You can pretend it's all in good fun, and just an excuse for a middle-aged homeowner to act like a kid again. But that's not the real reason you decorate your house for Halloween. In reality it's a competition against your neighbors to see who can have the most kids timidly creeping up to ring their doorbell.
Make no bones about it, though, vying for Halloween supremacy isn't cheap. Between the props, special effects, and bowls of candy you'll be giving out, it could cost you thousands of dollars. But it's totally worth it. So here's everything you need for the best trick-or-treating house in the neighborhood, not including good weather.
Halloween without a jack-o-lantern is like Christmas without a Christmas tree. You just need to have one on your porch to be taken seriously tonight. And forget about just carving a toothy grin into your gourd, go the extra mile and grab some of these amazing stencils. They cover everything from traditional designs, to movie monsters, to superheros, and you don't need to be a Michelangelo to carve your own. $2-$20
There is nothing creepier than the unknown, so blanketing your front yard in a thick layer of fog will add to the suspense as trick-or-treaters creep towards your door. It also provides ample cover if you like scaring kids senseless by jumping out of the shadows. This unit can pump out 7,000 cubic feet of fog per minute, so in no time you might actually be able to spookify half of your neighborhood. $140
An actual lighting storm can put an end to your Halloween festivities, but a simulated squall can up the horror ante for any home. With a bright 1500 watt bulb and an adjustable rate that can be cranked as high as 12 flashes per second, you can dial in anything from a quiet spring to shower to a terrifying monsoon. $170
If you're really trying to sell the whole haunted house thing, you're going to need hit trick-or-treaters on every front. And while they might sound a bit cheesy, blaring one of these spooky sound effects albums is only going to make the Halloween experience more authentic. And as the sounds drift through the neighborhood, it can only help lure more trick-or-treaters to your home. $10
Nothing puts an end to Halloween fun faster than a kid who gets hurt on your property. So at some point during your spooky decorating you'll want to make sure there's actually an easy and well-lit way to get to your front door. Walkway safety lights might not sound particularly scary, but this set is shaped like glowing skulls. So kids won't realize they're actually there so you can avoid an expensive lawsuit should someone trip and fall. $23
When budgeting for your kick-ass Halloween decorations you'll want to set aside a sizeable chunk of change for props. Without a doubt they'll put your decor over the top, but don't get too carried away. This crawling zombie strikes a nice balance. It's moulded over a detailed cast resin skeleton so it looks incredibly lifelife, or undeadlike, and won't leave you with a credit card bill that will put a damper on Christmas. $400
But maybe you're lucky enough to not actually be hindered by a budget on Halloween. If it's the one time of year when you're happy to splurge then consider this amazing 20 foot tall gothic archway topped with a fully animatronic dragon. For safety sake it doesn't breathe fire, but it does spew forth warm fog and comes complete with sound effects. As an added bonus it will leave you with a ton of leftover candy because very few kids will be willing to venture past this. $19,100
What's that? Decorative lighting is only for Christmas? I'm afraid you're living in the past because flashing up your home for Halloween is becoming more and more popular. Particularly if you sync those thousands of little bulbs to music and let visitors tune into the music via an FM transmitter. On the downside you're guaranteed gridlock on your street the moment you turn on the show, but on the plus side if you capture it on video you can share your work with the entire world. DIY
Halloween is all about impressing the neighborhood kids, but do you really think they're going to remember the humorous puns on all the tombstones in your front yard? No. The candy is all they care about, so forget those bite-sized morsels of chocolate and just splurge on a few cases of full-sized candy bars. It's the easiest way to impress today's jilted youth, and it will guarantee your home avoids eggings and toilet paper attacks all night. $45 for 48 bars