Halloween on a Budget: Creative Ways to get Spooky

Tips on the creative ways you can get spooky on a budget on Halloween.

Halloween spending can get out of hand in a hurry if you’re not careful, from candy to costumes everything adds up. Being on a budget near a holiday is hard enough, but Halloween can be especially tough due to many of the traditions. With some creativity and a little help from your friends, you can do Halloween and come in under budget without skipping anything.

Free is fun

Look at your community calendar and see what kinds of free activities are available in your area. Many libraries will have free parties with treats and crafts. Churches may have carnivals, and your city government may put on a parade. Pick a few things to focus on so you don’t stress out with a too full schedule, and make it extra fun by bringing a fun snack from home. Gummy worms in popcorn are a favorite of many this time of year.

Find out when trick or treating is going on in your neighborhood and make sure to take advantage of that. Wearing a homemade costume and getting candy from neighbors is peak Halloween fun, plus it’s super affordable.

Work with what you have

Resist the urge to buy more decorations if you already have some. Go through what you’ve used in the past and reuse what is still in good condition and think about ways to revamp or upcycle things that have seen better days. Adding glitter or using old decorations to make a spooky scene can be all you need to make the old feel new again.

Lots of Halloween decorations can be made with things you already have around the house. Empty milk jugs with glow sticks in them can make spooky ghosts for your porch to the delight of many trick or treaters.

Make a scarecrow out of an old outfit, use a pumpkin for the head. Put water in disposable gloves and cut them off when it’s frozen to make hand shaped ice for your punch bowl. Create spiders out of poms and pipe cleaners, glue on a bunch of googly eyes!

When coming up with costume ideas, consider first what you have already. If someone’s graduated recently you may be able to use their robe, for example, in many costumes. What about accessories or costumes from prior years? Can you reuse them to make a new look? If your kids have outgrown their old costumes can you hold a costume swap with other families and donate your hand-me-downs and pick up a few from others?

The classic costumes are the easiest to make at home, ghosts, witches, vampires, are easy to find costume pieces for in your closet, then it’s up to you to pick up or make a few accessories to really make the costume your own.

If you don’t like scary costumes, try something funny or silly. Make cat ears out of paper and a headband. Try out pun costumes, a little makeup can help too. For example, some dark eyeshadow and a shirt with the letter P on it can make you into a “Black-eyed pea”, don’t be afraid to get really silly with it. Halloween should be fun!

Occupational costumes can be easy too, be a doctor or a nurse, find your overalls to be a farmer.

Buy smart

Sometimes you have almost everything you need for a costume except a few accessories. A black dress alone does not a witch make, but if you make or find a hat you’re almost there. Check garage sales and thrift stores for costume pieces or accessories that you can upcycle. Don’t forget to stop by the dollar store, you never know what kinds of treasures you’ll find.

If you have to start a costume from scratch, try to purchase clothes for it that you can use again later. Black leggings can be a base for many costumes and can be worn all fall long with a different top or dress. A single color sweatshirt and pants can go a long way towards almost anything if you just add some accessories like a cool hat, a cardboard vest, or even some pinned on accents.

When it’s time to pass out candy, get creative. Party stores have bulk toys for treasure chests at great prices, sometimes for way less than an equivalent amount of candy. Remember many kids have food allergies so being the house with stickers or small trinkets can make you a superstar in the eyes of your neighborhood.

It’s the little things that count

Help make the season special by adding special touches to every day. Making orange pancakes or using a purple drink mix to make black punch can make a festive meal.

Send your kids on a spooky treasure hunt through the house with Halloween themed clues and a small treasure at the end.

If your kids have school parties, help them pick out the treat they are going to bring. Even better, let them help you make it. Making roasted pumpkin seeds, or creepy cookies can be fun in itself and sharing them with friends is just a bonus.

Consider having a backyard carnival where each family brings a game and a snack. Halloween games can be anything from homemade ring toss to hula-hoops for an endurance contest, to pool noodles for a sword fight. Be creative.

If a carnival sounds too hectic, what about having a movie night? Invite over a few friends and watch a Halloween movie. Offer to have a popcorn bar, you provide the popcorn and ask your friends to each bring a mix in, like chocolate chips or popcorn salt.

Remember that you have a lot already, and making little efforts to jazz things up can go a long way. Whatever you make this year, pack away soundly so you can use it again. Keep those costumes so you can do a costume swap next year. Ask your friends to join you in your upcycle Halloween, trade what you can and getting together to craft can be a social event on its own. Have fun with it!