I know it is only mid-September, but Halloween will be here before you know it. Depending on your family situation, how you feel about the holiday, and where you live, Halloween can be awfully expensive. I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but I do have four kids, and we live in a kid-filled neighborhood. I've got to plan ahead if I'm not going to drop $50 on candy on the 30th of October.
CostumesCostumes for Halloween can run the gamut from an old sheet with eyes cut out, to elaborate outfits with specialty items from head to toe. Planning ahead is key to spending less. First, make everyone, kids and grown-ups, decide on their costume early. In my house, we have a rule: if you want parental assistance with your costume, you must submit your needs by 1 October. This gives you time to implement the three best ways to save: borrow, thrift, and DIY.
First, ask around to see if friends have the costume item you need. Put out a Facebook request or activate your phone tree. Free is awesome, and people are typically thrilled to have their things put to good use.
Second, check with thrift stores and consignment shops. Shop early - all the best stuff will fly out of the stores. You can find everything from entire costumes to bits and pieces to give your costume that extra bit of goodness. Think outside of the box about how you can repurpose items to fit your plan.
Lastly, see what you can make yourself. Pinterest is a great place to find directions and ideas. I've made a ton of my kids costumes - everything from a flower to Hermione Granger to medieval princesses - but I'm a pretty proficient seamstress. But you don't need to sew to put together a great costume. Many ideas require no more than a hot glue gun or a bunch of safety pins.
DecorationsI'm a Halloween Scrooge, but I understand that some folks enjoy decorating for Halloween. (Is that an understatement?)
Once again, the thrift store and DIY are your friend. If you have children, enlist them to decorate pumpkins cut out of construction paper; anything made by your babies is automatically better than anything from the store. Spray paint can turn even dollar store items into swanky decor.
CandyYour strategy for saving money on candy is going to depend on a few things about you. If you, or someone in your house, as a sweet tooth, then you probably don't want to buy ahead. Buying twice does not save money!
Check your newspapers for coupons, then keep an eye on sales. In my experience, the commissary has the lowest prices consistently, but you can find deals if you match a sale with a coupon at places like Walgreens or Target.
Another idea is to give out non-food treats. A bunch of bouncy balls, temporary tattoos or mini-bubbles can be cheap if you plan online and order ahead.
Whether you're all into Halloween, or just don't want to be labelled the neighborhood witch, there are ways to decrease your expenses on Halloween without turning off the lights and hiding in your house. Starting early is the best way to keep those costs down, so start thinking about your Halloween strategy now.