Halloween means hauntings - and if you're looking for a spookily original way to make your Halloween go with a scream, why not think about creating your very own Haunted House?
A Haunted House is a great venue for a party, of course, but guiding trick or treaters through the horrors that await makes a fun alternative to simply handing out sweets at the door. And speaking of doors.¦
A nicely polished and perfectly painted door may well impress the neighbours on 364 days of the year, but on All Hallows Eve, you need to think more Bates Motel than Waldorf Astoria. A spooky door covering costs only £3.50, and can be removed as soon as the ghoulish gathering draws to a close.
Don't forget the windows either. Glass Grabbers are spooky stickers which will make each window in your home appear to have a ghost, ghoul or other gruesome being peering out of it.
Assuming that your guests actually make it inside the house of horrors, a spooky soundtrack is a great way to create instant atmosphere or the weeping, wailing, chain-rattling type. The Sounds of Horror CD will fill your haunted house with manic laughter and thumping heartbeats - and that'll just be from the guests.
Nowhere in the Haunted House should be free of horror. Try sticking this sewer rat sticker on your floor, or how do you fancy the idea of some bugs underfoot? (Probably not much!) For the walls, try some scene setters - giant, affordable wall coverings that will instantly transform your boring old walls into a graveyard or pumpkin patch, or just cover it with a spider swarm.
There's a time and a place for a neatly manicured garden - and this isn't it. Turn your garden into a graveyard with some tombstones made out of card - scatter some skeletons around for extra effect.
Skeletons, skulls, and scary hairy bats complete the house haunting process, but if you really want to give your guests a hair-raising experience, don't forget the most frightening effect of all - yourself.
Halloween, of course, is the perfect opportunity to dress up, and when you're living in a haunted house, well, you have even less of an excuse not to. Go for either a full costume or just add a few bloodstained accessories to make you look every bit as gruesome as your haunted house
So, now that you have your haunted house, what are you going to do with it?
If you're going to be inviting trick or treaters in for the guided tour of their life, it can be a good idea to have different themed activities for different rooms, so that you can walk your guests through - and scare the living daylights out of them at the same time. (Note: always make sure younger visitors are accompanied by an adult before inviting them into your home!) Here are a few suggestions:
Make trick or treaters earn their pay by playing this gruesome guessing game: blindfold your guest, lead them to a table filled with jars, and invite them to guess what's in the jar.
Just make sure no one eats the food afterwards!
One of the simplest, but most effective tricks to pull on your haunted house tour is to have live "actors" (don't worry, we're not aiming for an Oscar here, so your friends and family will suffice) ready to jump out on your poor, unsuspecting guests. Achieve the same effect by dangling scary spiders from the ceiling in a darkened hallway - no one will know they're there, until they feel them dragging creepily across their headsâ€¦
Create a chilling chill-out room by hiring some of your favourite scary movies for the night and setting one room aside to play them in. A place for your guests to relax - or not, as the case may be.
Add some interest to your haunted house by incorporating a story or activity to your guided tour: for example, claim that one of your friends has gone missing in the haunted house, and ask your guests to help you find him - dodging any ghosts and ghouls they might meet along the way of course. Offer a prize to the winner, and some kind of consolation prize to the rest, as a reward for making it out alive.
Finally, just to make sure that your haunted house is only scary in the good way, here are some dos and don'ts to bear in mind: