Theme parties are a lot of fun but if you really want to wow your friends, create a spooky haunted house filled with thrills and scares.
First you'll need an appropriate venue. Your house or backyard is the natural (and cheapest) choice, but if you've got the cash to spend, think about hiring out a spooky location. Places like the cemetery, an old jail or a notorious haunted spot in your town will give your haunted house automatic cred - and you haven't even done anything yet!
Consider the type of haunted house you would like – will it be filled with ghosts and witches? Famous serial killers? Pirates? A combination of the above? Once you've got an idea of what you would like to do, sketch out a rough map of your location and start drawing in the attractions. At this stage, your imagination is your only limit, although you may have to make alterations later in the process.
So you've got your plans drawn up. Great. Now you need to start thinking about the reality of your haunted house. Will you need friends to help you act out the spooky roles? What props will you need and how will you get them? These are some points to consider:
Darkness and lighting will give your haunted house an instant chill. Board up any windows and cover your walls with dark sheets, curtains or cardboard. Red light bulbs are a quick and easy way to provide a spooky glow. You could also use candles, torches or strobe lighting (although be aware that strobe lighting can cause seizures), or Christmas lights or track lighting to lead a path through the house. You'll need enough light for guests to make their way through and enough darkness to set the mood.
Have sound effects tapes or scary music playing in the background. Nothing says haunted house more than a howling wolf or creepy violin. Finally, hire a fog machine or purchase dry ice to add a carpet of mist.
Stock up on cardboard and boxes, the base materials for nearly all props. You can make gravestones, skeletons, spooky signs and a whole lot more from sheets of cardboard, while boxes make great coffins. Papier mache is also a useful prop making technique and can be used to make nearly anything!
If you can't make it, you should be able to find it at party supplies shops, props retailers and second hand stores.
The best tip is to start small with your first haunted house; if it's a success, you can go bigger and better next time.