in: Family, People

• Last updated: June 2, 2021

8 Ways To Scare The Heck Out of Kids This Halloween

Vintage kids in costumes illustration.

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.


Halloween freeze frame pot in hands.

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”

Halloween man dressed up scary scarecrow trick.

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?”

Halloween pumpkin leaf bags.

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”


Halloween man coming out of coffin trick.

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”

Halloween man dressed as 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”

Addams family thing hand in box halloween trick.

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!!!!


Halloween basket of raisins and chocolates.

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

Pumpkin carving art of manliness john Sullivan.

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.

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