Haunted houses can be a fun part of Halloween, but many times they are too expensive or too scary for younger children. A simple haunted house in the backyard can provide all the thrills while still having that comfort zone of home. A few simple decorations and a bit of imagination can provide an evening of fun. By making it large enough that kids and grownups can go through it together you’ll also help the younger ones feel a bit braver.
Some cardboard boxes, sheets and clothesline can become a maze for the kids to go through. Bales of hay can also make a nice touch as tunnels to crawl through. If you live near a farm, you may be able to borrow a few bales and return them after the party. The maze doesn’t have to be intricate. Even a few twists and turns will allow for surprises around each corner.
Enlist the kids help to decorate the cardboard and sheets with glow-in-the-dark paint to help create the walls. Position a few black lights to make them visible to your guests. The kids will love painting designs and pictures with the bright colors. Have them come up with scary phrases, like “Beware All Who Enter Here” or “Ghosts and Goblins Only” to decorate the walls of the backyard haunted house.
Lighting is an important part of a haunted house. You want enough light that people can see where to walk safely, but not so much that they see what’s awaiting them ahead. There are many theme lights such as ghosts and pumpkins available, but Christmas tree lights work just as well. Strobe lights can also add to the spooky atmosphere as can a fog machine. Jack-o-lanterns are also a nice touch, but use battery-operated lights in them for safety.
Hanging rubber bats, ghosts and other creepy crawlers around on different length strings, long enough that people will bump into, may make a few people jump. Have a few volunteers dress up in spooky costumes and hide behind trees and around corners of the maze to add to the scare factor. If you think a younger child might be too scared by them, let them see the people getting in their costumes before hiding. This way, they’ll know it’s really people they know in costumes and not real monsters.
Invite the neighborhood trick-or-treaters to venture through your haunted house, having the treats passed out by the various monsters hiding through the maze. It makes it a little more exciting for the kids. It’s sure to make your home a favorite stop of all the little ghosts and goblins.
As you plan your haunted house layout, keep safety in mind. Remove any sticks that may cause someone to trip. Avoid tree roots that may be sticking up out of the ground. Look for rocks, too. As long as you are creative, have fun, and keep safety in mind, it’s sure to be the hit of the neighborhood.