8 Ways To Scare The Heck Out of Kids This Halloween

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 26, 2008 · 42 comments

in Just For Fun, Manly Skills

Halloween is this Friday and soon little goblins and ghouls will be wandering about, looting you neighborhood of its sugary booty. Just because you’re too old to go door to door, doesn’t mean your Halloween fun needs to end. While the time for treats may be over, the time for tricks has just begun. Scaring the daylights out of kids is a deeply satisfying pastime. While some men go all out by transforming their lawn into a graveyard and their home into a haunted house, you need not spend that kind of money or time to produce some high-quality scares. With only a few cheap props and a little imagination, you’ll have the kids jumping ten feet in the air. Here are 8 ways to frighten the living daylights out of kids this Halloween.


Image from Strict Papi

This may very well be the easiest and yet most effective way to scare trick-or-treaters. Dress up in a scary costume and then sit on the porch as still as a statue. On your lap, place a bowl of candy with a note attached that reads: “Sorry we’re not home. Please take one piece of candy.” As kids approach they won’t know if you’re real or fake. When they reach for the candy, spring to life! Growl, howl, reach out for them, or yell, “I told you to only take one piece!” This is an especially good way to give the snotty kids who grab big handfuls of candy a little comeuppance. My in-laws tried this stunt last Halloween, with one being a witch and the other a warlock, and found great success.

“If I Could Only Eat Your Brain”

This is a slight variation on the statue method. Here you dress up as a scarecrow and sit slumped in a chair, as still possible. You then repeat the steps above. You might try building yourself a sort of scarecrow stand for extra effect, although I would imagine that standing on that for long periods of time would be quite uncomfortable. If you want to take the scarecrow trick to the next level, try placing several truly fake scarecrows (just get some straw and stuff your clothes) along the pathway. You’ll be situated somewhere in the line. After the kids get their candy from your accomplice and start walking away, jump out and scare the beejesus out of them.

“Leafing so soon?”

Simple, economic, frightening. It doesn’t get any better than that. Get a giant orange pumpkin leaf bag, the kind people use when raking leaves (you can use a giant black garbage bag, but it will look a little more suspicious). Sit inside the bag and stuff the rest of it with crumpled newspaper or packing paper (you can use actual leaves but you might end up sitting in there with some creepy crawlies for company). Then take other leaf bags and stuff them. Place the leaf bags along the walk or randomly on your lawn. Position yourself in a bag by the porch. The trick-or-treaters will innocently pass by the fake bags, and when they get to you, you’ll pop out and scare them senseless.

“Rest in Peace”


Image from Mich Mazier

Humans seem to be hardwired to have a fear of coffins. Thus, they make the perfect Halloween prop. While you might imagine that constructing a coffin would be expensive and difficult, one can be made with only foam board, duct tape, and paint. After you build your coffin, place it on a table or on the ground of your porch. From here you can employ various scare techniques. You may want to simply lie in the coffin with the lid on and pop up as trick-or-treaters arrive at the door. To add an extra layer of fright, try lying in the coffin with the lid propped up. Cover yourself with a black sheet. Then cover the sheet with candy. Attach a note to the lid that says, “Please take a piece of candy.” When the kids grab for the loot, sit up.

“The Scary Stalker”

Here’s another simple and effective method for creeping kids out. Dress like the grim reaper and stand like a statue on the side of your porch. After the kids get the candy from your accomplice inside, simply start following the kids off the porch, trailing behind them, reaching out for them, and moaning. Very creepy.

“Let Me Give You a Hand”

Remember “Thing” from Addams family? This is what we’re going for. Get a very large box, such as one from which a dishwasher came. Cut the flaps and turn it over so that it now looks like a table of sorts. Cut a hole in the “table-top.” Get a cloth and cut a hole the same size as the table hole and place the cloth over the box. Now take a big flimsy plastic bowl and cut a hole in it, just big enough to fit your wrist and hand. Sit under the table with your hand sticking through all the holes. Have an accomplice place the bowl over your hand which is now sticking up through the tabletop, and fill it with candy, enough to cover your hand. When trick-or-treaters reach into the bowl, thrust your hand up through the candy!

AAAAAAAH!!!!! It’s a Box of Raisins!!!!


There’s nothing scarier to a kid then reaching into a bowl in hopes of finding Snickers and coming up with a box of raisins. Or those black and orange taffy candies. I shudder to even think of it.

Art of Manliness Pumpkin


Plagued by raucous adolescent young men who are too old to be trick-or-treating? Place this pumpkin outside to scare these boys into doing the thing they fear the most: “Manning up!”

Download the free AoM pumpkin stencil here.

Any more suggestions on how to scare the heck out of kids? Drop a line in the comment box.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bruce October 26, 2008 at 9:58 pm

My personal favorite is the Kramer-door…

Stand inside with your hand on the doorknob. The second a knock starts, yank the door open (the opposite of a slam) and “strongly” say “Yes?”. No need to yell, but a good solid voice helps. And trust me…no need for any dialogue….You can also hold the bowl out “rapidly”, but you run the right of slamming it into small kids that stand near the door. I just keep it inside til they have settled down.

Throws off everyone. Doesn’t matter what you wear. I did it one year with infant daughter in the other arm. I could hear the kids walking away afterward saying how scary it was.

2 Gerald October 26, 2008 at 10:30 pm

I found great success with the fake hand routine. I stuffed a glove with cotton, and would hand kids a piece of candy, and as they reached for it, I would let the hand fall off onto the floor. I got many stares, and more than a few hurried shuffles off the porch.

Then, as the follow up, I had a friend jump out from behind the large tree in our front yard wearing an executioner’s hood and carrying a giant fake axe, bellowing like a madman.

Oh, how the kids darted back to their cars.

Good times.

3 Will October 27, 2008 at 1:39 am

I scared people (kid or otherwise) best by draping black plastic around nearby, lying under one, and getting up when they walk by.

Misdirection is the key. Have several things so that they classify you as “not something that can move.” Then move.

Makeup or a mask is essential, and both are easy. Get the creamy stuff, and mix the colors to get a suitably ghastly color.

4 soo October 27, 2008 at 4:11 am

oh god, I remember being freeze framed when I was a kid. Thinking back on it, that was pretty mean for those people to do to little kids. Maybe I should try that now that I’m older haha. Good article though, really takes me back.

5 bfwebster October 27, 2008 at 5:16 am

When Sandra and I lived in Washington DC, in the NW section, I had great fun at Halloween. We had a small front yard, which I decorated with various things coming out of the ground, spider webs and very large fake spiders, etc. I used a fog machine to keep plenty of fog in the yard (and drifting over the sidewalk). We had an animatronic witch’s head that would move its jaw and speak as we spoke into a mike inside the house. We were very popular in the neighborhood.

I knew we had done it right when one summer a neighborhood couple was coming over to look at some yard furniture that we were getting rid of, and their five-year-old daughter recognized the house and refused to walk up to the door “because that’s where the witch lives!”. Heh. ..bruce..

6 Greg October 27, 2008 at 5:20 am

I hung a scarecrow from the porch light next to the door, so that his pumpkin head lit up. I then wired his hand to the door, using fishing line and some cup hooks, so that when I opened the door the scarecrow raised his hand toward the kids. It worked every time.

7 cchiovitti October 27, 2008 at 8:33 am

OMG – I can’t imagine the retribution I’d get for passing out boxes of raisins. Or even worse – pennies! I always hated trick-or-treating when people would give out pennies or those little religious comic books.

8 Jason October 27, 2008 at 9:03 am

Hmmm… Getting inside of a plastic bag does not seem like a good idea, haha. Don’t forget some air holes!

9 Spoon October 27, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Good old Halloween. Unfortunately, one of my friends happens to have been born on October 31, so I’ll be at his party this year, but I’m really curious how many people will actually be out trick-or-treating. It seems that you just don’t see kids out so much anymore. :-(

10 Pieceofschmidt October 27, 2008 at 1:41 pm

telling people to wrap up in a plastic bag is not the most responsible advice…

11 Brett October 27, 2008 at 1:56 pm

To those of future Darwin Award Winnera…..Yeah obviously you leave an air hole in the plastic bag.

12 TheInfamousGdub October 27, 2008 at 2:23 pm

You people are the reason I always wore a diaper while trick-or-treating. ;-)

13 Greg October 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

This question has been bugging me all day…ever since I posted my story about scaring kids:
How is scaring little kids manly?

14 Neptúnus Hirt October 27, 2008 at 4:21 pm

It might not be the manliest of sports, but it sure is hilarious.

Good read, and great suggestions in the comments!

Here in Iceland, there’s no real tradition of trick or treating, but I see it as an opportunity to dress up and scare people. My favorite is dressing up as a clown, and simply grinning at people. Moving in a stiff manner, or acting like a mime suits the act well, as I don’t speak at all.

I look forward to living in an area that practices trick or treating, the possibilities for fun are endless.

15 Manic October 27, 2008 at 4:47 pm

The kids have really stopped treat-or-treating in the UK now, or they are going out earlier, or even the day before [for safety!]

Some good ideas…

16 amy October 27, 2008 at 5:30 pm

this is genius. congratulations on being so smart. people dont take halloween seriously enough and it’s time to set things right. also i love the word beejesus. happy halloween!!

17 Alex Shalman October 27, 2008 at 5:45 pm

All I have to say is that REAL MEN EAT RAISINS! hehe

18 pete October 27, 2008 at 8:42 pm

The reader’s digest version:

1. Stand still until someone comes close, then scare them
2. Stand still until someone comes close, then scare them
3. Stand still until someone comes close, then scare them
4. Stand still until someone comes close, then scare them
5. Stand still until someone comes close, then scare them

You get the point.

Personally I find waving a gun around accomplishes the same thing

19 Wrathbone October 27, 2008 at 11:06 pm

I’m acting in a haunted house on campus this year. Plenty of kids and teens coming through, and I’m hiding behind a corner dressed as Killer Croc…

Anyone know the best way to get urine stains off a floor?

20 mutuelle July 3, 2009 at 4:55 am

I used to scare my neighbour’s daughter ,just by turns my eyes as they have blood ,isn’t amazin….LOL

21 Anthony July 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Last Halloween my house was set up with plenty of motion sensors that screamed whenever someone went by, or an extremely strong breeze. That made even parents scared to come to the door, as it was hard to tell that they were motion sensor. We also had a ghoul strung up on a wire, that went back and forth screaming on it whenever someone walked by. No effort on our part, but I think we took it to far. By the end of the night, most kids were simply bypassing our house ’cause they were to scared to walk up to it ROFL

22 mutuelle September 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

last halloween i took my 5 years old son to collect some sweets. it was in france where we live. can you imagine? almost no one had sweets to give to us! oh, those frenchies! they’re not gentlemen are they?

23 Mutuelle October 6, 2009 at 5:30 am

Yes in France halloween is not popular

24 comparatif October 6, 2009 at 6:22 am

Merci pour ce blog

25 defiscalisation October 21, 2009 at 7:57 am

it’s a pity that the french don’t enjoy halloween.

26 bob October 26, 2009 at 5:19 am

A couple of years ago while walking the kids around the neighborhood a guy jumped from behind a parked van and started a chainsaw. No blade of course.

27 billy peete October 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

The freeze frame is the best but don’t forget people tend to punch as a gut reaction. When I was younger my brother scared me as I was coming out of the bathroom one night. I hit him so hard the sheetrock cracked when he fell against the wall.

28 Defiscalisation October 27, 2009 at 3:34 am

Halloween is a strange celebration.

29 Rachat Credit October 27, 2009 at 3:36 am

Nice pictures!Looks pretty scaring!!!

30 Girl October 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Haha. In 2 days is Halloween and I just wanted to read these to get in that “Halloween Mood” =)

31 Jack November 5, 2009 at 8:32 am

One neato trick is to take the chain off your chainsaw and rev up.

32 frederik March 10, 2010 at 5:15 am

In 2 days is Halloween and I just wanted to read these to get in that “Halloween Mood

33 awesome July 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Kill a child by saying something like eat my penis butter

34 gagner August 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm

telling people to wrap up in a plastic bag is not the most responsible advice…

35 Ally September 26, 2012 at 5:23 am

I said to a kid hi Im bloody mary and they said no ur not and 2 hours later i went to ther house and they said hey lady and I said no bloody mary and they slammed the door in my face and when they wer in bed i went into ther room and the freaked it was sick!!!

36 Robert October 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

What I did was decorated a garbage can all scary and when the kids knocked on the door I would pop out of it in a scary frietening coustume.

37 Melody October 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

@ Greg, I always did cutesy for Halloween. Cute pumpkins, cute everything. A 5 year old little girl stood there, didn’t even say trick or treat, she hesitated for 5 seconds and said, “This isn’t very scary”! Laughing, I said, “It isn’t? “She stood there for another 5 seconds and said no, it’s not!” I gave her her candy and she walked away. OMG, My husband and I laughed so hard and after she left, jokingly I said, “oh ok, IT”S ON!!!! From that night on, I do scary. The kids love it and if a child is scared, the parents will let you know. I am very careful with the little ones. I don’t do gore…..YUCKY, I do SCAREY, one man effective haunts!!!!!!!!!! I’ll post a few of my One Man Haunts on here. I hope you like em! MAUHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

38 christina October 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Halloween is a great time of the year

so if you want to scare someone read this
step 1 ; when they come up to the door you will stand at the porch and wait till they come close
step 2 ; when they are about to knock on the door or ring the bell just put your hand on there shoulder and just stare at them and SCREAM
step 3 ; they should get really scared and run or walk away .

39 Adam October 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

One thing my friend and I are going to do in 3 days (Halloween) is at the middle of the night creep downstairs to my sisters room (She has the downstairs room) and scratching her door. just before she opens the door I would hide in the closet next to her room and she would go up to my room where my friend would be innocently playing on his IPad. She would ask her if he had seen me and he would say he thinks I went to the toilet. She comes back down and I am hiding in her room ready to jump out at her at the right time >:) that is a scare we made up ourselves

40 Matt October 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm

A few years back I waited on the front porch with a coffee can with a handful of change thrown in the bottom. I waited until people were almost on the porch and then shook the heck out of it. Probably dumb to do this as people were reaching the top step, but it worked out pretty well. People would hear it from up the street and become very wary coming up to our house. Some parents refused to approach and sent their kids up the steps alone. Those kids got extra candy : )

41 Mr. Killjoy November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Here’s a “scary” way to handle those teenage boys who are too old to trick or treat, but who do so anyway. I was at a party once with a veggie snack tray stationed by the front door. Little kids got a handful of candy from a nearby bowl, but the older kids got handfuls of broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots. That oughta teach ‘em…

42 Joe G November 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’ll always remember Halloween of 2010. I bought a professional Headless Butler costume to wear while answering my door bell when the kids came.
Well this little boy and his sister they couldn’t be more them 6 years old rang my door bell, and as I opened the door they looked at me and the little boy pushed his sister towards me and they both stood there frozen and started screaming.
I started laughing so hard I dropped the candy bowl and had to take the top of the costume off to show them that I wasn’t really a headless Butler. I didn’t wear it after that little episode.

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