A haunted house is a great way to spend Halloween, and when trick-or-treaters show up, you can give them a lot more than candy.

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Or, you could throw a party for your friends and family, and many of these ideas would work just as great for decorations. If you’ve decided to put together a haunted house this year, and you really want to scare the pants off of your friends and neighbors, then here are some no-fail ideas to do just that:Spiderwebs: Sure, you could go to any store and buy the fake spiderwebs that you stretch out and try to make fit where you want them to. Those do work for decorations if you want to go simple. Regular cotton stuffing works well, too, especially if you want to cover an entire area and don’t want to buy dozens of bags of the fake spiderwebs.But, if you really want to create some great spiderwebs, use black thread. Just dangling black thread from the ceiling in a dark room is all you need to do. Your guests won’t see it, and they will walk right into the thread. Try not to laugh too hard as you watch them waving their hands in front of their faces trying to wipe away the “spiderweb”.If you want to go really crazy, weave an actual spiderweb out of the thread, against a white wall, and place a giant fake spider on it.Walkways: On the floor, place leaves, balloons, packaging bubbles, anything that will make a sound when stepped on. Some stores have welcome mats that scream when stepped on. In a darkened room, no one will know they are there, or even what they are.Lights: Strobe lights, colored Christmas lights(orange and red), black lights, all work perfect for a haunted house. Also, take orange and red colored crepe paper and cover lamps or chandeliers with it.

Mazes: If you have the space, mazes are great additions to a haunted house. In fact, if you don’t have time to do anything else, then just create a great maze for your guests and trick-or-treaters.

One way to make a maze is using hay bales. Pile them up like building blocks. Keep the walls low, and cover the tops with blankets or tarps. That way your guests have to crawl through the maze! Dangle fakes spiders from the ceiling of the maze, and place globs of goo on the floor.

You can also use corn stalks. If you’ve got them, and a lot of them, then this is the best way to go. Tie them together to make the walls. If you don’t live in an area where you can get hay bales and cornstalks then just use black material or blankets. You can create a maze in the largest room of your house this way. Just hang the material from the ceiling. Again, you can dangle fake spiders, and place leaves on the floor.

Don’t forget, when creating your maze, to make dead ends to keep your guests confused. Also, dress someone up in a scary costume and keep them hidden inside the maze. Let them chase the lost guests around! That’s also a good idea if a guest gets too lost, or scared, and needs a little help.

Realistic Dummies: Dummies are the best decorations for a haunted house, or Halloween party. What’s even better is when your guests can’t tell the difference between a dummy, and a real human. Here’s how:

1) Use any old clothing you have laying around. Long sleeve shirts, pants, jackets, sweatshirts. Tie off the very end of the sleeves and the pant legs. Try to get as close to the end as possible. Stuff the shirts and pants with loosely crumpled up newspaper. A lot of people use hay or leaves, but I’ve always found that hay and leaves fall out of little holes and give away the fake dummy. Use smaller pieces, and less paper, at the wrists and ankles. Then add more as you go up, so that it looks like real arms and legs. Your legs aren’t the same size from ankle to hip are they?

2) Attach the top half to the bottom using safety pins. Pull the shirt down over the top of the pants, just like a real person would wear their shirt, and pin the shirt to the pants from the inside so you can’t see the pins.

3) Lightly stuff a pair of socks and pin them to the bottom of the pant legs, from the inside, so the pins remain hidden. Then put on a pair of shoes. Sneakers work best, but it also depends on what you’re trying to make your dummy look like.

4) For the hands, use gloves. Those cheap, stretchy gloves work great. Fill the fingers and the palm of the gloves with aluminum foil! This stuff works great. Mold and shape the aluminum foil into the fingers, making sure each is the size that finger should be. Don’t make your pinky bigger than your middle finger. With the aluminum foil, not only will they look like real hands, but you can bend the fingers to any position you want, and even make the dummy hold something!

5) The head: If you have any of those Styrofoam faces used for wigs, use them. Use full headed masks, the kind that have hair already, or use wigs and regular masks. Have fun with it. Mix and match hair and masks to make them look really weird. But, that’s not all: Tape marbles into the eye sockets of the masks. When the lights hit the eyes, they will shimmer, just like a real person’s eyes would!

It’s true, if you look at these dummies in daylight, you can easily tell they aren’t real. But, place them in a darkened room, or in some position you couldn’t imagine a fake dummy being in, and you’re guests will be completely confused.

So, now you have these dummies. What do you do with them?

– If you have a stairwell, place one leg of the dummy over the railing, and tie its arms up with fishing line so it looks like a person about to jump down on you.

– Place one on a death scene. Resting against a car, all bloody from being hit. Or sprawled on the floor, with a knife through the chest. Pick your scene and tell your guests that the man(or woman) just died and that it is still a warm body. Dare someone to touch it. When they do, and someone always will, sure enough, they will feel a warm body. That’s because you’d place a hot water bottle inside the dummy’s body!

– Dig a hole in the ground, big enough to be a grave. It doesn’t have to be deep enough, no one is going to look that closely. Stand one of the dummies beside the grave. You can do that by building the dummy over something, like a pole or step ladder. Have the dummy holding a lit lantern over the grave. Make a cardboard gravestone too. What would be fun, would be to make a gravestone for friends and family you know are going to attending, and when they are about to head to that scene, have someone place a gravestone with their name on it beside the freshly dug grave. Write some silly epitaph to make them laugh.

– Create devils and stick them around a fake fire. Make the fire using red and orange crepe paper cut into flames shapes, and place them around a light.

– Stand up a few dummies and tie fishing line to their arms. Have someone hide in the room, and they can pull on the end of the fishing line to make the dummies move and dance. Tie line to their heads to get them head-banging. Tie line around their waists to make them twist back and forth. Play music in the background.

– Create the three witches from Macbeth around a cauldron. You can buy plastic ones around Halloween time. My family had a large cast iron cauldron that we used every year. If you ever find one, perfect. Fill the cauldron with rum and coke for your guests. Or cider, for the kiddies.

– Have fun with the dummies. Dress them up anyway you want. Have a Dracula, or a Frankenstein. Put them in any position you can come up with. Just go crazy. Take advantage of spaces in your home, or wherever you’re creating the haunted house. Stairs, closets, hallways, any place that would create a scene.

Real Dummies: Now that you have your fake dummies that look real, it’s time to make real people look like dummies. The advantage to this is that your guests, when viewing a scene you’ve created, will never know what’s real and what isn’t. That is until someone jumps out and they’re screaming.

Have your dummies wear old clothing, like those you’ve put on your fake dummies. If they are in costume, that’s even better. Have their socks sticking up over their pant legs, just like your fake dummies. Make sure they wear gloves, especially the stretchy ones, like your dummies are wearing. See the pattern here? Give them wigs and masks to cover up any real hair. Or make sure the real hair is disheveled and messy.

Now that you’re helpers look fake, where do you put them and what should they do? Here are some ideas:

– Turn a female helper into Lizzie Borden. Have your helper wear an old-fashioned dress, and wig and mask(if possible). Make it that Lizzie has already killed her father by laying dummy body parts around the area. Use ketchup for blood, have it spilling out of the places that Lizzie chopped. Have a second dummy as Lizzie’s stepmother. Have this dummy resting on a table. Have your helper, dressed as Lizzie Borden, stand perfect still behind the table, facing her stepmother. She should be holding an axe, a real one preferably(just be careful!). If this is done right, the guests will think she’s just a dummy. At the right moment, with everyone watching, have your Lizzie Borden drop the axe and chop off her stepmother’s head! To do this, use a pumpkin/cabbage/turnip/squash as the dummy’s head, covered with a wig and mask, and if your Lizzie does it with enough force, the head will roll off the table! Make sure you have several pumpkins in case any break.

– If Lizzie Borden isn’t your thing, you could do an executioner as well. Again, using a pumpkin as the victim’s head. Another idea is to build a guillotine out of wood and a metal sheet as the blade. Have the blade held up by fishing line and your live dummy as the executioner would be holding the other end. Have him drop the blade just as your guests are watching. Your fake dummy’s head will roll!

– Create a butcher’s shop and have a fake dummy as the butcher. By now, your guests will be thinking that the butcher is the real dummy, and will be expecting him to chop someone up. But, you’ll be prepared for that. Use one of those tables that open up bigger, but don’t use the middle piece. Instead, cover the table with a cloth to cover the opening. Put a small hole in the cloth, only big enough for a leg to fit through. Now, have your real dummy wear a pair of one legged pants. Have the other leg cut off near the hip, and put a long slit in the back. Save the cut off pant leg and stuff it, adding the sock and shoe, and add fake blood to the top. When you have your real dummy lay down on the table, he will put his real leg through the hole in the material, but because of the slit in the shortened pant leg, you won’t be able to see the real leg. Arrange the pants so that it looks right and add more blood, or have a bone sticking out. Take the cut off leg you made and rest that near the real dummy. When your guests come by, they will assume that the fake butcher is a real person, but instead your real dummy will start screaming about his cut off leg and grabbing at your guests, begging them to help him!

– Have a real dummy sprawled out somewhere random, just like you would a fake dummy. When someone walks by, have him/her reach up and grab that person.

– Again, just have fun with it, and use any scene you can come up with and have the means to create.

Hidden People: You can also hide helpers so they can scare your guests when least expected.

– Make a blood bar. Use food coloring and water as your drinks, and have a dummy as the bartender. When your guests come near, thinking they can get a real drink, have someone from under the bar reach out and grab their legs.

– You should be having this haunted house at night, and so another good idea is to have a helper dress in dark clothing, and maybe even some dark face paint. Take the chain off a chainsaw(for safety purposes), and let them run off into the dark. Whenever they feel like, they can start up the chainsaw! Believe me, people will scream. They don’t need to see him, just hear that chainsaw, and they will automatically believe that Leatherface is there, somewhere.

– Hide people in trunks, barrels, and boxes. They can either quickly jump out and frighten your guests, or slowly lift the lids and peer out at them.

– Make your guests put their hands in boxes with holes in them. In each box have something disgusting for them to touch. In one box, have someone’s hand grab theirs. Your helper just needs to squat behind the table and have their hand through a hole in the back of the box.

– Put candy eyeballs in jars of water. Dead animal bones, too. Fake bugs, those that look real, are a good idea as well. If you make the water cloudy, and keep the room dark, than you could put practically anything in those jars and make your guests think it’s some body part. Grapes for eyes. Spaghetti for brains. While your guests are peering into the jars, again, have someone that is hiding reach out and grab them unexpectedly. Or, have all these jars on a book shelf with an open back. Have your helper stand behind the shelf, watching. When a guest is looking at the jars that are on the same level as your helpers head, have your helper flip on a flashlight to illuminate their face. Of course, make sure their face looks scary, or gross.

The ideas are endless, and it would take too long to write them all here. The point is to be creative and come up with your own ideas. These are just a few to help you out. Keep in mind that this is a lot of hard work, and you should start early when creating your haunted house. My family would start two months before Halloween. But, it was always worth it! So, go out, make those dummies, and have fun scaring your friends! Happy Halloween!