Halloween is creeping around the corner. Having fun and getting spooky doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you plan it correctly. In this blog post, we’ll share some tricks on how you can treat yourself to an exciting day or evening of fun while still being able to celebrate Halloween on a budget.
The Cost of Halloween
Did you know that the average American spends roughly $90-$103 on Halloween? So, it is the most expensive non-gift giving holiday, but the numbers get scarier. Based on data from the National Retail Foundation in 2019, households spent an average of over $300 when considering decorations, candy, costumes, and pumpkins.*
From decorations to costumes, parties, and supplies, a single day could become a grueling nightmare for some people’s wallets (but it doesn’t have to be that way).
Tricks to Save on Halloween
Instead of digging yourself into a financial “grave” to have an exciting Halloween this year, consider the following tricks to help plan Halloween on a budget.
Of course, it’s hard to celebrate a holiday right without getting in the spirit (no pun intended) and decorating your home. However, decorations can end up costing a fortune. So instead, you can use everyday household items or create your decorations by infusing some creativity into the mix. For example, you can use old wine bottles and paint them to create candlesticks, blow up black balloons with unfurled wires to make a giant spider, or use black ribbon to create a witch-inspired wreath for your front door.
DIY Halloween Decorations on a Budget:
- Paper bats or ghosts to hang from the ceiling
- Mason jar lanterns with tea lights
- Toilet paper roll monsters
- Spooky silhouette cutouts for windows
- Orange and black streamers or balloons
When shopping for anything Halloween-related, avoid specialty holiday stores. Instead, shop at dollar stores or thrift stores for Halloween costumes and decorations. A good thing to look out for at thrift stores is glass bottles or jars, which you can fill with plastic spiders, eyeballs, or slime.
Inexpensive Halloween Party Ideas:
- Potluck-style party where guests bring a dish
- DIY photo booth with a simple backdrop and props
- Scavenger hunt using items you already have at home
- Pumpkin decorating contest (buy in bulk for a discount)
Free or Low-Cost Halloween Events Near Me
- Check local community centers or parks for organized events
- Look for haunted house tours or walks in your area
- Visit a pumpkin patch or corn maze (some may have free admission)
- Check for free or discounted events at local businesses or malls
Pumpkins, No Patch
While pumpkin patches can be a fun outing, they aren’t the most cost-efficient way to get your pumpkins for the big day. Local pumpkin farms sometimes charge more for pumpkins than grocery stores or even farmer’s markets. Also, they typically charge an entrance fee. And, once you’re inside, you could go down the rabbit hole and spend more on hayrides and corn mazes. So, if you’re looking to stick to a budget, it may be worth skipping the pumpkin patch this year.
Budget-Friendly Pumpkin Carving Tips:
- Use a simple template or stencil for your design
- Use a serrated knife or pumpkin carving tools
- Save and roast the pumpkin seeds for a snack
- Use battery-operated LED tea lights instead of real candles
Be sure to utilize coupons at grocery stores and wherever you may shop for materials for decorations. For example, the popular arts and crafts store Michaels often has coupons online (in their aptly named Coupons & Promos section) or in direct mail.* In addition, you can use coupon apps and direct coupons from stores or booklets like ValPak, Rakuten, and RetailMeNot.*
Affordable Halloween Treats and Snacks:
- Popcorn balls with a drizzle of melted chocolate
- Rice Krispie Treats shaped like pumpkins or ghosts
- Apple slices with caramel or chocolate dip
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips
How to Save Money on Halloween Candy:
- Buy in bulk at discount stores or online
- Look for sales and discounts at local supermarkets
- Use coupons or cash-back apps for additional savings
- Consider non-chocolate options which can be cheaper
Stock Up for Next Year
You may come across something you want, but it could be too expensive right now. Hold off on buying until after Halloween when it goes on sale. Focus on stocking up on generic decorations once they go on clearance. After Halloween has passed, it’s worth checking out the specialty stores at this point because they’ll be trying to clear out their inventory.
Rather than buying Halloween-specific decor like ghosts and goblins, consider choosing more Autumn decorations. For example, you can get a fall-inspired set that can be used for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Some ideas for this dual usage include autumn leaves, pumpkin-spiced candles, and dried corn stalks.
Where to Find Discounted Halloween Decorations:
- Dollar stores or discount stores often have a wide range of affordable decorations
- Check online marketplaces for second-hand or discounted items
- Look for post-Halloween clearance sales at retail stores
Ways to Make Homemade Halloween Costumes
A large portion of Halloween spending comes down to costumes. So, instead of buying costumes from the store, see if you can work on making one yourself. For example, consider Rosie the Riveter, which calls for a white tee shirt, red bandana, denim shirt, and jeans. Below are a few other ways you can make homemade Halloween costumes:
- Utilize clothing and accessories you already have
- Get creative with makeup or face paint for added effects
- Combine different clothing items to create a unique character
- Consider thrift stores for costume pieces
Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas:
- Classic sheet ghost
- Mummy (using old white fabric or toilet paper)
- Scarecrow (using old clothes and straw)
- Superhero with a homemade cape
- “Nerd” with taped glasses and suspenders
Creative and Cheap Halloween Makeup Ideas:
- Zombie makeup with tissue paper for texture
- Cat or animal makeup with eyeliner and face paint
- Sugar skull makeup with black and white face paint
- Vampire makeup with red lipstick for blood effects
Buy In Bulk
The closer you wait until Halloween, the cheaper the candy will become, but you can also save on candy when you choose to buy in bulk. Just make sure that the candy is individually wrapped, so it’s usable to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
Light It Up
Another way to set a mood on a budget is to use lighting to your advantage. For example, replace your front door’s lights with red bulbs for a frightening feel. Or, for Jack-o-Lanterns, you can use LED tea lights or glow sticks in different colors.
Be Financially Savvy, Not Scary
Halloween presents the opportunity to be whatever you want; while doing so, you can stick to being financially savvy. Although it’s easy to splurge or go over budget when you get in the zone, adequate planning and setting a limit in advance can help you avoid having to go down that scary path. Remember, creativity and resourcefulness can go a long way in creating a memorable Halloween experience without breaking the bank!
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