Ideas for Making a Haunted House

Great ideas for making a haunted house don't need to fill you with fears of an empty wallet. A trip to the party supply store can fill you with dread when you see the cost of some of the more elaborate haunted house effects, but you don't need the latest animatronics to give your guests a good scare. Try these haunted house ideas for low-cost decorations that still pack plenty of thrills.

Think Smaller
If your budget is small, consider doing a few scary rooms instead of a whole house. You can settle on one theme, like a dungeon, torture chamber or Dracula's bedroom. You can get maximum scares from minimum space.

Theme
Selecting one specific theme is a great way to keep costs down. You can build a theme around movie monsters, like the mummy, Dracula or the Wolfman, which can be reproduced with just a few supplies. You could also go with a ghost theme and decorate with various styles of ghosts, like sheet ghosts, garbage bag ghosts and paper ghosts.

Decorations
Inexpensive strings of purple, orange and even white lights can be hung throughout your house to lend an eerie atmosphere. Try placing the lights behind the stretchy spider webbing for a very creepy effect. Changing a lamp's bulb from white to purple can alter the mood of your room. Using low-wattage bulbs adds to the spooky atmosphere and you can leave some areas in total darkness.

Consider renting a fog machine, which is much cheaper then buying a fog machine. You can also use dry ice in water to create fog. Remember to never touch dry ice with your bare hands or leave it in a place where kids can reach it. Touching dry ice causes immediate frostbite.

Low-Cost Decorating Tips

  • Cover the furniture with ratty, tattered sheets to lend an atmosphere of abandonment. You can also hang black threads from the ceiling to simulate spider webs. Drape the sheets against the wall, with just enough room for someone to stand behind the sheet to move the "wall" as people pass by.
  • Find some mirrors at a local resale or thrift shop and use black paint to mar the surface. Place the mirrors in strategic locations.
  • Use crime scene or police tape to rope off your home. Have a skeleton hanging from the entryway.
  • Make homemade gravestones and spooky silhouettes out of cardboard or insulation board found at home improvement stores. To create an even spookier effect, mound dirt up by the gravestones so it looks like a freshly dug grave. You can stuff a sleeve with newspaper, attach a rubber glove filled with sand to the end of it and place it so it looks like it is coming out of the ground.
  • Styrofoam heads with cheap wigs on them and knives sticking out of them pass for murder victims. 
  • Anything that pops out from above a door or behind a door is guaranteed to bring screams.
  • Have friends and family dress up to scare your guests. One great, low-cost solution is to create a living tableau of a spooky scene. As guests get close, the still scene comes to life, scaring everyone.
  • Play a CD with spooky sound effects in a dark room.
  • Carve some spooky Jack-o-Lanterns. Pumpkins are easy to find around Halloween. Carve them with terrifying faces and place them around the house.
  • Dig around in the garage, basement and attic for things you no longer use. With a little mud, store-bought spider web and some fake blood, anything from a child's tricycle to an old pair of pruning shears can be turned into a terrifying item.
  • Look for places where people can jump out and scare your guests. A few well-timed scares will have everyone cheering your efforts. 
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