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!

Friday, September 16, 2011


I have been living on this amazing farm for 6 months now. It feels like a dream. I am really lucky to have found this beautiful home, so perfectly situated in nature, yet close enough for my husband to be able to get to work. Sometimes i get lonely though; it's so isolated. There is literally no one around me. There are no neighbors. There are no roads. The only things i hear are dogs & trains in the distance, owls in the trees, wild turkeys gobbling in the forest and HOLY CRAP, bugs. There are so many bugs; spiders, snakes, groundhogs, flies, vultures, you name it. Sometimes at night, my dogs freak out and if i'm home alone, it feels a little unsettling. But i love it and wouldn't change it for the world. I have even started listening to Bluegrass music. I have gone from a techno loving city girl to a bluegrass listening, chicken owning, country gal. And I think i might be losing it a little. I talk to my chickens; I see faces in inanimate objects and think bugs are aliens. 

Autumn is less than 1 week away, so i thought i would take a look back at my first 6 months in ding a ling a ding dang land - bugs, snakes, talking barns and all. 

That is Silo. He is lonely. He has been alone for over a hundred years. He is very wise though. 
Morning FOG.
I promise i will do an AFTER Photo shoot of the interior. I have been trying to do this for some time, but my filthy 3 dogs and my mud slinging 4 year old keep destroying every opportunity i have of taking a quality picture. 
This is the road to the property. :)
The driveway.
My favorite chicken. Still trying to figure out her name. My son wants to name her FART.
The chickens just began laying. I no longer have to buy eggs and they are so tasty! I am on my way to sustainable living!
I am about to show you many pictures of dirt. You know why? Because i MADE IT! I started a compost pile in the spring. I JUST NOW turned the pile (which you are supposed to do frequently, but i suck, so i didn't.) But what did i find? Beautiful, wonderful, amazing DIRT. Compost if you will. I MADE COMPOST. I RULE. I AM THE RULER OF COMPOST.
Look at that beautiful compost! Check out my Garden Take 2 Post for a list of items i put in to create this beautiful spectacle of dirt.
I have decided that i am moving my beginner's garden to the other side of the farm house, where i will begin my transition into sustainable living. Because i am going insane living in the country, i have also adopted the theory that the world is going to collapse soon. So just in case that happens, i want to be prepared with a fully functioning garden filled with various fruits, vegetables and some protein type foods like soy and peanuts. This new garden site will be a challenge as a good bit of it is rocky and full of clay. But i like a challenge. We are discussing getting some goats and maybe one day some sheep or Alpacas. But for now, one step at a time.

Thanks for reading.