Skip to main content

How to Get Into a Spooky Mood: 14 Scary Things to Do

Candace is a mom, mad scientist, and enthusiast of all things spooky. Needless to say, Halloween is her favorite holiday.

Can't wait for Halloween? Get ready to be spooked with these great ways to get in a spooky mood.

Can't wait for Halloween? Get ready to be spooked with these great ways to get in a spooky mood.

Getting Into a Spooky Mood

Most of us like a good scare. We like the feeling of being in the dark or hearing about the supernatural. But how do you get into a spooky mood? What are some scary things to do?

Lucky for you, there is plenty of horror, fright, thrills, and the otherworldly to be found right here. This article has 14 scary things to try with friends or even by yourself (if you like to be alone with your fears). Midnight is when the ghouls come out, so trying these ideas in the dark is definitely advised.

You are sure to find something frighteningly fun. Keep scrolling, if you dare . . .

Get Spooked: 14 Scary Things to Do

  1. Play Spooky Games in the Dark
  2. Read Some Frightening Tales
  3. Read Some Chilling Poems
  4. Watch a Scary Movie
  5. Spend Some Time in the Woods
  6. Research Terrifying Events and Places
  7. Create Photographic Apparitions
  8. Watch Some Scream-Worthy Shows
  9. Host a Midnight Tea Party
  10. Explore Superstitions and Urban Legends
  11. Host a Spine-Chilling Scavenger Hunt
  12. Confront Your Fears
  13. Host a Spooktacular Party
  14. Host a Murder Mystery Dinner

Before you get started tackling this list, it's important to set the stage. Read on to learn how to create a spooky atmosphere! Then you can try every item on this list to keep you in the spooky mood through October.

Before anything, it's important to set the mood. Try lighting a few candles in the dark!

Before anything, it's important to set the mood. Try lighting a few candles in the dark!

Setting the Eerie Mood

It's time to get spooky. Begin by setting the right eerie mood:

  1. Flick off the lights and light some candles. (You may want to do that in reverse order.) A trip to the hospital for a broken toe is a different type of spooky.
  2. Silence all phones, turn off the television and shut off all other noisy distractions. Just listen to the sounds your home makes. The creaky settling sounds can be unnerving, especially when you don't know what is making the sounds.
  3. Listen to your breathing. Can you hear your heart pumping in your chest? How is your mood now? A little more subdued, perhaps?
  4. Put on some haunting background music. Find something without words. Classical piano music works well. Note: You'll find mood music suggestions further along.
  5. Now you can begin the entertainment. Tell ghost stories and make up your own tales of terror or woe. Read gloomy poems or just whisper in the dark. Keep your voice low and soft until you come to the scary part, that is. Then, say it loud and jump at your audience. Hold a flashlight up to your mouth for effect. Don't rush the story—go slowly to enthrall the listeners.
  6. When you are out of stories, keep the spooky mood flowing with more dreadful ideas below.

Music to Scream to

Grab your laptop or computer and play the video below in the background while telling ghost stories. Be sure to use full-screen for the best effect.

You can also make a playlist of mood music on YouTube (there are tons if you search around). Underneath the video is an "add to" button with an arrow beside it. Click on the arrow, and you will see the playlist selection. Add the videos you want to your playlist.

1. Play Spooky Games in the Dark

Playing games in the dark is a thrilling way to get your heart racing and your adrenaline flowing. Some of the games can make you uneasy, especially when you are waiting in the dark. Some are just horrendously fun. You can play these basic games at night—the dark just makes them more challenging. Here are some ideas:

  • There is an Optical Illusion you can perform in the dark that makes people look headless. Stand about 25 feet away from someone. You'll want to be able to see their shape but unable to clearly make out their details. As you stand there staring at each other, your heads will look like they have disappeared.
  • Hide-and-Seek in the dark can be terrifying for both the hiders and the seeker. Imagine having to poke around in dark corners looking for someone . . . or being the person holding their breath in said corners.
  • Flashlight Tag is a great game to play at night. The person who is "it" tags the others by shining the light on them and calling their names.
  • Murder in the Dark is probably the most fun game to play at night in a group. Here's how it works:
    1. Find a decently sized room that you can completely darken.
    2. Cut out pieces of paper (one for each person playing). On one piece, write "Detective." Write "Murderer" on another. On all the rest, write "Victim."
    3. Everyone should draw a piece of paper from a pile.
    4. The detective turns off the lights and leaves the room.
    5. Everyone else walks around in the dark room. The murderer should feel around in the room to find a victim. When he does, he should tap the person three times. When someone is murdered, he should scream and lie down. The murderer can try to tap as many victims as he can before the lights come on.
    6. When someone screams, the detective should come back into the room and turn on the lights. Everyone in the room should freeze where they are. The detective tries to figure out who the murderer is by asking everyone questions. If he guesses correctly, he wins. If he is wrong, the murderer should reveal who he is and win.
    7. Put the slips of paper back into the pile and play again.

"Night was a very different matter. It was dense, thicker than the very walls, and it was empty, so black, so immense that within it you could brush against appalling things and feel roaming and prowling around a strange, mysterious horror."

— Guy de Maupassant

2. Read Some Frightening Tales

One of the best ways to get into a spooky mood when you are alone is to curl up with a scary book. Read at night when everyone else is fast asleep. Turn off the lights and use a flashlight to read. Snuggle under the covers and imagine all the monstrous things that could be lurking in the room with you, watching you as you flip the pages.

Here are some suggestions for great horror stories, ranging from those for young adults to vampire stories—pick your poison. All are great to read to set a spooky mood.

  • "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" by Stephen King
  • "Glass Houses" (The Morganville Vampires series) by Rachel Caine
  • "Riser" by Becca C. Smith
  • "Interview With the Vampire" by Anne Rice
  • "Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter)" by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories" retold by Alvin Schwartz. (Note: This one is great for the little ones or the younger crowd!)
  • "I'm Not Afraid Of This Haunted House" by Laurie Friedman and Teresa Murfin
  • "Waking Up Screaming: Haunting Tales of Terror" by H.P. Lovecraft
  • "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury

More Creepy Books: Free to Download!

There's no need to pay for thrills. These spooky classics (and many more( are available to download for free from Google Books. You know these stories, but have you read them? The old-fashioned language gives these novels a Gothic and dark flavor. Perfect for a dark and stormy night when the electricity is out.

  • Frankenstein
    Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley A tale about a monster brought to life and the consequences.
  • Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson A portrayal of a good and evil split personality.
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination
    Tales of Mystery and Imagination By Edgar Allen Poe Some of his most famous stories including: "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," and more.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow By Washington Irving A ghost story about a headless horseman.
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau
    The Island of Dr. Moreau By H. G. Wells A story about a Doctor who is experimenting with animals.

"There are horrors beyond life's edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man's evil prying calls them just within our range."

— H.P. Lovecraft

3. Read Some Chilling Poems

Here are a couple of good poems to get you into a shivering state of mind:

  • "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "The Haunted Oak" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • "The Little Green Orchard" by Walter de La Mare

They are best read in the woods alone at night or by candlelight on a moonless eve.

Poems can make you feel melancholy when you read them. The key to making them sound spooky when you read them aloud is to speak slowly. Use a soft tone. Use pauses for emphasis.

Be sure to read the poem to yourself and practice before you read it to an audience. Look up any words you don't know. Think about what the poet is trying to express. Try to make that emotion clear as you read it to others.

I've also included two of my favorite, bone-chilling poems below for you to read!

"Night Wind" by Eugene Field

Have you ever heard the wind go "Yooooo"?

'Tis a pitiful sound to hear!

It seems to chill you through and through

With a strange and speechless fear.

'Tis the voice of the night that broods outside

When folk should be asleep,

And many and many's the time I've cried

To the darkness brooding far and wide Over the land and the deep:

"Whom do you want, O lonely night,

That you wail the long hours through?"

And the night would say in its ghostly way:

"Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!"

My mother told me long ago

(When I was a little tad)

That when the night went wailing so,

Somebody had been bad;

And then, when I was snug in bed,

Whither I had been sent,

With the blankets pulled up round my head,

I'd think of what my mother'd said,

And wonder what boy she meant!

And "Who's been bad to-day?"

I'd ask Of the wind that hoarsely blew;

And the voice would say in its meaningful way:

"Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!"

That this was true I must allow--

You'll not believe it, though!

Yes, though I'm quite a model now,

I was not always so.

And if you doubt what things I say,

Suppose you make the test;

Suppose, when you've been bad some day

And up to bed are sent away

From mother and the rest--

Suppose you ask, "Who has been bad?"

And then you'll hear what's true;

For the wind will moan in its ruefulest tone:

"Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo! Yoooooooo!"

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before."

— Edgar Allan Poe

"Spleen" by Charles Baudelaire

When low skies weightier than a coffin-lid

cast on the moaning soul their weary blight,

and from the whole horizon's murky grid

its grey light drips more dismal than the night;

When earth's a dungeon damp whose chill appalls,

in which—a fluttering bat—my Hope, alone

buffets with timid wing the mouldering walls

and beats her head against the dome of stone;

When close as prison-bars, from overhead,

the clouds let fall the curtain of the rains,

and voiceless hordes of spiders come, to spread

their infamous cobwebs through our darkened brains,

Explosively the bells begin to ring,

hurling their frightful clangour toward the sky,

as homeless spirits lost and wandering

might raise their indefatigable cry;

And ancient hearses through my soul advance

muffled and slow; my Hope, now pitiful,

weeps her defeat, and conquering Anguish plants

his great black banner on my cowering skull.

"Weather forecast for tonight: dark."

— George Carlin

4. Watch a Scary Movie

Sometimes the easiest way to give yourself a fright is to pop in a movie. Scary movies are a classic spooky mood setter! Be sure that your home is really dark. Huddle close on the couch. During an intense, quiet moment, jump and yell "Eek!" very loudly. Once everyone's hearts have settled back down, finish the movie.

Movies for Big Pumpkins

These are not meant for the little pumpkins. So wait till it gets really late to watch these.

  • The Ring
  • Paranormal Activity 2
  • The Thing
  • Fright Night

Not-Too-Scary Movies for Little Pumpkins

  • Hocus Pocus
  • Monster House

"Listen to the night wind as it whispers your name,

It is calling.

Watch as leaves dance like tongues of flame,

It is calling.

Feel a chill rattle through your frame,

It is almost here."

— -

5. Spend Some Time in the Woods

How many scary stories take place in the woods? Anytime a character enters a dark forest, you know something terrible is about to happen.

If you are in the mood for a good scare, head out to the woods. Go near dusk. Watch as the shadows grow longer and darkness descends on the trees. Notice how dark it is and how little you can see through the trees.

Listen to all of the nighttime forest sounds. Branches moving and snapping. Animals rustling in the leaves. Owls hooting. The wind blowing in the canopy.

Imagine all the creepy, ghoulish things that could be hiding in the trees. Yes. The woods are the best place for a scary setting.

What is lurking around in the dark, dark woods?

What is lurking around in the dark, dark woods?

Seven Frightening Things to Do in the Woods

These activities are best done in the dark for the optimal fright factor. Remember, the dark seems more intense in the woods, where there are no lights or other people.

  1. Go for a nighttime walk.
  2. Tell ghost stories.
  3. Watch a scary movie.
  4. Have a late-night picnic.
  5. Camp out for the night.
  6. Look for owls and bats.
  7. Play hide and seek in the trees.

Haunted Forest

The cool thing about the video above is that it uses a 3D sound illusion called "Holophonic." When you listen with headphones on, you can hear the sound illusion. It'll definitely creep you out.

"The streets were dark with something more than night."

— Raymond Chandler

6. Research Terrifying Events and Places

Another way to be unnerved is to go somewhere with an otherworldly reputation. During the fall, there are bunches of haunted attractions to be found. Haunted houses and other haunted places will give you an adrenaline rush for sure. Here are a few places you should check out:

  • Some of the more low-key seasonal attractions can be a more subtle type of scary that settles deeper under your skin. Go to a corn maze or on a hayride on a night when there are very few other people there. The middle of the week, near closing time, is typically the best time. Go alone or with a small group. Wander around in the maze lost and in the dark, and an eerie feeling will start to creep over you. Just hope you make it out before everyone else goes home for the night!
  • Visit a local place that is known for being haunted. See if you can find any ghosts. Listen for interference on electronic equipment.
  • Many towns offer ghost walks where a local guide will take you around to supposedly haunted spots and give you some local lore and legend.
  • Nighttime carriage rides through deserted parts of town can make you somber as well.
  • Go caving in a natural cave. Dark caverns, bats, eerie sounds, echoes, being below the surface--what could be a spookier place. Stop periodically and turn out the lights. Have you experienced more intense darkness? Be sure to go with an experienced guide.
  • If it is a warm night, go for a midnight swim in a lake. When the water is dark and murky, you won't be able to see who or what is swimming with you.

7. Create Photographic Apparitions

Taking pictures of creepy things can turn your outlook grimmer. Take pictures of shadows or of the forest at night. Go do a photo shoot in the cemetery.

Or, do some editing to your photos using a site like You can give yourself red vampire eyes or give the picture a spooky fog effect. Turn even a sunny day dismal and gray with a few clicks.

Make fake ghost pictures using camera tricks found in the links below. Then you can tell everyone your house is haunted, and you have proof. Be sure to make up a thrilling ghost story to go along with your photos.

How to Make Fake Ghost Photos

Is it possible to photograph a ghost? Taking a fake ghost photo is a fun project for those with interest in photography.

"One need not be a chamber to be haunted;

One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing

Material place."

— Emily Dickinson

8. Watch Some Scream-Worthy Shows

The seven shows below are rated according to the number of hairs they will raise, from kid-friendly to adult eyes only.

  1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  2. The Twilight Zone
  3. Unsolved Mysteries
  4. X-Files
  5. Supernatural
  6. Tales from the Crypt
  7. American Horror Story

"A good many things go around in the dark besides Santa Claus."

— Herbert Hoover

"My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane."

— Robert Frost

9. Host a Midnight Tea Party

Invite guests over for tea. Have them arrive at midnight to take advantage of the prime harrowing hours of the night. Serve a dark brew and finger snacks. It would be even creepier if the snacks were actually finger-shaped. Black is definitely the color of choice for the serverware.

"The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy. The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if it lacked the courage to rise, and the rain came slowly and doggedly down, as if it had not even the spirit to pour."

— Charles Dickens

Black cats are notoriously associated with bad luck.

Black cats are notoriously associated with bad luck.

10. Explore Superstitions and Urban Legends

Superstitions and urban legends can be mysterious. Read up on superstitions. Then go out and tempt fate by breaking them. Step on cracks, open umbrellas inside and line up ladders to walk under. If you are the superstitious type, you will be a puddle of fright by the time you are done. Be sure to keep an eye out for bad luck afterward.

Look into urban legends. Read about lore you may not be familiar with. For example, have you heard of the slender man legend? The internet is full of urban legends and myths. See if you can find any urban legends specific to your area. You are bound to come across an urban legend that will keep you awake at night.

"The moon suffocates

In ominous clouds

Shut off the lights

Heartbeats too loud."

— Charles Audette

11. Host a Spine-Chilling Scavenger Hunt

Go on a gothic-themed scavenger hunt. Make up a list of things that have to do with death. Like a gravestone with a "Q" in the name or a casket. Have each group take a picture of each of the items they find.

Or you can send the groups on a hunt in scary places. Have them take a picture hugging a tree in the middle of the woods or the front porch of a local "haunted house."

You can leave clues in creepy places like the back door of an abandoned building. Make your friends go on the hunt at night. It will make the search harder.

"We thought we could hear screams, but for all we knew, that have meant those things were in the house after her."

— Night of the Living Dead

12. Confront Your Fears

Many people like being scared. Wonder why? Fear is largely a physical response. When a person becomes afraid, chemicals like adrenaline start pumping through the body. These can make you feel exhilarated. The buildup of tension and then its eventual release can be emotionally cleansing.

Facing make-believe frights can help you overcome the things that really make your blood curdle. Then, when you are ready, you can confront those fears with confidence.

Prepare to conquer your fears by facing make-believe frights  first.

Prepare to conquer your fears by facing make-believe frights first.

Think about what scares you. One way to overcome fear is to submerge yourself in the thing that frightens you. Figure out why it frightens you. After you have faced it successfully often enough, it will eventually lose its power to terrify you.

Another way to confront fears is to think about nightmares. Dreams are usually a key to understanding the problems boiling in your brain. Get together with a group of friends and compare your worst nightmares. Hash them out. What is it that scared you? How does it relate to real life? What can you do about the problem?

Seven Oddest Fears

Where do your fears rank? Are they on this list of strange fears? Or are your fears even more bizarre?

  1. Consecotaleophobia: Fear of chopsticks.
  2. Dextrophobia: Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
  3. Geniophobia: Fear of chins.
  4. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia: Fear of the number 666.
  5. Kathisophobia: Fear of sitting down.
  6. Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons.
  7. Pteronophobia: Fear of being tickled by feathers.

"There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on."

— Rod Serling

13. Host a Spooktacular Party

Parties are an excellent way to create a spooky vibe. Throw a party with a creepy theme to get your guests in the right mood.

Dressing up in a creepy costume will instantly put you in the party mood. When you look the part, you feel the part.

Be sure to have plenty of horrid party refreshments and plan a few activities to get everyone in the spirit of the event. Enjoy the party and have a fearsomely good time. For inspiration, check out these scary party theme ideas:

  • Crime Scene: Think of shows like CSI. Draw chalk outlines and hang crime scene tape. Decorate with body parts. Put evidence stickers around the refreshments. Dust baby powder around strategically and put fingerprints in it.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Decorate with plenty of zombie props. Get body part molds and make gory-looking body parts. Brain molds are a must. Play zombie movies during the party.
  • Glow in the Dark: You will need several black lights. Get glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark bubbles. Tonic water glows in the dark, so serve it to guests.
  • Graveyard/Catacombs: Tell guests they will be sitting up with the dead. Use graveyard and skeleton props. Tombstones, chains, and bones should be placed everywhere. Ghosts, zombies, mummies, and anything else undead can be used as well.
  • Fear Factor: Remember the reality show? You will need bugs and other gross props. Get candy bugs to serve. Set up stunts for the guests to try. Like, dare them to walk on "glass." Have each guest walk blindfolded one at a time over crumpled chips.
  • Creatures of the Night: Vampires, witches, werewolves, and monsters all roam around in the night. Use fake blood and other gory props. Decorate with coffins and bats.
  • Dark Carnival: Creepy clowns are a must. Have a hall of mirrors and carnival rats. Serve caramel apples with gummy worms. Have freakish exhibits like a brain in a jar.
  • Gothic Castle: Have a Victorian or medieval theme. It can even be a masquerade. Use candelabras as lighting. Decorate with black flowers. Set up an apothecary with potions and poison bottles.
  • Arachnophobia: You will need lots of spiderwebs and fake spiders. Find spiders of all sizes. Place bugs in the webs. Wrap some of the bugs in the web. Hang giant egg sacks everywhere.
  • Nightmares: Incorporate some of the most common nightmares (monsters, creepy clowns, teeth falling out) into the decorations. Freddy Krueger and Nightmare Before Christmas and other movies with "nightmare" or "dream" in the title can also be used. Have the guests come dressed as their worst nightmare or kookiest dream.
  • B Movie: Bloody body parts are good decorations for this theme as well. Bloody knives, chainsaws, and other horror movie weapons can be strategically placed. Movie props such as Jason's mask are other things to incorporate.
  • Spooky Laboratory: Hazmat signs, caution signs, and caution tape can be used as decorations. Pour slime on the table. Use beakers and test tubes for the drinks.
  • Twisted Fairy Tales/Nursery Rhymes: Use fairy tale decorations and add more blood and gore. Big bad wolves, wicked witches, dragons, and other creatures work as costumes. Serve poison apples and maimed gingerbread men.
  • Roswell: Alien decorations, stars and planets, and green goo can be used as props. Strategically place crashed alien ships. Get body bags for dead alien bodies.

14. Host a Murder Mystery Dinner

What's more morbid than eating dinner while someone is murdered? Invite your dearest friends over and then knock one of them off (not literally, of course). Grab a murder mystery kit that will help you plan the crime without investing too much time.

Get Spooked

What spooked you the most in this article? What made you shiver and quake? Do you have the nerve to share? I hope this article has inspired you to get into a spooky mood for Halloween or any other occasion.

*Warning* Scary Car Commercial

I have an eerie feeling that you want to tell me something . . . leave a comment below!

Madelaine brule on July 31, 2018:

I love all of this and it`s exactly what I was going to publish at some point. I am a bit obsessed with Halloween and ghosts.

Samantha on November 25, 2017:

Murder in the dark is a great game to play, until you fall over your friends or the fall on you in the dark hahaha

Krista on April 02, 2017:

So cool i am going to try these with my friends at school

Maury on July 30, 2016:

Love horror stuff creeps me out but I still love it

SavannahD on October 29, 2014:

Cool!!! I wanna play Murder in the dark!!!

CHFF2K13 on October 27, 2013:

Good and nice info. Many people are scare from ghosts and darkness.

sierradawn lm on September 28, 2013:

I think that you have created here, the best Halloween lens on Squidoo!

Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on September 06, 2013:

Wow, very creative, I love all these spooky stuff!

WriterJanis2 on August 21, 2013:

I really want to try the Murder in the Dark game.

anonymous on April 11, 2013:

It needs to be more scary but that was good

Candace Bacon (author) from Mad Laboratories on October 27, 2011:

@APackageAtTheDoor: Thanks! I used to play it with my cousins. When you are young, it can be very spooky. Happy Halloween!

Candace Bacon (author) from Mad Laboratories on October 27, 2011:

@cuteordeath: Thanks! Spooky is my specialty. Have a Happy Halloween!

cuteordeath on October 27, 2011:

GREAT lens! I love all these ideas!

APackageAtTheDoor on October 27, 2011:

I remember playing hide and go seek in the house in the dark. Fun!

Great lens, lots of good stuff here.