It’s almost trick-or-treat time, and your home’s spooky ambiance is, well, anything but. Here’s how to quickly turn the gear you have laying around—like your TV, smart speakers, and smart bulbs—into some almost instant Halloween decorations and spooky ambiance.
Don’t Have Everything Listed Here? Don’t Sweat It
There’s a good chance you don’t have as much tech stuff lying around your house as we do. Not only is it our job to play around with this stuff, but for all of us on staff, it’s a bit of a lifestyle too.
So if you don’t have all the different bits and pieces lying around, don’t worry about it. Even a few of the items, used creatively and in concert, can yield a pretty big effect.
The big thing to remember is that you can get a lot of mileage out of liberating something from the regular place it’s parked in your home and temporarily using it for Halloween night or a party.
For example, you might have a smart speaker or smart display that sits in the kitchen all year long, but for Halloween, you can move it to serve up spooky sounds from a hidden location.
With that in mind, let’s dig in and look at some fun ways to take your everyday smart home tech and gear and give it a last-minute Halloween spin.
Smart Home Assistants Have Halloween Treats
If you use Alexa or Google Assistant around your home, one of the simplest ways to get a little spooky Halloween action going is to tap into their Halloween-centric features.
Between the two, Alexa has a wee bit more potential for Halloween thanks to the robustness and variety of the skills and routines the platform supports. And you’re certainly not out of luck if you have a Google-based home because Google Assistant has plenty of Halloween tricks too.
Even if you’re unwhelmed by the two platforms’ Halloween offerings though, keep reading because smart speakers are quite useful for Halloween, even if you’re rolling your own frights.
Smart Doorbells Often Have Spooky Chimes
If you have a Ring or Google Nest doorbell, pop into doorbell’s app and poke around in the chime menu. There you’ll find options to switch from the default chime to a spooky Halloween option, like howling werewolves or Dracula-inspired greetings.
In addition to custom chimes, depending on your smart home platform and devices, you could even temporarily set up the doorbell as a trigger for other smart home devices like lights.
Digital Projectors Are Pure Halloween Magic
Not everyone will have a digital projector lying around, but it’s almost criminal not to take advantage of it if you do. It’s using a projector to supercharge your Halloween is practically a Halloween cheat code. You don’t need a cutting-edge 4K projector with all the bells and whistles, even an old business-class projector will do the trick.
At the most elementary, you can use it to project spooky loops pulled off YouTube on the side of your house, or you can set it up in a darkened room (with the windows left open towards the street) and play loops of dancing ghosts or fire on the walls to give your house a haunted look.
If you want something a bit more sophisticated, you can snag some really slick loops from companies like AtmosFX. I’ve used their loops in different ways over the years and have always been impressed.
Whether you have a projector in your basement rec room or you can borrow one from the office for the night, there’s so much you can do with it. Seriously, you’re a few yards of tulle fabric away from being a Halloween legend in your neighborhood.
No Projector? Use Your TV
Firing up a digital projector to cast ethereal ghosts across your sheer drapes is definitely a dramatic and spooky effect. But if you don’t have a projector on hand, you can temporarily move your TV close to your window to great effect.
If you leave the window wide open with no sheer drapes or material to diffuse the TV, it will end up looking a lot like a TV just sitting in the window. But even putting something up like some cheap sheer fabric from the craft store or even some plastic paint drop cloth that has a milky semi-opaque appearance over the window will diffuse the image and make it spookier.
Draping the black netting (seen above) or the cottony fake spiderwebs found at stores around this time of year could do the trick too.
You can use loops off YouTube or some of the cool loops from AtmosFX—even though many of their loops are meant for projectors, plenty of them work great on TVs.
Smart Speakers Are Free and Portable Ambiance
Smart speakers are such an easy way to get music or sound effects anywhere you want. They’re small, easy to conceal, and perfect for hiding under a piece of furniture on your front porch or putting on a windowsill near the front door.
There are a plethora of scary Halloween ambiance tracks on YouTube, and most of the major music services like Spotify have playlists dedicated to just spooky sounds and ambiance. Tuck a speaker out of sight playing one of those playlists, and you’ll add just the right amount of spooky backtrack to the evening.
Amazon Echo (4th Generation)
The newest Echo has fantastic bass, which is just perfect for spooky Halloween sound effects and music.
Better yet, pair your Echo speakers in stereo mode (or do the same with your Google Nest speakers) and place a speaker on each side of your porch. Most of the spooky ambiance tracks are in stereo and the effect of the creaks or the whispers moving from one side of the porch to the other is pretty unsettling.
Smart Bulbs Really Help Set the Mood
At my house, I have a combination of Philips Hue bulbs in my exterior light fixtures and Govee floodlights in the front and backyard. They’re not just great for fine-tuned and automated exterior lighting, they’re fantastic for the holidays.
Philips Hue Color Bulb Starter Kit
If you're looking for an excuse to splurge on some premium color-changing bulbs, well Halloween seems as good as any!
On top of just changing the bulbs from a more neutral warm white to something a bit more seasonal like fiery red or rich orange, you can really lean into the dynamic effects smart light provides. Poke around the settings for your particular lights, and you’ll find all kinds of goodies.
Govee Outdoor Color Changing Floodlights
They're bright, they're colorful, and even when it's not a holiday you can throw a warm white light up across the front of your home.
Philips Hue lights support a “candlelight” mode that simulates fire—and you can do even more if you branch out into using third-party apps for Halloween effects. Govee has an extensive effects menu in their app that includes everything from Halloween color schemes to effects like fire and lighting flashes.
Many Govee light sets will sync to ambient sound using a small built-in microphone, and if you’re using your Philips Hue lights with Spotify (or have them synced to your TV or computer) you can pair the lights with the music for dynamic effects, too.
Smart Plugs and Sensors Make for Automated Scares
In our guide to incorporating your smart home tech into your Halloween decor, we talked about using sensors and smart outlets/plugs to automate Halloween scares.
If you already have some low-power motion sensors around that you’re using for things like automatically turning off the lights in the basement or such, now is a great time to repurpose them for the night.
Maybe you never thought about using them for anything else but making sure the basement or garage lights weren’t left on all night, but you can link the motion sensors to new tasks like flashing your smart bulbs or turning on a smart plug that controls a strobe light or spooky Halloween decoration.
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