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What I've learned from previous years

2822 Views 38 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  netsirk
With everyone starting to step up a gear for their halloween haunt, I thought it was time to start this thread to highlight the pitfall or triumphs that the rest of us can take note of

So to get the ball rolling here are two of my "lessons learned"

1. Whilst it looks great to let the grass grow in your front yard to give your cemetery a real unkempt look it has a downside. The first year I did this, then spent many an hour working on a skeleton ground breaker and carefully crafting the hands. When I put the it in place the grass covered the hands. So now I am careful not to let the grass grow too long so that my props can be seen clearly!

2. Last year was my first year to have columns as part of my display. Part of the feature was four dollar Tree gargoyles on top of each column, one on each corner. The overall effect was pretty good. So after Halloween, I moved the columns to the back yard where they were stored outside because of lack of storage, but I thought this would be OK.... Wrong!!

About 2 months later went out in the back yard and wanted to relocated the columns to another part of the yard. To my dismay, a couple of the gargoyles had disintegrated, and crumbled away, and two more were showing sign of deterioration. So I had to remove them from the columns which was not so easy as I had used gorilla glue to glue them on. I salvaged the rest of the gargoyles but now have four holes on the tops of the columns where the styrofoam came away.

Hopefully the lessons learned will be a lesson for you all :D

So ... who wants to share their lessons learned ?
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Forgot to add a positive lesson to my post :eek:

I found that if I needed a small piece of duct tape, it wasn't so easy to tear off from the roll. So I came up with this idea...

I bought a second roll of duct tape, and cut around the roll at the center of the tape. This gives me two rolls of duct tape at half the width of normal size and more convenient for the smaller projects.

TIP: You do not have to cut all the way through the whole roll, just use one side at a time. Once you start, the tape will tear down the center because of the tape on the other side :D
That's a great tip regarding the duct tape -- Ill have to try that.

Let's see . . . lessons learned (thinking . . . more thinking)

have I learned anything yet? :rolleyes:

1. Get your Halloween stuff out early and make sure everything works. Nothing like finding out at the last minute you don't have the right floods or bulbs have burned out.

2. It is never too early to program your LOR sequence.

3. It is never too early to start buying candy for the onslaught of ToTs. The secret is, don't open the bags too early!!

4. When using a latex spray gun to paint a large prop -- please remember to move the cars out of the driveway and make sure they're not down wind of the sprayer!

5. Always label your storage bins with their contents each season. By the time you're checking your supplies, you will have forgotton half of what's in every bin. And if there's "that one thing" you're looking for, it will be in the last of the dozen bins you look through.

6. A five year old will change her mind every week when asked what she wants to be for Halloween -- so don't start asking until October. (June is way too early)

7. Chances are your mother-in-law will not see the humor in putting her name on a tombstone in your graveyard.

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lmao @ #7 !!!!
never put too many things next to eachother

always have electricial cords if u have alot of lights and such
1) It's never too early to start on prop making. This year will not be very spectacular as I had too much happen lately to work on props. So, I'm having to reuse a lot of props and they are mostly ones that need work *SIGH*.

2) If you change your theme each year. Make sure that you do any totally new props first and then reskin the old one later. That way you've got two sets of props in case your grand scheme doesn't come off. If I had done what I originally planned, (deskining in December in preparation for reskinning later), I would have not enough props to even do anything at this point and would have to skip this year.

3) Alwyas search for sounds early. There's nothing like the last minute scramble to put together your soundtracks for your Awesome props.

4) If at all possible, Set up your lighting early (like now). It's one of the most important aspects and can be the most frustrating last minute. You can always reposition. But, if you find that you've misplaced a flood light or an extension cord, It's best to find out now.

5) You can never have too many speakers and amps.

6) Test your moving props now. Dig them out of storage and test them this weekend.

7) Check all your props soon and see what needs touch up paint. Don't paint them yet (more damage will likely come). But, you can watch for sales that way.

8) Seal your paper mache well and spray it with something to repel animals. I used paper mache to patch a corner of our columns that had gotten beat up and sealed it like I normally would. Came out the next morning to find rabbits munching on the corner.

That's all I can think of for now.
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1) Remember...it's going to be dark! No need to go TOTALLY overboard (moderately overboard is OK) detailing the heck out a prop when you have a bunch of other things to get to. No one will notice the detail in the dark except you. (I'm completely guilty of this, but can't help it!)

2) Don't be surprised if everything you thought you anchored so well is blown over by a freak Kansas windstorm the Sunday before Halloween.

3) If you live on a corner, don't block the view at the intersection!!
1. Don't forget to take out batteries at the END of the season.
2. Don't forget to buy the batteries.
3. Yes--buy the PVC pipe-cutters!!! Your hacksaw isn't nearly as good.
4. Who took the scissors??!!! I'm chaining them to my wrist this year.
5. For those of you with a sprinkler system for your lawns, don't forget to turn 'em off.
6. When setting up a graveyard scene on a lawn, or anything else that requires you to tramp thru your lawn, and a large dog lives with you, don't forget to pick up the...uhh... landmines before you do that tramping.

Those are some excellent tips! I always forget to take the batteries out.
1) I f you have a large display with many things to set up, pull everything out a day or two early and make a plan of where you want everything to go.

2) If you have motion activated animatronics and live on an intersection of a busy street make sure traffuc can't set off your prop, you can burn out the prop and cause accidents.
1. If your keeping your props somewhere without air conditioning in the summer and it gets really hot, some of them can melt.

2. Never be un-prepared for rain....
Don't count on someone else to help you set up, plan and allow plenty of time to set everything up without killing youself. * Note: Children are the exception - they can be forced to work. Something I like to call "Skill set Training". Who else is going to teach them how do this.

If your like me and have 50 different extension cords - assign each one to a project. Don't be left like me at the last minute needing a three prong outlet cord and only having 2 prongs left.

Be willing to say enough, and roll with what you've got ready. Most folks won't know you have other projects that were awesome, and are already amazed at what you've got working. Also some will remember something you did in the past and ask for it. I think it's OK to rest a prop for a few years.
Hmmmm. What I've learned:

You can never have enough: paint, glue, tape, batteries...

Shop for prop building stuff throughout the year. Ditto if you do party stuff and need prizes. There are always cool things out there that can be used for props and prizes to be had for REALLY cheap. Check cull bins in the hardware store, clearance aisles, bargain bins...

Use plastic plates as paint palettes and keep large plastic freezer bags handy. If you need to stop painting in the middle of a prop, lightly mist the paint with some water and pop it into the bag (seal it well!) and the paint will stay usable for your next round of painting. This only works for acrylic/latex paints, tho. ;)

Do NOT paint things on the dining room table or anywhere there is carpet without putting down protectors. You WILL make a mess. It's just a given. :eek:

Do your prop building in December - March if you live south of the Mason/Dixon line. It is too [email protected] hot to get anything done during the summer and you'll be forced to try to do stuff frantically in your lovely dining room... see above. :rolleyes:

Make a list and prioritize. If you don't, you'll be doing whatever props pop in your head, and stopping and starting so many that you'll be in a tizzy trying to get them all finished.

Help is good. Beg, bribe or whatever you can do to get spouses, friends and kids if you have them to help out.

Good enough is good enough. As beautiful as many of the props are on here, most of the lovely details and intricate and time-consuming work is going to go unnoticed by the general TOTs. Do what you can, and if you want to spend more time on the details, do so, but don't freak out because your spanish moss isn't draping exactly like it would be if it were real, or your paint job isn't perfect. ;)

TAKE PICTURES. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES. PRACTICE TAKING PICTURES WITH NO FLASH AND GET A TRIPOD OR SOMETHING THAT CAN HOLD YOUR CAMERA STEADY. I suck at remembering to do this - and I regret it every year. I get a few setup shots, a few wobbly night shots and then forget to take better pictures. :(
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1.Set up all your stuff early and make sure it all works the correct way.
2. Get all your soundtracks together so you can find what you need.
3. Never store your latex prop parts in the garage or attic, the heat will damage the latex keep in a cool dry place, and dark.
4. As said before keep all your stuff stored nicely in plastic bins and label them as to thier contents.
5.Build your props all year long, makes it easier on the budget and gives you time to fine tune everything, also keeps the spirit with you all year.
6.It's never too early to plan your costume.
7. watch for day after halloween sales and stock up for the next year.
Great points!

1. If you live on a neighborhood with lawn nazis make sure to plan to mow before the big props go out.
2. Make a list of all the things that turn on.
3. Dont forget to carve your pumpkins!
4. For those who use a PVC pipe cutter. Chop saw works even better. ;)
1) Remember...it's going to be dark! No need to go TOTALLY overboard (moderately overboard is OK) detailing the heck out a prop when you have a bunch of other things to get to. No one will notice the detail in the dark except you.

RIGHT ON. I see so many people here who knock themselves out needlessly worried about detail. Dude! It's dark. People are on edge. Don't spend precious prop time with minutiae.
Be willing to say enough, and roll with what you've got ready

Until that first ToT rings the bell keep at it. :D
1) 8) Seal your paper mache well and spray it with something to repel animals. I used paper mache to patch a corner of our columns that had gotten beat up and sealed it like I normally would. Came out the next morning to find rabbits munching on the corner.

That's all I can think of for now.
LOL..that' funny but better than the forever smell of urine as the dog hikes his leg on all of mine!
Something else that lasts forever are the spots where fog machines have been used...one big stain on the sidewalk and a dead spot on the grass.
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