Tricky-or-treating fun doesn’t have to disappear after elementary school. But your priorities should change. Instead of dressing up for a candy hunt, you should instead attempt to scare the living hell out of younger trick-or-treaters. To do that, you’ll need a decent getup, a well-staged porch scene, and the element of surprise.
Pair those with these tips from Tom Sadowski, stage manager of Haunted Overload in Lee, NH, Edward Terebus of Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, MI and Chris Wooden, owner of Frightmare Manor in Knoxville, TN and you’re bound to give kids nightmares straight into December.
#1. MAKE A MENACING SCENE
The darker you make the atmosphere around the candy, the more sinister it’ll feel to kids. (Read: Don’t decorate your porch like Oz and dress like Dorothy and expect kids to piss themselves.) “It’s all about the psychology,” Sandowski says. “The knowledge that something scary is coming will set trick-or-treaters on edge, and create jumpiness and tension.”
#2. UTILIZE THE CANDY BOWL
Most kids are more interested in treats than tricks. The exception: asshole tweens. So when there’s a cauldron filled with candy in plain sight, kids tend to drop their guard and go all zombie toward the sweets. “The bigger the bowl of candy, the more enticing it is—and the more vulnerable the kids are,” Edward says. Plan to strike while they’re digging.
Another option is to crouch under a table and make the candy bowl your hat, adds Terebus.”When the kids reach for the candy, you sand up and scare them.” If it’s an older kid, beware of haymakers (see the video).
#3. GET HIGH
We’re being literal here, burnout. Most scares come at eye-level — someone lunging at you or bum-rushing you from behind some bushes. So even slight changes in perspective can be surprising. “People don’t expect a scare to come from somewhere high or low,” Sadowski says.