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Discussion Starter #1
Hello fellow haunters, so as you can see by the title of the thread I am a first time yard haunter in need of some guidance ... or alot of guidance! :( In order to try to plan out what I want to create/accomplish for this year I have being searching through old threads, pinterest posts and various blogs. Unfortunately, all of the amazing creative ideas I have stumbled upon have only led me to become more confused as to what to create for my first haunt. I am constantly flip-flopping back and forth between executing a carnival theme, witches coven theme, gothic cemetery + manor theme, haunted hotel or overgrown harvest/scary scarecrow theme. As you can see I have many ideas on the go right now and I am finding it extremely hard to choose what I want to do, keep in my I am very indecisive. The ideas I have for each theme include the following:

Carnival Theme: ticket booth, concession stands (rotten candy, ice scream, body parts), carnival sign, giant jack-in-the-box, clowns or freakshow acts, coloured lights

Witches Theme: a witch, cauldron (with fire), gallows (maybe?), various animals (cats, crows, snakes, spiders), potions table/shelf, locked up victim, green and purple lighting

Gothic Manor + Cemetery Theme: tombstones, above-ground crypt, ghosts/ghouls, creepy table (candelabra, spell book, dead flowers, etc), blue and purple lighting (keep in mind that this is my last choice as I have done a small cemetery before!)

Haunted Hotel Theme: haunted hotel sign, check-in desk, luggage, ghosts or other guests, bellboy or maid

Overgrown Harvest Theme: creepy scarecrow, corn stalks, hay, scary jack-o-lanterns, creepy farmer, guillotine (maybe?)

Now that you (hopefully) understand the visions that I have for each theme I turn it to all or any of you ... which theme, in your honest opinion, should I do this year? Which theme do you think will be most versatile as I would like to reuse the props year after year? Which theme is most cost effective? As this is my first year doing a full out yard haunt I need as much guidance as possible. Sorry for the long post but any advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated! :eek:
 

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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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Whoa, whoa, Chris, you've got some pretty grandiose ideas there. First, as a newbie, how many TOT's do you expect to get? Nothing's worse than putting up an electorate display... And nobody comes to see it!

Welcome to the Forum, you've come to the right place!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wolfman, I definitely do have some elaborate ideas .. all of which I am dying to transform into reality! I would expect to get about 75 TOT's (give or take). The weather the past 2 years has not been the best so its hard for me to remember what my normal amount generally is. Hopefully the weather holds out this year so that whatever display I do will be worth it! Thanks for the welcome :)
 

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Welcome Chris! My favorite of your themes is the Overgrown Harvest. It leverages lots of natural materials that will be easy to get your hands on while allowing you to spend your time building a few knock-out props!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Intellagirl, thanks for your input, I really appreciate it! I too thought the same thing about using natural materials as they will be fairly cheap but allow for high impact!
 

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Set up as early as you can, at least something that will draw attention too.
I start putting things like a Crypt and Tombstones at the last week of Sept. to let the neighbor start telling everyone they know.
****And I get the good candy. this might keep your stuff safe to some degree. :)
Good luck and Welcome, there is always room for one more, scarey neighbor.
 

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My advise for a first year:

Focus on acquiring lighting and sound equipment with your budget. These, more than any prop, will become the basis of your haunt in years to come.

Since your budget is going to be tied up in these, pick a theme you can do relatively cheaply. Of the ones you've listed, you can do harvest theme probably the cheapest/near free if you can get some materials donated/for the labor of going and getting them.

Specifically to the harvest theme, depending on where you live, start talking to farmers and seeing if you can acquire stalks. Here in Utah, the first planting of sweet corn is just about over, so those stalks will be getting tilled in soon, and lots of farmers would be happy to have you chop a truck load or two and get em out of their hair.

Pumpkins, shop around. If you KNOW of an actual field, once the stands go up, go talk to the field owners, many times they leave "small" pumpkins up to basketball size rotting in the field because people don't buy them. These are still big enough to carve, a perfect size for most stencils and a good way to get numbers cheap.

If you can't find corn stalks, an alternative I always turn to is reed grass. This is an invasive weed that LOVES irrigation ditches, and farmers will love you for asking to come chop it down for them. My reed grass from last year:

 

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Human Candy Shovel
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My advice is.. stop asking the same question. This is like your third thread asking essentially the same thing. The very first of the three threads, you were leaning heavily on the overgrown bayou theme.

All that stuff you find online, just save it and sort it. Use it next year to either expand further this year's theme or do a new theme. You've wasted more than a month of build time waffling around on theme. Pick one and get started
 

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Discussion Starter #9
TNbrad, thanks for the advice! weather permitting I plan to set up early as well, hopefully it will get my neighbours into the halloween spirit as they lack it! no one gets it like we do ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
UnOrthodOx, thank you for the fantastic input! you have definitely given me some info that as a new haunter I would consider to be rather "insider". If I choose to go with the overgrown harvest or even the witch theme your advice is going to help me out alot! Thanks :)

p.s. I am a huge fan of your work, I have seen some of your fantastic creations lurking around before and they completely blow my mind!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Blarghity, sorry for repeating myself but I am just unsure as to what I want to do and was hoping that an experienced haunter could help me decide. I realize that I have been thinking about my theme for about a month now therefore resulting in a lack of progress in the building dept, but I am not going to start building any props unless I am sure on the theme. Knowing myself I would start or even finish a project and then go on to change my mind on what I want to do.
 

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Human Candy Shovel
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Blarghity, sorry for repeating myself but I am just unsure as to what I want to do and was hoping that an experienced haunter could help me decide. I realize that I have been thinking about my theme for about a month now therefore resulting in a lack of progress in the building dept, but I am not going to start building any props unless I am sure on the theme. Knowing myself I would start or even finish a project and then go on to change my mind on what I want to do.
Then allow me to suggest the perfect theme for you - "Holiday Vomit."

What is Holiday Vomit? It is the most popular of all holiday decorating themes, regardless the holiday. You've seen it plenty, particularly at Christmas. They are the homes that always look like "The Spirit of Christmas puked all over the place," with completely mismatched decorations scattered with little thought to organization.

If you're someone who can't pick a solid theme and stick to it, don't worry about it! Holiday Vomit is the theme for you! So go ahead and build that witch cauldron creeper and have her serve a tea party of evil clowns! Have the sadistic butcher serve up raw zombie like sushi to the corpse in the electric chair at the head of the table! Make the giant spiders beg for scraps like a pack of cute pet dogs!
 

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Alright, I'll be the one to say it.

Blarghity, stop it. NOVICE haunters don't need the same amount of time as experienced haunters do. We tend to keep our builds small - not too ambitious. I was able to throw a whole set-up together from SCRATCH in about 5 months, with all props hand-made and on a tight budget

This year, I've gone through 3 or 4 different ideas, and finally settled on one. And guess what? I haven't started on it yet! Some intense haunts take months or years to put together, but novice haunts are about fun. In the end, it doesn't matter how much time we spend on our decorations. All that matters is that we enjoy ourselves and put our hearts into what we make.

Stop being such a cynic. If Chris wants to ask for advice, all the more power to him. Nobody starts out as much of an expert as I'm sure you are, but every year serves as more experience. Someday I'm sure we will all start building our props in November, but until then July will have to do.
 

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Now, as a relatively new haunter myself, here is what I recommend for your first haunt:

Graveyard.

It's simple enough to complete in three months, cheap enough that it won't kill ya, and in the hands of a crafty person it has the potential to be something impressive to behold!

I just posted this today - these were pictures of my creations from last year.

http://www.halloweenforum.com/halloween-props/135884-i-thought-our-tombstones-were-good.html#post1638472

Seems a bit plain, doesn't it? Keep in mind that I had the double-duty of planning Halloween party decor at the same time - if you're focusing on JUST your haunt, you can do something quite a bit more impressive.

Starting from scratch is not an easy thing to do. The most expensive part of all of it, like others have said, was the lighting. Other things, like the tree, the wedding dress, the foam for the tombstones, was either free or damn near close to it.

I also recommend working with more humanoid props - ghosts, zombies, skeletons, grim reapers, etc. I left all of that out because I wanted the focus to be on my tombstones - and regretted it afterward! We wanted to make a large crypt as well, but had to call it quits halfway through construction because of the size and expense.

Moral of the story - do what works best for you! Start small and add on - or start with one or two big projects, and finalize with the quick stuff. You don't want to be rushing to finish the day before Halloween, so the sooner you start, the better. With only three months left, I really do recommend keeping it simple. But simple does NOT have to mean boring!

Have fun with it, and it will turn out fantastic!

PS: For a little inspiration with different types of haunting styles, try taking a look at American Scream. It's an awesome Halloween documentary that Netflix had for a long time, but I'm sure it's available online somewhere if Netflix doesn't carry it anymore. One of my favorites!
http://theamericanscreammovie.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for trying to help Blarghity but I'm going to have to pass on the "Holiday Vomit" idea/theme. I appreciate the advice though :) Honestly, the mixture of themes would cause me stress and anxiety because I feel like they would clash with one another. I am a perfectionist and this mixed with my indecisiveness is a deadly combination. It's going to still take me awhile to choose a theme but one day I'll get there ... hopefully ...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you sooo much Bugabooloo! I seriously cannot thank you enough, you have given me a new found sense of hope :eek: I have to admit that my inability to choose a theme really did discourage me but clearly I am not alone when it comes to having multiple ideas on the go at once. I will most definitely take everything that you have told me into consideration and apply it when working on my haunt.

Am I ambitious? Yes, very very much so (unsure if thats bad sometimes) but do I have to work my way to the top? Yes, so I will start off small and continuously build up my haunt each year.

If you don't mind me asking what did you do your first year of haunting and what are you doing this year? Thank you again for the advice and kind words of encouragement! :D
 

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Here is some fencing I just completed the first 8 foot section. This is my first home made prop besides my skeleton I have made. Find your comfort level and there are tons of you tube videos out there that will show you how to build props. ImageUploadedByTapatalk1406183796.984840.jpg
 

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Just my opinion, but being somewhat of a perfectionist myself, I would choose the theme least likely to bog you down with insane detail, that being "Harvest". You can spend a ton and get wayyyy detailed with tombstones and the like, so perhaps a graveyard can start to take shape for next year, carnEVIL....ditto, witches....perhaps, but to me...if you are starting from scratch, get some hay bales, a ton of pumpkins, check out Pumpkinrot and come up with a couple cool, original scarecrows and as much corn as you can get your hands on. Bathe your perimeter in orange LEDs, with spots on specific elements and you should be good. Ghost town, Unorthodox, study these peeps, they are pros, look up Grim Hollow, feast your eyes upon this... http://pumpkinrot.blogspot.com/search?q=marianne, check out Rania, watch Haunters Hangout on youtube (skip the episode with the idiot in the Steeler's hat, he's a hack), most of all have fun and be original and have fun. Remember.....Have FUN.
 

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This is EXACTLY why I am so against the theme theory. :) They limit you to one concept, which makes the haunt look more organized and focused but then the haunt risks being appealing to only one group of visitors. Take for instance the dreaded, and thankfully not under consideration, pirate theme. :) You could have one group of visitors feel it's the most scary, creative, and fantastic haunt ever... and another ten groups who are laughing at your haunt because there's nothing they find scary about pirates, especially after suffering through a dozen or so pirates-themed birthday parties during the Pirates of the Caribbean rage. Same deal with haunted carnival themes... they make for a LOT of cool prop ideas, but they aren't universally scary. This is why I avoid themes like the plague and prefer to go with a mixture of elements that better ensure I will have something to spook everyone who comes by. :) In 20+ years I've never had someone come up to me and say "I really enjoyed how well you were able to follow through on a single concept from start to finish here", but I've had lots of people who've said "I was doing fine, and wasn't scared at all, and then I ran into that damn "X" you had over there! That scared the crap out of me." :)

But if I had to pick the least of these evils, I would go with the harvest theme. And the sole reason I would go with that was I was so impressed with the work that I saw from the Mucklebones folks at the Spooky Empire Mayhem event in May that we're looking at using similar designs in our haunt this year. Their creative mixing of things like skeletons and organic elements like tree branches, twigs, and vines was just awesome! Best of all, this is a fairly inexpensive way to make some awesome props! And for your re-useability needs, this year's skeleton/branches hybrid skeletoncrow could be covered in tattered black cheesecloth next year to make an awesome ghost or grim reaper for a graveyard setup next year.

And their pumpkin archway is just nothing short of fantastic.





 
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