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Slashdot Asks: Notes For Next Hallowe'en? 151

There are 364 more shopping days until next year's Hallowe'en. But while this year's is still fresh in the memory, I'd like to start gathering ideas for next year in the hopes of actually making my neighborhood worthwhile as a trick-or-treating destination, specifically for fun projects to actually give my yard a haunted-house feel. (For the second time in three years, there were zero candy-seekers, and I'd like to convince my neighbors to make the whole block more decorated and spooky, even if we never get all Alek Komarnitsky.) Did you create an animatronic zombie for your yard? Glowing eyes to appear from behind the bushes? Poltergist-style rising graves to frighten the children? Remote-controlled candy dispensers? If you used any kind of complex haunt technology at home, what things worked and what didn't? (I hear too many stories about fog machines leaking to make them sound like a good idea.)
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Slashdot Asks: Notes For Next Hallowe'en?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whats up with the '

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's correct, actually, though almost archaic. It's an indication that there used to be a v there.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        you can try to substitute every V with a W if you're writing in finnish and TRY to claim that it's correct since many people used to write like that 300 years ago. you would fail your highschool finals for trying to do idiot shit like that though.

    • timothy is merely trolling. He's being a spelling hipster. He does this every year.

    • All I need to know is where to buy the sharpened stakes for the the bear pit that's going in front of my door!
      • You can buy a Machete in your local outdoor supply store. The sharpened stakes can be manufactured from 2x4 stock, or tree branches hammered into the ground.

    • That's the way I was taught to spell it, as it's a contraction from All Hallowe's Eve. Next question - what's with the wave of people spelling it incorrectly?
  • Too late. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "second time in three years, there were zero candy-seekers, and I'd like to convince my neighbors to make the whole block more decorated and spooky..."

    Too late. The kids know you as creepy.

    • Easy - just leave your Christmas lights up from last year, an old Christmas tree in the yard, and some Easter stuff spread around. Your house will look like nobody's alive and you can have all the Halloween goodies to yourself! AND not worried about getting your house or car egged.
  • Full sized candy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:01PM (#50843171) Homepage

    Seriously. Go down to costco. Buy 10 boxes of full sized candies. It will cost you $200. Much less than a lot of crappy Halloween decorations. I guarantee you, the kids will remember. Often into adulthood. "There was this one house that gave out full sized bars!"

    For bonus points, keep your receipts, and return any box you didn't end up opening.

    • by west ( 39918 )

      Often into adulthood.

      Absolutely true. I can still point out the house in our neighbourhood that in 1973 (and only for one year) gave out full-size chocolate bars.

      • Absolutely true. I can still point out the house in our neighborhood that in 1973 (and only for one year) gave out full-size chocolate bars.

        Of course, this feat is a lot easier, if you are still living in your mom's basement in your old neighborhood . . .

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @04:14PM (#50843487) Journal

        Absolutely true. I can still point out the house in our neighbourhood that in 1973 (and only for one year) gave out full-size chocolate bars.

        I'm the opposite. I can still point out the house in our old neighborhood that gave out miniature Bit-O-Honeys. Or at least I could if I hadn't gone back and burned it down 10 years later.

        The investigation didn't turn up any signs of foul play, mostly because the police and firemen are about the same age and probably got Bit-O-Honey pieces, too.

        Trust me: when you're in the Wal-Mart buying Halloween candy, back away from the Bit-O-Honey.

    • Seriously. Go down to costco. Buy 10 boxes of full sized candies. It will cost you $200. Much less than a lot of crappy Halloween decorations. I guarantee you, the kids will remember. Often into adulthood. "There was this one house that gave out full sized bars!"

      Listen to the man. You think you're gonna save money by buying cheap bags of Bit-O-Honey pieces, but the kids remember that stuff and you'll end up paying in the number of eggs you'll have to clean off your house and the toilet paper in your trees.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Seriously. Go down to costco. Buy 10 boxes of full sized candies. It will cost you $200. Much less than a lot of crappy Halloween decorations. I guarantee you, the kids will remember. Often into adulthood. "There was this one house that gave out full sized bars!"

      For bonus points, keep your receipts, and return any box you didn't end up opening.

      You don't get it.

      Halloween isn't about giving candy to children, it's about an aging generation attempting to hold onto the tattered memories of their youth by trying to recreate it.

      The decorations are for the decorators who go mad because their life is dull, boring and conformist that a commercialised holiday is the only form of expression they're capable of.

      Its the same with Christmas (which is much bigger in Australia than Halloween is), parents here in Australia have spent their Decembers drivi

      • Having Christmas in the summer has got to be weird enough, especially since most Western European Christmas traditions (including the trees we borrowed from the pagans) are about being mid-winter, and you don't even do winter that well in Oz when you are having it.

        But yeah, Halloween is pretty much something Americans adopted from Irish immigrants, expanded on, and then commercialized, and while we've sold some of that back to the English, it was long after you were on your own. Here in California we also

    • Or cans of pop. Yeah they may be a bit heavy but almost nobody does it and the kids remember it.

    • by mjensen ( 118105 )

      Same.

      We go all out. Spent considerable money on candy. Kids get to the street, look at it and scream how good it is. Four parents come by to day we made their kids entire night.

  • by danpritts ( 54685 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:15PM (#50843233) Homepage
    Not quite a home haunt, and unfortunately I didn't take pictures, but I saw a guy driving a tardis down the street. He was following his kids as they did their trick or treating. He had built it using an electric wheelchair as the base. I don't give a crap about Dr Who but even I thought it was awesome. At one point he got out, said his wife had called and the lasers weren't working at home, told the kids to drive the tardis, and ran home. Unfortunately I didn't catch where he lived and we didn't see the house on our rounds.
  • 1 - download Vixen and start buying gear for lighting automation.
    http://www.vixenlights.com/ [vixenlights.com]

    2 - buy several 1000-3000 lumen projectors and buy pre-made projection mapping video loops.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    or custom over the top....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    combine the two and you will own your city's halloween decoration destination. Buy everything in pieces as you are looking at probably $20G to do it right.

  • by Telephone Sanitizer ( 989116 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:29PM (#50843289)

    In my community, there were fliers left on every door requesting that people not hand out candy from their homes due to concerns about children with dietary restrictions and "safety."

    Instead, organizers designated several areas around the community where residents could reserve a spot for a table (table not supplied) to hand out candy under supervision from local volunteers. If the tables were not suitable, families were instructed to take their kids to the mall for "an authentic trick or treating experience."

    I happened to need something from the mall, so I got to see their idea of a fun Halloween first-hand. Those shops handing out candy had hung photocopies of a tiny bitmapped 1980s "The Print Shop" style picture of a pumpkin near their doorways. They weren't permitted to hand out anything with chocolate, peanut, dairy, etc. so it was basically nothing but hard candies, mostly peppermints. 'Didn't look like anyone was hanging around for very long.

    Halloween: Sanitized for your protection.

    • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:45PM (#50843351)

      What in the holy hell are you doing living there?

    • In my community, there were fliers left on every door requesting that people not hand out candy from their homes due to concerns about children with dietary restrictions and "safety."

      Flyers left by whom? The police, acting under the authority of a newly enacted bylaw regarding candy distribution on Halloween, or a busy-body neighbor who thinks he or she gets to decide how people celebrate Halloween? If its the former, you might want to remember this next time you vote in municipal elections; if it's the latter, send him/her a kindly worded flyer suggesting what he/she can do with the original flyers.

      • > Flyers left by whom?

        This part of town is mostly multi-family town-homes serviced by a management company.

        The fliers came from the management company.

    • You can always ignore the busybodies and do what you like, you know.

    • In my community, there were fliers left on every door requesting that people not hand out candy from their homes due to concerns about children with dietary restrictions and "safety."

      Hopefully, not everyone obeyed that flyer.

    • Oh god I'm conflicted.

      On the one hand I'm sick of the slow adoption of Halloween in my non-American homeland primarily driven by corporations promoting the idea that little shits should come knock on my door and expect candy just because. I'm all for killing that idea before it even starts.

      On the other hand I'm equally for collecting all those fliers, finding out which local idiotic busy-body created them and setting them all on fire right in front of their house to prove the point.

    • What I saw this year was if you were giving away something for kids with dietary restrictions then you painted your pumpkin green.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        Fuck that. Here, have some lactose laden gluten rich crayfish flavoured peanuts.

        If you're stupid enough to eat any shit some fuckwit gives you then that's not my problem.

  • 365 (Score:5, Informative)

    by kwoff ( 516741 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:35PM (#50843315)
    There are 365 more shopping days. You can also shop on February 29th next year.
    • Walmart is open 364 days per year, 365 on leap years. It's closed on Christmas.

      • Walmart is open 364 days per year, 365 on leap years. It's closed on Christmas.

        Nah. There is at least one Walmart in my town that is open every single day of the year, even Christmas. They don't close for Thanksgiving, though they do section off part of the store to prep for black friday

  • The sun doesn't set till 8pm on halloween. How are things supposed to be spooky in broad daylight?
    Guy Fawkes is even worse.
    Don't get me started on Christmas lights, 9pm sunset.

  • Crack garage door 2 inches. Blast 2 hour looped ghost sounds. All the kids loved it that walked by. Cost zero dollars.
    • Crack garage door 2 inches. Blast 2 hour looped ghost sounds.

      At my house, we just do a live re-enactment of the the music video for Bleed by Meshuggah. I don't just want the kids scared, I want them to walk away from my house with PTSD.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Seriously, fuck trick-or-treating. I didn't get any knocks on the door here in the UK and I'm happy about it. Why Americans are so obsessed with Halloween is beyond me.

    Yes, I also answer to The Grinch.

    • This. I'd expect real nerds/geeks to stay away from such commercial sheeple events. The proper time/place/style for fun and celebrations is when you feel like it, not when other people tell you.
  • There is a time for each holiday.
  • by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @04:34PM (#50843551)

    This year I added some interactive sound effects to the porch using some synths and a Theremin.

    For the base soundscape, I used two synths running loops that were out of sync to create a basic gloom-and-doom texture. The first synth (Korg Kaos Pad, using SYN-9 with Pad Motion for the loop) had a low-frequency sound that moved around a bit to create the sonic floor. The other synth (Korg Monotribe) was looping at at the lowest temp setting (maybe 1 Hz?) with a simple noise-based sound with the LFO set to sweep both pitch and filter to create a knocking sound. It was creepy.

    For the interactive element, I placed a plastic skeleton on the vertical antenna of a Theremin (Moog Theremini) and set it so it would start "screaming" when kids were about 2 feet away (I initially set a larger radius, but that led to it constantly sounding when kids were on the porch and diluted the effect). A note on the skeleton invited kids to shake its hand

    I placed my studio monitors under the table with the Theremin. They had enough bass to let the synth effects sound spooky (rather than hollow). Combined with some lights and the fog machine (fog machines work fine - I just have the cheap one from Walmart), the effect was pretty good. Some kids refused to get near the skeleton after they heard it the first time, but others would play around with it and try to figure it out (the Theremin was covered in a blanket, so it wasn't obvious how it worked).

    Next year I plan to expand the set up a bit and add some additional speakers and proximity effects around the walkway.

    Fun stuff.

    -Chris

  • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @04:35PM (#50843555) Homepage

    I tried to go all high-tech this year. What a disaster! First, let me tell you that when the manual for the revivification table says it needs a bolt of lightning, you can't just substitute wall current. You need real lightning or you don't jump-start the corpse, you just end up charring the internal organs. Right away that puts a requirement on the weather and limits you to working during thunderstorms. And you don't want to deal with a thunderstorm on Halloween night. That keeps all the trick-or-treaters home. It's getting harder and harder these days to lure kids into your basement. Halloween's the one time of year when kids are *supposed* to accept candy from creepy guys in poorly-lit houses! You don't want a little thing like the weather screwing up that chance or you might not harvest enough test subjects to last through the year.

    Next year I'm going back to good old-fashioned necromancy, just like we did when I was a kid. Sure, it takes a little longer and the entrails really make a mess, but you know you're going to get an unliving minion out of it instead of just a charred corpse that's too burned even to bother to eat. With necromancy, even if the ritual goes wrong the worst that could happen is you'll end up with an unholy abomination that will try to turn on its creator. Anyone who can't handle that once in a while doesn't deserve to call himself "mad".

  • ... a sheet, a black marker, some string, a weight and a LED flashlight.

    I think that would make a great levitating, enlightened ghost in the evening.

  • Had so many kids this year, many were bused in via Minivan... started at 5:30... I was cleaned out by 6:15... probably 100 kids. Though, lucky for the kids at around 6:30, because I had just pulled a fresh tray of lasagna out of the oven... ..one slice... right in the bag...

  • I would suggest using drones for trick-or-treating. You can send out several at a time and cover a lot more houses that way.
  • by Vokkyt ( 739289 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @05:45PM (#50843799)

    Trick or Treating has just changed since when we were all younger. A lot of parents don't like the idea of kids going up to strangers houses anymore, much less in unknown areas or communities. I've noticed that in a lot of places I lived, most parents seem to prefer community events as opposed to the classic Trick or Treating, and you might just be losing all the kids to organized events instead. For better or for worse this just seems to be the trend, and you can try to buck it, but ultimately the kids are going to go where their parents let them.

    If you're in a fairly tight knit community, it may be worth trying to organize something with the other members so that you too can participate a bit in the spooky festivities. For example, once place I was at had the main street shut down for about an hour or two and all the shops participated in Trick or Treating. A few neighborhoods also decided to do their own Trick or Treating as well, but no clue how well that went over. My apartment complex at the time made the pronouncement that the building was "opting out of" Trick or Treating, but someone just wedged the security door open and kids came anyways.

    • We travel for trick-or-treating, to my wife's parents neighborhood. Lots of people hanging in their yards with firepits, and the over the door light is the "come and visit" sign. My kids had a couple of cheesy jokes and it was a good time (5 year old twins). 9 pounds of almost all quality candy... Some blocks even blocked off the roads to prevent vehicle traffic, a nice move. Reminded me of my childhood, some 30+ years ago (it was misting out, giving a perfect fog effect everywhere).

      I live in a more ad

  • Wait, what happened to "Ask Slashdot"?

    And if Slashdot is asking, who is it asking?

  • Zero decorations, one porchlight, a commercial mixing bowl full of candy, and ran out before the evening was over. The Church across the street was doing Trunk Or Treat, and there was a steady stream of kids coming from there and hitting up my house. I feel like I should ask the Church to donate some candy to me next year so that I can meet the demand since my house literally becomes part of their festivity. I'm right outside of a neighborhood, and I used to get maybe one or two kids, but then they built th
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sat in the entryway with a mask on that had red light eyes. Growled and grumbled into a mic with hidden speakers as the kids walked by. Only highschoolers came up the walk. :-) Little ones walked on the other side of the street. Could hear them talking about me 4 doors away. ðY

  • There's a pretty bunch of social engineering involved with trick or treaters and one is they go where they go. So the places they go and the people who go there basically is the result of a chaotic process. If you want to prime the pump you need to not only have the houses done up, but on the day get people based on there being people. It's like seeding your case with money while busking or having extra produce while selling produce for the illusion of choice. It's not simply get decorations get destination

  • 1) Take a garbage bag. Stuff it with loosely crumpled newspapers. Glue streamers to the bottom so it resembles a large spider. Hang it right over the door the kids will be ringing, in such a way that you can raise or lower it. While you're handing candy to kids, release it.

    2) Get a cardboard coffin. (I found one at Johnnie Brock's.) Put the coffin out in front of your door (make a platform for it, if needed). Put a small board across the top of the coffin, and put your bowl of candy on top of that

  • I started with 6 bags - ended up having to rush out and buy 6 more, went through 11 total! Dang there are a lot of kids around here...
  • In 2002 I moved into a newly developed neighborhood. We actually did our closing on Halloween. The following year I realized rather quickly that the participation in my neighborhood was rather dismal. At the time, my daughter was born just a little over a month after we closed on our house. A few years later, we found ourselves trick-or-treating in other well-established neighborhoods just to give our daughter the real experiences. I took note that this older neighborhood really went to great extent to give

  • I have a spider on my front door which drops down when it hears a noise. Can't remember where I got it, but it is great for the little kids - they love to be able to knock and have it fall and scare them. Some even remember it from year to year. It's just a cheapo toy, but it's been the best bang for the buck of any of my stuff.

    The other hit I have is a cauldron with fake flames made with silk triangles blown by a fan underneath and a couple of orange lights - like what they do here: http://www.themebuilder [themebuilders.com]

  • by DriveDog ( 822962 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @11:39AM (#50847217)

    Probably can't legally just block vehicular traffic in many neighborhoods, but IMO one of the biggest annoyances and detractors of Halloween fun is a bunch of SUVs carrying Trick'R'Treaters around house-to-house. Discourage driving and encourage walking in the neighborhood. Those wanting to visit a neighborhood with more activity need to go there, park, and walk around.

    That said, for a couple of years a neighbor with a tractor and flat trailer loaded it with straw bales and carted a dozen or so kids on the street around house-to-house (at a very slow speed). Aside from the crowds ringing the doorbells all at once, it went very well and those kids, now around 20, still recall how much fun they had.

    This year a number of neighbors dragged their metal firepits around to the front and built fires in them, then sat nearby in lawn chairs handing out candy. I plan to do the same next year (include some decorations/costumes, of course). It really encouraged escorts as well as the kids to socialize and have a good time.

    • On the other hand... when the guy with the tractor moved away, I mentioned what he'd done with the tractor and hay ride to the new owners of the house and they said, in a rather nasty tone, "We don't celebrate Halloween." Ok, fine, I don't care, and I didn't need to know that. Another neighbor was so afraid someone would ring his doorbell that he stretched police tape all around his front porch and parked trash cans across his driveway and sidewalk, completely blocking access. Did nobody suggest he just lea
  • ...and celebrate Guy Fawkes Day instead.

    Seriously. Yeah, some kids prefer candy to explosives, but not the cool kids.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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