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Hi,
I have just found out that my kid's school wants to do a Halloween party on October 25. I think
that if I volunteer I will end up being in charge. For a couple of years I built this haunted castle for them
that was 30 feet long, 18 feet deep with 10 foot towers out of cardboard in the gym and decorated it.
I made maze like rooms out of 1x3 lumber frames and filled them in with long rolls of black tablecloths
from Party City stapled to the frames. We had classic Halloween themes in the room. Another crazy women did carnival games.
The kids really liked the haunted castle. I had a lot of fun but the problem is that there is no budget and essentially no
serious volunteers. An hour doesn't go far. The other women is out of it now too. I work full time and have a long
commute and last time when I did this I spent over a 100 hours and 100s of dollars on weekends and nights in Sept and Oct.
The castle is now thrown away. My husband doesn't like Halloween and so he complains a lot but we live out too
far for trick or treators so this is my only opportunity. The school didn't do this last year because the director
thought it was too much trouble.
Do you guys have any suggestions about what we could do that could be put up in a couple of days and maybe stored
in a small space so it isn't thrown away this time? I can start earlier but don't have access to the space until then. I have limited carpentry skills. I can drill and saw boards but not much table saw. I thought about painting drop cloths but they still need support and we need inside
rooms. The framing takes forever to cut and assemble. We could maybe charge a small amount to offset costs and I'm willing to cover some of the costs. I have props to do a witches room and/or a frankenstein lab. I have tons of spiders, snakes and bats and assorted other things. The kids are ages 2 to 12 and there are maybe 70 total. My son is 10 and old enough to help some. I might be able to get the art teacher to have the kids make some decorations if it seems appropriate. I like lots of different things but not cutesy or gory. I like doing special effects like bottomless pits and ghost mirrors, etc. I want to learn to use motors and controllers too but it probably won't happen this
year much. Sorry this is so long but I don't know what to do that is doable but won't be a let down for the kids. Any ideas? The room
is huge with 10.5 foot ceilings and a series of large columns running down the the middle in two rows.
Should I even do this? If I don't, there will probably be a few streamers put up and a few pumpkins and a bit of scary music and not
much else unless one of the new parents is crazier than I know about.

Thanks
 

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Hi! Well, it definitely sounds like a big job & then some! If you think you can juggle getting this done with your other responsibilities, and it's important to you, then by all means do it. BUT! I think you should lower your expectations & not go overboard or get crazy trying to take on too much.

That said, here's my suggestion - try to get your hands on some of the small canopy tents like this - http://www.walmart.com/c/kp/canopy-tents
The school might have some, maybe teachers or parents might. Plan to set them up in the big room. Buy some black tarps or even cheap Dollar Store black tablecloths and securely tape them all along 3 sides of the canopy so they hang to the floor, creating a "room" under each canopy. You can set up the canopy's all in a row or across from each other, sort of making a hallway to walk through. I hope you can visualize what I'm trying to describe.


Then decorate each "room" as a scary scene. You could do the witches room & the laboratory like you mentioned, with maybe a glow in the dark room, a spider's nest room, a graveyard room, etc. Depending on how many canopy's you have, you could even set up a game station or two. Don't get too carried away with details though!

Doing a contained area like under the canopy's will mean that you don't have to work so hard at transforming such a large space, and it lets you have multiple scenes too. It also means you don't have to do much of any framing yourself - the tent poles will act as supports even if you end up painting some drop clothes. Note - you WILL have to find a way to stabilize the tent poles on the ground so any little bump won't move the tent. Most canopy's like this have a small lip at the bottom of the poles that you could put a large rock or other heavy item onto. It's up to you on how you set it up - maybe the kids go into each canopied room, or maybe they just walk along the outside and look into the "room".

Anyway, lots of luck to you! I hope things work out!
:D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Jenn and Matt,
Thanks for the idea. I was feeling responsible and overwhelmed with the idea of building another haunted house but didn't just want to randomly set up
props. I'll use your suggestion as a starting point and see what I come up with. I like the idea of being able to set up different scenes. The
canopy tents seem like an easy way to quickly build rooms.

Kristi
 

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You could also possibly hand the black rolls of plastic from the ceiling to form rooms or corridors. We used to do this for a haunted house for a school.
 

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Could you look for older kids who might want to help? It's tough aging out of trick or treating, and that might give older kids a way to stay involved in the fun. Your local high school's dram club might help. I don't know how urban/rural you are, but you might find potential resources in a school's robotics club (setting up simple prop animations) or a 4-H club (the latter encourages lots of community leadership projects).
I like the idea of the canopy tents. Those tented gazebos have similar potential.
Good luck!
 

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Just a thought - if you already have anything from the Haunted Castle, it may tie in well with a Ghost Hunters kids mystery we have. You have a panel of 6 kid ghost hunting experts and it plays out through a haunted house. I don't want to be too promotional here, as the forum is sacred, but if it sounds interesting to you, just send me a message and we can chat about it further.

It does sound like a huge job - do they usually have games and interactive stations for the kids? Whenever I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused as to what to do for an event, I find that setting a theme helps, because with a singular theme, you can pull everything else together with the same idea. Do you have a theme in mind already? Something that appeals to you or seems to be easy to pull off with what may be left over?
 

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See if your school can send out a flier or put out an email to parents looking for volunteers and also a wish list. People may have extra items they don't need that you could use. Perhaps instead of a bunch of games, you could borrow a school projector and show the Hotel Transylvania movie. Also, you might be able to score some free items from some local stores. Tell them the school is having a Halloween party with no budget and you're looking for things to put in a goody bag. They might offer money and/or promotional items with their name on it.
 

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Not sure how well this would go over at a school, but at ours it would be okay. Have a parent dress as a fortune teller and make a booth for her. She could give out good fortunes to the kids by pretending to read their palms or look into a crystal ball. Oriental Trading has some cute Fortune Teller fish that curl up with the heat of your hand and the plastic sleeve that holds them has a legend that explains their fortune. They are mega cheap and are sold by the gross.
 

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I love the idea of the tents!! Sounds like you do have a job ahead of you. I would see if you could enlist the help of the PTA perhaps..... maybe some room mothers could help? And also the older kids. My kids are helping me set up for our Halloween party this year (ages 16, 13 & 7) and they are doing a great job decorating~of course mom is a halloweenaholic.

Maybe a few hours after school for a few days with volunteers, everyone could help brainstorm ideas, create whatever décor you decide upon & then have everything set & ready for hanging. What you have is do-able so long as like Jenn&Matt said you lower your expectations for this year. Baby steps & teamwork can pull it all together.
 

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My first thought was PVC for use as cage/window/door bars. It's easy to cut, round and smooth and you could make frames out of it, both free standing as well as wall mounted. Being kids don't typically eat veggies I thought I'd include this pic of a roasted cauliflower brain dish I'm wanting to try and serve to guests, lol
https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/10603343_812758268745396_1416074082747763159_n.jpg?oh=d1d137a7d5de058f8b4fc3ee536a380f&oe=5485499C&__gda__=1421986294_9b0020470511476dc43f0acafa3a6b8f
Best of luck.
 
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