OK I don’t know that I am going to pull off our regular Halloween setup this year. But if you want to set up a haunt in the neighborhood, well here is how I’d start. You can get crazy creative about the kind of scene you want to create — but nothing beats a graveyard. And to have a great graveyard you need to have tombstones.
You can buy tombstones from all kinds of retailers — Halloween specialty stores, Home Depot, garden stores, your drugstore will all carry some, mostly all with the message RIP. Some of these look good and there is nothing wrong with picking some up. The more elaborate ones can get spendy but they may be worth it.
But you can also make your own. Start with sheets of foamboard — use foamboard, not a styrofoam board which is crumbly and hard to glue together. This stuff is very carveable, you can cut out as simple or elaborate a form as you want. And you can carve designs in the face, you can bond pieces together to make pedestals (with the right glue), etc — here are some ideas, and some more. Personally I like to rough up the edges of mine a lot, and i even break some and reglue them for added ruggedness. BTW, wear a good mask when you do all this, fumes and particles come off the foamboard and it is probably a nasty biohazard.
For epitaphs, you can carve them in now prior to painting, or paint them on later, or mix the techniques. I do some of all. If you need ideas for epitaphs, well the web is full of them, just search for “epitaphs” or “funnny epitaphs”.
After you have shapes, you will need to paint. I use the cheapest paint I can find in the “Oops” bin at Home Depot as a base, and then finish with one of the various stone effect spray paints. Now, some of the stone effects don’t survive rain well, so experiment. And again, wear a mask, spray paint is nasty.
At this point you now have tombstones! Lean against walls, mount with stakes into the ground, whatever your surface allows. Note that they don’t weigh much, and if you are at a windy site, well, you are going to have a lot of movement.
In future posts I’ll layout simple lighting and sound plans.