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I was "digging" thru some old photos and found these. Here's the back story:

I guess you could say that I was kinda-sort-of new to all this Halloween stuff. You see I just moved into my suburban home and Halloween was quickly approaching. One day while taking out the garbage I looked around at my neighbors’ yards and thought, oh crap I better put up some Halloween decorations. That first year was pretty skimpy. My budget was $20 dollars so I purchased a cauldron to hold the candy, a small skeleton, a pair of creepy curtains, and a couple of bags of spider webs, no spiders just the webs.
 

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The next year I thought I need to plan this better and create something that grandma would be proud of. So I increased my time and budget (two weeks and $100 dollars), that should do it. I reused the props from the previous year and added a “store bought” graveyard seen complete with skeleton ground breakers and tombstones. Oh yea I also had the budget to purchase actual spiders this year. Grandma was proud of the display; I think it had something to do with her hat being used on the groundbreaker prop. However I still didn’t grasp the concept of modifying store bought props, I thought everything was preassembled just throw it on your shrubs and your ready to go. And yes the possum found a new home...
 

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By my third year I thought, now I’m a seasoned pro I better increase my time and budget again, how about one month and $250 dollars. This was the first time that I began to grasp the concept of “Home Haunt”. I wanted to do this right so I spent way too much time online researching “home haunts” and “prop how-to’s”; all the links to Viagra web sites didn’t help either. By now the ideas were oozing all over the place.
The first thing I learned was to plan everything, it helps to keep a sketch book, being able to sketch doesn’t hurt either. The next step was to develop a theme or story line. Keep it simple and don’t try to cram too much stuff together that doesn’t relate to your theme. Haunted clowns and pirate skeletons don’t mix.
Start with the most important props first, in case you run out of time which you always do. Whenever possible purchase ready-made store bought props and modify them; I think I get online credits now for mentioning Target and Walmart.
I do admit that I went way over my budget and spent twice as much time assembling everything; have you seen my hot glue gun I can’t seem to find it. The results however were worth it. I reused props from previous years and added green lighting (we became known as the Green House), freaky fabric curtains, a lot of spider webs with spiders, a fog machine (I’m big time now), several small skeletons, a custom built grave digger, several bags of bones, a whole lot of tombstones, a handmade cemetery fence, and oh yea a ton of dirt (literally 50 – 50lb bags) actually that would equal 1.5 tons.
Some of the custom built props included LED candles, skeletons cheating at poker, a skeleton spider victim, a massive graveyard (yes that’s my drive way), customized tombstones, a gravedigger (so that’s where my shovel went), cemetery fences, and grandma having tea with nana (yes those were the groundbreakers from the previous year).
 

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I know how budgets go at Halloween. Mine was $300 and I blew that 2 months ago. There is always something more you want to add. Oh that reminds me I need another home depot trip for foam and 3 skeletons for my campfire. Dang it.
 

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That's a fantastic progression! Thanks for sharing that. it's always interesting to see how others started and then jumped down the rabbit hole once they got going, just as we did.

I wish I'd been better about taking pictures and video over the years, but it always seemed like I didn't budget enough time and was putting out the last decorations as the first ToT's were arriving. Last year was the first time we were completely ready by mid-day Halloween - thanks to having much better organization and planning. This year should be even better, although we're only building a couple of new things for our display.
 

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Thanks for the comments - I guess you can say I got sucked into the Halloween Vortex like everyone else, but hay at least it's been a Killer ride
 
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