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I spend way to much every year. This is especially true if you include an off-site storage space, candy some of the other things several of you have identified. However, the biggest expense is when changing themes. For years I've built and used props associated with a cemetery. Next year I'm thinking of starting a new theme using clowns. While I can switch between a cemetery or a fun house clown theme every other year, the cost to do this can be quite expensive. Not to mention the storage space required.
 

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I have almost zero storage in my house so my spending is kept pretty low by making as much of the decor as possible for the year. I don't have an exact budget, but I spend the same amount I would on having any other party, plus a little bit on a few pieces of decor/supplies same as I would spend on any other craft/shopping splurge. One the season is over I put my decor back in it's year round place and recycle the things I've built.

That being said, if I had storage for say a couple full size posable skeletons and other largish props, I'd probably try to budget a bit more.
 

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That being said, if I had storage for say a couple full size posable skeletons and other largish props, I'd probably try to budget a bit more.
So, ummm, I don't want to be an enabler but Costco makes some lovely plastic sheds. Last year I got one that is about 8x8 ft and it holds 6 full size zombies (assembled) and a half dozen big storage crates and 6 tombstones and a handful of skeletons with room to spare. This is only a solution if you have a shady area to place it or live where it doesn't go over 100F very often. But I think some stuff would be fine no matter what (like plastic skeletons).

Just saying ... we also store some patio chairs in ours so maybe you can use that as a reason to justify the expense and time to put one up? Also, we used hot tub pads (plastic panels) for the floor. So far, so good.
 

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My Wife puts me on a budget and I don't listen. This year was told no big spending and nothing big. Was thinking about buying the Dark Forest Dragon to go along with the Winter dragon and Wind Dragon, but wants to much for it right now and Shop owner wasn't there when I went in I usually can work out deals with him. His mother and some other guy was there and can't make deals guess it saved me. But have him looking for a costume for the Grandchild as daughter wanted to dress both kids up as same movie. Should stop off tonight and see if he is there. He opened the shop for us Saturday as he already closed as wife thought he was open longer, couldn't do any dealing that day, but did walk out with about 30 bucks worth.
 

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I've been setting a budget of about $1,500 each year for the last few years since I started going way overboard for Halloween (before it was just "kinda overboard" ;) ...) I actually do somewhat stay within that budget but only because that's a pretty huge budget and because the last 4-5 years I've been building my own decorations for a number of the big ones that I put out. There's still a lot of cost for wood, accessories, and the like but it does help somewhat. Last year was my big round of pre-made animatronics from places like Spirit Halloween and the like, so I had very little left for building my own, but it was a fantastic success nonetheless. This year I'm back to building my own again, augmenting with accessories and props, so I'm very close to budget. Next year I don't know what things are going to be like, however, as I really want to get a projector that can do the entire front of my house and use mapping software, kind of like what they do on the castle at Disney. Any projector of that capability would need to be 10-12,000 real lumens, not the made up numbers that so many companies throw around, and that's BIG money. Might have to take my kid out of college to pay for it. ;) Either that or I've been considering how feasible it would be to use 2 or 3 projectors spread out so they each covered part of the front, and using a laptop or something else to project 1/2 or 1/3 of the full image through each projector. That would require maybe 7-8,000 lumens per, which would drop the cost significantly. Anyone have thoughts on this?
 

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I've been setting a budget of about $1,500 each year for the last few years since I started going way overboard for Halloween (before it was just "kinda overboard" ;) ...) I actually do somewhat stay within that budget but only because that's a pretty huge budget and because the last 4-5 years I've been building my own decorations for a number of the big ones that I put out. There's still a lot of cost for wood, accessories, and the like but it does help somewhat. Last year was my big round of pre-made animatronics from places like Spirit Halloween and the like, so I had very little left for building my own, but it was a fantastic success nonetheless. This year I'm back to building my own again, augmenting with accessories and props, so I'm very close to budget. Next year I don't know what things are going to be like, however, as I really want to get a projector that can do the entire front of my house and use mapping software, kind of like what they do on the castle at Disney. Any projector of that capability would need to be 10-12,000 real lumens, not the made up numbers that so many companies throw around, and that's BIG money. Might have to take my kid out of college to pay for it. ;) Either that or I've been considering how feasible it would be to use 2 or 3 projectors spread out so they each covered part of the front, and using a laptop or something else to project 1/2 or 1/3 of the full image through each projector. That would require maybe 7-8,000 lumens per, which would drop the cost significantly. Anyone have thoughts on this?
I started attempting whole-house projection shows in 2013 so I've learned along the way. Not sure how large your house & yard are or what competing light sources you have, but you might not need that expensive. We have a new LED streetlight RIGHT over the driveway (argh!), and even then we are able to do a good moody show with 2 BenQ 1085ST projectors, one inside the garage rear projecting on a custom screen in the garage door opening, and the other under the wishing well under the front tree. We can't get the entire house since the front yard is too shallow so we have to shoot at an angle to get the most coverage, which requires pre-keystoning by angling the footage during editing. Of course you can't see much until dusk, but even Disney doesn't do their projection shows in daylight.

Halloween 2016 - Waltz of the Spiders

To compare, this is only one of the same projector straight on in the same shallow front yard. Yes the moon and the ghosts are all just one projector. Several people couldn't find the projector even when they looked since they assumed there must be more than one. I was impressed we could see the moon footage when the sky was still only dusky blue not fully dark yet.

Halloween 2015 - Day of the Dead

One more example that has more happening over the full projection area was my Christmas at Castle Arendelle last year. This show is 4 projectors: window, garage door & porch greeter are rear projected, then whole-house front projection, but only the garage & front are synced, the other 2 are independent loops from local video sources. You can see how the snowfall fades about halfway across the garage, but since I faded the edge, it's not that noticeable that it's not truly covering the entire facade:

Christmas at Castle Arendelle


Those projectors still go for ~$1000-1200 new and $600 used if you watch eBay & take a gamble. The 1085 keystones both horizontal & vertical, otherwise they are identical, use the same bulb, and the remotes & power cables are interchangeable. We added a projector each year along the way as an investment expense, not all 4 in one year! Our favorite part is the black levels are nice & dark so you don't get a gray rectangle around the edges, and even when you research advertised contrast levels, you never know until you try it in position. We have 2 BenQ1080ST & 2 BenQ1085ST now, but one of the bulbs is going, and even after a bulb replacement our 2018 show was noticeably darker than the same footage from Halloween 2016. That one projector was an eBay gamble and at least it worked great for 2 Halloweens. The ones purchased new are still going on original bulbs, even the one from 2013. Moving the dim projector into the garage balanced it better for the Christmas show.

Syncing videos is a real pain, even from a single computer outputting to multiple displays. QuickTime & VLC are off by microseconds so when they loop they eventually get out of sync. I've designed buffer time in my videos to compensate, but I can tell they're off. The only way we can sync multiple videos perfectly is using Brookshire VSA which only runs on Windows.

The mapping is always trial & error for me. I haven't found any programs yet that help enough with the actual mapping since each surface is different, especially since I work on Adobe Premiere Pro on my Mac but the show usually runs on another machine that can run Brookshire VSA software to sync with animation effects. I export a clip, convert to the avi format, test on the VSA machine, watch it projected in place, take notes & make adjustments until I get it right. Then NOTHING MOVES until after the show closes. :) I was at the Winchester Mystery House panel at Midsummer Scream listening to PaintScaping.com's preview how they were working on their projection mapping show on the house, and they started by making a detailed 3D CGI model of the house, then creating the CGI animation that could act on the 3D model....however that kind of program and learning curve will need to wait until I retire from my dayjob. :)

Hope that helps! Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #68
To everyone who posted regarding their approaches and suggestions... THANK YOU!

This year my employer paid for my two biggest props. I squirreled away these points we get for a substantial gift card all year. My birthday falls just a few days after Halloween (yes I’m always slightly bummed I was a few days late) and most friends buy me gift cards which I use for after holiday sales. I do shop for Halloween all year as well. I have seen items drop on Half-o-ween or at random times in the year and if I like the price, I’ll buy. Anything to be a little more budget friendly!

As much as I’d like to “think” I’m only spending $200, the reality is I probably spend more like $500-$1000 a year on Halloween. I know Big Lots got about $170 from me this year and at least $100 went to Dollar Tree. I don’t even want to add up the countless visits to the hardware stores. The reality is with Halloween, it just adds up. I am hoping however since the yard is completely FULL next year will be way more budget friendly.
 

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I always wonder if more people don’t decorate cause of the cost. Let’s be real..it’s not cheap to go big.
We have a rather meager budget by other's standards. It's around $200. We don't hold to it strictly, but we generally come close. Then again, we don't include gas costs as we bounce all around town collecting free stuff off of Craig's list or Nexdoor. We have what we think is a rather nice looking haunt and will put our homemade props up against any of the big stores when it comes to what we put out during the season. In fact, I don't think you can find two story mausoleums on sale at Home Depot. :)

That's why we can go big and still go cheap. It was a choice we made a long time ago to make what we put out, or repurpose stuff we get for free or very cheap. Even our paint we get for free by watching the listings carefully. Our first attempts were a bit primitive, but we're getting better, and the time we spend on thinking of new prop ideas and creating them is actually the largest part of the fun we find in Halloween. Our actual costs are mostly for things like glue, hardware, and lighting. Lighting is our biggest cost. It's tough to find people giving away the LED spots and eagle eye LEDs that we use. Skeletons are also a big expense as we don't make them. But we do wait for them to go on sale. We are very patient shoppers.

Just as an aside, we noticed how many folks here made a comment how their budgets went way up when they got divorced. We're considering that option now if it will give us more cash, but we're not sure all the downsides warrant having extra bucks for that killer werewolf on sale. Kidding aside, it is kind of nice to realize that for many of us, Halloween is like comfort food. It's where we go to feel good again. It ties us to something that makes us happy. It shares that joy with our neighborhood like some ghoulish pot luck dinner of all our favorite treats. Of all the things one can blowout the budget on when they need to feel better, Halloween doesn't even come close to making the list of dangerous options. Hobby or addictive habit, we're glad we have something in our lives that doesn't come with a Surgeon General's warning on it that we still enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #71
The only thing better than ingratiating yourself to folks who can help you with your Halloween mayhem is marrying them. :)
Ain’t it always fun to have a partner in crime? When I wanted to borrow Martha Stewart’s approach to a haunted forest using Christmas Trees my husband while driving around for his job always checked to see if anyone had a tree out on the curb.

@chubstuff your approach sounds outstanding. And you’re right, I’m not getting two story mausoleums at Home Depot. I’m really glad you have found a way to be so cost effective. 😉
 
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We have a rather meager budget by other's standards. It's around $200. We don't hold to it strictly, but we generally come close. Then again, we don't include gas costs as we bounce all around town collecting free stuff off of Craig's list or Nexdoor. We have what we think is a rather nice looking haunt and will put our homemade props up against any of the big stores when it comes to what we put out during the season. In fact, I don't think you can find two story mausoleums on sale at Home Depot. :)

That's why we can go big and still go cheap. It was a choice we made a long time ago to make what we put out, or repurpose stuff we get for free or very cheap. Even our paint we get for free by watching the listings carefully. Our first attempts were a bit primitive, but we're getting better, and the time we spend on thinking of new prop ideas and creating them is actually the largest part of the fun we find in Halloween. Our actual costs are mostly for things like glue, hardware, and lighting. Lighting is our biggest cost. It's tough to find people giving away the LED spots and eagle eye LEDs that we use. Skeletons are also a big expense as we don't make them. But we do wait for them to go on sale. We are very patient shoppers.

Just as an aside, we noticed how many folks here made a comment how their budgets went way up when they got divorced. We're considering that option now if it will give us more cash, but we're not sure all the downsides warrant having extra bucks for that killer werewolf on sale. Kidding aside, it is kind of nice to realize that for many of us, Halloween is like comfort food. It's where we go to feel good again. It ties us to something that makes us happy. It shares that joy with our neighborhood like some ghoulish pot luck dinner of all our favorite treats. Of all the things one can blowout the budget on when they need to feel better, Halloween doesn't even come close to making the list of dangerous options. Hobby or addictive habit, we're glad we have something in our lives that doesn't come with a Surgeon General's warning on it that we still enjoy.
I Love that, and am going to be stealing that phrase off of you. lol
Halloween is like a Comfort Food!
So very very True!
Love it!
 

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I started attempting whole-house projection shows in 2013 so I've learned along the way. Not sure how large your house & yard are or what competing light sources you have, but you might not need that expensive. We have a new LED streetlight RIGHT over the driveway (argh!), and even then we are able to do a good moody show with 2 BenQ 1085ST projectors, one inside the garage rear projecting on a custom screen in the garage door opening, and the other under the wishing well under the front tree. We can't get the entire house since the front yard is too shallow so we have to shoot at an angle to get the most coverage, which requires pre-keystoning by angling the footage during editing. Of course you can't see much until dusk, but even Disney doesn't do their projection shows in daylight.

Halloween 2016 - Waltz of the Spiders

To compare, this is only one of the same projector straight on in the same shallow front yard. Yes the moon and the ghosts are all just one projector. Several people couldn't find the projector even when they looked since they assumed there must be more than one. I was impressed we could see the moon footage when the sky was still only dusky blue not fully dark yet.

Halloween 2015 - Day of the Dead

One more example that has more happening over the full projection area was my Christmas at Castle Arendelle last year. This show is 4 projectors: window, garage door & porch greeter are rear projected, then whole-house front projection, but only the garage & front are synced, the other 2 are independent loops from local video sources. You can see how the snowfall fades about halfway across the garage, but since I faded the edge, it's not that noticeable that it's not truly covering the entire facade:

Christmas at Castle Arendelle


Those projectors still go for ~$1000-1200 new and $600 used if you watch eBay & take a gamble. The 1085 keystones both horizontal & vertical, otherwise they are identical, use the same bulb, and the remotes & power cables are interchangeable. We added a projector each year along the way as an investment expense, not all 4 in one year! Our favorite part is the black levels are nice & dark so you don't get a gray rectangle around the edges, and even when you research advertised contrast levels, you never know until you try it in position. We have 2 BenQ1080ST & 2 BenQ1085ST now, but one of the bulbs is going, and even after a bulb replacement our 2018 show was noticeably darker than the same footage from Halloween 2016. That one projector was an eBay gamble and at least it worked great for 2 Halloweens. The ones purchased new are still going on original bulbs, even the one from 2013. Moving the dim projector into the garage balanced it better for the Christmas show.

Syncing videos is a real pain, even from a single computer outputting to multiple displays. QuickTime & VLC are off by microseconds so when they loop they eventually get out of sync. I've designed buffer time in my videos to compensate, but I can tell they're off. The only way we can sync multiple videos perfectly is using Brookshire VSA which only runs on Windows.

The mapping is always trial & error for me. I haven't found any programs yet that help enough with the actual mapping since each surface is different, especially since I work on Adobe Premiere Pro on my Mac but the show usually runs on another machine that can run Brookshire VSA software to sync with animation effects. I export a clip, convert to the avi format, test on the VSA machine, watch it projected in place, take notes & make adjustments until I get it right. Then NOTHING MOVES until after the show closes. :) I was at the Winchester Mystery House panel at Midsummer Scream listening to PaintScaping.com's preview how they were working on their projection mapping show on the house, and they started by making a detailed 3D CGI model of the house, then creating the CGI animation that could act on the 3D model....however that kind of program and learning curve will need to wait until I retire from my dayjob. :)

Hope that helps! Good luck!
Oh. My. God.
 
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