Hear that sound? It’s the first of the major shopping holidays at the door! Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open their wallets—the kick-off to a lot of shopping before the end of the year.
Here are some numbers that should scare you to death, brought to us by the folks at The National Retail Federation:
Americans spent $10.14 billion on Halloween in 2021, up from $8.05 billion in 2020. Mindboggling, right? This is how that broke down:
- Candy $3.65 billion
- Decorations $3.17 billion
- Costumes $3.32 billion
I don’t know about you, but I find those numbers beyond frightening.
There’s no denying that we love Halloween. What other night do we get to eat, drink, and be scary?
The problem is we’ve come to love it a little too much. Sadly, much of that spending will translate to new credit card debt and a terrible way to start the New Year.
I know we can do so much better this year if we stop, think, and then find ways to keep all the fun while doing Halloween on a budget.
Even if your neighborhood attracts busloads of kids, that doesn’t mean filling their bags with gourmet chocolate is up to you. Between our sons and now our grandsons, I’ve been on the receiving end of trick-or-treat bags for many years. Here’s the cold, hard, sugary truth: Most of it ends up in the trash. It’s the fun of getting treats and guessing the final weight of a kids’ haul that matters—not the quality of its contents.
So think of that before you drop the big bucks on candy. Buy what you can pay with cash, period. The dollar store is rife with knock-off lollipops and non-descript candy. And do not worry about running out. Adopt a guilt-free attitude that when it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s it. Shut the door and turn off out the lights.
Look, Halloween is a really big deal for many folks, and I get it. There’s one house in a community near me where the owners start months ahead getting their front lawn display ready. It’s massive in both size and effort. I cannot even imagine the time and money required to put on their annual spooky show.
Be careful if you find yourself somewhere between that and my two-pumpkins-on-the-porch choice of decor. Halloween decor can quickly rip the heart out of a budget. Check the dollar store where you can stretch your decoration dollars until they scream!
My kids say this is the best part of Halloween,and not just for the little ones. Nowadays, people dress their pets, newborns, kids, and themselves. And this is where the budget can quickly fall apart.
I blame a lot of this on Pinterest and Instagram. It can be compelling to see what everyone else is doing! But here’s the problem: We wait too long—much longer than needed to make elaborate costumes ourselves, leaving the only option to buy them. Yikes!
If you can’t get started making costumes in time this year, change your plans. Go cheap using stuff you have already to make costumes that take minutes, not hours. Protecting your budget is far more important than winning First Place in the costume this year. Remember, there’s always next year.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few ideas for cheap Halloween costumes:
Bag of candy
Get a big, clear garbage bag. Cut two holes in the bottom for your legs and two arm holes near the bag’s opening. Fill it with multicolored blown-up balloons for jellybeans. For M&Ms, take multi-color round balloons and choose ones that match M&M colors. Blow them up to about 80 percent (less likely to break), and write “M” on each of them with a black marker. Fill the bag only half full, so you can move easily and, with any luck, sit down.
Get a shower cap or swim cap and a plastic plant with tons of small leaves. Staple enough plant material to cover the cap. Wear brown clothes so you’ll look like a terra cotta pot. Carry a watering can to hold your treats. So funny!
- MORE: This Halloween Go Cheap
Paint your whole face with white grease paint. With black eyeliner, draw numbers on your face, including appropriately located clock hands that start from your hose. Go ahead and gel up your hair and slick it back. Silly, right? And that’s what will make you so unique.
Mr. Potato Head
You can probably figure this out on your own, but just in case you need help, here are quick instructions.
Get a huge burlap bag (you might have to make it from burlap you can buy in a fabric store) that you will wear upside down so your head is covered. Cut small eye holes so you can see out and armholes near the top of the bag in a place that will make it comfortable to wear. Get some felt in Mr. Potato Head colors to cut out eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Attach Velcro to the backs of these items and the bag so they can be applied and pulled off easily.
Wear black sweatpants or leotards. When you’re in the bag, fill it with old shirts or rags to fill out the potato shape. Wear a black hat, then let people change your “face” around all night. This is my personal favorite. Just so funny!
Gather the black clothes you don’t wear anymore for a very funny, albeit gross, costume. Paint a white dotted line down the middle of the clothes (think: road). Attach a stuffed animal or rubber chicken from the party store to the shirt. Fling some red paint on the animal. Gross as this costume might be, I think it’s a winner.
Guys: A loud Hawaiian shirt, shorts, a large straw hat. Gals: A bright, loud dress; flats; big sun hat; straw bag. Don’t forget to have a camera and maps hanging out, and the expression of being lost. Guys can use a travel agent-issued tourist bag, and gals can use the straw bag for their treats. Hilarious!
Wear anything that is a solid color. Use safety pins to attach socks, underwear, and dryer sheets to yourself. Spray your hair, so it stands straight up in the air.
Well now, wasn’t that fun? And it will be more fun if you and the kids carry through with any one of these harmless gags come Halloween night. We’d love to see pictures of how you do Halloween on a budget this year.
Question: What’s your favorite homemade Halloween on a budget costume? Any other tips or tricks you would like to share? You can do that in the comments area below!