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Ghost Photography

This is a fun activity for guests who don't like games or for the group's shutterbug. In a separate room, dress up a dimly lit area with a few props and some blacklight. Set up a tripod with a good camera (sorry camera phones won't work for this) and compose the image. Mark an "X" with low-tack blue painter's tape to let them know where to stand. Set the camera for a long exposure (at least 8 seconds), small aperture (F8 or so depending on the available light), and low ISO (100) without using the flash. (Every camera is different so consult your manual.)

The subject will have to hold perfectly still for 4 seconds then immediately move out of the frame. (Use the classic flashlight in the face for a more dramatic effect.) The photo results in transparency and lighter colors turn into ghost trails.

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

In a quiet, dark room lit only with a couple candles, chose a victim to lie flat on the floor, eyes closed. The viewers surround the victim, each placing two fingertips underneath the victim's body. The person closest to the head begins by saying "She's looking ill," which the others repeat, then "she's looking worse" is spoken and repeated back. The general direction of the call-and-repeat describes how the victim is looking worse and worse, followed by saying "she is dying," and, finally, "she is dead." Then the victim is told a story about their death and asked to imagine it happening to him or her. It serves the dual purpose of "freaking out" the participants and convinces them that it will be easier to lift this person. Then the phrase "light as a feather, stiff as a board" is chanted by all the viewers as they attempt to lift their companion's body using only their fingertips. After these repetitions, the victim will seem lighter or even entirely weightless. Read more.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary is a ghost from American folklore that often appears in mirrors when summoned. Some say her real name is Mary Worth. Some say she was a crazy woman who killed her children, and others believe it is the infamous Bell Witch.

In a dark, isolated room, hold a white candle near a mirror. Stare into the reflection of your own eyes – no blinking or looking elsewhere. Then dare to call Bloody Mary three times. She may appear behind you or in the corners of the mirror. NEVER EVER stop staring into your own eyes and NEVER look directly at her. To end the game, blow the candle out and walk away from the mirror.

Tarot Reader

Enlist the services of a professional tarot reader, sometimes called a medium, for an unforgettable activity at your Halloween party.

Booking a medium at this time of the year may be difficult so plan early. Consult with the medium in advance, and she will let you know how many readings she can comfortably complete in an hour or two. If the number of guests exceeds the number of readings, hold a raffle to determine the participants.

You can find mediums online at MediumFind.Net, on Craigslist under the Services/Events" banner, the back pages of local entertainment newszines, or in the Yellow Pages (look under "psychics"). Inevitably in any group of friends, someone is bound to be a tarot reader.

Seven Minutes in Hell

This game is best for those guests with wild imaginations who actually want to participate (otherwise it's probably considered abduction)! Blindfold one person, put tape on their mouth (painters blue tape comes off easily), tie them (gently) to a chair in a basement or attic. Then turn off the lights and start the countdown. Have a creepy soundtrack or sound effects playing loudly. You can also hang body parts, thin streamers, or other things that will feel creepy in the dark once the victim tries to get loose and run (make sure to move all furniture where one can stumble). The trick is to send an accomplice or two into the dark place ahead of time. That person can throw beans, make noises, or shift items at very random intervals during the persons seven minutes in hell.

Pumpkin Carving Contest

Gather the artists at an outdoors table (or garage) and set up three pumpkins. Allow them 30 minutes (or so) to carve the best pumpkin, and let the guests decide on the winner. Have pumpkin related prize for the winner such as a pumpkin cookbook, or pumpkin scented candle.

Use only the "kid-friendly" carving kits, since drinking and sharp tools don't mix. Schedule this event earlier in the party and use the pumpkins to decorate the buffet table. And make sure participants don't feel too rushed or they may suffer a bloody injury.

Bobbing for Apples

The seemingly timeless game of bobbing for apples originates from the rituals to appease the Roman goddess Pomona (autumn apples were believed to be associated with fertility and marriage).

Remove stems from apples and place in large tub of icy cold water. A participant dunks his head in trying to bite an apple. This may seem easy, but believe me, it's very difficult. Large apples makes the game more challenging.

In our current oversanitized society, this "communal" activity may no longer seem appetizing. If you prefer, hang an apple from a string and attach it to a sturdy pole. Have one participant maneuver the pole and one trying to bite the apple.

Scary Stories

Everyone has a spooky tale to tell about some haunted place they've been or heard of. Ask guests to come prepared with their scariest stories and take turns with the tales. To encourage participation, offer a prize for the scariest story.

Play soft scary sound effects in the background (wind or a turbulent storm is good), and keep the lights low. Make sure to give focus to one storyteller at a time and keep hecklers at bay, or the guest may not want to divulge the scariest details.

If a participant is not good at telling stories ask them questions about the event, making sure to emphasize the emotions they felt at the time. Some people may not remember too many specific details, but they will recall the impact of a frightful event.

Costume Contest

For your costume contest make sure to state on your invitation what the criteria is (most original, best interpretation of the theme, etc.) and what the prizes are (make them good to increase participation).

Set up an area for voting including ballots, pencils, and a container for placing the votes. Threaten no more booze for cheaters. Before counting the ballots, circulate and allow the guests one final chance to vote.

It's easiest to have one category and three prizes: first place, runner-up, and judge's favorite (which gives you a chance to recognize a creative but perhaps less popular costume).

Séance*

A séance is an attempt to communicate with the dead, sometimes with a medium or psychic leading the activity.

Sequester a small group of willing participants and sit around a small table, with a white candle placed at the center. Keep the noise to a bare minimum and turn off all lights. While holding hands and focusing on the flame, concentrate and call forth the spirits. State that spirits are not allowed to cause any harm to participants, then ask a question or ask for a sign of their presence. Quiet, calm, and patience will bring an answer from the other side.

Read Stephen Wagner's article How to Conduct a Seance for additional rules and always make sure to end a session respectfully.

Ouija Board*

Retreat to a quiet, dark room with a limited number of players and no onlookers for the best response. The board should be placed on a small table where the forearm can be comfortably held at a 90º angle.

Under the glow of a single white candle, have participants put their fingertips on the planchet and concentrate on a question. Summon the spirits and first ask a simple question (like how many people are in the room). Talk calmly and evenly, and make sure all participants remain in the moment. It may take a while to get a response so take time to clear your mind, and mediate quietly while awaiting an arrival.

Make sure to read Stephen Wagner's article How to Use a Ouija Board for additional rules and always make sure to close a session properly.

Ganzfeld Experiment*

This activity is best for the after party when it's late at night and you need to relax a little.

This experiment reproduces sensory deprivation while in a fully aware state, thus allowing the veil between our world and the other side to weaken.

Sit in a relaxed position in a comfortable chair. Don't lay down or you may actually fall asleep. Affix halved ping pong balls over the eyes with medical tape or Band-Aid. You'll need to shine a red light directly into the face throughout the experiment and you must keep your eyes open. Put on headphones and play white noise at a level to block out other ambient noise. Relax in this state for 15-30 minutes. You may begin to see other beings come into focus while in this meditative state. Come out of it slowly and steady no matter how scared you are.

*WARNING: Paranormal experts have asked us to advise readers that playing with the supernatural "should not be taken lightly as it may unintentionally open doors to the paranormal that may be difficult to close. What seems like a parlor game can lead to everything from hauntings to possessions." Proceed at your own risk. Back to Eerie Parties