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 175 million people will spend an average of $86.79 each on spooky accessories like costumes, decorations, trick-or-treat candy and Halloween parties. That’s about 9 billion dollars!
Fortunately, there are some great ways to maximize your Halloween fun without breaking the bank. Here are our top ten ways to save money on Halloween.
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.
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. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.