It's the night of Halloween. Betty is watching scary movies and eating her favorite candy. The doorbell rings. Are Trick-Or-Treaters still out? Betty walks down the hall and opens her door to see another door standing directly in front of hers. Nobody else is around. It says, "Please Knock." Seems friendly enough. She knocks. The door opens, and behind are five grandmotherly and grandfatherly types with their own bowl of Halloween Candy. "Oh I love your costume," one says. "Oh look, dear, she's an adult for Halloween." "Here dear, take some candy, why don't ya?" They give Betty a handful of candy. Betty's heart is full. Betty's mind is blown.
Reverse Trick-Or-Treating is a beautiful idea and amazing internet collaboration. It was originally written about by user np312 online and made in to a comic by Doctor Popular. Inspired by the comic, I have Reverse Tricked or Treated for years now, it is the most fun I've ever had Trick-Or-Treating, including when I was 7 and ate 6 pounds of candy while staying up all night watching Aliens. You can set up your door in front of houses, restaurants, bar, or even on the sidewalk and wait for kids to knock on it. I wanted to add to the collaboration by sharing how to make the door set-up sturdy, fun, and easy to transport!
Get ready for a treat! And a trick!
Step 1: The Idea and Materials
Here is the original idea (used with permission from the artist Doctor Popular). To make the evening great, the main things I've tinkered with over the years are how to make the door sturdy, light, transportable, stand upright, and decorated. And now here's how to make yours!
- What: Reverse Trick Or Treating
- Why: infini-giggles
- Hollow door in frame (from a scrapyard)
- Door Knob
- Wood for structural support (1 x 4s, 2 x 2s, and other small pieces work great)
- Wood for stand (I used 3/4" ply)
- Screws (I used 22 in all, all about 1")
- 2 Handles
- 4 Washers
- Door Decorations (spider webs, a sign, plastic bugs)
- Bowl of Candy
- Black matte board (optional, for fold-out panels to surround people behind door)
- Wigs (optional)
- Hammer and Chisel (depending on door, see Step 4)
Step 2: Find a Door and Knob
I went to my local scrapyard and waded through their sea of doors. The ideal is to find a "hollow door" which means it is not solid wood. They're great because they're light and cheap. I found one in a rickety frame, with its hinges still in tact. If you can't, a simple door will do and you can build a loose frame around.
I also picked up a doorknob to put in, as most doors you find will have doorknobs removed.
Step 3: Install Your Doorknob
Every doorknob is different, and this is often a learning experience. If you haven't installed a doorknob before, check it out to see how it works. Start by fitting in the side plate, and then fitting the two knobs on either side. Screw in the plate, and then the knobs. Remember, every one is different, but here's an 'ible that covers the general idea.
Step 4: Make a Base Board
It is likely your door is just aching to fly out of it's frame. Start by strengthening the base by cutting a piece of 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 (depending on your frame width) so that you can insert it between the two frame sides. Due to the shape of my door, I also had to saw and chisel out a notch to make it fit snugly.
Step 5: Install the Base Board
Fit your base board under the threshold of your door, pre-drill, and screw it on in with at least two screws on each side. Your frame should already be feeling less wobbly.
Step 6: Make a Top Bar
The top bar is for keeping the door square and not bendy. Measure the inner width of your frame, and cut a piece of wood to length that seems sturdy. Pre-drill and screw it in on the sides. The door frame should be able to stand up now. Snazzy! Phantom door!
Step 7: Make Some Stands
To keep the door upright, I added two side supports. Measure how wide the frame is, and that will be the length of the top of a trapezoid shape. I made the bottom 12" to be wide but not so much that it becomes hard to carry. Take whatever size you have, pre-drill, and use four screws on each side of the base.
Make sure that the supports are flush with your base board to make sure there's no wobble.
Step 8: Handles and Wings (optional)
This step is optional, but I found pretty durn useful when moving around. I installed two handles on the side of the frame that has hinges. To do so, I used some old handles, and screwed them in with washers. This makes it easy for two people do carry the door on its side when going from house to house.
Additionally, you can add wings to your door so you can hide larger groups of people. I just use black matte board for mine with some Gorilla tape on the sides. This holds it to the door but also let it be flexible so I could fold it up for transport.
Step 9: Decorate!
It's important to add a sign that says, "Please Knock!" or else a lot of people will stand in front of your door confused. Screw it on so it can stay attached during transport . I also added on some fake spiderwebs, and when it gets closer to the day, will hot glue some plastic bugs as well. Cute bugs, though. :)
Step 10: Your Costumes!
Time to get all gussied up! I popped out some lenses in sunglasses, and ordered some wigs online to give a grandmaternal and grandpaternal feeling like in the original comic.
You can truly go with whatever you want behind that door, but the grandparent effect is pretty nice. Also, grab a bowl of candy and anything that you want to wear that says, "Welcome to our invisible home that you stumbled upon!"
Step 11: Reverse Trick or Treat!
You did it! It's time to go! Get out there and spread that mirth! Knock on doors and lie in wait! Head on up to houses and sidewalks alike, and get ready for a wonderful evening.
Included are some photos of version one from a couple years ago when we got ambushed by children on the sidewalk. I'll update it with photos from this year, but wanted to get this out there in time so everyone could make their own.
If all else fails, you could probably just bring a door around and people would love it, too. I can't wait to hear about what people do out there. This is just one of my favorite things ever.
Have fun filling tummies and blowing minds!