By Kathryn Weber, Tribune Media Services
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
Instead of just tossing candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween this year, send them home with something to talk about. Using simple props around your home and yard, items, you can create a mini haunted house right on the front porch or some spooky surprises on the way there.
Set the scene
If you have a small porch, it's easy to create a scene that will enchant neighborhood ghosts and goblins. Using a roll of black plastic sheeting, completely enclose the space. Have trick-or-treaters enter where the ends meet in the middle, or hand out candy through the opening.
As a more chilling alternative, put on a mask or face paint and stand behind the plastic, near a small sign reading, "Reach in here for your candy" or "Say Trick or Treat now." When kids reach in or say the phrase, hand them some candy or poke your head out and deliver the goods with a ghostly cackle.
If your porch is large enough, you can draw visitors into a much more elaborate Halloween scene. Stuff a pair of old jeans and a shirt with newspaper or leaves to create a scarecrow. Place a piece of red cloth over the neck hole of the shirt and set the scarecrow on a chair next to a table. Place a carved or faux pumpkin on the table to represent the scarecrow's head.
For a truly haunting touch, create a Harry Potter style floating candle ceiling. Suspend old candle tapers using fishing line or fine wire. (For complete instructions, check http://www.instructables.com/id/Floating-Candles/)
If all of this sounds like too much work, go a simpler route. Do you have an exercise ball or large rubber ball at home? Turn it into an eyeball by drawing on an iris, pupil and red veins. Perch it next to a bowl of candy with a sign: "Take two pieces -- but no more. I've got my eye on you!"
Create your own bat colony by cutting out paper silhouettes and hanging a few dozen at various heights on the porch using fishing line. Free clip art of bats and other spooky images is available at http://www.clker.com. Make a haunted forest with your fall yard waste. Outline the porch or front walk with large bare branches and deck them out with raven or ghost cutouts. Scatter mounds of leaves to complete the scene.
Create a coven of witches
Do you have a worn out broom around the house? Turn it into a witches' broomstick. Simply cut the stitching, fluff out the bristles and lean the broom against your front door. If you have more brooms to work with, paint one handle brown, another black, another purple or green. Place them in a bucket with a sign: "Witches meeting tonight. Park your brooms here."
Simple materials and a little imagination are all it takes to make Halloween memorable for both kids and adults.
(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site, http://www.redlotusletter.com.)
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