The Halloween 2020 Stay-At-Home Monster Hunt (For People With Kids and/or Kid-Minded Roommates)
We're not going to spend much time talking about why 2020 is one of the worst years a lot of people have ever experienced, but there's no ignoring the fact that this might be the first years that most recognized Halloween festivities will probably be cancelled, and frankly, they really should and need to be.
That doesn't mean Halloween itself has to be cancelled, however. In fact, it's always been pretty rare that I actually "go out" to enjoy it where there are any "other people," and it's still my favorite season. It still feels like something I get a whole lot of fun and enjoyment out of! My 2020 Halloween really isn't going to be a whole lot different for me!
What's much more disappointing is the fact that a lot of kids look forward to spooky-themed activities come October, and I know a lot of them who are going to feel absolutely crushed if they can't go Trick-or-Treating. So, for those of you living with children or just about anybody who gets as bored as children, I've got a proposal heavily expanded from a Halloween party idea I'm pretty sure I shared on here a long, long time ago. The basic idea is actually a lot like an Easter egg hunt, or maybe kind of like that ghastly Elf on the shelf, but it's better than both of those things because almost everyone likes monsters more than they like eggs, elves and even shelves put together. That's just a fact. As I elaborate, please also enjoy a series of Halloween DIY Tutorial videos, though I'll also be including a list of monster suggestions you can put together faster, cheaper and easier than any tutorial you'll be seeing.
The simplest version of the Monster Hunt is to have all of your monsters set up at once, which really just means decorate for Halloween. Anything that usually constitutes a Halloween decoration of a scary creature qualifies here, but you'll want to make sure some of them are harder to spot than others, even hidden completely. Just designate any convenient day, but hopefully pretty close to Halloween, for your participants to identify all the hidden monsters that they can. If there's more than one player, then there can obviously be a "winner" who found more of them than anyone else, but it doesn't even have to be a competition. It might even be a lot more fun, and less drama-prone if actual kids are involved, for the whole thing to be a team effort.
OPTION I: THE FREE-FOR-ALL MONSTER HUNT
And once the "main" hunt is over, there obviously needs to be some kind of ultimate or "boss" monster, which we'll get to later, because oh yeah, we're going to go over EVERY possible monster idea I can think of before this is done.
If you actually live with your participants long-term, and I should hope you're not throwing all the usual get-togethers and parties this year, there isn't any reason why the game should be limited to a particular day. Instead, you can go ahead and set up monsters at the start of the Halloween season or even continue setting more out over the course of October.
OPTION II: THE ONGOING MONSTER QUEST
One thing you could do here, or for really any version of this game, is have some kind of big container for the players to put any hidden monsters that they found. The Chest of Demons, the Ecto-Containment Unit, the Specimen Tank, whatever you feel like framing it as! You obviously deserve bonus points if you can scrounge up some sort of menacing-looking wooden trunk or toxic waste barrel to collect them in, but imprisoning the forces of the netherworld in an old laundry basket is pretty entertaining in its own right.
In an ongoing hunt, the eve of Halloween is the ideal deadline to count up every captured creature, and Halloween day is when their "master" shows up. Again, we'll get to that!
OPTION III: THE THIRTEEN DAY HAUNTINGThe final version of the monster hunt requires the most effort, but might feel like the most engaging and memorable for everyone involved. This is when you hide one or more new monsters each day, and designate a time by which they have to be found, such as midnight, or I guess whenever younger players need to get their asses into bed.
Each day of the event could come with a new "clue" of some sort. Maybe there's a vague hint or riddle about the monster on the refrigerator every morning, or maybe some mysterious entity keeps delivering cryptic hand-written monster descriptions and quests. You can spice this all up any way you want; I'm sure those of you who've ever DM'ed a roleplaying game have no shortage of ideas already.
The minimum for a day-to-day monster hunt should be thirteen monsters, starting October 19th to end on the 31st with your chosen boss event.
You know what every man, woman, child and technically most animals have enjoyed since the dawn of time? Looting a corpse. What fun is it to JUST figure out that there's a hobgoblin under the bed? There's gotta be some kind of reward!
If your monsters are "retrievable" in some way, you could designate a place for players to deposit any that they've found. A chest of demons, an ecto-containment unit, whatever! You obviously deserve major props if you can scrounge up a creepy-looking wooden trunk or anything that passes for a sci-fi specimen tank, but containing the forces of the netherworld in a garbage can or under a laundry basket is pretty entertaining in its own way.
You know what else is entertaining? Collecting only part of a monster. If your monsters are homemade or fashioned from stuffed Halloween costumes, you can easily ask that players only bring back their heads, or even dig around inside them for a prop heart, a rubber bug, something satisfyingly morbid that can feel like an "item pick-up."
At the end of the hunt, every captured (or mutilated) monster deserves some kind of payment. For instance, the kind of candy and fun trinkets that are otherwise going to go to waste since I know you're responsible enough to not send your kids collecting food from stranger's houses in a global pandemic.
Of course, if you really do have children playing, we all know you're going to give them all the goodies no matter how many monsters they found, you big fat softie. All that really matters is they feel like they earned it.
What I personally think made this idea worth sharing with you is how incredibly easy it actually is. Many of you were already going to decorate your house with a bunch of skeletons and vampires and giant spiders. Some of you were already going to build or purchase cool costumes and load up on treats to hand out. You might already have all the props you need for a monster hunt, so all you actually have to do is find more interesting, unusual places to put them that might require a little bit of sleuthing, and then there's the fact that even without expensive props or the more advanced tutorials I've shared so far, monsters can still be ridiculously easy, inexpensive, and fun to create yourself:
Any old clothes can hung up from strings or stuffed into shape. If you don't own any monster masks, you've basically just made an invisible or headless ghost!
A rubber mask alone can be a "living head," while a creepy glove can be a "zombie hand." To make these even freakier, they could have left a "blood trail" of red string or confetti to follow.
Cheap dolls of any kind can be posed somewhere and passed off as "haunted." A quick splash of black ink or paint will make them look instantly more monstrous.
Ordinary branchy sticks from outside can look like creepy limbs when attached to just about anything.
Large, cheap rubber bugs can be cut apart to mix and match with other figures or objects.
Likewise, try cutting up a dollar-store plastic skeleton or knockoff "Barbie" doll for parts. Swap their heads with one another or other toys to make all sorts of weirdness.
Prop eyeballs and teeth, even just cut from paper, can turn any object at all into a monster, which might even be fun enough as a dominant running theme; a house where appliances, potted plants, cereal boxes and just about anything else might have been taken over by a spirit.
For a surprisingly easy but especially memorable one, cut a creepy face into a cardboard box, put a strong light inside and aim it wherever you want a glowing face to appear. This could even be hidden in plain sight in a bright enough location, but revealed when the player realizes they have to turn the lights off, or slowly become more visible as the sun goes down!
There are many, many, many how-to's on the internet to make creepy creature food items. Now you could have a monster hiding in the refrigerator, and it can only be defeated by eating it.
A string and a pair of wings, cut from paper or from a cheap rubber bat, can turn any ordinary skull prop or other object into a flying demon! Maybe there's even a whole flock of them around? It could also be fun to hang them where they need to be knocked down with some kind of implement.
Never underestimate cardboard! Old boxes can be cut into monster shapes and painted or be place in a spotlight to cast a great shadow.
wrapping up black garbage bags in black tape can create all sorts of weird, ominous dark shapes, which can also be given "eyes" as simple as bits of bright foil or paper!
"BOSS" MONSTER IDEASSo what if you want the final monster to be something extra-special? Obviously this can be just about anything larger and more impressive or just more deeply hidden than the rest, but we've got a few special suggestions for you, too, all of which can even be combined together in various ways:
The final monster must be "summoned" by bringing together the right objects or some other ritual.
The final monster must be assembled from multiple hidden parts. Try breaking up a plastic skeleton, or scattering prop body organs in odd places.
A monster to be ripped apart or smashed like a pinata would be plenty of fun; try making a "scarecrow" by any typical method and packing it with candy, rubber bugs and other treats.
The monster is only "defeated" on the completion of a particular game or puzzle; even a few everyday store-bought puzzle toys or scary quiz questions can be passed off as a "ritual" to seal away an evil spirit.
YOU play the final monster, since there's only so much you can do with a costume this year, and you have to be "beaten" in some fashion. Maybe you'll want to make it appropriately creepy and spooky, some sort of "chess game against Death" kind of scenario, maybe you're the kind of person who won't mind encouraging a family to bash you around with pool noodles and bean bags, or hey, maybe the Blood God of the Dark Harvest thinks they're better than any mortal at Smash Brothers.
I'm not really so bold as to suggest an entire new holiday tradition or even really demand anybody do any of this; all I'm saying is that whatever some of you might have already been planning, it may require only slightly different effort to become some other, potentially even more memorable experience.
And if you don't live with anybody who would enjoy this kind of thing, I hope you'll enjoy a little of what I have planned for you here on the internet over the next few months. Just remember to STAY HOME!
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