10 Tips for Putting on a Successful and Scary House Haunt

Halloween enthusiasts go a lot farther than a bowl of candy and traditional Halloween decorations like a pumpkin these days. Halloween haunts are a major trend for celebrating Halloween. Professional experiences attract thousands in cities across the United States. Topping the list for the most unique and scariest man-made haunted house according to HauntWorld.com is the Erebus 4-story haunted house in Pontiac, Michigan.  It boasts special effects, Halloween animatronics, touching of customers, and monsters.  Even if the Halloween haunt you’re planning isn’t going that far, you can still be the scariest stop in your neighborhood with the following tips.



 1. Decide on the Location

Your Halloween house haunt can be at your house, garage, barn, field, woodlot, old warehouse, or any building or park you have access to. Many Halloween haunts are set up outside, but some include indoor tours. To plan your venue you’ll need to consider many outdoor Halloween decorations ideas before making your choices. Some types of Halloween decorations can be used both inside and outdoors.  Make sure when shopping for outdoor Halloween decorations that items you look at are rated for outdoor use.

 2. What’s Your Theme?

You can let your imagination horrify your neighbors however you please, but there are many popular Halloween themes that will thrill your visitors.  Haunted house decorations come in classic looks, slaughterhouse, graveyard, Salem witch, and many more. Zombies and clowns are always good choices too because they make people cringe.

 3. Map Out the Halloween Haunt on Paper

Measure the rooms or yard where you are going to receive visitors and make a layout for how to present your Halloween haunts to the world. This step is essential because you’ll need measurements when you buy building materials and haunted house decorations.

 4. Assemble Your Haunted House Materials

In addition to buying Halloween decorations, you’ll likely need lumber, craft supplies, extension cords, paint, and lighting, at a minimum. In “The Complete Haunted House Book” by Tim Harkleroad, the author recommended salvaging anything you can to save money. You can ask for donations of odd junk from your neighbors’ garages that can then be reanimated into something weird.  Your fake walls and cages don’t need to be made from the best lumber either, so look for deals on second rate leftovers at the home store. Harkleroad also advised house haunters not to throw away any scraps and fabrics. They will get used to something.

 5. Budget for Impact

Unless you have a trust fund, you likely have a budget. To make the most of your funds, look to buy Halloween decorations that will amaze your visitors the most. People always react to Halloween animatronics. They are a good place to spend money because they are hard to make yourself and have a big impact. If you need to pinch pennies, you can do it on simpler Halloween decorations by making them yourself.

An excellent resource for do-it-yourself Halloween decorations is the book “How to Haunt Your House” by Shawn and Lynne Mitchell. With plenty of pictures and instructions, you’ll be able to create amazing and grotesque goodies for your house haunt with the outdoor Halloween decorations ideas in this book. It shows you how to make tombstones, ghosts, scarecrows, full-body figures, and much more.

 6. Protect your Halloween decorations and Your Visitors

To avoid having your precious monsters crushed or tripping people, spend time thinking through where you put everything. Do walkthroughs with your friends to see if any haunted house decorations are in the way.

 7. Set the Mood and Scare Them

Place the main feature at the house haunt entrance to let visitors know they have arrived at the right place for Halloween fun and terror. Cackling Halloween animatronics like a spell speaking witch or flying nightmare reaper along the driveway can greet them. Or maybe you could have a bagged brain or severed head hanging from your tree.  Next, set up something wicked to startle them as they progress through your tour.  Halloween animatronics on a motion sensor hidden in corners or behind doors are good at making visitors scream. Halloween haunted house decoration ideas are limitless.



 8. Adult and Child Considerations

Many of the professional house haunts are only for the 18-and-over crowd or at least discourage attendance by children. For example, the popular Netherworld haunted house in Atlanta allows children to enter with parents but will not refund tickets if the kids flee in terror. A neighborhood Halloween haunts, however, is typically open to children because they are out trick-or-treating. You’ll need to decide how scary and gory you want your haunted house decorations to be. Put up a warning sign if you need to. Save the trauma for the older revelers and take it easy on the wee ones.

 9. Safety

Even a holiday that celebrates the undead and dismemberment needs safety.  Take care to make your Halloween haunt free of tripping, fire, and electrical hazards. To be on the safe side you should consider that most un-festive subject of all: insurance. The Home Haunters Association recommends getting extra insurance for the night or nights you plan to have visitors touring your haunt. Small, time-specific policies are inexpensive and well worth the cost if your nightmare sends someone to the hospital.

 10. Staffing

You are going to need help with your Halloween haunt. You can enlist friends, family, volunteers, and even hire people to build the attraction, act like monsters, and help with crowd control. Don’t forget that you are part of the staff. Take care of yourself. Schedule enough time to install outdoor Halloween decorations. Careful planning helps Halloween go smoothly so everyone can have fun.

Haunt Building 101


Trendy Halloween loves haunted houses, and we're experts at spooking them up. There are many themes for Halloween haunts, but we've narrowed them down for you along with a curated selection of haunted house props and decorations.


Halloween enthusiasts go a lot farther than a bowl of candy and traditional Halloween decorations like a pumpkin these days. Halloween haunts are a major trend for celebrating Halloween. Professional experiences attract thousands in cities across the United States. Topping the list for the most unique and scariest man-made haunted house according to... continue reading our 10 Tips for Building a Successful and Scary House Haunt here.


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