There's so much to do on Halloween night
that I finally resorted to writing out a checklist to keep track of it
all. Here's an annotated version of that list that you can modify
your own home haunting.
The night before:
- Make ice/put in bowls - For the fog
chiller. It's convenient to have the cubes already transferred to
a bowl in the freezer so I can just grab that and dump them into the
cooler and then get on to the next thing.
- Costumes - Get all the components
accounted for and in one place so that we can change as soon as we come
out the all-important shower between getting the props set up and going
Trick-or-Treating. This includes wigs, shoes, make-up, props
(i.e., lightsabers, guns), etc.
- Camera/tripod/batteries/memory card
(and backup camera) - Just get them handy; have them ready to
use. That means emptying the memory cards so there's no chance of
losing pictures from the previous day or running out of space (which is
unlikely, but still), and the batteries have to be charged up as
well. Also, I have a second camera (plus battery and memory)
ready to go in case anything happens to the first. Additionally,
the tripod needs to be ready to take pictures of the decorations (where
I'll be using night mode or non-flash manual exposures and need to keep
the camera still).
- Extra cords/power strips - I get
these ready to go because there's no way of telling exactly how many
more I'll need or where until I'm actually laying it all out.
- Line up the decorations and
candy/treats - I bring everything right up by the front door so that
it's ready to set out in the yard or on the front porch sometime during
the next day. Most items I'm talking about are covered in the
day of Halloween
Most of the decorations like gravestones and the fence are already out
in the yard well in advance of Halloween. However, there's lots
of stuff to set-up and set out in preparation for the
Trick-or-Treaters. Here's a list of most of it.
In the yard:
- Jack-o-lanterns on graves - I
usually only set these out the day of Halloween.
- Fogger/cooler (and ice) - This
requires a little set up to get it to get the fog to go into the cooler
On the porch:
- Lightning organ and associated
spotlights - Makes thunder and lightning go together.
- Stereo/speakers/iPod loaded with
playlist - Maybe just lightning/thunder, but maybe atmospheric sounds.
- Skeleton in wheelchair - I set out
the antique wheelchair with a skeleton next to a lamp with a flicker
- Lamp with flicker circuit - See
- Skeletons on the swing - I usually
put a strobe light on them to draw more attention.
- Treats - This takes a bit of
explaining, but basically we have a huge bucket full of candy plus some
smaller bowls. We give candy out from the smaller bowls and keep
the big bucket hidden nearby, just delving into the latter occasionally
to refill the small bowls. It keeps the kids from getting too
greedy (because whever they see the big bucket they assume we'll give
out more candy) and it's also a lot easier to work with smaller treat
bowls. We had 367 Trick-or-Treaters last year (We counted them!),
so we have to have a lot of candy on hand to give out a couple pieces
to each kid.
- Strobe lights in window - I usually
set up a big strobe on one of the windows to light up the sheer
curtains. That also has to be set up on a ladder (or something
else, but I used a ladder last time because the height of the rungs was
ideal) so that it shone straight at the window.
- Crank ghost - This is upstairs on a
power strip that runs the motor, blacklights, and an additional light
in the skull for the eyes. It's usually set up pretty well by
Halloween night, but I always end up making some changes.
to turn on:
In many cases I have several of these things on power strips so that I
can turn on multiple things a time. In fact, I often have them
run through X10 units so that I can use a remote to turn on several at
the same time using a remote. (I put them all on the same X10
device code so they can all come on all at once.) Not everything
has a switch though, so in some cases I'm running around plugging in
- Porch lights (We have colored bulbs
- Jack-o-lanterns on graves
- Jack-o-lanterns on roof
- Jack-o-lanterns on the porch
- Spotlights in yard
- Stereo/speakers/iPod loaded with
- Lightning organ
- Crank ghost
- Blacklights on Halloween Countdown
Clock (There's one overhead on the X10 and another below that's usually
on an X10 as well.)
- Strobe light inside
- Strobe light on porch (Directed at
the skeletons on the swing.)
- Lamp with flicker circuit (For the
skeleton in the wheelchair.)
Who knows what I will add over time. I'd like to get a
Light-o-rama and/or add animatronics to the mix. That's a lot
more work, but in every Halloween I've had mostly static lights and
static props. I need to bring more dynamic lighting and/or motion
into play than we have had before, even if that increases the number of
things I have to do on Halloween night.