The Best Halloween Decorating Tips from "Home Haunters"

September 30, 2022

To kick off this spooky season right, we decided to talk to 17 of the best DIY home haunts we could find across the nation. They kindly gave us insight into what makes Halloween so special, their best tips for beginners, and some of their favorite pieces in their haunts...

 

But make sure to stick around through the end as they'll divulge the MOST important elements any spooktacular haunt needs!

 

So if you're looking to become the most terrifically terrifying spot in town this Halloween, this is the perfect place to start your journey.

 

Let's get a bit into it, shall we?

 

Speaking of getting into it...

 

We asked these home haunters what got them so engrossed in the Halloween spirit to begin with; here's what some of them had to say:

 

Some, like Brian, have been dreaming of doing this since they were a kid.

"I’ve been decorating for Halloween since I was a kid. We always celebrated Halloween more than any other holiday. My parents put on large displays in the yard. When I bought a house, I got to make the haunt I wanted." - Brian, Pumpkin Riot Productions @pumpkinriotproductions

 

Kandy was inspired by the adrenaline rush of the haunt.

"I volunteered for an annual haunted house fundraiser... Working in the haunt was addicting. I fell in love with it and I've continued the obsession with our home haunt." - Kandy, Spooked on Spurlock @spookedonspurlock

 

Ben and Emily love to continue wowing their neighborhood.

"We’ve always been really into decorating for Halloween because there’s so much satisfaction in hearing people’s reactions to our work... As the crowds grow each year, it pushes us to keep coming up with new ideas and experiences." - Ben and Emily, The Witching Auer @witchingauer

 

Sean wants to inspire other children, just as he was inspired by haunts as a child.

"My brother was probably the biggest inspiration... We went to haunted houses together when I was young and always loved it. Now being an “adult” I love the hard work and creative process it takes to put on a haunt. Hopefully, we can inspire at least one kid like me." - Sean, Wicker Manor @wickermanor

 

And Steve's collection of Halloween decorations simply became larger than intended... but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I’ve always loved decorations for Halloween and can’t resist a good scary movie... but honestly, it all started with a couple of decorating pieces that snowballed each year until it became a massive walk-through home haunt." - Steve, Frightmare Home Haunt @frightmarehomehaunt

 

 

When you're starting a haunt of your own, you need to think about what style of décor you'd like to put on display, and maybe even an overarching theme that ties your haunt together.

 

A lot of our home haunters like to keep their haunts family friendly while still keeping it creepy!

 

"My décor style is a mixture. No horror graphic scenes. [We] incorporate a spooky scene with a classic monster twist." - Sandric Cemetery @sandcem

 

"My décor style is a mix of store-bought, handmade, and modified store-bought Halloween props... I’m big into the classic atmospheric Halloween feel, pumpkins/sheet ghosts/ skeletons/ cemetery etc." - Haunted Cedar @hauntedcedar

 

"I try and go for anything spooky yet still fun for the kids... [I] stay away from blood/guts & gore." - Cheryl Callender, Torts Tombs @torts_tombs

 

"I’d say it’s a spooky environment that adults and young kids can enjoy equally. We don’t do any gore and prefer the paranormal and creepy." - Sean, Wicker Manor @wickermanor

 

Others like to take it up a notch and stand out in a seriously scary way!

 

"I like realism. When creating scenes I do my best to make everything look as real as possible.  It makes for a more "immersive" type of experience." - Kandy, Spooked on Spurlock @spookedonspurlock

 

"Our décor style is horrifying. Our goal is to make your most terrifying nightmares come true. We want you to be shocked." - Nightmare Circus @nightmarecircus

 

Don't be afraid to draw from other sources of inspiration, too! A handful of different home haunters have 2 inspiration sources in common that have brought their haunts to the level they're at today and had a strong influence on their style.

"As a kid I was always obsessed with Disneyland and the haunted mansion. I also grew up right next to Knotts Scary Farm which has always been a huge influence on me. I don’t know how I got so into but it fills my heart with a joy I can’t seem to find elsewhere." - Bill, Hull House @hullhousehaunt

 

"My style is heavily influenced by Disney's Haunted Mansion. I have nearly 19 years of experience working for a local haunted house that raised money for charity. I was fortunate to work with many talented people over those years that really helped me cement my skills and hone in on my building and painting talents." - Oak Crest Cemetery @oak_crest_cemetery_home_haunt

 

"Went to Disney and I remember the magic I felt, [I] have been trying to copy it ever since." - Todd Wood, Haunted Wood Cove @hauntedwoodcove

 

"I’ve definitely been influenced by Knotts Scary Farm. My haunt started with a character, Dr. Diablo, and I picked an old west setting and went from there." - Tim Fowler, The Farm Haunt @the_farm_haunt

 

Once you figure out what exactly you're going for, it's time to start either buying or making your decorations... or a bit of both!

 

Here's what some of the haunters had to say to beginner decorators -- get ready to take some notes:

 

Don't sweat the small stuff.

"Don’t worry about small details or things not working exactly as you envision. Your audience won’t notice!" - Vicky, House of Creeps @hauntedhouseofcreeps

 

Memorable experiences don't have to be expensive.

"Find your vision and make it come to life. It doesn’t matter if it’s all store-bought, all handmade, or somewhere in the middle. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create something memorable for the neighborhood and your family." - Haunted Cedar @hauntedcedar

 

Never compare yourself.

"Keep it simple at first to not overwhelm yourself. Never compare your decorations to others as everyone has different tastes, styles & skill levels." - Cheryl Callender, Torts Tombs @torts_tombs

It takes a while to build up to her level of haunt! Take a look:

 

Add your personal touch.

"Make the haunt you want. It’s not a competition, it’s a celebration of Halloween. Add your personal touch to your haunt." - Brian, Pumpkin Riot Productions @pumpkinriotproductions

 

Use the vast resources of the internet.

"There are so many resources online and on YouTube for help learning new techniques." - Spooky Q Productions @spookyqhaunt

 

Get an early start and ask questions!

"If you want to make things, start early because it will take a lot longer than you imagine. Also, watch and follow a lot of home haunters and see what they did and don't be afraid to ask questions!" - The Grim Grinners Haunt @grimgrinnershaunt

 

Picking a theme may help pull your haunt together.

"Pick a theme. Create a backstory. This will open up your eyes to exactly what you want to fill your haunt with. Items that might not be a traditional Halloween “decoration” will bring your haunt together." - Tim Fowler, The Farm Haunt @the_farm_haunt

 

Keep working in the off-season.

"[Have] patience. You have every off season to develop and build." - Sandric Cemetery @sandcem

 

Start small, have fun.

"Start off small, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Setup early so you can enjoy your work, and have fun." - Todd Wood, Haunted Wood Cove @hauntedwoodcove

 

For fun, we also asked our home haunters what their all-time favorite decoration they've built or bought has been... and we were blown away by all of the incredible ways they've made their haunts come alive!

 

"My favorite prop I have ever made is my three Scorched witches; One of the first custom props I built in which included making their witch hats completely from scratch." - Brian, Pumpkin Riot Productions @pumpkinriotproductions

 

Spooky Q Productions' new homemade pumpkin sentinel @spookyqhaunt

 

Oak Crest Cemetery's coffin inspired by Disney's Haunted Mansion @oak_crest_cemetery_home_haunt

 

"It would have to be the burnt-down house façade I made back in 2018. By far the biggest thing I had ever made and I had to learn a lot of new tricks to make it work." - Bill, Hull House @hullhousehaunt

 

"My favorite is a creepy circus train, the wheels really turn, it’s glow in the dark and we can change the passengers with different animatronics each year." - Fright Manor @thehauntingoffrightmanor

 

"Hands down my favorite decoration is my façade. I created this out of Styrofoam and wood. I carved in the detail with a heat gun, and finished it off with different textures of paints to give it a very realistic stone look. People have to physically touch it when I let them know it’s made out of Styrofoam!" - Steve, Frightmare Home Haunt @frightmarehomehaunt

 

Nightmare Circus sent us a truly terrifying video of their in-pain puppet @nightmarecircus

 

 

Finally, it all comes down to this. We asked the haunters what they believe is the most important element every haunt needs.

 

"The most important element to any Halloween display is a story.  Coming up with a story behind the props or experiences you create really takes the detail to the next level even if the only person that knows the story is you.  We think coming up with a backstory helps inspire exactly what purpose your props are serving and helps tie the whole experience together." - Ben and Emily, The Witching Auer @witchingauer

 

"In order to make your home memorable, I think creating an atmosphere or ambiance that the kiddos and parents can remember is important… which doesn’t take a lot. I remember growing up there was a house that had one purple lightbulb on their porch and he played a spooky record, sat in a rocking chair and handed out candy. Super simple, yet was super creepy." - Haunted Cedar @hauntedcedar

 

"I think an important element is a consistency in theme.  I enjoy when haunters pick an overarching theme for their display." - Spooky Q Productions @spookyqhaunt

 

"One of the most important elements every Halloween display needs is a soundtrack to set the mood" - Oak Crest Cemetery @oak_crest_cemetery_home_haunt

 

Plus, a whopping 11 out of our 17 interviewees all named the SAME thing:

 

"Every halloween display needs good lighting. We have always been complimented on our lighting which we tend to spend a lot of time figuring out." - The Grim Grinners Haunt @grimgrinnershaunt

 

"The most important thing every Halloween display needs is a theme. With that, at the same level is lighting." - Sandric Cemetery @sandcem

 

"Great lighting and effects really set the tone of a haunt no matter how much or little decorating you do." - Vicky, House of Creeps @hauntedhouseofcreeps

 

"Lighting. You have to really set the mood, and without enough lighting, you can not see all the hard work that went into the build" - Fright Manor @thehauntingoffrightmanor

 

"Lighting! Spend time on lighting!" - Tim Fowler, The Farm Haunt @the_farm_haunt

 

As we've long suspected, these DIY home haunting pros know the utmost importance of using quality lighting to tie together all of their decorations and truly make them shine! You can use black lights, spotlights, and even string lights like ours to create a truly unique look.

 

ColorBit Lights are the perfect led lights to use in Halloween decorations because they offer a truly unlimited range of colors and animations to choose from. You can use them to create an eerie atmosphere by choosing colors that contrast with each other. For example, you could use purple and orange lights together to create a classic look with an animation that's sure to grab attention.

 

Our lights are also very versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways. You can string them up around doorways or windows, place them around some other decorations, or even hang them along your roofline using vinyl channels for a year-round decoration that goes with every holiday.

 

By following all the wonderful advice and inspiration we've provided you from these home haunters, you'll be able to create the perfect Halloween home that is sure to spook all of your guests and trick-or-treaters alike. Have fun with your decorations to make it a truly memorable experience for everyone involved.

 

Remember, at the end of the day, "the most important element for every Halloween Display is putting your own twist on the holiday." - Nightmare Circus @nightmarecircus

 

Go forth, get creative, and make your home the spookiest on the block this year.

 

And don't forget to check out all the profiles we've linked of these incredibly talented home haunters!



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