Spook-tacular haunted house party ideas

Want to rock the dead? Afraid the only guests at your haunted house party will be the spiders? Here are some fun ideas to bring dead Halloween parties to life.

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  • When the winds shift and you smell cinnamon and apple cider, see the autumn leaves in the wind, watch as the night gets longer and feel crisp air nip your nose, you know Halloween is on its way. It is a spook-tacular time to plan a party. When kids run around in costumes hunting candy and seeking treats, a good haunted house brings all the little ghouls to your door. Here are some tips to help you plan a great haunted house party.

  • Think theme

  • A theme makes planning fun and helps the creative juices flow. Maybe a pumpkin theme for small children or vegan zombies for teens. Before you begin, think about the group you're entertaining. Is this for families of young children? If so, lots of blood and gore is probably not a good idea unless you want bad dreams and sleepless nights for the little ones. Is the party geared toward your teen's friends? Scary may be a good thing in this situation. Maybe it's for adults after little spooks are in bed? Some great decorations, yummy food, and spooky music are in order. Now pick a theme!

  • Decorations make it a party

  • Decide on a budget before you start. This can get expensive fast. Don't worry though, creativity keeps costs down. Spiders and ghosts and zombies! Oh my! If you are planning a child's party, try cute as opposed to gory. For teens or adults, you can get a little more scary or authentic. Pinterestis full of fun themes and ideas. You could section off a part of the house for the haunting, a larger room for the party or give your yard a "haunting" and save the house for fun decor and food. Your teens might even volunteer to clean your garage if you let them partition it for a spook alley.

  • Games are great fun

  • Here are some fun ideas for smaller children. Martha Stewart'swebsite has a great Halloween page for all types of parties. Some of our favorites include:

    • Pumpkin Carving. The pumpkins are gutted and ready to go for date night or little fingers. Leave the guts for teens as long as you don't mind a food fight. Cut pumpkins outside for easier clean up, weather permitting.

    • Pin the wart on the witch. Bite the end of a Dot candy off. Then, blindfolded, stick the top of your moist morsel on a witch face painted on a poster board, blindfolded of course.

    • Photo Booth. Decorate a refrigerator box or create a cozy corner for pictures. Use a camera on a tripod, or a designated cameraman. Fill the booth with props guests can use to create the perfect photo shoot.

    • Older kids might get a kick out of making their own music video to classic Halloween songs like Michael Jackson's Thriller. Serve popcorn balls and watch the movies.

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  • Spook Alley

  • Remember to film this event. Children can go through a small space with nothing in it and wearing a blind fold. Spooky music and giggles are all that is required. Here are some fun ideas for pre-teens and teens:

    • Find family friendly haunting ideas on this video called, "How to set up a Haunted House."

    • The Clifford Family Halloween on YouTube is filled with ideas for the daylight. Black garbage bags and light weight lumber make fun for the family.

    • Get kids involved in planning. Sit back and watch them work together.

  • Fun with food

  • Halloween foods are fantastically fun. Who can resist making mummy dogs or drink a glass of sparkling blood? Again, Pinterest has a great selection of creative creepy foods for your guests. Remember to gear the foods toward your age groups and watch out for food allergies in younger children who may not recognize some of the food. Some of our yearly foods include:

    • Boogers on a stick. A can of cheese wiz and green food coloring are all you need. Heat up the cheese and add a few drops of green food coloring to get your desired booger color then serve with pretzel rods.

    • Sparkling blood drink. Cranberry juice and sprite with a few drops of red food coloring to deepen the color.

    • Mummy Dogs. Hot dogs with crescent roll dough cut into strips and wrapped around the dogs in a "mummy" style. Bake according to package directions. Two dots of mustard for eyes finish the effect.

    • Carmel apples are a favorite tradition. Dip into autumn colored sprinkles, candy corn, gummy worms or other decorative candy.

    • A crushed Oreo covered cupcake with a half cookie makes a little graveyard. Let kids decorate cupcakes or cake donuts with gummy worms, candy corn and Halloween candy favorites.

  • Costumes fun

  • . Costumes aren't just for the kids. Teens and adults can have great fun dressing for the occasion. Try putting a costume theme on the invitations and see what fun ideas people come with. Here are some ideas for themes:

    • Fairy Tales

    • Dead Serious (Sarcastic costumes)

    • Famous Ghosts (Famous people who have passed on)

    • Monsters of the 80s. (Monsters popular in 1980's movies)

    • Spook-tacular literature. (Book characters)

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  • Don't forget a good ghost story

  • . Everyone has one. One of our favorite fall activities is gathering around the fire to tell spooky tales. You can have a fire in your fireplace, or outside if the weather permits. You can also make a fake fire if you get crafty. You could even just gather around a candle lit living room. Invite your guests to come prepared with a ghostly tale of their own. Again, if you plan on having small children, tell stories that end in a loud boo or giggles and not gore or suspense.

  • Take the terror out of Halloween happenings. Plan for fun, not fear. Create memories that will last a lifetime and start new traditions.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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