So you want to host a killer Halloween party, but your lack of funds and space (hello, dorm room!) make party store purchases a pipe dream. No worries! We’ve got three easy DIY projects for you today that you can tackle in between classes with little more than a trip to Goodwill® and a few arts and crafts basics. The way we see it, there are three methods for scaring people (and Halloween parties are all about nailing that spook-factor!):
1) create a creepy atmosphere,
2) have something jump out triggering an adrenaline rush, and
3) play on a person’s existing fear. Each of our three projects today produces a different type of terror so the Halloween party you host will be a hit no matter who you invite.
As with any party, the main – and usually most impactful – task is setting up the scene. I didn’t think a Halloween party would feel complete without a tombstone, so I headed over to my Goodwill in search of a suitable grave marker. As I scoured the kitchen and home goods section for a tray or plaque that I could spray paint gray, I stumbled upon something even better. This slate sign was just begging to be turned into Bridget Bishop’s tombstone to set the scene for an eerie party, so I grabbed it and brought it home.
With just ten minutes, a paint pen, and a little google searching for inspiration, I doodled this design on the blank back of the slate. Before drawing, though, I flipped the backwards sign upside down so the holes from the leather hanger would be less noticeable. By placing other décor items or party snacks in front of this, the holes won’t be as easily seen. I also drew my design on in pencil before committing to the paint pen and tested the pen in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it looked the way I wanted it to and didn’t smudge. This will be a really fun element to build a centerpiece around on a snack table! (P.s. Of course the candlestick and its holder are from Goodwill, too!)
Next up, I thought I would attempt a project that would literally jump out and scare my guests. The obvious choice here was to somehow harness a ghost! I created my own using a white balloon that I thrifted in a pack and a sharpie. On my way home from Goodwill, I swung by a party store to have the balloon inflated with helium. This part is obviously super important because we want the ghost to hover up toward whoever opens the fridge.
Once home, I sketched a ghost onto the balloon with my sharpie (can you tell I’m really into the new Ghostbusters movie?). Since we want our guest to be surprised right at their first glance of the ghost, I tried to make him take up as much room on the balloon as I could while still allowing him to be seen all at once. Then I removed the middle shelf in my fridge to make room for the balloon to hang out under the crisper drawer right at the door opening. With the door open slightly (not all the way – we want its release to be triggered as soon as the person opens the door so they see the “ghost” before their fight-or-flight instinct subsides), I tied the string tightly to the top door shelf right near the opening of the door. Trim off any of the remaining string, tuck the ghost carefully into the fridge (facing you) as close to the door opening as possible, and slowly close the door. And…boo!
Putting that versatile sharpie to use again, my next tactic for easy party décor was to play on a legitimate common fear: arachnophobia. No one expects to find a spider as they go about their business in the bathroom, but I think it would be even less anticipated on the toilet paper roll itself! Unrolling the toilet paper slightly, I drew on a spider, gave it a moment to dry, then rolled the toilet paper back up and waited to hear a shriek coming through the bathroom door. Just make sure you provide a fresh roll nearby that is untainted by arachno-doodles for actual use!
Now you just have to set out some food, dim the lights, crank The Monster Mash, and wait for your friends to arrive. Try not to feel too guilty about scaring the pants off of your buddies – if they weren’t ready to get freaked out, they wouldn’t have come. Plus, since you’ve shopped at Goodwill you are contributing to the help of more than 261,000 people annually in the U.S. and Canada as they find employment as a result of Goodwill’s career service programs. You may be temporarily traumatizing your classmates, but at least you’re still doing something good for the world while you’re at it!