does not lend itself to spooking people, gently drape it over parts of decorations that do not fit the scene, use it to darken windows from the inside so that your house better matches the yard, even use it to give the appearance that you are trying to conceal some dastardly deed ! The possibilities are endless!

 
By Sister72 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sis/259409629/) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sister72 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sis/259409629/) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Halloween Decorations: Scary Pumpkin Decoration

A few well placed characters are perfect! I don't recommend having the life sized creatures sitting in the very center of the yard out in the open unless they are exceptionally well made- once the plastic nature of these is discovered, it can take away from the rest of the scene.

Full sized freestanding characters are best when slightly hidden, either by distancing them in the open with a light that spontaneously turns on, just around a corner that people must turn to get to your home, under a tree or when incorporated into a large display in the center of the yard.

Scary Pumpkin Skeleton Halloween Porch Decoration
Scary Pumpkin Skeleton Halloween Porch Decoration

I love this Halloween skeleton for a few reasons, he is not free standing, he hangs up and his rag clothing is loose, this gives the decoration more movement and when dimly lit can be very spooky!

When guests see him swaying and his robes occasionally flittering around, they might be startled!

Personally, I would hang this guy either on the porch with either dim lighting or a gentle flicker) or under a tree and I would tie a little string to him that I could give the occasional tug to if there was not much wind!

If you do use strings or pulleys in your display, be sure to keep them out of the traffic area so no one trips and if you have any strings that are not on the ground, keep them around 8 feet or higher to allow for tall people wearing potentially tall costumes to safely pass.

 

Halloween Decorations: Hologram Tombstones

Party Destination - 21" Hologram Tombstone - Assorted
Party Destination - 21" Hologram Tombstone - Assorted

These hologram tombstones are great! Although there are "spookier" tombstones available, I prefer the lighter colored stones as they require less artificial lighting (it is usually dark during trick or treating where I live) and I do feel that when you use too much artificial lighting to try to make your display visible, it takes away from the authentic spookiness a bit. These are pale enough to need very little help in the dark, but also shadows will show on these- if you have some lighting on the opposite side of your walkway then when your guests walk by they will see movement in the area of the tombstones because of their own shadow!

The tombstone does include the lawn stake so all you need to do is figure out a creative way to arrange it!

 
By ME- Sidther!
By ME- Sidther!

Halloween Decorations: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Saw - Either a stationary prop, or someone can walk around with it

If you are going to do something with a chainsaw, think about what household items you might have that could add to it- do you ride horses? Do you have an old bridle that you could drape over a chair? If you don't have horse riding gear, do you have 3 or 4 old beat up belts that you could group together (as if they were one object) and some rope? How about a chain? Items like these casually laying around a spooky yard conjure up disturbing images and when in the presence of a bloody chainsaw.........

Halloween Decorations: Severed Vampire Bride Head - For a more traditional ghoulish scare!

Bloody Gory Severed Vampire Brides Head Halloween Prop Pkg/1
Bloody Gory Severed Vampire Brides Head Halloween Prop Pkg/1

This one is pretty gory! Imagine this severed vampire bride's head, dimly lit with an occaional burst of light from a spolight on a timer or a flickering "flame like" light! This would be great with a nearby bloody stake, perhaps a few pieces of real raw meat if you live in an area that would not attract scary wildlife (also where kids can't touch it as it will grow bacteria).

This could be the perfect centerpiece for any vampire or ware wolf themed haunted house.

 
By GaylaLin (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By GaylaLin (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Attention to detail and imagination...

A little bit of blood, papier mache and tin foil or reflective tape can make a big impact

A pool of blood that guests walk by with a gentle bloody streak leading off to the grass will likely raise more questions than multiple pools of blood everywhere and bloody handprints on ALL of your windows. The handprints are great in moderation, but after a while it looks like your kid was just playing with ketchup.

I try to have a pool at the end of the driveway in an area that is partially blocked so that people won't fall in it, but they can still see it- often it is blocked by something like a fake axe or chain saw. When I put the pool of blood down -I am going to recommend ketchup on driveways because some of the fake blood can't even be removed with bleach from concrete- plus it is cheap, won't evaporate and in the dark it looks pretty good- anyway, I dump it into a nice pool just under 1 foot around, not a perfect circle, some tiny splatters around it (a drop or two) and then I either use an old pair of shoes to make footprints to the grass or I do actually put on a trash bag and crawl through it into the grass- leaving a realistic smear behind!

After the trail is made, I do a second look for a few more drops or small splats and that is it! If there is a window nearby, one handprint in an area that will be gently lit and then you pull your hand downward leaving a streak. It is more work to clean the window with this method, but you do get a better reaction!

I like to incorporate the entire house- it kind of takes away from the spookiness if you have a horror movie in your front yard with a cheery and welcoming home behind it!

For our 2nd story windows, we have wooden blinds so I take a teeny bit of masking tape and open up the slats a bit at the end and tape it open. The I cut out a piece of black cardstock or construction paper and trim either reflective tape or tin foil into the shape of two slitted eyes. The reflective tape is better, especially if you want the eyes to glow red or green! I glue the eyes onto the paper and tape it to the blinds on the inside so that the reflective eyes are level with the opening. I leave that door open with a hallway light on so it is gently lit, but not enough to tell that it is paper- sometimes for a little something extra, I stuff a disposable glove and wedge it in the slats so that finger tips show. When light bounces off of the reflective tape it looks as if you are being watched! Learn how to make this in detail here.

If you have white plastic mini blinds an a fan, why not hang a couple things on string to cast a shadow and hit them with the fan to create movement! This works well with bats and ghostly objects.

By NGJ (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By NGJ (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Halloween Decorations: Flicker Flame String Lights

I recommend avoiding any unnecessary spotlights as those are mood killers! That is not to say that you should avoid them altogether- just use them in modreation because when the entire display is lit up blindingly, it is more obvious that they are all fake and the viewers imagination does not run as wild! Keep in mind though, that your yard should be well enough lit to prevent injury and to allow visitors to actually see your displays. Finding that balance can be tricky but is well worth the effort!

Please use caution if you do decide to use a strobe light- they can induce seizures and they are NOT sensory friendly meaning that kids with certain developmental disorders and disabilities could actually feel physical pain when looking at one- if there are any kids with special needs in your neighborhood and you plan to use a strobe, please position it so that it is not going to be shining directly on the visitors, rather illuminating a display (never pointing at a street) and try to keep the plug accessible so that you can quickly unplug it without destroying your display if a problem arises!

Go easy on the Body Parts - One or two very realistic ones are better than forty not so good ones!

See the recipe for these scary finger cookies!
See the recipe for these scary finger cookies!

Too many body parts scattered everywhere in your front yard just does not really look scary. But sometimes you want one small mound of them.....

If you are working with a tight budget and can only afford one good one but want a pile of severed hands... can you afford some disposable gloves, paint and flour? You can usually get newspaper for free, any thing printed on newspaper works!

Blow up a few gloves and then papier mache them! Paint them in varying shades of skin tones and gray with a hint of green. Use a sharpie to draw lines where the knuckles bend and dip the wrists in red paint. They will not look realistic BUT they will be good enough in the dark and you can sprinkle some dirt on them to cover imperfections and place the good and realistic one on top- it will attract the viewer's eye and the ones you made act as filler!

If you are having a party and are doing severed hands in the front yard, why not serve some home made lady fingers as well? With a little practice they can be very realistic!

Halloween Decorations: Severed Hand

1PC Custom Life Size Halloween Haunted House Prop Bloody Severed Men's Hand w/ Ring Finger Choppered
1PC Custom Life Size Halloween Haunted House Prop Bloody Severed Men's Hand w/ Ring Finger Choppered

You could really scare a few kids with this severed hand! If you can afford a few of them, why not leave a few well positioned severed hands in plain site and then toss one into a narrow candy bowl so that when the darlings reach in, they don't see it- they just grab it, pull it up and scream! If you do throw one in a candy bowl- please please have a second (happy) candy bowl to offer to toddlers and children who appear to be genuinely afraid- it is only fun if they do not stay up all night crying!

 

Halloween Decorations: Spooky Candy Bowls

I do not like most of the animated candy bowls as they look so unrealistic- this one is the most realistic I have seen!

Usually I personally prefer something that suits the overall theme of my yard- if I were doing something about a derranged man with chains and axes I would use a wide steel bucket and maybe paint some blood spatter on it. If I were doing a witch theme I would either buy a cauldron or a large cauldron shaped planter and paint it. If I were doing a cemetery theme, I would find a hollowed out skull and glue a cheap bowl inside and balance (and glue) the skull on a goblet.

This particular bowl is special though- I am going to use this one this year because the simple faux stone bowl with the lone raven guarding the treasure could go with nearly any them (which will save money next year) and I do love that it moves since motion does scare people!

By Edd Cartier. Copyright was either Cartier, or more likely Street & Smith, who published the magazine. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Edd Cartier. Copyright was either Cartier, or more likely Street & Smith, who published the magazine. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image By Edd Cartier copyright expired

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Any tips to create a scary Haunted House?

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    • profile image

      HeLin 2 years ago

      Not to hijack this tarhed but I want some information on a local company that's located near me in Tampa but can't seem to find enough feedback. I only need a basic AC service.They are named Castellano Air Conditioning, 2206 1/2 N Armenia Ave, Tampa, Fl 33607-3414,(813)877-6997

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great tips. Thanx for the spooky guide. Happy Halloween.

    • WayneDave LM profile image

      WayneDave LM 5 years ago

      I like this lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 5 years ago

      What fun. We haven't gotten into neighborhood competitions with Halloween stuff, but I can see that there's all sorts of ways to "compete."

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 5 years ago

      My neighborhood is full of people trying to outdo each other.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hear the sounds See the Lights Welcome to our house of Fright!!!!!!

      We LOVE Halloween. We have a live zombie eating scene, Wicked clown circus scene, the graveyard with a real person that falls out of a coffin and so much more. Every year the crowds get bigger. Last year we had over 200 people that come by and so omany compliments. Every year we get bigger with new ideas. If you live in Tampa, FL come see us we are on Lois Ave off of Broad St. Enjoy your fright..................

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 5 years ago

      Oh, I use cotton balls pulled apart for cob webs and add in plastic spiders. Lots of fabulous tips here. When I was on my work term during my prosthetics training, a senior prosthetist at the hospital I was stationed at made artificial limbs that moved (myoelectrics are involved in some limbs) just for Halloween - they were so realistic, they scared the little kids (just good for older kids / adults, I suppose).

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 5 years ago

      We usually just do pumpkins but your lens may get us to do more this time!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I want to come see your scary haunted house at Halloween. Sounds like you have so much fun! Blessing this one.

    • punkgrinder profile image

      punkgrinder 5 years ago

      Love the Lens, great tips on making a spooky house for Halloween!