Why spend $100 and more on Halloween when it’s just as much fun to spend just $20? It’s possible — and a lot of laughs, too — to “do” Halloween on the cheap. Be inventive and healthy in choices about treats, and call on the best resource of all, imagination, for homemade Halloween costumes and decorations.
Make a Halloween Budget
It’s easy for dollars to slip away around the holiday. So, make two budgets. The first addresses money; put a limit of, say, $10 on a costume, $8 on treats, and $2 on decorations. The second budget addresses time: allow three to five hours for each costume, an hour to assemble treats to hand out, and another two hours to make Halloween decorations.
Alternatives to Expensive Halloween Candy
Halloween candy is sold in big packages, and, in the spirit of things, people often like to offer a variety of candies. As a result, people buy more than it’s possible to give away. And, children take more candy than their dentists (and doctors) might wish.
The bulk packages of Halloween candy look big, but they aren’t cheap. Duane Reade sells 100-unit packs for $10 and upwards. For instance, Hershey’s Demon Treats cost $13.99 for 130 units; Hershey’s Non-Chocolate Snacks cost $9.99 for 100 units, and Hershey’s assorted Chocolate Snacks are $12.99 per 100. For families that enjoy offering a selection to Halloween trick or treaters, it’s easy to spend upwards of $45 buying 300 different pieces of high fat, zero-nutrition, but wonderfully-packaged Halloween treats.
Some ideas for more nutritious or less expensive Halloween treats include:
- Apples: Depending on how many trick or treaters are expected, apples are an affordable alternative. Buy the small ones. And unlike candy, the leftovers are good for a family meal, too.
- Free, Print-Your-Own Stickers: Download free Halloween sticker graphics (30 per page) and print them at home, on special sticker paper. Staples sells sticker paper for about $14 per 30 pack; some local stationary stores sell this paper by the page.
- Temporary Tattoos: Oriental Trading Co. online sells these for about $5 per 75 units.
- Pennies for Charity: If the community has a charity drive, give the children some stickers, apples or a few candies, and hand out one of a few pennies for the homeless or hungry, or, of course, UNICEF.
- Share Candy with Neighbors: Team up with a neighbor or friend, and split two bags. That way, each person has a variety (but not too much), and it’s cheaper.
- Hand the Candy Out, Don’t Do “Grab Bag:” Given concerns about “swine flu, consider H1N1 Halloween hygiene and hand out the candy than offer kids a grab bag. It’s cheaper, too.
How to Save Money on Halloween Costumes
Oh, all the wonderful fantasy of it all! Masks, wings, fake noses, fake nails, plastic swords and furry animal tails. The pre-fab costume industry has it all — for a price. Ordered online, an infant “Barney Plush” costume costs $34.95, a child-size Batman is $29.50, and Michael Jackson outfits range from $34.95 to $295.
It’s cheaper to concoct a homemade costume, or, if buying a costume, buy just a hint of it.
- Cardboard Box Costumes: The cheapest materials are free; see 57 different costumes made from recycled cardboard boxes. And, it will be one-of-a-kind; a homemade Michael Jackson costume won’t look like everyone else’s prefab version.
- Buy Just the Mask: Choose a cheap but good mask. A Barack Obama mask ordered online costs under $13 (and it won’t matter what else one wears).
- Use the Big-Small Trick: It’s funny anytime someone big squeezes into something too small, and vice-versa. A 4-year-old dressed in dad’s suit and tie is adorable. Dad, squeezed into his 11-year-old’s soccer gear, looks hilarious. Size-switching is a cheap, funny way to make a Halloween costume.
How to Save Money on Halloween Decorations
If one’s artwork isn’t perfect, no matter: stick with the colors black and orange, and everyone will get the idea. Here are a few cheap decorations:
- Spiders Web: Use a roll of toilet paper, wrapped around two trees outside, or a door frame inside.
- Tombstone: Paint an old piece of cardboard, cut from a free box, in the shape of a tombstone with skull and crossbones, to plant on the lawn.
- Ghost: Use an old white sheet, stuffed with newspaper and decorated with paint to look spooky, hung from the door.
- Homemade haunted houses
- Huge pumpkin: Stuff a large black lawn garbage bag with newspaper, and decorate it like a giant reverse-colored pumpkin, with orange eyes, mouth and hair, made out of construction paper.
- Sound effects: Set up speakers attached to a taped recording of Halloween-appropriate groans, moans, sighs, and “boo’s.”
Halloween costumes, candy and decorations add up. It’s possible, and a ton of fun, to spend a little more time, and a little less money, on Halloween costumes, decorations, and healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.