Adults look forward to Halloween almost as much as kids do for one very good reason: the parties. And what makes a good party? Other than plenty of booze, loud music, skimpy costumes and a distinct lack of inhibitions? The setting. Thoughtful décor and a well-executed ambiance can make an OK party unforgettable, particularly on Halloween. With that in mind, here are cool not dorky house-haunting tips to truly get your guests in the spirit. Or scare them to death trying.


The Exterior

It all starts on the outside. Line your walkway, front-steps or apartment hall with a few jack-o-lanterns and a healthy smattering of fake cobwebs. If you’re worried about some drunken reveler knocking over one of the lanterns and sending your shindig up in smoke, use flickering LED lights instead of candles. You can get them at any party supply store, and they’ll achieve the same vibe without the fire hazard.

For those who have a front yard (lawn or otherwise), turn it into a cemetery with a few gravestones and skeleton/zombie hands emerging from the ground. To get really morbid, suspend a noose from a tree and throw some fake blood (corn syrup and red food dye) on your porch.

Lastly, pick up one of those motion-sensing audio devices that lets out an evil cackle or scream when people walk by. Plant it near your front door to greet your guests appropriately.


The Interior

You want people to feel the Halloween ambiance right away, so keep the area near your front door dark. Replace most of your light bulbs with black lights, and apply more fake cobwebs liberally throughout your common areas, particularly in places where people will run into them (think doorways). Acquire a smoke machine and a strobe light and turn them on periodically throughout the night, especially if there’s going to be dancing. Which there obviously should be.

Cover any tables or other hard surfaces in black or white cloth and scatter dead leaves and sticks across them to give your house an abandoned, derelict feel. Likewise, cover your couches, chairs and other furniture in white sheets to give the place that “hasn’t been lived in for years and maybe there are ghosts here” look. Also, pick up some plastic spiders and insects of varying sizes and toss them around the room.

For an added touch, get some empty booze bottles and fill them with water. Drop highlighters into each of them and place the bottles around your house. They’ll glow creepily under the black lights. Just make sure no one drinks them. Someone will try.

The bathroom is the one area where you don’t want to go overboard on the black lights, since most folks tend to require actual light in order to… um… aim correctly. Still, you want the bathroom to fit with the rest of your house, so go at it with those fake cobwebs. If you’re feeling really ambitious, mix up a small bowl of fake blood and throw it into your bathtub/shower stall along with some fake limbs and a kitchen knife. It’ll look gruesome as hell, and will provide a nice little shock to guests who walk into the bathroom, turn on the lights and find themselves confronted with an apparent murder scene.

Have a few house-haunting tips of your own? Leave them in the comment area below.