How to Save Money on Halloween

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Halloween spending is increasing at a frightening pace. In fact, this year, American shoppers are expected to spend a total of $7.4 billion for the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation.

However you plan on celebrating, there are ways to save money while still having a ghoulishly good time.

For trick-or-treaters:

The exact origins of trick-or-treating are hard to pinpoint. But it’s generally thought to have started in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, when the poor would dress up and visit the homes of the rich, accepting “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers. Nowadays, between picking costumes and buying candy, going door-to-door is a more elaborate—and expensive—tradition.

  • Make your own costumes. With DIY blogs aplenty, you don’t have to look far for low-cost costume ideas.
  • Shop secondhand for supplies. For some of the lowest priced materials for your disguise, shop at thrift stores.
  • Use a pillowcase for your loot. You don’t need to spend extra on a bag for candy. Go old school and use a pillowcase instead. Your child will appreciate the extra storage.
  • Stay in your neighborhood. Skip the theme parks and fairs this year and take a trip around the block. Keeping the festivities local will help you save on gas, admission and refreshments.

For partygoers and hosts:

The NRF estimates adults will spend $1.4 billion on their costumes in 2014. And though the average per-person cost for the festivities will be around $78, there are ways to save.

  • Get creative with your costume. Homemade costumes aren’t just for kids. Pinterest will be a source of costume ideas for more than one in every five young adults this year.
  • Share the costs. Ask guests to bring a dish or beverage rather than providing food and drink for everyone.
  • Shop discount stores. You’ll spend far less on party décor if you comparison-shop online or at local party supply stores. Setting a creepy ambience doesn’t have to break the bank with affordable decorations, like low lighting, black balloons, candles and fake cobwebs.
  • Roast pumpkin seeds. Not only do pumpkins make for great decorations, you can roast the seeds for guests to munch on.
  • Consider celebrating from home. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that on Halloween night in 2012, nearly half of all motor vehicle deaths involved a drunken driver. But even if you avoid getting in an accident, a drunken driving arrest will cost you. Whether you’re hosting or out partying, arrange for designated drivers or taxis.

Staying home?

If you’re among the approximately 70% of adults planning on handing out candy on Halloween night, you don’t have to break the bank to keep the neighborhood kids happy. You can even decorate your house on a budget.

  • Buy candy in bulk. No matter what variety of sweets you prefer to give out, consider shopping for them at a discount grocer or bulk candy shop. Just remember to purchase individually wrapped treats.
  • Pass out pencils or small toys. Dollar stores and party supply stores often have favors at better prices than candy. With all of the sweets being doled out, parents will appreciate something different for their kids.
  • Decorate with jack-o’-lanterns. Carve some pumpkins and use them to eerily welcome trick-or-treaters to your front porch.
  • Change the light bulbs. For less than a few dollars, you can swap out your normal front porch bulb with a red or orange one to give your home a creepy glow.

Halloween fun has the potential to get expensive quickly, particularly if you wait until the last minute to prepare and then go all out. But as with every other major holiday, you can save by going into it with a plan and a budget.


Halloween decorations image courtesy of Shutterstock.