Save Money and Have Fun on Halloween
by Stephanie Nelson, GMA Savings Mom
I was surprised to learn last week that Halloween is the third most expensive holiday of the year, right behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Even though we do not exchange expensive gifts on Halloween, it is easy to rack up spending on costumes, candy, decorations and admission fees to Halloween events.
The good news is that there are many easy ways to save money on Halloween expenses without compromising on having fun. Save your money for all of those holiday gifts you’ll need to buy soon! Consider these savings tips this year:
Costumes: It can cost $35 to $50 for many popular children’s’ costumes at party stores, which adds up quickly if you have more than one child. With a little creativity, you and your children can make easy costumes with items you have around the house. You can also shop at a local thrift store to buy clothing to use for costumes. My favorite costume idea resource is www.familyfun.com, which lists 100 easy and inexpensive costumes you can create at home—whether you have a few hours or only a few minutes to put a costume together.
Candy: If you live in a neighborhood, you will most likely be buying candy to give out on Halloween night. The challenge is avoid overbuying—who wants to have leftover bags of Halloween candy when our kids come home with far more than they need? Be conservative and buy a little less than you think you need. Most likely, it will be enough. If you run out of candy, you can always give out nickels or dimes to the later trick-or-treaters.
You can also save money on candy by watching for store sales and coupons in the Sunday coupon circulars. Grocery stores feature Halloween candy sales this month to entice us to shop at their stores. Halloween candy coupons also came out in the Sunday newspaper coupon circulars through the months of September and October.
Decorations: It is easy to go overboard on spending if you like to decorate your house or yard with plenty of Halloween decorations. One way to save a lot of money is to skip the expensive décor and make your own decorations.
The easiest decoration that is also fun for kids is carving a pumpkin together. For just a few dollars, you can create a memorable annual tradition with your child and decorate your front porch or window at the same time. Save the seeds and find a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds, too!
You can find plenty of inexpensive Halloween decorating projects from books in the library, local family magazines distributed free at libraries and schools, or on www.familyfun.com. For example, the Family Fun website has instructions for making “Mr. Bottle Bones,” a full-size “scary skeleton” out of plastic milk jugs in less than one hour. Easier projects include making “ghosts” to hang in the window made out of string, glue and waxed paper. Doing a project with your children will be much less expensive and far more memorable than shelling out $100 for decorations at the local party store.
Family Entertainment: This is the time of year for pumpkin festivals, Halloween fairs, hayrides, haunted house tours and more. Prices for these family events vary widely, from free admission to as much as $20 per person. Check the local calendar section in community newspapers and magazines to find inexpensive events. Look for admission coupons in the newspapers and magazines as well. Also check the websites of sponsoring organizations to find printable coupons for event admission. Check to see if your local grocery store sells discounted tickets for seasonal festivals and events (either on their website or at their customer service counter in the store). Finally, many schools, churches and places of worship offer free festivals and fairs as family-friendly alternatives on Halloween.