Be “that house” this year – that’s right: the ones kids turn their costumes inside-out for so they can come back for seconds. Here‘s how.
Trick-or-treat, smell their feet, give them something good to eat!
Okay, so we’re sure you’re not likely to engage in that second option (can we get an “eeew”?), but as for the rest, we’ve got the goods right here! Keep little hands dipping into theHalloween treat cauldron with these absolutely amazing candy ideas.
Creature Eyes Lollipops
These sugary delights REALLY look like monster eyeballs. At $19 for six assorted pops, these make an eye-popping (you knew we’d go there) impression. Find yours here.
We know…we couldn’t stop laughing either. Have these gross little goodies lined up on your mad scientist display for your phantasma-tastic party. Each contains sour liquid candy; they run 4 items for $10. Find them here.
Halloween Fortune Cookies
These are a fun twist on the fortune cookies you already know and love. Each cookie is Halloween-colored and contains a spooky-slash-funny fortune. And at less than $9 for 50 cookies, they’re easy on your wallet this Halloween season.
Sour Flush Candy
Here’s one last nod to the “gross candy” idea: dip the “plunger” (lolipop) into the sour candy to coat; then lick. Thesecome in delicious sour apple and are the most reasonably priced we’ve found to date, at $22 for a pack of 12.
Peeps Caramel Apple Chicks
Can we get a YES please? Mmmmmmmmm…these Peeps are ghoulishly delightful. (Caramel apple FTW!) If you can’t find them on store shelves this year, check this siteto order. They’re $1.50 for a package of three Peeps.
Hershey’s Candy Corn Bars
The candy corn apparently wasn’t enough, so Hershey’s dipped this treat in white chocolate. (Oh my gourd.) Caveat: you’re NOT supposed to eat the entire box by yourself (oops). 21-count box for $24; order here.
Dia De Los Muertos Sugar Skull Candy
Halloween isn’t the only holiday in mid-fall. Dia de lost Muertos honors the dead on two days – Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 – and is celebrated in Mexico. It’s also growing in popularity in the U.S. Be unique and celebrate “the other Halloween holiday” this year. We found themhere.
Jealous of your friend down the street who always seems to come up with the most creative and unique Halloween costumes? Looking for the “wow” factor in your Halloween costume this year rather than going as the color green (again)?
If you’re ready to dive into the costume venture of your life and catapult yourself into fame and fortune with the best do-it-yourself Halloween costume in the world (or at least get a few compliments at the Halloween party), there are a few things to consider before you begin.
Consider your audience. Will you be going to a costume party with some close friends, or just trick-or-treating door to door? Do you need to keep it kid-friendly? What are the interests of those around you? Going as the main character in your favorite show to a party where no one has seen it won’t earn you the recognition your efforts deserve. You can save yourself a little trouble by thinking about what your audience will appreciate.
Seek inspiration from the world around you. Be observant as you walk around during the day and ask yourself, “How could I turn this into a costume?” as you look at everyday objects. Inspiration can strike at any time!
Be prepared to put in some time and effort (and maybe a little money too). Even if your DIY costume ends up being relatively inexpensive and easy to put together, you’ll probably end up putting in some hours on this — if not on the actual costume assembly itself, at least in the thought and creative process.
Elements of an Awesome DIY Costume
So, now that you know a little better what you’re getting yourself into, let’s look at some of the characteristics of the most successful DIY costumes. The best DIY costumes are:
Creative: In order for your DIY costume to be a hit, you have to be unique in some way. I’m sorry, but the whole witch or black cat routine isn’t going to work here. Think outside the box. Or maybe think differently about the box—cardboard boxes make for some great costume possibilities. (Love Rubiks Cubes? Dress up as one!) Your costume has to be something people don’t see on every other street corner while they’re trick-or-treating in order for you to stand out from the ghoulish crowd.
Easily Identifiable: If you’re going for something a little off-the-wall, you have to make sure it’s still in the ballpark as far as recognition value goes. How will people recognize your genius if they don’t know what you’re supposed to be? The most effective DIY costumes are those that others can identify immediately or within a minute or two (for costumes that are more subtle in their meaning). “DIY” doesn’t have to mean “elaborate,” but the costume has to be faithful to what you’re trying to represent in order for people to recognize and appreciate your costume masterpiece.
Resourceful:It’s great if you have the money to rent a costume or buy all the expensive supplies for a detailed costume, but generally people appreciate the clever use of readily available resources. Paint and cardboard and a little ingenuity go a long way. How about a clear plastic garbage bag with some colored balloons? Voila! A bag of jellybeans! Use what you have on hand and get creative.
Timely: Capitalizing on current pop culture crazes or current events can score big laughs and lots of “That’s so cool!” comments and pictures with smartphones. For example, dressing up as the lady on the Progressive Insurance commercial has been popular these past few years.
Think of a Theme
Now that we’ve named some characteristics of great DIY costumes, let’s look at some of the categories that they seem to fall under to really get the creative juices going.
Technology: Some of the most brilliant/clever DIY costumes I’ve seen fall into this category. For example, what about being a Facebook wall or YouTube channel? You’ll get some comments for sure—especially if you have a marker handy for that purpose. If you have a little tyke in tow, why not outfit their car seat with this iPhone getup? iLove it.
Food:This category provides some great fodder for DIY costume ideas. I love this DIY deviled egg costume—a food and a pun all in one!
Everyday objects: Salt and pepper shakers are a little bit cliché, but it’s going down the right track. How about Pepsi and Coke cans? Or a washing machine with clothes inside?
Puns: Love wordplay? Transform it into a brilliant costume that will dazzle and amaze your friends. Or at least it will make them snicker. Hi-ho the dairy-o; what about the Farmer in the Dell?:
One of the greatest things about Halloween is that it provides so many opportunities to be creative, even for the normally non-creative types. So don’t delay—get out there and make yourself a Halloween costume to remember.
About the Author
Emma Rae Curtis researches and writes about everything Halloween, from costumes, to party ideas, to makeup and more.
Halloween is such a great event and with the advent of smartphone apps you can enjoy your favorite parts of Halloween everywhere you go. We tested dozens of apps and compiled a list of the 8 best ones we could find in terms of the most imagination and uniqueness. We hope you enjoy these selections and have a Happy Haunted Halloween!
1. Halloween Deluxe ($0.99)
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without scary sounds and this app lets you do that and more. Opt for the paid version and avoid annoying requests to upgrade from the free one. This app includes a count down to Halloween, a soundboard, ring tones, music loops, trivia, costumes ideas, and even a option that lets you create your own colored flashlight with the screen. There are tons of Halloween soundboard apps out there but our recommendation is to ditch the others, this one has it all.
Our favorite picture altering app, this offering gives you tremendous creative control over altering real photos of you and your friends. You have dozens of creature choices to model after including demons, zombies, werewolves, vampires. From there you’ll change skin colors add blood or sores and channel Dr. Frankenstein himself! When you’re done, save the photos and send them to your friends and family for a spooky good time.
You’ll absolutely love this creative application that let’s you tell over 100 of the most popular scary stories in history, but with an added twist. During your story you can tap the screen when prompted to play an appropriate sound to add extra effect to your story. Lightning cracks, evil laughs, moans, and more will enhance your terrifying tale and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.
For all you watchers of ‘Ghost Hunters’ out there, check out the latest version of Ghost Radar from app developer Spud Pickles. The creators of this app claim it runs on a proprietary algorithm that interprets QUANTUM fluctuations of intelligent energy. Some users say the program is just reading simple electromagnetic sources in your immediate environment while others claim they’ve experienced accurate readings of actual objects in the room that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Either way, you’re bound to get hours of eerie entertainment from this original idea.
Get ready to be freaked out with this unique offering from The FORM Group. It’s a digital Ouija board that sneakily uses your phone’s contacts to return answers to your questions. You can totally prank your uninitiated friends or family into thinking you are connecting with the spirit world. You’ll get a ton of screams from this application, but be careful, you may even scare yourself….
Pumpkin Xplode is one of those annoyingly addictive games like Tetris or Angry Birds (yeah we could have easily added that one here too). But you just can’t seem to put it down because there’s always the next level to defeat. Bottom line: if it’s on your phone, you will play it. It has great graphics and sounds built into the game play. Thoughtful features include: night mode, saves game on exit or if uninterrupted by a phone call, and for you cheaters out there you have the ability to undo up to 10 moves back. There is just something so gratifying about busting up pumpkins that makes this our only game of choice for inclusion in this app review.
The truth is there are dozens of free Halloween sound boards out there and you’d probably do just fine if you downloaded most any of them. Why do we recommend this one then? Two reasons: Selection and sound quality. This sound board has 35 sounds to choose from, whereas most other apps you’re lucky to get 20. Also, the sounds you get don’t sound cheap or “thin”. In other words, they don’t sound like you made them yourself on an old tape recorder. You can play the sounds on a loop (which you’ll probably never use) besides that there aren’t really any bells and whistles to this app. If we could make a recommendation to the developer, it’d be to add a delay feature in a future version.
While this is not a Halloween application it certainly the most useful on the list particularly if you are a parent and your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without you. You can track your multiple kid’s locations in real time without having to request location status from the people you are tracking. We’ve seen some apps where users have to “request” location and the person being tracked has to manually approve request on their device.
This app comes with a number of great features built into it. Two of our favorites are the parental settings which don’t allow kids to disable the tracking feature or delete the application on their devices, and the ability to track way points. In short it shows you where your kids have been not just where they are at the present moment. All this is provided by a beautiful interface overlaid on Google Maps. There is really nothing we don’t like about this app.
Chris DuPaul is a huge Halloween buff and the co-owner of the self proclaimed #1 Wonder Woman Costume website on the internet. He enjoys technology and sneaking up and scaring the crap out of unsuspecting people year round. For all you ladies out there still looking for costume ideas check out our Sexy Wonder Woman Costume page for outfits that’ll make you the star of the party.
Dripping with ghoulish slime, these votive holders add spook to any Halloween setting. Hang from porch rafters or in tree branches in the front yard to help cast a creepy light over trick-or-treaters and party-goers.
Look for inexpensive globe light covers at charity shops and home improvement resale stores like the Habitat Re-store, or at your local hardware store.
Rimmed glass jar or globe covers (replacement covers for porch lamps)
Green or black glass paint
12 gauge wire
Needle nose pliers
Cut three lengths of wire for each votive to the length you require for hanging, around two feet is ideal. Using the needle nose pliers, form a small hook at the end of each piece.
Cut a fourth piece of wire long enough to wrap twice around the neck of the glass globe. Wrap once around the neck, inserting each of the hooked ends of the hanging wires so that they are evenly spaced around the neck. Wrap the wire a second time and twist the ends to secure in place.
Twist the tops of the hanging wires together and then form into a larger hook for hanging.
Pour a generous amount of glass paint along the top rim of the cover, making sure it coats the whole of the rim. Continue to apply paint so that it drips down the inside of the globe in globby streaks.
Hang the glass in a warm place to dry.
Once dry, insert a votive candle into the bottom of each globe, light and hang in place.
What’s that peeking out of that window? Is it…can it be?? A WITCH!
Dress up your windows this Halloween with a life-sized silhouette to peer out at trick-or-treaters and frighten the neighbors. It’s so easy! Here’s how. (Psst! No time to brew up your own wicked silhouette? Check deals out here!)
Look for a picture of a witch silhouette (or click and save the template below.) Print it out. This will be your template. Using the ruler and pencil, draw equal lines to create a grid, about one inch squares or smaller. Count the number of lines horizontally and vertically. There will be ten down and seven across if you spaced them out an inch.
On your large black sheet, calculate how large you have to space out the lines to fill. For instance, if your sheet is four feet long, each line will be spaced out a bit more than 4 inches (no need to make it exact!) The basic idea is that you’ll need the same number of rectangles in roughly the same proportions to those on the print out.
Look at the line in each grid square of the silhouette, and draw it large in the corresponding larger rectangle on the sheet. Once the entire witch is transferred, cut out carefully.
Attach to the inside of your window using double sided tape. The effect of this witch is greatly enhanced by placing it in a window where curtains can be drawn to provide better contrast between the witch and the background. Done!
Over and over again I hear from rueful friends, “I just don’t have the time to decorate my house for Halloween…and besides, I don’t want to spend a lot of money.”
My answer? Both the time AND money you spend on decorating your house for the scariest day of the year are up to you – and neither has to be a frightening prospect.
Through the years, I’ve haunted my own house in every possible way, from dollar-store die cut black cats to a full-on front yard cemetery, fog machines, zombies and more.
I’ve gathered my go-to Halloween preparation tactics, the ones I use year on year because they’re so easy, yet they’re guaranteed to bring a smile (and a spooky chill!) to admirers of all ages.
Choose the ones that work for you, and remember: it’s your own creativity that’s puts the “spooky” in Halloween. Whether you’re the autumn harvest type or you adore a great Freddy or Jason flick, show your love of Halloween this year with freaky flair!
What’s That Peeking From Your Windows?
Windows offer perhaps the best opportunity to show off your dark side as they’re above the level of the ground and therefore usually very visible to passersby.
No house is truly haunted unless it has creeped-up windows, so try these ideas:
Attach cobwebs across the windows and dangle a plastic spiderfrom each. Or buy or make an oversize creepy crawly and have it cover one entire window. You can even bundle an old doll in gauze or cheesecloth and dangle it from the web as a spider “victim.”
Buy “creepy cloth” in black or white (or rip into some old sheets with scissors or an old nail file – it’s great therapy!). Hang it on either side of each front window of your house for a tattered-curtain look.
Hang horrifying styrofoam heads in front of or from windows and eaves. Drape these in billowy white cheesecloth.
Cut spooky shapes out of black construction paper; tape to the inside of any window, facing out. Then tape yellow tissue or other transparent paper behind the entire scene. On Halloween night, turn the light on in that room. The lighting behind the tissue paper will make your window scene glow eerily.
Raise the Undead
I find the use of skeletons an integral part of any Halloween decoration scheme.
Look for inexpensive jointed plastic skellies; don’t worry if they’re a little banged up – that only adds to the charm. Or have fun with super-cheap cardboard cutout skeletons. Try these ideas:
Wire one posable skeleton to your roof with one arm dangling down (always be careful and use a spotter when climbing a ladder or crawling around on your rooftop). Wire a second skeleton with one arm vertical, as if he’s reaching for help up.
Hang skeletons from your trees.
Set up either a posable or non-posable but dimensional (plastic or rubber) skeleton at the top of your front steps for visibility and dress him up. Give him a saucy pirate getup (eye patch, hat, sword), put two together in unholy matrimony with wedding clothes (check your local consignment shop for deals) or even set him up with an empty can of beer, an ashtray and that 1970s TV you’re always saying you’re going to throw away. The possibilities are endless, and in my experience, the funnier and more outlandish, the better the response from trick-or-treaters (and their jealous moms and dads who didn’t think of it first!).
Dance a row of inexpensive cardboard skeleton decorations across the front of your house. Be sure to use tape that’s weatherproof but can be removed later without harming the siding.
Create a Creepy Cemetery
Foam tombstones can often be had at a steal. Or consider making your own. Check out this tombstone tutorial.
Use plastic animalsfor a super-creepy effect. Have them gnaw on discarded body parts.
Make use of old, broken Halloween decorations by scattering plastic bones and skulls around the area, making the scary site look freshly picked by someone (or something).
Make liberal use of fake spiderwebbing across and between your tombstones for a haunting touch.
Ghouls are easy to make, and the more tattered the better (or look here for some great choices at prices that won’t come back to haunt you).
Set up something wicked on your front porch by sitting a groundbreaker-type ghoul in a patio chair and adding pants (stuff these with newspapers or old clothing if you’d like) and shoes. Or drape cheesecloth over an old Halloween mask, prop on a broomstick stuck into the ground and voila – the Angel of Death is ready to greet partygoers with an evil grin.
Get Your Autumn On
Last of all, don’t forget to take a little of the outside indoors and to drape mementos of the soon-to-be-gone season along your decorations. Make liberal use of leafy faux vines, inexpensive knick-knacks and seasonal baskets or even toys and dolls to bring a delicious, crisp chill to your home, both inside and out.
Your child is dressed up all adorable, proudly ready to go out trick or treating! The Halloween costume is fantastic, scary and cute at the same time. However, something’s not quite right … something ruins the whole ensemble. Perhaps it’s the ugly plastic bag being used to hold the mountains of candy?
Never fear, you won’t have to worry about that, because you’re reading this article and will now make your own gorgeous masterpiece of a trick or treat bag! Or, at least, something better than a grocery bag or pillow case.
At least ½ yard of Halloween themed fabric or pre-made canvas bag
Sewing machine and thread
Decorations to match the fabric
Buttons, sequins, foam shapes and beads
Sewing Your Trick or Treat Bag
Cut a rectangle of fabric that measures 16.5” x 25”. Fold the 25” side of the fabric in half so that the wrong side is showing. Stitch the bottom first and then the side. Turn the bag right side out and press the seams with an iron. At the opening turn down ¼” and press. Then turn it down again 1-1/2 inches. Press and stitch.
Cut fabric for the handles that measures 3” x 19”. You will need to cut two of these. Fold the fabric in half with the wrong side showing. Put a safety pin in the very center of one end with the head towards the other end. This will make turning it right side out much easier. Take a ¼” seam allowance and stitch the strip of fabric. Turn it inside out by pushing the safety pin through the tube; press under ¼” on each end.
Pin the handles to the bag before stitching to make sure that you like the placement. Use the sewing machine to sew them on with a large ‘X’. This will attach them securely so that no trick or treat candy gets lost.
Now you can turn the bag over to the kids to have fun with. With fabric glue, beads, sequins, plastic confetti, and anything else you can think of, your kids will make and have their own personalized trick or treat bag!
While there’s nothing wrong with round-cheeked jack-o-lanterns and cheery, waving ghosts, this author is a firm believer in real scares. With that in mind, here’s a twist on window decorationsthat will send a chill up the spines of all those cute little trick-or-treaters as they approach your house. (Remember those days? It’s so much fun to be on the other side of the scare!)
These live (or at least they appear to be on video) shadow dramas take place on a window, sound and all. Even better, how about a talking head, or if you like “cute,” a singing one a la the busts in Disney’s Haunted Mansion? It’s all up to you! Read on
How to Create Video Projections for Your Halloween Haunt
STEP ONE First, come up with a creepy idea and video tape it. Keep it simple. If you are going to project this on a tall window, turn your video camera sideways and then project it sideways so the image fills the window.
Second, you’ll need a projector. You’ll need one that has a fairly bright light – at least 1500 lumens are recommended (2000 if you don’t mind going up in price for the projector; that’s up to you and what you see for the future of your haunt).
“But video projectors are expensive,” you say. Don’t give up yet! If you live near a larger town or city, there are audio visual rental houses that will happily rent you a projector for a day or two. Or go on the hunt for an inexpensive projector. Today, you can easily order quality projectors for a relatively low price.
STEP TWO Next, you’ll need a translucent “screen” to project the image onto. A sheet is fine, but the light from the projector will defract with this method”, and soo experiment to see if the light is strong enough to penetrate all the way through and be seen from the other side.
Other ideas I’ve seen for this purpose are those cheap disposable table cloths or vinyl shower curtains.
EXAMPLES USING DIFFERENT METHODS Here’s a video of the author reciting poetry in black and white, in duplicate. This was on white butcher paper, and it did not cover all of the window. It showed well since the image was bright, but for a darker image, this didn’t work well at all:
Below: I hung a cheap, white, vinyl table covering over the window (I just realized that I had knocked one of the support rods loose…don’t tell my wife – now THAT would be scary).
Below: Replacing the paper with the plastic vinyl, I did a spooky face by simply putting a cape over my head and lighting just my face with a flashlight. This one really creeped my wife out when she saw it, and she’s a teacher so it takes a lot to scare the daylights out of her!
Other materials you can get just for this purpose include special filters and papers for putting over windows and lights to diffuse light. The gel that will make your window into a translucent screen is what is called “heavy frost,“ and comes in rolls or large sheets. Even if your projector doesn’t have a bright light in it, this gel will let enough light through to see the image well.
STEP THREE Finally, sound. Make sure the windows are open so that you can crank up the stereo and let them have the scary stuff up close and personal! Sound is the depth of vision and adds a lot of realism and suspense.
Sounds easy, right? Well, here’s the problem (there’s always a problem). To keep the image going for as long as the little devils are coming to the door, about two or three hours, you’re going to have to make as long a video as you can.
Some of you might act creepy all the time so no big deal, but for most of you, you could get pretty tired acting creepy for longer than a few minutes. Set your video player to”loop” or “repeat” and you’ll have that extra effort off your hands so you can scare your little visitors personally.
Another cool method (it’s an idea from the Hollywood oldschool film days) is to project the image of someone’s head on a mannequin’s head (like you would store a wig on), or an inflated balloon. If you’re using video, the head appears to be talking.
I made a simple little video wearing all black and a black background, and I recited some poetry. I then went into Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio and reversed the image and the sound. (That’s an advanced technique; you can start smaller than this if you’d like.)
As you can see below, I cut a small hole in a cardboard box and stuck a balloon in it so it wouldn’t move around too much (a little bit is good – spooky) and then projected the image on it. What’s cool about this is that the image not only projected on the surface, a little bit went through to the other side, only real blurry.
Don’t stop here. Come up with ideas that follow the basic principles of “scare” and make your own video version of Window Horror!
Want a special Halloween menu for a simple, scrumptious meal to enjoy after Trick or Treating with your clan? Here’s a simple meal that you can make easily that’s totally in the “spirit” of the season! Get your little ones in the Halloween jammies (my favorites? Check CWD Kids) and Hanna Andersson) and munch away. Of course, you’ll have to keep your kids out of their treat bags so they’ll be monstrously ravenous!!!
This special dish will make one and all smile with delight. The crust is made of cooked egg noodles, topped with a savory and hearty meat sauce, and decorated as a happy face.
8 oz. packaged fine egg noodles
3/4 pound of lean ground beef
16-oz can of tomato puree
1 envelope Onion-Mushroom soup mix
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 eggs, beaten well
10 oz. mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
Green and/or red pepper
Cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain. Reserve 1/2 cup for the “hair” garnish on your pizza.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Stir in tomato puree, onion-mushroom soup mix, oregano, and garlic powder. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the noodles, eggs, and 2 cups of cheese. Press mixture evenly into a greased 12-inch round pizza pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until lightly browned.
Take out the pizza “crust” and spoon the sauce mixture over. Garnish the pizza to form a happy face: use remaining cheese and pepper pieces for eyes, mouth, and nose. Add reserved noodles for hair. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.
This is a super simple idea which makes it an example of how little touches can turn the ordinary into extraordinary! You can make this earlier in the day or the day before so you won’t need two pizza pans of the same size. This is also perfect for parties and school functions.
Your favorite Fudge brownie mix
Brown and green M&M candies
Orange slice candy
Green gumdrop, if desired
Mix your brownie mix as directed on the package. Pour batter into a greased 12” round pizza pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely and carefully remove from the pan onto a large platter.
Next, tint the canned frosting orange using red and yellow food colors. Have your kids come on in for the fun of decorating the Jack-O-Brownie. Using brown M&M candies, form triangles for the eyes. Do the same with green ones for a nose. Make a mouth by standing up more of the brown M&M candies to form a smile. Add a row of candy corn above and below, touching the brown candies.
Finally, add candy orange slices for eyebrows and a large green gumdrop for the stem. (I often just improvise by putting some brown candies up there as I don’t want to buy a whole bag of gumdrops when only one is needed).
Voila! A BOO-TIFUL way to serve up some chocolate brownies!
Pull up a chair and listen up, whippersnappers…Grampa’s goinig to tell you all a little story.
It’s like this. Today’s Halloween haunters have no idea how hard we had it way back when, before special lights made just for Halloween, strobe lights, and fog machines were part of the scene. Why…I remember when I had to travel to Sleepy Hollow uphill both ways on a swayback horse in 3 feet of snow just to get one SweeTarts!
No, really, Halloween was fun in the “good old days” too. Perhaps more so, because to create a really scary haunt, you had to be able to extract as much as you could out of what you had. And with that, you needed to spark your visitors’ imaginations and touch on their creepiest fears.
That’s still true today (ya little whippersnappers). So what’s the best way to create a scary scene? Simple – lighting.
Setting the Stage: Create a Story
First, whippersnappers, you gotta have a STORY.
Not a theme. Themes are for parties. A story draws in the viewers like a play or movie draws in the audience. It must be a simple story that can be told in just a few sentences. This is called a “treatment” in the movie world.
The story must have the element of letting the viewers use their imagination. The scariest things are what you don’t see, or just barely see, or see only for a flash. You’re just not sure if you saw anything, right?
For example, here’s a tried and true good one:
A guy (or gal) comes home after work on Halloween eve, in no good mood, tired, his wrinkled white shirt unbuttoned at the top, tie pulled slightly loose, perhaps nerdy glasses (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with tape holding them together. As he walks in the door carrying his briefcase, a dark figure comes up behind him and puts a knife to his throat. He drops the brief case, eyes wide.
“Tonight” says the stranger in a raspy voice, “you are going to lure the trick or treaters into your home. I will take care of the rest. But, just in case you decide to run, I’m going to chain your leg to the banister on the porch.”
The front door is wide open and you can easily see inside the house. When the trick or treaters come up to the porch … and remember, they can see in the house…it’s dark, but they can just make out a shadow of a man in the background, in the house, swaying back and forth. But they’re not sure…
Without moving his mouth much, his eyes looking to the side, he says quietly, through his teeth, “Take a piece of candy and get out of here. NOW! Please, just take the candy and pretend I’m not talking to you. Don’t look in the house. DON’T LOOK IN THE HOUSE! PLEASE. GET YOUR CANDY AND LEAVE. NOW!”
Inside the Stage: The Backdrop
Okay. So you’ve created the story scene above. Now ask yourself: How would it look when the trick-or-treaters look in the house (and of course they’re going to look, the guy told them not to!).
First rule of lighting a set: Always start with the background. The background frames the foreground, and gives it depth. It’s night. The color for night is blue. Not ultra-violet. But blue. Dark blue cellophane from a dollar store wrapped over the light, but not touching the bulb. Most craft stores will carry colored cellophane.
If going with cellophone, you can also buy special heat-resistant cellophane. They’re called “gels“, available at Amazon, theatrical stores or cinema supply houses (usually in bigger cities).
Don’t let the cellophane touch the bulb, by the way. Try to use just the lights you have, but NO, I repeat, NO overhead lights (like the ceiling lights). Try to get the lights as low as possible. Low = scary.
You should use a light bulb that is rated at about 100 watts or better. WARNING: The more watts, the hotter the bulb, so be careful!
We have homemade wooden boxes that sit on the floor that are about forty gazillion years old with sockets in them and have two sides open. We use these for Christmas, too. Point the open sides toward the wall. Bing botta boom, you have scary stage lights!
The Background: Casting the Shadow of “the Bad Guy”
You’ll need one light that makes the shadow of the bad guy. This needs to be white or red. I don’t really like red because it’s overused, and may not create the effect well.
Put the bad guy off to the side where the trick or treaters can’t see him, but put the light low to cast a big shadow where they can see that – and it’s the shadow that creates the scare. The shop light is good for this.
Put aluminum foil around the lamp, open on one side so that the light is focused just on the guy. There’s another product that is heavy duty foil called cinefoil, also made by Rosco. It’s usually heavy aluminum foil that is painted black on one side. It’s really nice because it works easier than flimsy regular aluminum foil, and doesn’t collapse when you look at it wrong.
When I set this up for real, I decided that just the backlight was good enough. And, I used a strong floodlight in the shop light fixture so the light was more directed. I experimented with several poses to get the right effect. Here’s how they looked:
Here’s without a hat, the light is set about three feet off the floor, clamped to a chair:
Here’s with me squatting, wearing a hat:
Here’s with the light set about a foot off the ground. It was so low that my body blocked the light… time for a diet!
I ultimately decided to stand with the hat and set the light about three feet off the floor:
Another thing to use to control the light levels is adimmer that can turn the light down to the amount that creates the effect you want. The last time I looked at these at the hardware store, there were three basic dimmers: Low wattage dimmers (about 300 watts = three 100 watt light bulbs) with a knob you turn, higher wattage dimmers (about 600 watts), and digital dimmers.
I don’t think the digital dimmers can handle as much current, but I haven’t looked into what’s out there to find out. If you’re just using regular light bulbs or flood lights, you won’t need anything more than what I’ve just described. You can mount them to a board (usually one dimmer per light) and wire them into an extension cord that then goes on to you lights.
I’ve included a crude wiring diagram to get you started. It wouldn’t hurt one bit to get a professional to do this if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself:
For the Real Professional: Dimmer Pack Control Boards!
If you go to an electrical supply house, you can get a rheostat, which is a really big “dimmer” that can take up to a couple thousand watts, but you’re now starting to teeter on the edge of the professional “gaffer”. Of course, you can buy control boards like those that are used for shows and in theaters, but, of course, these are pricey, too. It all depends on your budget.
Usually, you have what is called a “dimmer pack”, and then a control board to go with it. The dimmer pack will have several “channels”, and each channel controls one light. Less expensive dimmer packs have enough dimmers for 8 lights (8 channels), or down further to 4 channels).
You don’t need more than this, but for real control, you can get programmable control boards that will turn the lights up and down as needed, and some even coordinate these with music and/or videos and will drive motors to move the lights. A lot of music bands have these. A relatively good and inexpensive brand is the KLS Electronics USA, Inc. line of PAR cans, dimmers, and control boards.
One more thing about the background (and the foreground as well). Light usually has an origin. If you place a light, try to make it look like it’s coming from a reasonable source, like a window, or a lamp. If you place a light on a wall, try to imagine that it is coming from a source that the viewer can’t see, but assumes is there.
That’s it for the background. Of course, nowadays people want to use fog machines and strobes, but try to do this without that stuff, because less is better … and scarier ’cause it feels more real. Would an actual monster come carrying a fog machine? Exactly.
Lighting Effects: The Foreground
Now for the foreground. This is where the action is, and the focus is to light the “action”, to draw attention to it. You don’t want to overlight the foreground, just the characters from your story. For our example story, the light on the porch is easy: a plain light with foil mask around it, with a slit cut to point from the ground up toward the guy’s face.
The light on the porch is easy: a plain light on the ground with foil mask around it, with a slit cut to point from the ground up toward the guy’s face. Of course, light the walk way, too, so no one trips.
If you live in an apartment or condo where there is no porch, then make a “stage” in the hallway and use the box lights like above as “footlights” like they have on old stages. If you don’t have time or the shop to make wooden boxes, then make cardboard box foot lights. Just don’t set them on fire!
To light the outside of your house, the principle is the same: Blue lights set low and pointed up makes for very scary stuff!
Here’s how it turned out:
A Real-Life Haunt
My son made a variation of the above story and stage which was very effective: He lit the background like above, except he used candles, too, and he used his fog machine.
In my son’s story, the bad guy is dressed in black with a black cape, a black stocking over his head, a black fedora hat on, and he is standing in front doorway, backlit instead of from the front. The candy bowl was sitting on a bar stool on the porch.
When the kids came up, without saying anything, he simply pointed at the candy bowl, but when he moved his arm to point, he revealed a bloody knife in his belt. We literally had a riot when a crowd of teeny boppers jeered him with shouts of “We’re not afraid of you!”… and you know what that means 🙂 We had to close the scene down early. Sometimes you can be too good!
Halloween can be a frightening experience for your dog or other pets. From the constant ding of the doorbell, to the many people out and about, and all the little hands that inevitably reach for him, there are many things aside from ghouls and goblins that can frighten your pup. Compound that fear with the reality that some dogs are skittish or anxiety-ridden, and well Halloween is right up there with fireworks and thunderstorm.
Instead of dreading the day, use the challenges. With the proper training you can have a very festive Halloween – complete with matching costumes for you and your pup!
Ding-Dong, Trick or Treat!
A dog wouldn’t be a dog if he didn’t bark when the doorbell rings. But on Halloween when your doorbell rings 50 times, well… it’s not so cute any more. This is the ideal time for a little in home dog training:
Get your dog to sit calmly while you open the door and tend to your trick or treaters.
Once the doorbell rings, before answering it, make sure your dog is in a sit and stay position. As you open the door, keep your eye on your pup to make sure he doesn’t get up. If you are not sure about your dog’s reaction put him on a long leash. Your dog should be in your vision but not directly in front of the door. Chances are that the first few times will not be successful but your dog will get the picture. And when he does, click or reward him with treats or praise!
If your dog is confident and doing well, you can allow the trick or treaters to offer your dog some of his favorite snacks. Keep a few handy by the candy dish and when some willing children come to your door, give them a treat, parents permitting. Let them calmly put their hand out and allow your pooch to approach them to take it.
Tips to Help Your Nervous Dog on Halloween Night
If your dog is easily frightened of new people, then he might just be especially frightened of new people with masks on too. Matter of fact, your dog might also be afraid of yard decorations that stick out of the lawn and make noise!
It’s important to not force your dog into confronting his fears. If he’s afraid and hiding let him. You must remain calm and in a steady voice reassure him and talk to him as if nothing is wrong. The more even and calm you are the better chance you have at calming your dog down.
A trick .. so to speak that can help is to put a tee shirt on him. It mind sound silly but you will be amaze at how it can calm your dog down. You can use this on thunder and lighting nights as well.
Take your dog’s mind off the noise and what else is going on out there. This is the perfect time for some in home dog training. Practice sit, stay or lay down with a lot of treats. Even if your dog knows all the commands by heart, practicing something familar is comforting. Go for tasty treats like pieces of ham, sausage or hot dog. If your dog is playful combine the training with some play time.
Anxious and skittish dogs really calm down with classical music, massage or energy work. Simple dog massage techniques, touch or energy work can help nervous dogs relaxed and calm down.
A short note about candy … they are a no no for dogs.
It goes without saying that candy should not be given to a dog – ever, but just to reinforce the message, candy is terrible for dogs and chocolate can be fatal. Please keep kids treat out of their reach!
Catherine Potin is the editor of HappyDogConnections.com and offers free online dog training tips and resources from various experts so you too can understand and train your pooch better. From basic dog training to solving behavior issues, you will find solutions to get better result and create a deeper bond with you dog.
Quick and Easy Ideas For Last-Minute Children’s Costumes
Some kids and their parents have their Halloween Costume ideas well planned and mapped in advance. Others don’t decide to go trick-or-treating until the last minute. If you are scrambling around the night before or the day of to find a Halloween costume that is easy and fun, give these options a try:
Each of these costumes can be put together fairly quickly and easily with items you will already have around the house, and some things that you can pick up at the local hardware store.
Statue of Liberty
While this costume idea might sound quaint, it is actually a visually interesting costume that can be put together with a minimum amount of work.
1 piece of poster board
Yellow and Red construction paper or tissue paper
1 old bed sheet
1 can silver spray paint
A large book
A piece of butcher paper
Wrap the large book in the white butcher paper. This is Lady Liberty’s tablet.
Cut the tissue paper or construction paper into a strip with jagged edges. Tape the two colors around the top of the flashlight. This is the torch.
Measure your child’s head just above the ears, and cut the poster board into the crown—at least three inches of overlap works well. Leave the bottom edge smooth, cut the top edge into triangles.
Spray paint the crown silver. Let it dry and then staple or tape it together so that it fits your child’s head.
Spray paint the sheet silver and let it dry.
When it is time to get dressed, Drape the sheet over one shoulder, place the crown on the child’s head and hand her the flashlight and tablet. It works well to wear a gray t-shirt and gray sweatpants under the sheet.
This is potentially the easiest Halloween Costume to throw together quickly. For the foundation, you need either black or yellow pants and a top. Then, cut three circles of about palm size of Red, Green and Yellow construction paper. (If you have more time, you can make fabric circles, but you will need to hem the edges because otherwise they will unravel.) Tape or sew the circles to the shirt. The red circle goes on top, the yellow in the middle and the green on the bottom. (How many of you could remember that before I told you?!?)
At this point, you are finished. If you have an enterprising youngster like myself, you might want to take a dowel and attach it to a hat and hang signs from it like “Wait, Delayed Signal” or “No Turn on Red.”
You can be elaborate or simple when creating a scarecrow. For last-minute costumes, simple is probably better. All you need to make a simple scarecrow costume are a pair of blue jeans, an oversized, old plaid flannel shirt, a straw hat and a stick. It is a nice touch if you have some long grass or straw, too, but it is not necessary. This is one costume that requires no assembly ahead.
Have your child get dressed. Then, if you have some, tuck some straw around the cuffs of the shirt. You can also sew this on so that it does not fall out. Then show the child how to drape their arms over the stick, like a scarecrow. Put the hat on and Voila! A scarecrow. For makeup, you can use lipstick, eye shadow, and eye liner to draw on their faces.
There is no need to panic if your Halloween plans were not made well in advance. These three easy costume ideas will save the Halloween Holiday at the last minute.
Halloween is a time of magic, making a sorcerer’s costume the perfect pick. But there’s more than one way to wave a wand. Famous wizards have their own distinctive looks, giving you plenty of options. Try a classic or contemporary enchanter outfit and express your personality behind your beard this Halloween.
The Basics of the Wizard’s Costume
The standard “wizard” look is well known and easy to identify. Wizards in classic fiction – including books, movies and oral tradition – nearly always sport a long, white beard, a robe (often with stars or other decorations) and some sort of cap, typically of the pointy persuasion. We’ll get into modifications in a moment, but for now, let’s concentrate on the basics of the typical wizard costume. From there, you can go in the direction you want to create the perfect wizard costume for you.
The best wizard costumes start with a beard. Technically, a beard isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you don’t mind the feel of it around your face, this addition is one of the gold standards for the sorcerer look. Costume beards come in either glue-on, tie or elastic versions. Glued artificial hair is the most realistic, but it’s time-consuming, so be sure you have the patience before committing to this costume embellishment.
You will want to test the glue on an inconspicuous part of your body (for example, the inner arm) 48 hours before applying the adhesive to your facial skin; if you have any reaction at all, including redness, itchiness or pain, buy an elastic banded beard instead. Important: Never use any type of glue except one that states specifically that it is for use on skin and is hypoallergenic.
Hats are another standard feature of the wizard legend. Pointed sorcerer hats can be found at any costume shop around Halloween time, and are often inexpensive to buy. However, if you prefer, you can make your own. Measure your head for the hat’s size, then staple two pieces of flexible cardboard or oak tag together and roll into a cone shape the same number of inches as your head measurement; staple closed. Cut a hole the size of the cone’s opening into another piece of cardboard and cut circularly around it. Tape the cone and cap brim together firmly. Now coat the entire outside of the hat with a strong glue and cover the hat with a satiny material. Cut off excess material and glue flat, making the seam as invisible as possible.
The cloak or tunic will probably be the most expensive part of your costume, but it needn’t break your bank. Consider buying a plain tunic in a light color (for example, the basis of an angel or monk costume) and dyeing it a deep and mysterious color. Purple and midnight blue are two favorites for wizard costumes. If your tunic has a base color (such as beige, light blue, red or yellow), be sure that it will combine with your dye to create the end result you want. Try dying a brilliant gold over pale yellow or covering tan completely with deepest royal purple. Black dye works over any base color. Consult an online color chart if you’re not sure what dye color to purchase.
Which Wizard are You?
Now it’s time to pick your wizard (or to use some combination of these to create your very own look). A few of Hollywood and literature’s favorite wizards include:
The Classic Wizard. He (or she!) stands with a crystal ball in one hand and a short wand in the other, ready to make merry or mischief at a moment’s notice. Try a sky-blue, rope-belted cloak decorated with glue-on stars, a gold colored hat and a silver wand. For your scrying ball, look for something plastic; it’s easier to carry, and safer, than glass.
Merlin. Arthur’s confidante and the sage of ancient Britain, Merlin lives in our hearts as the wisest magician of them all. As Merlin, you’ll be regal in a long white cloak and a garland of oak leaves or mistletoe; also carry a staff (decorate a cheap dowel from the hardware store and attach a “crystal” or stone to the top with glue or a thin strip of leather).
Gandalf. The children’s – and adults’ – classic Lord of the Rings trilogy is full of characters we all love, and Gandalf tops many a devotee’s list. Gandalf wears a gray tunic and sometimes a cloak; both are tied with strips of fabric. His hat is often depicted comically tilted downward at the tip, showing that this book and movie magician is ever the rebel. Like Merlin, Gandalf carries a staff, usually at least his own height. For safety’s sake, you can go a bit shorter if you prefer. For Gandalf, the hanging gray beard is an absolute essential–yes, even if you‘re a woman.
Harry Potter. Harry Potter burst onto the book scene in 1997 and stole our hearts immediately. Luckily for Rowling fans, his character is easy to recreate. Harry wears a long black robe, a white collared shirt, a striped tie and round “owl” glasses. This fabled character is so well known that not only children but grown men – and women as well – can be seen on Halloween dressed as the student sorcerer!
Other less traditional but definitively magical enchanters include Star Wars’ Obi Wan Kenobi, who mentored both Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke; the corrupt Saruman of Lord of the Rings; and Count Duku, also of Star Wars fame. All can be fun choices depending upon your personality type. One thing’s for sure: with a few simple costume pieces and a modification or two, this year you’ll have a costume that’s sure to enchant others on Halloween.
Next to their own birthday and Christmas morning, there’s little that kids anticipate as anxiously as Halloween.
And why shouldn’t they? With fall carnival rides, pumpkins to carve, huge quantities of delicious, sticky goodies, and a few thrill-giving scares, Halloween has all the makings of a childhood favorite.
Kids have their own priorities (“What should I go as? How much candy can I score in one night?). But as adults, it’s so important to also consider Halloween safety.
A few reminders about protecting our kids can help guarantee that this is a Halloween everyone in your family will want to remember for years to come.
The Real Spooks on Halloween Night?
According to reports by US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Halloween Safety: Safety Alert” and another by the University of Michigan Health System, “Expert Offers Tips for Picking Safe Halloween Costumes” on Halloween safety, the three primary dangers relate directly to costume choice. Children are most likely to be injured on Halloween by tripping and falling, receiving a serious burn, or being involved in a pedestrian accident. Due to the large numbers of children who will be out trick-or-treating after dark and wearing dark clothes, our kids are four and a half times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night out of the year. Keeping these very real dangers in mind can help us make simple and smart choices to keep them safe. Here are some tips to avoid them.
Safety First When Choosing or Making a Costume
When it comes to avoiding a traffic accident, we cannot be careful enough and we have to give our kids every opportunity to look out for themselves. Avoid buying hard, plastic masks. Most of these masks cover the whole head and leave only small openings for the eyes and mouth. Besides making it harder for the wearer to breathe, these masks often cover the ears and block out peripheral vision. This seriously impairs the wearer’s ability to notice approaching traffic and limits how they can respond in a truly dangerous situation.
Instead of masks, try face paint! From pirates to princesses, from Christmas Angels to Santa’s Elves, from Indiana Jones to Dora the Explorer, there are endless costume ideas out there that involve no masks at all.
Make sure that motorists have every opportunity to see you and yours. Choose bright colored costumes, costumes with sparkles, lights, or glitter. If the preferred costume is dark, make sure to add reflective tape to increase visibility. Wear white sneakers with reflective highlights or add reflective tape to shoes. Also, pass out flashlights to your party and make sure the batteries are good.
Even Halloween Ghouls Need To Look Both Ways
Finally, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Talk to your kids about traffic safety. The magical feeling of Halloween night can create a sense of invincibility, but that won’t protect them from an oncoming car. Remind them to look both ways and only cross at corners (young trick-or-treaters have the bad habit of dashing right across the road). Discourage older children from riding their bikes as they might crash into walkers or put themselves at greater risk by riding in the road. Dangling costumes might also get caught in bike gears and cause an accident.
It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye
Before the big night, make sure your child has a wide range of motion in their costume. Let them try on their costume before Halloween and let them play in it. Kids will love the opportunity to dress up ahead of time and you’ll get a chance to make sure that they can run and play safely in their disguise. It’s also a good idea to have your kids trick-or-treat in their tennis shoes rather than having them wear costume shoes that might be uncomfortable or dangerous. Especially our little girls who want to be fairy princesses for the night are best off in comfy play shoes, not high heels.
We say don’t run with scissors for a reason! Falling down with or on something sharp can lead to a serious injury. While no Captain Jack Sparrow is complete without a sword and no Hermione Granger is complete without a wand, these should not be stiff or sharp objects in your child’s hand. Make sure that all your child’s accessories are made of a soft and bendy plastic and have rounded edges.
Finally, it might be a good idea to have a talk with your posse about trick-or-treating etiquette. Remind them that there’s plenty of candy for everyone, so there should be no need to run or shove.
Fiery Jack-O-Lanterns – Not a Laughing Matter
Avoiding Burn Injuries:
When you check out your child’s mobility in their costume, also take a look for any loose fabric that might be dragging the ground. Be certain to hem edges or fringe that might catch a low flame like a jack-o-lantern candle.
Also, when picking a Halloween costume, don’t forget to read the label! Even if your child is convinced that they’ve found the one, don’t take it home without first checking to make sure that it will keep them safe from burn injuries. The costume should say that it is either “flame resistant” or “flame retardant.” According to the experts, 100% polyester is the safest choice. Avoid 100% cotton which burns quickly and doesn’t allow adults enough time to respond to a child in distress.
Again, make sure you talk to your kids about keeping an eye out for jack-o-lanterns or other flaming decorations. Reminding everyone, including yourself, to be vigilant is the best protection. Even better than a flame resistant costume is not having to rely on that label at all.
Enjoy the Boo! Avoid the Boo-Hoo!
Keeping the dangers in mind can only lead to a safer Halloween experience. Make sure you set a curfew for older kids and plan a route for trick-or-treating with your youngest. Don’t let a careless and avoidable mistake spoil the life-long memory of a fun Halloween! Happy and safe trick-or-treating!
With Halloween witches, goblins, and super-heroes descending on neighborhoods across the USA, the American Red Cross offers parents, grandparents and guardians some safety tips to help prepare their children for a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treat holiday.
Halloween should be filled with surprise and enjoyment. Add some common sense practices and you’ll make sure your child’s memories of Halloween are golden.
On Halloween night, walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street.
Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and low-flying brooms.
Cross the street only at corners or controlled intersections.
Don’t hide or cross the street between parked cars.
Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. (And remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards, and brooms, too!)
Plan your Halloween route and share it with your family. If possible, have an adult go with you.
Carry a flashlight to light your way. Make sure yo uhave fresh batteries as well.
Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)
Visit homes that have the porch light on.
Accept your treats at the door and NEVER go inside a stranger’s house.
Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes. You want to maintain good vision.
Be cautious of animals and strangers.
Have a grown-up inspect all your treats before eating. And don’t eat candy if the package is already opened. Also remember that small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.
Brush your teeth after consuming any candy.
Remember Halloween should be a fun holiday experience for all. Using common sense is the first step to enjoying and having a safe and sane Halloween. Enjoy and happy Halloween.
Get your Halloween on. All year long.