Tricks & Treats: Planning Halloween on a Budget

Halloween is creeping around the corner. Having a fun and spooky holiday doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg, if you plan it correctly. We’ll share some tricks on how you can treat yourself to an exciting day or evening of fun while still being able to stick to a budget.

The Cost of Halloween

Did you know that the average American spends roughly $70 to $80 on Halloween? It ends up being one of the most expensive holidays of the year. In fact, the numbers can get scarier than that. Based on data from the National Retail Foundation in 2019, households spent an average of over $300 when taking into account decorations, candy, costumes, and pumpkins.

From decorations to costumes, parties and supplies, the single day could become a grueling nightmare for some people’s wallets (but it doesn’t have to be that way).

Planning Halloween on a Budget |

Tricks to Save on Halloween

Instead of digging yourself in a financial “grave” to have an exciting Halloween this year, consider the following tricks to help plan Halloween on a budget.

DIY Decorations

Of course, it’s hard to celebrate a holiday right without getting in the spirit (no pun intended) and decorating your place of residence. However, decorations can end up costing a fortune. Instead, you can use common household items or create your own 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.

Shop Wisely

When shopping for anything Halloween-related, avoid specialty holiday stores at all costs (literally). Instead, spend time shopping for your needs at dollar stores or thrift stores for discounted pricing. Aside from potential costumes, thrift stores may be a place where you can find someone’s used Halloween decorations from previous years. Another good thing to look out for at thrift stores are glass bottles or jars, of which you can fill with certain items (i.e. plastic spiders, eyeballs, or slime) for a Halloween feel.

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 charge more for pumpkins than grocery stores or even farmer’s markets sometimes. Plus, they typically also charge an entrance fee. And, once you’re inside, your kids could take you down the rabbit hole and cost you more on hayrides and corn mazes. So, if you’re looking to stick to a budget, it may be worth skipping over the pumpkin patch this year around.


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. Along with direct coupons from stores or coupon booklets like ValPak, you can take advantage of coupon apps. These include apps like Rakuten (where you can earn a percentage cash back from participating retailers) or RetailMeNot.

Stock Up for Next Year

You may come across something you really want, but it could be too expensive right now. Instead of losing all hope, practice patience and buy it after Halloween when it goes on sale for next year’s use. Alternatively, if you are unsure of your Halloween plans a year out (which is totally understandable), then 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.

Reusable Decor

Rather than buying Halloween specific decor like ghosts and goblins, consider choosing decorations that are more evergreen in nature. For example, you can get fall-inspired decor that can be used for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. Some ideas to accomplish this dual usage include: autumn leaves, pumpkin-spiced candles, and dried corn stalks.

Make Costumes

A large majority of Halloween spending comes down to costumes. Instead of buying costumes from the store, see if you can work on making one yourself. Whether you know how to sew or not, you can pull together apparel to make something out of nothing. Consider being Rosie the Riveter, which just calls for a white tee shirt, red bandana, denim shirt, and jeans. Or, another option is to use face paint to transform yourself into whatever you want to be.

Planning Halloween on a Budget |

Buy in Bulk

The closer you wait until Halloween, the cheaper the candy will become. This is also the case if you buy in bulk. But, when you are purchasing in bulk, make sure to check that the candy is individually wrapped so that it’s usable to hand out. Sweet deal, isn’t it?

Light It Up

Another way to set a mood on a budget is to use lighting to your advantage. For a frightening feel, replace your front door’s lights with red bulbs. 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 to be, and 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.

With the tips above and a little creativity, Halloween can be a holiday without any financial burdens.

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