Creating a Haunted House in Your Rental

Creating a haunted house in your rental is easy as long as you don't damage your landlord's property. Keeping that one caveat in mind, you can have fun and create a wonderfully spooky atmosphere on a shoestring budget. Or you can go all out and build a haunted house worthy of a Hollywood movie set. The sky is really the limit when it comes to creating an exciting homage to the eerie netherworld, as long as you remember to change air filters.

An architect spends a good deal of his or her time planning the structure before actually construction begins. With this in mind, it's not unheard of to begin planning your haunted house sometime after Labor Day. Although most retailers begin stocking their shelves with Halloween decor and themed paraphernalia around this time anyway, it's not necessary to use ready made decorations. Many of the most interesting and eye-catching decorations are those you make yourself. You'll save money and create a memorable, one-of-a-kind, experience for all.

Decide on the purpose for your haunted house. Will you be using it to entertain all the little goblins coming by for trick or treat? Or is your haunted house part of a party experience? Gearing your spooky gauntlet to the neighborhood children will call for far less ghoulish décor. After all, you aren't planning to terrify small children, just offer them something fun and exciting.

When making a haunted house for children, it's important to keep your theme age-appropriate. Such items as friendly ghosts, dancing skeletons and cartoon faced monsters can be a lot of fun. You should also plan on having games for the children to play. Non-threatening characters such as a crystal carrying wacky wizard, a storytelling witch, or an enchanting ghost guide can enhance your haunted house.

If you're creating an environment sure to scare the most skeptical of your post adolescent audience, you'll have a bit more leeway incorporating a somewhat terrifying atmosphere. Take advantage of scare tactics and go for the thrill. Dry ice carefully placed in buckets of shallow water around the area will give off an eerie fog creating a graveyard effect. Black lights and green lights transform the usual shapes, shadows and things-that-go-bum-in-the-night into creepy and unknown entities. A faint howling or supernatural sound reverberating from a hidden sound system will add to the evenings shuddering events.

For a true haunted house, you'll need a beginning, middle and end. Outline your house as a story and proceed from there. You could have a ghost or spirit guide who greets your guests in the graveyard. Set up your dry ice, a black or dim green light, and some homemade gravestones which you've assembled by using cardboard, spray painted gray and "etched" with black marker.

The ghoulish guide will escort the tour group through to the next area. They'll continue on the haunted trail and meet up with near danger from other frightening characters. Allow your guests, if they dare to continue, to exit through a gauntlet of ghouls, ending at the treat or snack table.

Creating a haunted house in your rental need not be expensive. By taking a white trash bag, filling the top with crumpled newspaper or an inflated balloon, then tying it off to form a head, you have the perfect "ghost" to string up in a tree or along the eaves of your house. Dry ice placed in a bucket in front of a fan will work as a homemade fog machine. Black lights replace porch bulbs and spotlights. A few well-placed jack-o-lanterns and adults willing to get into character and you have all the makings of a successful haunted house.

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