How to have the coolest house on the block this Halloween

As kids, Halloween means one thing–CANDY. As adults, yes, it still means lots and lots of candy, but the holiday takes on new meanings, too. As bill-paying, car-renting grownups, we are no longer at the mercy of imposed bedtimes, and coats worn over costumes because mom’s scared we might get “cold.” Guess what? WE are in charge of the candy buying (and consumption), we are in charge of our own bedtimes, and we are in charge of the Halloween swag, including filling our yards, stoops, and home entrances with spook-tacular decorations.

If you remember from Halloweens past, there was always that one cool Halloween house on the block. They had the best candy, they had the best decorations, and you were so jealous that your parents’ house looked nothing like it. The good news is, as adults, you have the ability to become that cool house. Go ahead and be the envy of all the kids on your block (or apartment complex, or condominium). Don’t know where to start with your Halloween plans? Here are some simple things you can do to prepare for the spookiest day of the year.

Just please, whatever you do, skip that terrifying candy bowl with the electronic hand in it. No one wants to deal with that.

1. Get only the best candy

Kids are smarter than we all give them credit for, and they will remember if you give out token bad candy. They will remember for years if you only provide raisins and peanuts. Don’t be that house. Don’t, by any means, import Cadbury chocolate from overseas (because WHY?), and don’t just dole out one tiny fun-size piece per kid. Be a cool grownup. If you want your candy selection to stand out, Wonka has some pretty cool chocolate candy that you don’t normally see every day.

2. Skip the carved pumpkins

WHAT? Don’t freak out, and don’t abandon all pumpkins this Halloween. Just don’t even bother trying to carve them because that is messy, tedious, and usually a pain. Save the carving for the pros. Instead, paint your pumpkin. Tie ribbons around your pumpkins. Or, even spray paint your pumpkin with black paint, and then carve designs into that using a toothpick or pencil. Then, obviously add glitter everywhere so your pumpkins sparkle at night.

3. Go all out over ghosts

When it comes to ghosts, they are kind of hit or miss. You either love ghosts, or you’re really bored with the idea of a white sheet with eyes cut out. There’s no rulebook that says you have to stick to one portrayal of ghosts—did we learn nothing from Harry Potter’s Nearly Headless Nick? Pick a theme for your ghosts, something like famous poets or sea captains, and adorn your space with old-looking pictures of them, complete with cobwebs, and offer to tell simple ghost stories to brave little kids.

4. Two words: Fog Machine

It immediately adds a spooky feel to any area. Pop it in behind your front door, so the smoke pours out when you greet trick-or-treaters. Depending on how crafty you are, it’d be really simple to set it up outside in either a giant witch’s cauldron or pumpkin. Just be careful with this one, and be sure to read all safety warnings associated! Don’t leave it outside in a space where kids could easily reach in and with their tiny-kid hands.

5. Go as something the kiddos will recognize

There might not be anything more embarrassing than a small child asking, “so who are you supposed to be?” Maybe now’s not the time to explain the meaning behind your spot-on Heisenberg costume. Kids will easily recognize you if you’re from any current cartoon movie (ahem, Frozen), or even Taylor Swift. Save your awesome costume for work, and stick with something PG for the night.

6. Make sure your pet gets into the Halloween spirit, too

Who needs a significant other when you and your pet can get matching couples costumes? Even though my dog absolutely haaaaaaates it, she unfortunately makes the cutest little bumblebee, and I can’t help it. Besides, who can resist a pet dressed up in a ridiculous costume?

7. Invest in an awesome DIY craft

The second I saw these floating candles, I fell in love. You see those LED tealight candles at Target all the time, and they’re usually on sale. Buy them all. Start collecting paper towel and toilet-paper tubes, and paint them white. Then, simply glue the candles to the top of the tube, tie them from the ceiling with fishing wire and TA-DA, you have your own magical foyer. So easy to do, and so cheap! You might not want to take them down after Halloween.

These vampire pumpkins are also super adorable.

8. Pick an awesome theme

There’s one haunted house that’s stolen my heart: Disneyland and Disney World’s Haunted Mansion. At some point, everyone has heard the charming Grim Grinning Ghosts, so peppering in that music works as a throwback to a beloved attraction for both kids and adults. Personally, I am a huge fan of its purple wallpaper, something that is super easy to imitate if you’re good at sketching, or even easier to print out from your computer.

9. Become the Clark Griswold of Halloween

You might need a degree in theater design to pull of this feat, but if you can do it, we applaud you. This guy turned his whole house into a singing haunted house and the result is phenomenal. We won’t judge if you instead just stick to orange and purple string lights.

Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

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