Planning a fun, frugal Halloween

Tis’ time for the spookiest holiday of the year and a record number of Americans are planning to participate in the scare festival. According to the National Retail Federation, more than two-thirds (67.4 percent) of celebrants will buy Halloween costumes for the holiday, the most in the survey’s 11-year history. The average person will spend $77.52 this Halloween and the total spending on Halloween this year will reach $7.4 billion. That is a lot of money. Here are some tips on how to stretch the budget for everyone so there’s more fun for everyone on All Hallows’ Eve.


The forecast is that partygoers will spend $1.1 billion on children’s costumes and $1.4 billion on adult costumes. Fido and Fluffy will also participate, with consumers planning to spend $350 on costumes for their pets. If you’re looking to slash costs, what can you do?

  • Do it yourself: Social media, especially Pinterest is full of ideas to do pretty much anything yourself and costumes are a piece of cake for a crafty person. Even if you are not a crafty person, there are still plenty of ideas and excellent step-by-step tutorials to help you whip up a great costume in an hour or two.
  • Look for a swap: I am a member of a local swap group on Facebook and it is now filling up with costume swap requests. Most people wear their costume just once, so it is pretty much brand new. Why not trade last year’s costume for something new (to you) for this year? Rinse and repeat every year, your costume spending is $0.
  • Layer up: Buy something that can be worn throughout the year and make it spooky or funny or whatever your style is, by adding some layers to it.
  • Shop your closet (or your mom’s): If you or any of your older relatives have really old clothes, like an old prom dress, that can be a great dress up. You can always create a costume from your closet by adding a few embellishments.

Party and decorations

One-third of Americans will throw or attend a Halloween party this year; and almost half the country (46.7 percent) will turn on the spooky meter and decorate their homes and yards.

  • Use what you already have:
    • Use cheap tissue paper to cover lights you already have to create an eerie glow.
    • Drape your furniture with cheap black sheets from a dollar or thrift store
    • Design your menu using an image editor like Picmonkey where there are special Halloween fonts and print them out
    • Use cheap cheesecloth to create cobwebs
    • Collect tree branches from your backyard, spray them with black spray paint and hang them from the ceiling.
  • Be creative with the menu: Again, Pinterest has plenty of great ideas from two-minute witches fingers with carrots and almonds to a much more elaborate menu that can serve your entire neighborhood. You don’t have to make special items. Simple menu items can be modified to make it a little more scary and appropriate for the occasion.


Fully 71.1 percent of America plans to hand out candy, and my family won’t be the exception. In fact, this is the major cost for us as there are quite a few kids in our neighborhood. Last year, we ended up buying bulk at Costco; this year, I am trying to be better prepared.

  • Keep an eye on candy deals: Blogs like and have all the deals listed out by state and store name. They also match coupons if any are available. Keep an eye on those deals for candy. Sometimes you can hit the candy jackpot at drug stores with a Sunday coupon.
  • Skip the dollar stores: I have seen a lot of sites recommend dollar stores or discount stores for candy. Personally, I don’t find that they offer good value for the money. Yes, they are cheap; but the quantity is lower than the regular stores, so you end up paying more per piece. Candy is something you need a lot of, so it is better to look at the cheapest by piece price and stock up.
  • Begin with a budget: As with any holiday or event, it is always good to begin with a budget and keep track of it as you spend on each item.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute: Planning is the best way to spend less and not go broke celebrating a holiday. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to buy everything in your over-priced neighborhood Halloween super store.
  • Get everyone in the family involved: Involve everyone in the planning and make it fun. You can have several weeks of fun for super cheap (or even for free) — make a jack-o-lantern, plan your decorations, bake pumpkin pie, involve everyone in making the costumes.
  • Hit the after-sales: Plan for next Halloween now. When the item goes on clearance, stock up on decorations and other items that can be used for a long time.
  • Use cash-back sites: When you shop, use a cash-back site like Mr. Rebates or Ebates to get something back to your wallet.
  • Stock up on some delicious pumpkins and gourds: This is not a Halloween tip per-se, but this is the time when they all go on sale. Stock up on them, prepare them however you like — pies, jams, curries, etc. — and preserve them to enjoy throughout the year.

Are you planning to celebrate Halloween this year? What are you planning to do? How are you planning to save money? Any tips you want to add?

One Response to “Planning a fun, frugal Halloween”

  1. Anonymous

    hey there! great article! i am planning ahead like i used to, every year, to save money and at the same time to give my neighbor kids the best halloween they could get every year. i do have a question though, can you suggest some of the cheap but good halloween menu that i can cook? thank you so much for your help.

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