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I was doing some planning today, and I was thinking about some of my early buys - like a two-foot hanging faceless reaper I bought the first year I did a haunt. I probably wouldn't buy it today, but I still use it every year.

So I have two questions for everyone - Are there props or items you use in a haunt every year even though they may not be super realistic, or because you've advanced, or anything like that, because it's tradition?

Going hand in hand with that - Are you the type of haunter who uses everything each year, or do you only choose certain items each year based around a theme or what you want for the display?
 

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Yes, I definitely have some tradition items. Like Kooky (yes, I named it) a front-only plastic skeleton that is articulated at the shoulders/elbows/hips/knees and is silver/black and smiley. Definitely not something I'd buy now, but he's part of our Halloween tradition and he hangs on the same nail on the front porch every year.

Likewise, the little 12" animated Dracula with a skull and Witch with a cauldron. Drac's wig is has come off, and they both make some really awful noise but they are gifts from my Grandma and another part of the Halloween tradition - an indoor part.


Outside, I try to use everything we have and build on it each year with new stuff. Er, except for the bits that aren't working. It just makes sense to re-use these awesome props that I already have and love. Theme: creepy awesome, and everything fits. As I've gotten more stuff, I theme certain areas a little more but that's it.
 

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Here to burgle your turts
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My mom made me an awesome Dracula cape when I was about 11, and we've used it in the yard haunt on a static Dracula ever since we bought a house. It's a little short, but it makes me feel like Mom's part of the festivities. :)

We use almost everything each year but we will bench some of the players periodically depending on space and whether it goes with the new stuff.
 

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Insert Witty Comment Here
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After expanding year after year, I cut back last year and will have the same footprint this year, so I can't possibly use all I have, but I won't get rid of any of it. I'd say that my plywood skulls are the prop that go up every year.
 

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Ridin' The Storm Out
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I'm just starting to get into the outdoor stuff, really. We don't get TOTs, so I've never really had the motivation to do anything outside. But this year, I want to.

But even so, we have a few not so great decorations that will still be used anyway.

Years ago, when I was about 12 or so, my dad made me three tombstones out of extra wood he had on his table saw. All they are are basically wooden boards rounded on one side and spray painted grey, but I thought they were SO COOL when I was a kid. He recently found them again when my husband was helping him clean out his storage shed and sent them home to me.

They're very plain, and don't look half as nice as ones you see in stores or ones some of y'all build, but I'm thrilled to have them anyway. :)
 

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props each year

We don't use the same props each year. We change themes each year and use props according to that.

We enjoy the change each year and try to tell year-to-year stories and it keeps people coming back.

Ex. Skeleton wedding, then a family created, then a murder, then a trial of skeleton murderer, then jailhouse and ended with a funeral... After that year (6th), we had to move so started a new story ...

I suppose maybe some tombstones are out year after year, but that's about it (except main character in story).

It's all fun either way :)
 

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Wisp in the Mist
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Now that you mention it, most of my creatures don't really fit into my cemetery scene. It would flow better if I just had ghosts and skeletons, and maybe the "ghouls", for lack of better description for them.

Several years ago I added a witch, vampire, and werewolf. The witch and vampire were made for a Halloween carnival at my sons' school, but I put them in my scene after that (although not every year).

The werewolf started with just a stone, because I found his story interesting. He's based on a real person accused of being a werewolf, who was executed on Halloween in the 1500's. Then I happened to find the costume really cheap, so I made him to crouch behind his tombstone. Considering the fact that the man didn't live anywhere near where I live, he's out of place...and no one really knows his story, anyway. (Peter Stubbe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Stumpp I chose the "Stubbe" spelling because "Peter Stumpp" frankly sounded suggestive, and I didn't want ToT's parents to misunderstand)

Then we have the 7 ft tall "skeletal executioner", who is my personal favorite--and seemingly everyone else's, too. People stop to have their picture taken with him, it's pretty cool. He'd probably look a lot more at home in a torture or guillotine scene, but I don't do that. He's sort of grim reaper-ish, but he has a black "mask" over his eyes like you sometimes see executioners wearing in vintage style sketches. I bought him a nice tall halberd at Party City several years ago to complete his look. He kind of fits in, but he kind of doesn't. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

I do have one less-than-realistic prop that I used every year, but now that he no longer works, I probably won't. I really like him, he's made of one of my very first store-bought props--a 2D plastic head with rolling red eyeballs that light up as it laughed. I guess he got broken in the last move. This short guy on the end (that's the skeletal executioner on the left):

HALL trio.jpg
 

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I don't have any particular favorite. I tend to use everything, just to have enough to go around. I still add stuff each year and it's just a question of getting enough to have spare props or running out of storage, whichever comes first. One rule I have is that anything, props or otherwise, that breaks and can't be fixed becomes parts for something else.
 
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