According to the National Retail Federation, 68 percent of Americans will celebrate Halloween this year and spend about $8.8 billion doing it. Of that frighteningly large number, shoppers will spend $3.2 billion on costumes, $2.6 billion on candy, $2.7 on scary decorations, and $390 million on greeting cards. It’s clear that people need to know how to do Halloween on a budget.
Those figures are enough to put a scare into those on a budget but don’t worry, we won’t let you dig your own financial grave. We’ve dug up plenty of ways to create the best Halloween costumes on a budget, create budget Halloween decorations, avoid all the money-sucking ghouls and learn how to enjoy Halloween cheap—while still having fun.
How to Do Halloween on a Budget
Many people expect to blow their budgets at Christmas, but not many understand how freakishly fast the money can add up when preparing to celebrate Halloween. But, as you can see from the figures above, all those spine-chilling costumes and decorations can put a fright in your wallet.
Whether you plan to attend a Halloween party, throw one yourself, or need a hair-raising costume for your kid, we’ve got some red hot ideas to help you save some bucks. But before we show you those ideas and solutions, let’s talk about how to determine your Halloween budget.
How to Determine Your Halloween Budget
Determining how much you can spend this Halloween is a great first step to making sure you don’t wake up feeling like a zombie the day after your scary night.
The trick is to keep it simple: sit down and determine how much you can spend without creating a shockingly bad experience for you and your family. Once you have the figure, use it to design, create, and plan for a spooky and fun night using the following tips.
What Are the Best Halloween Costumes on a Budget?
Whether you want to shock, scare, entertain, or charm people with your costume, it’s possible to create a costume for Halloween on a budget. Here are some great tips that will help you keep all those night creatures from getting too close to your cash.
One man’s trash…
So many people shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores for Halloween costumes that some local Goodwill stores are putting out press releases to remind people that they have a full array of costumes.
Whether you want to go as a rioter, an orange man, rapper, nerd, or your favorite character from the latest Netflix drama, you will likely find what you need at a thrift store.
Some people make the process even more fun by assigning each family member a certain dollar amount and asking them to put together their entire costume with it.
Pull out the sewing machine
If you have any sewing skills (or can use fabric glue or even safety pins), you can probably make your own costume. And instead of looking like everyone else, your costume will be unique and likely get everyone talking!
For instance, if you have an old brown blanket, wrap it around yourself, and use safety pins to pin bags of potato chips to it. When people ask what you are, tell them you’re a chip monk!
The possibilities are endless when you use your creativity to design and DIY your costume. Don’t be scared of the process!
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I’ll give you a dinosaur for a robot
Whether you’re looking for a costume for yourself or your kids, think about swapping costumes with friends as a way to wear a new costume without spending a dime. If your best friends went as tech titans last year, and you and your spouse went as a pair of dice, switch it up and trade!
Another great way to swap costumes is to ask your kids to trade with each other. Your younger kids could wear the older kid’s costumes from last year, and the older kids could trade with their friends. Remember, just because a Halloween costume was worn once, that doesn’t make it creepy!
Another tip: you can sell your old costumes and use the money to buy a new one at a thrift store!
Accessorize for low-budget Halloween costumes
If your budget is really tight, think about using what you have in your (or your kid’s) closet, and only buy the accessories to make your costume. For instance, if your child wants to dress up as a cat, look for all-black clothes in their closet, and then buy a tail and some ears to complete the costume. You can use mascara to draw the whiskers and nose, and voila, you have a costume for under $10!
The same will work for adults. For instance, if you want to dress up like a lumberjack, pull out your favorite jeans, plaid shirt, and work boots. If you don’t have a beard, draw one on with an eyebrow pencil and lumberjack away!
How to Buy or Create Halloween on a Budget Decorations
If you plan to stay home this year, you will likely want to spook up your house to scare all the people who dare to come to your door. Don’t worry, it’s entirely possible to give them a bloodcurdling fright on a dime. Here’s how to do it.
I’ll give you a dollar
The dollar store is a great place to find cheap Halloween decorations, and if you are creative enough to mix and match them, you can create a creepy front porch and indoor vibe that rivals the neighbors. Go to a true dollar store that offers all Halloween decorations for a dollar, and it will be easy to stay in your Halloween budget.
Let your guests get scaried-away
If you plan to host a Halloween party, think about asking each guest to bring a decoration. You can announce that the winner of the scariest decoration will get an extra slice of cake or a ghoulish cookie as a prize. Your house will be frightful and it won’t cost you a cent!
Be a last-minute Linda
If you wait until the day before — or even Halloween day — you will pay much less at stores because retailers are desperate to get rid of the merchandise before the holiday ends. It’s a great way to stock up for this year’s party — and next year’s!
Turn your trash into terror
If you want to DIY your Halloween decorations, you can make some frighteningly great décor items by using the things you have around the house. For instance, create a graveyard by cutting out cardboard boxes in the shape of tombstones, painting them, and writing RIP on them.
Or, if you want to create a spooky yard, use oven-baked clay to add scary eyes, noses, and mouths to your trees. To ramp up the fear, place a battery-operated music player behind the tree and give your guests a shock by playing screams or spooky music.
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Not so cool
Give your guest a horrible fright by asking them to get their drinks from a coffin-shaped drink cooler. Simply cut some 4 x 4 boards and make a rectangular coffin shape, and then line it with black plastic bags. Then, use it to store ice and drinks in. You’ll drive your guests batty when they have to go to the coffin to quench their thirst!
Be a hands-on guest
If you really want to freak out your guests for cheap, buy some clear plastic gloves, fill them up with JELL-O, then tie them shut. The result will be a realistic, squiggly hand. You can place these hands on the snack table, in the chip bowl, or anyplace else you want to give your guests a scare.
Light things up
One of the least expensive ways you can transform your home into a scare-worthy place is to change out a few lightbulbs. Go from bright to dark red, and it will set the mood for a fright night.
Don’t forget the body parts
Another cheap way to give your guests a horrible fright is to create specimen jars and scatter them throughout your house. For instance, you can fill a jar with a doll’s head or other body parts, then fill the jar with water and a few drops of food coloring. The result will be scarific and your guests will still be talking about it next year!
Buy Candy on Your Halloween Budget
Finally, Halloween is all about the candy for kids, and if you plan to stay home and pass it out, all those chocolate bars can quickly bust your budget. Instead of handing out name-brand chocolate bars, take note of these tricks to provide inexpensive treats to the neighborhood kids.
Don’t buy one at a time
Instead of buying a few candy bars here and there, look for a store that sells candy in bulk. You will pay less per piece, and that will help you stick to your budget. Stores like Cosco and Sams are excellent places to buy bulk candy.
Get name-brand candy for less
Don’t forget to check your dollar store for great savings on candy. You’ll find name-brand candy (including Halloween candy) for much less than you will find it at regular retailers.
Grab it before it’s gone
Just like with those spooky decorations, if you wait until the last minute to buy Halloween candy, you will likely get a better deal. That’s because retailers can’t wait until next year to sell unsold Halloween candy so they will begin to discount it heavily later in the day.
Save their teeth
Just because it’s Halloween, that doesn’t mean you have to hand out candy. Instead, give each princess or pirate a sticker or other inexpensive trinket. Their parents will thank you later!
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Halloween on a Budget — Even if You Don’t Celebrate Halloween
Many people enjoy the frightfulness of dark, creepy things in the night and look forward to Halloween, but others find the holiday creepy and prefer to do other things on it. For those who don’t like things that go bump in the night, we’ve got some Halloween budget ideas for you, too.
Here are a few ways you can enjoy the holiday while keeping the zombies away from your wallet.
Think Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown made pumpkin patches famous, and many people like to take their kids to them instead of going trick or treating. Look for a pumpkin patch at the local church or civic center, and make a day of letting your kid explore all of the funny shaped pumpkins! The best part? It’s free to visit most pumpkin patches!
Hay — do this!
Hayrides are the perfect afternoon treat for kids when they can’t go trick or treating. Let them bundle up in their warm, fall clothes and hop on the back of a trailer filled with hay.
The smell of the fresh hay and the sound of laughter of the other kids who are enjoying the ride will stay in their memory for a long time to come. Some hayrides are free while others charge a nominal amount for such a fun experience.
Fall for some food
Another great way to celebrate a non-traditional Halloween on a budget is to announce a fall cooking day. Ask each family member to write down their favorite fall food, and then spend the day together cooking everyone’s favorite.
Just imagine a day filled with apple pies, pumpkin soups, and everything else your family loves to eat in the fall. After the food is cooked, have the family vote on the best fall movies and sit around the living room eating all that scrumptious food and watching your favorite movies.
In search of
Another great way to celebrate the fall is to plan a scavenger hunt. Make it fall-themed and host it in the backyard or a neighborhood park. You’ll spend the day searching for fall-related items and enjoying the cool outside weather.
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Did You Figure Out How to Have Halloween on a Budget?
Whether you want to celebrate the spookiness of Halloween or the crispness of fall, we hope you found some great ideas to create the perfect holiday for your budget. If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear about them in the comments below. What was your favorite Halloween costume? And what kind of decorations are you planning for your next Halloween monster bash?