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Haunted Carnival Yard & Game Haunt – Planning, Preparations and Experiences

How would you like to make your beloved Halloween night last longer, provide countless hours of fun, and even get your neighborhood behind you? Do a Haunted Carnival in your yard along with all your decorations and toss in a haunted garage to boot for a wonderful night of fun and frights!

If you’re like me, decorating your yard for Halloween is one of the most important times of the year. What I hated in years past is that I would decorate the yard and have all the kids in my neighborhood make their parents drive by daily to see what I’d added overnight. Then they would all flock to my house on Halloween night to get special treats, ogle my decorations or props, and have their pictures taken with my latest monster. Shoot, even the parents get a good chuckle at the yard, recall stories of Halloween nights from their kiddom as they thank us for “going to all this trouble for their kids.” I silently laugh to myself as I happily yell, “Oh yeah, sure, I did it only for the kids,” but I say nothing but thank you. But all too soon, the street empties out; only a few lone cars pass the front of my house, and the only noise outside is the gentle hum of my props and a few autumn leaves go skittering by. My favorite night of the year has silently stolen away to wherever holiday excitement and thrills go and hide for next year.

It’s over. Done.

A Haunted Carnival

Last year I vowed to do something to make Halloween night last longer so I could entertain/torture the kids longer, but I wasn’t sure of what to do. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, there are many really little kids that are not yet into the scary things – so it doesn’t make any sense to put up a horrifying yard haunt that will only scare them away from my house rather than toward it.

Last year Halloween fell on a Tuesday, making it not so good for a party since the kids had school the next day. I wanted to slow the night down and be able to enjoy the kids rather than just hand them the candy and let them leave. So several weeks before Halloween (nothing like getting started too soon), I talked to some friends, and they all said they didn’t have any plans for this year since very few people were having parties or they’d had them the weekend before.

That was when I came up with doing games in the yard — ah, a Haunted Carnival was born, and many willing people came to run games and dress up! Why not consider doing one in your yard with your friends and neighbors?

A Haunted Party in Your Own Yard

A Haunted Carnival may sound like it’d be a lot of hard work to make – that it might take up a lot of time to fill your yard with games. Nah, not really, because it’s an easily recognizable theme you can easily build on year after year and doesn’t require massive decorations.

If you think this sounds like an idea that would work for you, great! I’ll happily take you on a guided tour of my last year’s endeavor so you can get some ideas to start your own carnival and have a ball this Halloween season. Oh, and please send us your ideas, photos, and videos. Remember . . . we know where you haunt!

Anyway, back to my Haunted Carnival. Last year I had very little time to pull my carnival together, so I had to think fast, act fast, and try not to add to the national family debt. This plan exceeded my wildest expectations!

Preparations For Your Halloween Carnival

The first thing I needed to do was walk through a realistic floor plan of my yard and look at how I wanted my trick or treat traffic to flow. Why? Good question. I walked out masterfully into my small but doable yard after drawing up a long list of games I wanted to make and add in with the decorations I usually put up.

Bong! The reality of the folly I was planning hit me. I have a small yard, and there is no way all the games I wanted to make would fit, along with my usual decorations. Duh, no kids would fit into my yard to get to the games! Plus, it hit me: I needed to make a way to funnel the kids in and out of the yard so I wouldn’t get mobbed with too many kids piling into my yard at once and staying. Yikes! Now that was a scary thought, and I was so glad I thought of those problems before spending days and days working on games that wouldn’t have fit into the yard.

I sat down on the front porch and studied the yard. I now happily slashed my list, and I was astounded at how cutting down the list of games was such a freeing experience. Now I could spend more time on the few games I wanted to make this year, and not stress out to the point of not enjoying the night after all this hard work. Do you do this, too?

The following articles include some of the games I fashioned last year. I am hopeful they’ll give you some ideas for your own games. Enjoy!

About Sarah Briggs

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  1. I would love to see your pictures and learn more about how you did your haunted carnival. We plan to have a haunted carnival next year on my son’s Halloween birthday. We plan to block the street for the event so we will have a large area. I plan to have a couple of inflatables, plus a magician, fortune teller and DJ. I haven’t worked anything else out yet, but we’ve got almost a year to plan. Never too early to start, though . . .

  2. I have been having “yard haunts” for years which have become quite large, around 150 people! In October 2006, my daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. That year, as I was planning another haunt (under a bit of stress) I realized that these parties were what made our family happy and it made a lot of other people happy, too! So, this year I have decided to make the haunt even BIGGER and turn it into a fundraising event for Cystic Fibrosis. I am planning to get the local high school drama club involved to be my monsters and have contests, food, a dj, etc. Being that I have never done anything quite so big (i’m hoping for at least 200!) I could really use some ideas. This site offers quite a bit! If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them. You can either e-mail me or go to my website. Sorry for the long URL! It’s one of those freebies.
    Yours in haunting,

  3. I am planning a halloween carnival in my back yard for a party ,for kids & adults could you send me your ideas & pictures asap did you give prizes ( for games)

  4. mm
    Halloween Alliance

    The links right after the article contain the games Sarah created for her carnival. For prizes, they were mainly candy but also little toys she bought at her local dollar store.

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