For many families, Halloween's one of the most fun nights of the year — but costumes, parties and decorations can seriously stretch a budget. In 2011, the National Retail Federation predicted that Americans would spend more than $1 billion on children's costumes alone. A spooky time doesn't have to break the bank, though. With some creativity and cost-saving tips, this ghostly holiday can spook the entire family without incurring a scary credit-card bill.
Although costumes grow more elaborate with each passing year, your budget doesn't have to grow, too, said financial expert Andrea Woroch. Woroch suggests getting creative with do-it-yourself costumes. "A ghost costume can be made from white sheets, while cardboard boxes can be transformed into a robot, SpongeBob or even a mock-iPhone," she said. Save some extra cash, too, by participating in a costume swap with family or friends or shopping at second-hand stores for gently used costumes.
Providing tasty treats for trick-or-treaters can get pricey. Woroch recommends practicing portion control. "Make that big bag of candy last the entire night by picking a portion to hand out to each kid and sticking with it," she said. "Once the trick-or-treat traffic dies down, you can unload the rest on lucky latecomers." Waiting for last-minute deals can also save you money on candy. "The final two days before Halloween is usually the best time to find bargains at supermarkets and drugstores," said Woroch.
Even if you plan to decorate both the interior and the exterior to spook the neighbors, the cost doesn't have to frighten you. Get creative with what you have on hand, suggests Woroch. "An old flannel shirt and a pair of jeans can quickly become a scarecrow, and pieces of Styrofoam packaging with a little paint make perfect tombstones." Dollar stores also offer affordable holiday décor so you can cover your home in orange and black for less.
Penny-Pinching Party Planning
If a neighborhood celebration is in order, consider planning a potluck to minimize costs. Meet with your neighbors and friends to plan an extravagant menu that can be split among the guests. From chili and chips to hot dogs and cider, you can save effort (and money) when you put your heads together and split things up.
A trip to the pumpkin patch is often a treat for the entire family, but the cost can be prohibitive. Instead, pick up pumpkins at local grocery and department stores for nearly half the price. Beware of packaged Halloween accessories, too. Instead of getting an elaborate pumpkin-carving set, choose just one tool you need to carve your treasured design safely and successfully.
Don't wait until October to acquire your Halloween loot. Instead, buy all year-round to capture the best deals and savings. Harvest-themed décor is typically in the clearance aisle right after Thanksgiving. Stock up then for the next year. Additional items, such as garden pots, statues, string lights and candlestick holders, can be purchased year-round so you can compare and contrast costs long before Halloween arrives.