(StatePoint) Halloween only trails Christmas when it comes to spending on decorations. Americans spent an estimated $6.9 billion on Halloween in 2013, according to the National Retail Federation.
You can make more of your Halloween spending with a few spooky tips. Larry Kirchner, operator of the world’s number-one rated haunted house, “The Darkness” in St. Louis, Missouri and owner of Hauntworld.com — a resource for building haunts, and a national directory of haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides, and pumpkin patches — offers advice from his 25 years of experience building professional Halloween attractions.
Spooky Façade: Give your home’s façade the abandoned, dusty look by spinning cobwebs and creepifying doors and windows. Hang aged and shredded curtains and add lights to each window. Change outdoor lights with flicker bulbs. Add spooky sounds for atmosphere. Lastly, you can purchase affordable computer graphic effects from HauntedHouseSupplies.com and with a TV pressed into your window, add anything from ghosts to werewolves to ghouls to your haunt.
Cemetery: Let the leaves collect for a few weeks in your yard. Add a gothic fence and a few zombies popping up through the ground. Add jute material or aged cheesecloth to your fence. Adding dead bodies under trees or creepy birds helps set the scene. Make gravestones by using a hot knife to carve foam into shapes, and even add an epitaph. To give the tombstone a real stone look, coat in plaster or lightweight concrete. Two simple doll rods driven into the ground can hold the tombstone in place. For a coffin, nail together 1×6 and 2×2 pine boards. For the extra effect, add mulch in front of the tombstones or use paving bricks in the shape of a grave filled with mulch.
Spooky Maze: Empty the garage and set up walls to create two to three scary scenes. If your garage isn’t big enough, start the attraction inside and have it exit into the backyard graveyard. Start by sketching a design. You can build simple walls from plywood or drywall. For the old rotting look, cut odd shapes into the walls and screw in thin slats of wood behind the cut out holes. For best results, cake on plaster between the slats, then use raised wallpaper for the rest. Paint the entire wall one color and add some watered down black paint for an aged look.
Eerie Effects: Spooky sounds, special effects and lighting make all the difference. Play a spooky soundtrack from a movie or find music online. Buy a couple of cheap skeleton speakers, available online for as low as $10. For home haunters on a budget, air cannons or any loud noise are great for scares. Create special effects with fog machines and air compressors. Finally, dress up in your spookiest costume and make your guests scream for candy!
To prepare for next year, stock up on deeply discounted props the day after Halloween.
This year, go beyond the basics and give your neighborhood a real scare.