Looking for Halloween bargains that won’t put a scare in your budget? You’re not alone.

Halloween is one of America’s most popular holidays, but it’s expensive. This year, the National Retail Foundation predicts that 172 million people will spend an average of $86.27 each on spooky accessories like costumes, decorations, trick-or-treat candy and Halloween parties.  That's almost 9 billion dollars!

Fortunately, there are some great ways to maximize your Halloween fun without breaking the bank. Here are our top 13 ways to celebrate Halloween on a budget. 

 1. Sew your own

If you’re handy with a needle, you can save a bundle making your own costumes. Craft and fabric stores sell a wide array of patterns for capes and wizard robes, animal suits and princess dresses. Most come in multiple sizes so you can use them again and again as family members grow. Want to save even more? Check out the free patterns at FleeceFun.com and AllFreeSewing.com

 2. Create with cardboard

Robots, trucks, train cars—with the right sized box, a sharp pair of scissors and some colored paints, you can make almost anything square with cardboard. Or think outside the box. How about a unicorn?

 3. Haunt your dollar store

Take a stroll down your dollar store’s seasonal aisle for low-cost decorations including skulls, bats, spiders and witches’ hats and orange and black candles. You can spruce up home-made costumes with wobbly antennas, make-up, hats and wigs from the dollar store, too.

 4. Raid the toy box

Branded costumes are the priciest. You’ll pay up for the latest trade-marked Storm Trooper or Harry Potter gear. But if you have kids, you may already have light sabres and wizard wands languishing in the toy box. Look for silly hats, too! 

 5. Check out thrift stores

From antique gowns to stoles and top-hats, your local used clothing store can be a gold mine of costume materials. Some of them even stock pre-used Halloween costumes for kids and adults. Goodwill even has a costume generator app, to help you design your Halloween look out of existing inventory.  In addition to finding costumes for Halloween on a budget, you may find bargaisn on other needed items.

 6. Hand it down

Halloween costumes are worn once a year, so they don’t wear out like regular clothes. Dress up your little ones in the same outfits your older kids sported last year. Don’t have older kids? Little ones refuse to re-use older siblings costumes? Ask the other parents at school or daycare if they have costumes to lend or trade.

 7. Swap your costumes

Lots of communities organize costume swaps, so that families can trade baby costumes for toddler outfits, or just get rid of monster masks and witch robes they’re no longer using. If your town doesn’t have one, think about organizing a swap at your school or church or community center. Or check out the gently used costumes at commercial aggregators like Swap.com

8. Clean out your closet - and everyone else's 

The perfect costume may be lurking in your closet. The clothes you wore to paint your house can kickstart an artists's costume. Your dad's old fedora paired with a decent suit and a drink in your hand turns you into Frank Sinatra. Find a long skirt, pop a flower in a hat, grab an umbrella, and you're on your way to a supercalifragilistricexpialidocious Mary Poppins costume. Expand the search to friends and family member's closets, and you may find inspiration for hundreds of outfits. 

9. Buy candy in bulk—unless you’re off the beaten track

You can save money on trick-or-treat supplies by buying in bulk at retail outlets like Costco. (Though of course, if you live in a place with few kids or lots of space between houses or just not a lot of Halloween activity, you’ll probably want to limit your purchases.)  Also, don’t feel like you have to purchase full-sized candy bars or designer chocolate. Off-brand candy can be just as tasty.

10. Team up

It can be tempting to turn your house into the spookiest haunt on the block, but you can save a ton by turning off your porch light and heading to a friend or neighbor's house. Split the door-answering duty, throw on a scary movie, and place bets on how many trick-or-treaters will show up as X-men this year. You'll still have lots of Halloween fun, and you're only out the cost of candy and popcorn. 

11. Have a pot-luck Halloween party

A Halloween party is a fun way for people of all ages to play dress up, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Serve apple cider over dry ice for ghostly effect and organize friends t obring other dishes and drinks. You may even have leftovers that can save you a trip to the grocery store. If you're worried about having enough to eat, make some of this chili from BudgetBytes, which costs just $1.55 per serving. 

12. Learn to love reusable decorations

Hand-carved Jack O’Lanterns are wonderful, but they only last a week or two. You can stock up on plastic, reusable Halloween decorations for less than the cost of real pumpkins and use them year after year.

13. Think ahead for next year

The best and cheapest time to buy Halloween gear is November 1st, when racks of costumes and piles of unsold decorations go on sale. Why not stock up for next year now, when prices are low? The next Halloween is — BOO! — already sneaking up on you.

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