Halloween’s origins are derived from a Celtic festival created to ward off evil spirits. To this end, the Celts lit bonfires, while dressed in costumes of animal heads, skins, and such to ward off unwanted spirits. Popes in the eighth and ninth centuries adopted the occasion as an opportunity to honor the dead, saints and martyrs included. In America, farther from its pagan origins, what Christians had dubbed All Hallows’ Eve turned into Halloween and became more about kids and costumes than evil spirits and deceased saints.
But superstitions like not crossing paths with black cats and carving jack-o-lanterns (to be illuminated with candles, their light thought to guide lost spirits home) are still alive and well. So why shouldn’t the really scary stuff make a comeback? We’re not talking the goofy stuff, either. Trick-or-treaters have come to expect a corny dad coming to the door with a faux eyeball hanging out, or a seed and pulp spewing pumpkin placed on the porch. You’ve got to think big.
On the night when your doorbell sees more action than your backyard slide does in summer, why not turn the tables on trick-or-treaters and give them something to really remember. Here are some epic ways to scare the pants of the hoard of trick-or-treaters that might visit your door this Halloween.
The Human Scarecrow
Porch scarecrows have become as ubiquitous on Halloween as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It’s something kids are looking for. What they aren’t expecting, though, is having a scarecrow come to life. Place the usual scarecrow on the porch, but also have someone dress up as a scarecrow, making sure to cover his or her face with a burlap bag, and slump down on a chair or steps on the porch. Then, as the youngsters make their way up to the house, your human scarecrow can spring to life and scare them straight.
A Creepy-Crawly Surprise
Hammer a small nail into the top of your exterior doorframe. Tie a piece of fishing line, about two feet long, to the nail and attach the other end to a big plastic or paper spider or bat. Pull the spider or bat inside and close the door. When trick-or-treaters knock, open the door and release the creature by letting go of the line, allowing it to “fly out” and swing in front of your visitors. Watch them jump in surprise.