Jack o’lanterns are really good for scaring toddlers, but if Halloween ranks right up there with December holidays for you, a hollowed-out gourd with a candle inside probably isn’t going make the grade. After all, you want to strike fear into the hearts of sassy teenagers and adults who are just there to chaperone their little ones, don’t you?
People with big yards and creepy tall trees can simply throw a white sheet over a few low-hanging branches or stick some fake tombstones in the ground to scare the bejesus out of everyone. But as an apartment dweller, your options are a little more limited — but not as much as you might think.
Try using a few of these chilling embellishments to transform your humble abode into one of the most feared candy stops in the entire neighborhood.
The Upside Down
Create realistic-looking legs and feet by stuffing old jeans and shoes and hanging them from a window. Fill some surgical gloves with plain uncolored gelatin, let it set until solid, remove the gloves, and place them under some dirt with just the fingers visible. When you greet trick-or-treaters, wear a jacket with a bloody hand or foot protruding from a pocket. Convince a friend to dress like a zombie and join you as you hand out candy. Attach a rubber mouse or a big hairy spider to the sleeve of your candy-dispensing arm.
Windows and Doors
Wrap your front door in cheesecloth or white crepe paper to resemble a mummy, and top the whole thing off by positioning some googly eyes behind the wrap. Cover your windows and doors with fake spider webs, stick some fake spiders of assorted sizes onto them, and hide a mini-fan nearby to keep the webs fluttering throughout the night.
Decorate a trimmed head of cauliflower with a red permanent marker to resemble a brain. Chill it overnight and place it in a jar with water and a few drops of soy sauce to make it murky. Paste a trimmed headshot inside another large container with clear waterproof glue so that the face is flush with the glass. Fill it with water, and you’ve got yourself a head in a jar. Set both of these containers outside your front door, fill a plastic candy holder with cold, wet spaghetti, and revel in the screams you hear as kids dip their hands inside to grab a treat.
Top six or eight electric candles with assorted doll heads and tie them together for a macabre door wreath. Place a baby doll head with lots of hair in a jar and fill it with water and a couple drops red food coloring. Once you’re finished, place your “shrunken head” next to the welcome mat. Alternatively, you can create an experiment gone wrong by connecting several loose doll parts, splashing your creation with some fake blood, and hanging it on the door.
Buy a creeping hand at a Halloween store and rig it to crawl out the door as you greet your visitors. Arrange glow-in-the-dark googly eyes to peer out from shrubs around your door or even from out your windows. Pretend you’re scratching your head as you hand out candy and pull a hidden spider, roach, baby finger, or dead mouse from your out of your hair. Fake a cough and pull a gnarly rat head from out of your cheek. Have a friend dress as ghoulishly as possible and jump out from the shadows to give the kiddies one final scare as they’re leaving your place.
Place a few realistic rat silhouettes along a flight of stairs and set up a strobe light to create a rat-infested nightmare. Cover a remote-controlled car with assorted rubber creepy crawlies and activate it at the door as candy seekers approach. Fill a makeshift bag made from cheesecloth with rubber rats and spiders and rig it to drop to the ground as visitors approach or leave. Project images of flying bats on the walls around you as you answer the door.
Did You Hear That?
Remember that what you can’t see is always scarier than what you can. Pick up a cheap CD of horror sounds and play it on repeat during trick-or-treating hours. Find one with blood-curdling screams, moans of despair, and ghastly organ music for maximum effect. If you have a landing with shrubs or bushes, hide mini-speakers in them to make the sounds surround your visitors. If you’re really in a pinch, convince one of your friends to scream and beg for help in the background as you hand out sweet treats.
Whether you go all out and make your apartment the haunted house of your neighborhood or decide that less is more and only put up one or two horrifying decorations, you’ll know your project is a success if you scare just one trick-or-treater into a sleepless night they’ll never forget.