Halloween is a special time of year: It’s a night where you get to forget who you are for a while and become someone or something else for a few hours. It’s a night to celebrate the things that scare us, and a night of sweets and fun times for everyone involved. For a lot of kids, Halloween is one of the best days of the year, and will form some of the memories of their neighborhood that will stick with them through their whole lives. And one of those memories, for sure, will be that one house on the block that everybody knows is the “Cool Halloween House.”
Now, there are a lot of ways to become the cool Halloween house in the eyes of the neighborhood kids, but it basically comes down to three things: How well-decorated is it, what kind of candy are they giving out, and are the grown-ups there having fun with it too?
If you want your house to be the coolest Halloween house around, I’ve got a few tips to help you get there. But remember, whatever you decide to go with, it’ll be all the more special if you put your own personal spin on it!
Pumpkins are a no-brainer
As discussed in this post from a couple of weeks ago, there are plenty of things you can do with pumpkins to make them nice and festive! Carved, painted, or plain, you can’t go wrong with this classic Halloween staple! (Although, if your version DOESN’T involve candles placed inside the pumpkins, maybe add some—real or fake—around them, just to have the same ambiance.)
Invite a scarecrow over!
If you can’t be there to sit out in person for whatever reason, don’t just put a bowl out and leave it be—kids won’t remember that. To be the cool Halloween house, you gotta make it a little fun! Put out a scarecrow or skeleton or other spooky figure to hold the bowl of candy.
(Bonus if it’s in a cloak: That way the kiddos can’t tell if it might be a real person about to give them a little fright!)
Let there be light!
Putting out lights isn’t just for Christmas anymore! You can get festive orange and purple lights to string across your home at most department or dollar stores—even if it’s just over your front door, it adds a little extra festive cheer to the holiday, and does a little bit more than a porch light to let kids know you’re giving away candy!
For a bit of a spookier look, try putting out lanterns or candles in paper bags instead.
Stage a Skeleton War
Want a different lawn attention-grabber? You can get plastic skeletons at party stores and stage scenes with them however you like! Fighting battles, climbing walls, playing chess, dressed up silly, anything you can imagine! Combine it with the last idea, make the graves more spooky than funny, and have them crawling out of them; The sky—or should I say the underworld—is the limit!
Add a haunting soundtrack
Another way to set your home apart and signal that your cool Halloween house is “open for business” is by setting out a Bluetooth speaker and playing some spooky sounds—you could go with the classic chains/moaning/howling wind type deal, or just play some Halloween-y music, like Monster Mash, Boris the Spider, the Ghostbusters theme, etc.
How ’bout a graveyard smash?
One great decoration idea is to turn your yard into a graveyard. You can put out tombstones with names on them, or you can make them funny by setting out ones with puns about the way they died.
“Here Lies Mozart, Decomposing”
“Shot in the head by a golfer’s gun
He sure put a hole in Juan!”
“Here at rest lies Cowboy Joe
Grabbed the bull by the horns
But forgot to let go”
You can find more (and some scary ones) here.
Wanna go above and beyond? Try a fog machine
It might be a little pricey, but if there’s a lot of cool Halloween house competition on your block this year, and you want to keep yourself in the running, you may want to, consider getting yourself a fog machine to really set the mood on your front stoop. If there’s big competition in your neighborhood to have the spookiest Halloween house and you wanna get in on the action, some spooky fog could set you over the top!
For some extra spook factor, try covering some flashlights in colored film (green, purple, orange, or red are good bets) and taping them to the machine or placing them strategically nearby.
Try a “Tricks” bowl along with your treats!
Want to put the “trick” back in “trick or treat?” Fill a bowl “eyeballs” and “worms” and “dried hearts” (peeled grapes, cold spaghetti, figs or dates), and make sure nobody can see what’s in it by covering it with a cloth. Have kids pass the challenge of putting their hand in it before they get their candy! (Or, if some are too scared, say they can elect one representative to do it for the group.)
Sit outside in costume (and maybe in character!)
It’s always extra fun for the kids when the grown-ups get in on the Halloween spirit too. You can dress up as much or as little as you want, but getting into costume and maybe putting on a character can make the night extra spooky and extra special for the kids who come by. It’s kind of like when somebody dresses up as Santa—just a little extra “cool Halloween House” magic!
Make an evening of Halloween for yourself!
While you’re at it, why not make a fun evening of the Halloween night for yourself as well? If you’re not out trick-or-treating, and it’s not too chilly, here’s my suggestion: Get a fire pit, get your significant other, some friends or family, and get a bottle of wine, some hot cider, or hot cocoa, and enjoy the evening outside, taking in the crisp night air and watching the neighborhood come alive with trick-or-treaters. Halloween only comes once a year—even if you’re not out on the town yourself, you can enjoy it too!
BONUS TIP: It’s not for everyone, but if you REALLY want kids to think you’re the coolest Halloween house around, I have four words for you: Full-size candy bars.