Halloween is the “kick-off” holiday that starts us rolling all the way to the end of the year. While most people plan ahead and budget for Thanksgiving and Christmas, many people don’t think about Halloween savings, despite expenses stacking up quickly ahead of October 31st. In fact, the National Retail Federation’s annual survey found that Americans spend a scary amount of money on Halloween – over $9 billion to be exact.
That means the average family is shelling out $86.79 for costumes, candy, pumpkins and decor. Fortunately, however, Halloween is a holiday that really lends itself to embracing the DIY spirit. That in turn can lead to considerable saving with many of the most unique costumes and decor ideas coming from a bit of creative ingenuity, as well as providing the chance for you and your family to get creative.
Many dollar stores carry carvable foam pumpkins and plastic jack-o-lantern buckets. Both can be lit with inexpensive flameless LED candles, giving you a pumpkin-based Halloween décor, surely an essential, that is both affordable and reusable. But if you love the tradition of carving, fear not, there are still ways to stretch your dollars. One is saving the seeds and toasting them for a great Halloween snack. And remember, when purchasing your pumpkins, look for specialist farms or local farmer’s markets over grocery stores for the best prices.
Unfortunately, sometimes pumpkins can be prohibitively expensive after a bad harvest. But luminaries are a simple DIY alternative that look great. Look for tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube. Papier-mache pumpkins are also a messy, fun project that young kids will love.
You’ll also need tools. Pumpkin carving safety tools are not usually very expensive, however, if you wait until right after Halloween, they can be purchased on clearance and put away for the following year. That said, the safety tools can be prone to breaking, so be sure to stock up on an extra set if you find them on sale. Other items to seek out on post-holiday clearance are plates, napkins, costumes and decor items. If it isn’t perishable, buy it.
Construction paper cut-outs are simple and super cheap! Use them to create spooky faces on doors, eyes in windows and bats that can hang from the ceiling. Paper crafts are simple DIY’s that even very young kids can participate in and enjoy. If you visit flea markets and thrift stores, keep an eye out for items you can spray paint or repurpose for spooky decor. Items that are particularly worth considering include candlesticks, picture frames, old hardcover books and glass bottles. A quick Pinterest search for upcycled Halloween decor will return hundreds of ideas. And there is a good chance that you already have items at home that can be repurposed.
Set up a costume exchange or swap meet with a group. Costumes are very expensive, but they also don’t tend to get too much wear and tear in just one evening, making exchanges a great way to get a free like-new costume and prevent waste. If you can’t find or start an exchange group, seek out thrift stores first. The prices will be lower.
Better yet, create a homemade costume using items you already have or ideally can reuse. Pinterest is again a go-to for homemade costume ideas. In any event, the most memorable costumes tend to be the ones we create. Store-bought costumes are a dime a dozen, homemade is truly original and memorable, particularly for teens and young adults who might be attending a Halloween party.
Candy gets more expensive year after year, particularly chocolate. If you usually get a large number of trick-or-treaters, buying your candy in bulk is the way to go. Warehouse clubs like Sam’s and Costco have large boxes of candy for under $20. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, there are invariably good deals to be found there as well. You can also order bulk candy by the piece online. Oriental Trading Company has excellent prices on 1,000-piece candy assortments that include tootsie rolls, smarties and other well-known candies.
They are also a great resource for non-sweet treats like glow sticks, pencils, stickers, and other small party favors, as well as offering free delivery for orders over a certain price. But make sure to carefully consider the number of trick-or-treaters you are expecting when making purchases. If you don’t get many, purchasing in bulk, even though it’s cheaper, may not be the best alternative if you’re left with a pile of candy you may, but probably shouldn’t eat.