Americans are expected to spend $8.8 billion on Halloween this year. That amount is down from the $9 billion that was estimated to be coughed up by Halloween revelers last year, but that is still a lot of money.
The National Retail Federation estimates $86.27 to be spent per shopper on costumes, candy, pumpkins and other decorations, greeting cards and entertaining.
Here are some easy ways you can save:
Halloween candy costs
In my neighborhood, an estimated 1,000 trick-or-treaters make the rounds collecting candy. Stocking up on enough treats without spending a fortune is a challenge. I start looking for deals on candy early.
If you are buying in volume like we do, check the bags and do the math to get the best price per piece of candy before deciding what to buy.
I saw a mixed bag of Snickers, M&M’s and Twix with 60 pieces of candy for $9.99, about 17 cents per piece. On the same display, there was a bigger bag containing 150 pieces of the same mix for $15.99, which was about 11 cents apiece.
Guess which bag I bought!
Whether you’re decorating or carving, shop around for pumpkins. Some stores have them several dollars cheaper than others.
Other Halloween decorations can be bought on the cheap, too. Dollar and thrift stores are showing off assorted Halloween merchandise at low prices, and some are offering other promotional discounts.
Get creative with costumes
Our Halloween tradition is to invite friends to join us on the front porch and help hand out candy to the masses. It is entertaining to see the cute, costumed trick-or-treaters, but I am always surprised how few are sporting DIY costumes.
Making an outfit is a great project for kids to get creative — and for families to save some money.
A few of the best ones to grace our porch over the last few years were a jellyfish made using an umbrella and adding the tendrils to flow from all sides, a Tic Tac dispenser, a boy in a casket and a vending machine that was just too clever.
Shopping at thrift stores to assemble a costume is a great place to start.
Goodwill has a “Look Book” of DIY costume ideas on its website, along with makeup tips and other helpful resources, at giveit2goodwill.org/halloween.
Another cheap, easy and practical option is to make a no-sew costume, starting with a sweatsuit that children can wear long after the holiday. Gray sweatpants and a hoodie can make a shark with white teeth pinned around the opening and a gray felt and cardboard fin attached to the back. Or maybe a set of red sweats with a pitchfork and some cardboard horns for your little devil?
I always like to share my old family recipe for fake blood. You can make it for pennies using Karo syrup (or the equivalent store brand) and red food coloring. Smear it where you want to bleed, and let it almost dry. Then put a thin sheet of toilet paper on it, and it looks like rotting flesh. Ugh!
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If you’re having a Halloween party, consider a potluck, so nobody has to work too hard or foot a big bill for the food and drink. Making a big pot of chili or soup ahead of time and grilling hot dogs is a good affordable option for a crowd, too.
And of course, there’s candy for dessert.
Find free events
Take advantage of the free Halloween events at malls, stores, trunk or treats, churches, libraries, parks and festivals. October is full of fall family fun in Middle Tennessee, including many events that give away candy and have special Halloween programming, like Pumpkinfest in Franklin, the Haunted Storytelling Festival at the Tennessee State Museum, library offerings and some great freebies at Bass Pro Shops.
More from Ms. Cheap: Free Halloween events in Nashville are a treat for your family and your wallet
P.S.: Don’t forget to shop the day after Halloween for marked-down decorations and candy for future use. Think ahead for holiday baking, stocking stuffers and Halloween 2020.
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/mscheap, and at Tennessean.com/mscheap, and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”
Goodwill costume survey
“This year’s Goodwill Halloween survey found respondents who plan to dress up are evenly split on costume choices — with 28% saying they would most like to wear costumes based on pop culture trends or characters from movies, TV shows, video games or books; 27% saying they’d like to wear unique, one-of-a-kind costumes; and 25% favoring iconic Halloween costumes such as witches, ghosts, zombies and werewolves.
“The Halloween poll also found that 66% of DIYers look for costume ideas on social media or online. Pinterest was the No. 1 source, with 39% saying they or members of their household visit the site for inspiration, followed by YouTube with 30%.”