Friday, September 30, 2011

A D.I.Y. Halloween YARD HAUNT!

For me, it is THE best holiday of all holidays. 
I have a love for theatrical effect, lighting and sets, especially combined with the beauty of horror.
 It is mysterious and dark and twisted and awesome. 
For the last decade i have been accumulating a Halloween inventory that i managed to build up while decorating nightclubs for annual Halloween parties. Once i left the nightclub industry, i thought i would put it to good use doing Yard Haunts. A few years ago, i started doing a small Yard Haunt for the trick-or-treaters which then blossomed into my, now, annual life project - The Haunted Garden, which is an over the top Halloween Yard Haunt located in Silver Spring, MD.
This little yard haunt was at my old house in Frederick, Md in a quaint little neighborhood with lots of neighbors. I was the only one on the block that did this and the community just loved it! 

It was quite simple really. 

I got most of these props from retail stores over the years. Spirit Halloween, Home Goods, Party City,  etc.  All these stores sell animated props, hanging props, small props, large props, accessories, costumes, you name it. I would say the most affordable store for Halloween Inventory is Walgreens and Costco. But if it's a LOT of inventory you are looking for and you aren't ready for building your own props yet, visit Spirit Halloween. It can get a little pricey in there, so if you can wait as long as possible, you can get good deals the closer it gets to Halloween. Party City offers a much smaller inventory, but i have found some real treasures there, BIG BIG props. 
This particular Yard Haunt took me about 2 days to setup. That large Goblin Witch thing hanging from my house is about 12' tall. I hung her from my 2nd floor window. I got her at Home Goods many years ago.  The skeleton on the right is hanging from the tree. 
Another spooky skeleton hanging from my old Crab Apple Tree. So fitting. Ahhhh i love Autumn. 
This evil Exorcist like woman has been in my inventory forever. I THINK i got her at Party City. She is so spooky. I flanked 2 props on each side of my front door to set a presence to the Trick or Treaters. 
To get your kids involved, first go get a bunch of pumpkins, because pumpkins are like bubbles. All kids love them. These can vary greatly in price. Just look around for deals, especially on the big pumpkins, as they can be charged by the pound. You can carve them into Jack-O-Lanterns freehand or by using Pumpkin Carving Kits. Either way, they are a staple for any Yard Haunt.
These are cheap and full of impact ; ranging from $7-$20. I have some body parts laying around cause i kill zombies on the side, so i stuck the hands in the ground for added effect. The light you see is, well, for the evening illumination{which is the most important part of bringing your Haunt to life}. 

The best ways to achieve quick, inexpensive lighting effects are from flame cauldrons, tiki torches, strobe lights, homemade uplights and Blacklights. Flame cauldrons work really well in front of tombstones as they create beautiful up-light , but even better hanging from the hands of props. It brings life to the creatures and illuminates their faces and upper bodies. The Halloween Trees you see behind the tombstones were purchased at Target. They too have a somewhat decent supply of decor. Nothing on a large scale though. 
Overall, it requires a bit of $$, time, labor and more than anything, a love for the art of Halloween. 

Supplies for a Small D.I.Y Yard Haunt
Props {skeletons, goblins, witches}
Body Parts
Flaming Cauldrons
Black Lights
Tiki Torches
Red Flood Lights {make your own from Home Depot}
Spider Web {both regular and U.V. sensitive which can be used to create the illusion of water}
Fog Machines
Extension Cords {like tons of them}
Fishing Line{for hanging cauldrons from props or whenever you don't want to see the line}
Black Tie Line {theater supply houses}
Gaffer Tape {theater supply houses or online}
Random accessories {skeleton head yard stakes, illuminated trees, lamp posts, crows, skulls, candles, chains, there is a world of amazing stuff online}
Haunted Sound Effects, Ipod and speakers {for the full effect}
Now, that i am on to bigger and badder Yard Haunts, i will share some pictures of the 2011 Haunted Garden. 
To see the most up to date pictures and this year's current schedule for The Haunted Garden,  visit
To see the production in progress as we prepare for opening night, LIKE us on FACEBOOK!


  1. Enjoyed looking at your yard haunt photos.
    Really like the very large skull.
    Fell free to drop by at:
    Haunted House Michigan
    Have a great 2012 Halloween!

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your 12' hanging WITCH! It's never HALLOWEEN without WITCHES! Ive found one for out front of my place this year (2015). I'm going to repaint her to be green, give her a pointy hat, and add extra colors & textures of fabric so her robes stand out at night under a green spot.

    I LOVE your work. You're who I want to be when I grow up! So inspirational!