Tips for a frugal Halloween have become more and more necessary. Why? Because Halloween consumer spending is expected to reach $8 billion this year (2012). That’s $79.82 spent on costumes, decorations and candy – per person! More than 70% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year.
All of these numbers are up from previous years, despite the still-sluggish economy.
I have some guesses as to why that is:
1) Americans love to dress up and party
2) It gives everyone something ELSE to think about besides the upcoming election!!! (Well, unless you’re a candidate or are dressing up like one.)
However, you can certainly have a great Halloween without going broke.
Here are five tips for a frugal Halloween!
1. GET CANDY CHEAP.
If your family is like mine and most of the Halloween candy you bought has already been eaten (ok, I’m guilty, too), then you’ll be picking up some last-minute bags of candy for trick-or-treaters.
The cheapest candy you can buy are the mostly fruity, sugary kind – lollipops, Twizzlers, Smarties. Plus, kids love them. You can get these cheap anywhere, including dollar stores.
However, if you want chocolate (I don’t blame you!), stores have candy on sale in the last few days before Halloween. Some examples for this week (10/28-31):
- Target: $2.69 each for bags of treat-size candy. 10.78-oz. Kit Kat snack size, 11-oz. M&M’s Fun Size, 10.2-oz. Reese’s Pumpkins and selected others. $2.29 each for 9.4-oz. Caramel Apple Pops, 10.72-oz. Skittles Original and selected others.(BONUS: Go to Target’s coupon website to print out Target-exclusive coupons for candy and more! As of today – 10/28 – they have $2 off 2 bags of Hershey’s candy, and $1.50 off 2 bags of Dove candy. Pair up these coupons with manufacturer’s coupons from coupons.com or your local paper, and you can maximize your savings!!! See tip below.)
- Walgreens: $2.49 (With Walgreens card) each for Fun or Snack Size Candy. Hershey’s, Mars or Nestle, 9.78 to 12.5 oz.
- Rainbow Foods: Various prices for bags of candy from $1.98 (Kraft Caramels or Caramel Bits) to $2.98 (Dove Miniatures or Hershey’s Bliss) using coupons on the back page of this week’s ad.
Tip: Combine these deals with printable coupons from coupon websites. Click on the coupons.com ad on the right side of this page to view some good ones, including “Save $1.00 on any 2 Mars Halloween bags (Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, etc.).”
2. MAKE OR BUY CHEAP COSTUMES.
I’m not even a tiny bit gifted enough to actually sew a costume for one of my kids. (Nor do I have the patience for that sort of thing.) But I know you can make a great costume even without a lot of time or talent.
For example, when I was in high school, I decided at the last minute to dress up for Halloween as a “candy girl.” I wore plain, old clothes and a hat, and scotch-taped pieces of candy all over me. I also carried around a basket full of candy that I gave out to people all day long. Other kids liked it (probably because they got free candy).
A zombie costume is easy and quick. Rip up some old clothes, put some dark make-up on your face, mess up your hair, and there you go.
Girls can wear pj’s, slippers, and put curlers in their hair for a slumber-party look.
I saw a girl dressed as a slice of pizza. She wore a white shirt and pants, and over it, a big cardboard triangle that was colored like a slice of pizza. Handmade, and it worked!
Not feeling creative? I recommend going to a thrift store for a costume. Though the average person will spend around $29 on costumes this year, you can certainly come up with something for less than that, especially if you buy used. Read about how at SAVERS thrift store I recently got complete costumes for both of our kids, plus some Minnie Mouse ears for myself, for about that much $$.
3. HAVE FUN FOR FREE.
There are so many free or cheap local Halloween events for families. Find out what local churches and community centers are doing in your area. Many have free trick-or-treating events on Halloween night. For example, Grace Fellowship Church in Brooklyn Park presents “Trunk or Treat” from 6-8pm, and the Burnsville Center mall hosts trick-or-treating from 5-7pm.
If you don’t want to go anywhere on Halloween, or if you have younger kids and expect to be home by dark, visit your local library now to pick up some free movies to watch in the evening.
We just visited our local library yesterday and brought home a stack of kids’ cartoons including “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” My local library also offers a great selection of new release movies for $.50 a day. I saw “Mirror, Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” there for older teens and grown-ups. Great Halloween movie ideas!
4. DECORATE FOR LESS.
You’ll hear me saying this over and over again: Thrift stores!!! Along with having great costume selections, check out their decorations as well. From indoor to outdoor, you’ll find quite the variety!
Pick up some leaf bags that look like pumpkins, fill them up, and put them on your front lawn. Get some yard work and decorating done at the same time! My 4-year-old Heidi always notices when people have these pumpkin bags. And if you’re somehow short on leaves, you can find plenty at our house (hee hee…with all the leaves on our lawn, we could probably fill up 100 of those bags!).
Borrow some Halloween craft books from the library and with your kids’ help, create some of your own decorations!
And of course, don’t forget pumpkins. Visit your local pumpkin farm or grocery store, pick one up for a few dollars, and have a pumpkin carving family night! Remember to roast and enjoy the pumpkin seeds!
5. USE YOUR COMPUTER FOR MORE FRUGAL FUN FOR THE KIDS.
Heidi LOVES to color, so I like to print free pictures for her to color from the Internet. One of my favorites is Woo! Jr. There you can find all kinds of kids activities to print – for free! They’ve got a great selection of Halloween-themed coloring pages and activities.
Another good website is Disneyfamily.com. I’ve printed many coloring pages for free here (especially The Little Mermaid, who is Heidi’s FAVORITE princess). You can even print out Halloween costumes here, like “the Hulk” mask.
Any Internet search for “free printable coloring pages” or the like will pull up countless options.