With more than 41 million potential trick-or-treaters knocking on 120 million doors, Halloween can become one of our most expensive holidays. But even if you don’t want to spend a lot, there is no need to turn off the lights and pretend you aren’t home or try to persuade your kids that sweets are bad news.
We have you covered tighter than a mummy’s wrapping, with stories covering how to celebrate on the cheap, including advice on how to save on:
- Halloween party food
- Haunted houses
Below is a summary of our Living on the Cheap Halloween articles by category, where the bold introductory words are a link to the more detailed story. After you read them, Oct. 31 might just become your favorite holiday!
Halloween food and treats
Saving money on Halloween candy: There’s no reason you can’t wait until October 29 or later to stock up. It’s not like the stores will run out — and, if they do have a shortage of candy bars, there’s no penalty for passing out lollipops instead. Buying in bulk can save you big money; we’ve got an idea for how to do it even if you’re not a member of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club. Look for manufacturers’ coupons right on this site, in newspaper inserts and online. And be sure to save your receipts and and open one bag of candy at a time to dump into your serving bowl. This way, you can return any unused bags to the store for a refund.
Good and cheap Halloween party food: Even grownups like to have fun with their food. Here are some ideas for cheap and easy Halloween snacks that will please kids and adults alike, including ghoulish Halloween finger food (take it literally); gruesome chip and dip displays; apple teeth and apple monsters; banana ghosts; pumpkin tangerines; mummy dogs; a jack-o’lantern cake; halloween popcorn; and more. And didn’t forget frighteningly fun beverages for kids and adults.
Quick, easy and thrifty costumes
For kids and grownups. One of our most popular articles of all-time is our 100+ cheap and easy costume ideas for adults and children. You can put together a costume on the cheap by visiting thrift shops. Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift shops are overflowing with bargain-priced (up to 80% off) Halloween costumes, as well as cute containers for kids to carry their candy. Want costumes free? Look for a costume swap. Last year’s costume from your neighbor can be your kid’s new costume for this year. Or try kids’ consignment stores for like-new items. Have some costumes of your own? Trade them in for credit or cash.
For pets: You didn’t think we were going to forget Fido and Spot, did you? (Fluffy the cat is probably going to sit this one out, as usual.) We’ve got suggestions for pet costumes along with all-important safety tips.
Decorations for Halloween and fall
Free pumpkin stencils: What’s Halloween without a jack-o’-lantern? We’ve got sources for free, printable stencils that make for gorgeous or ghoulish gourds, depending on your preference.
4 cheap and easy Halloween decorations: Learn how to decorate a wine bottle (great gift to take to the host of your Halloween party, or keep it yourself); a giant spider; a jack-o’-lantern toilet paper roll; and tombstones for the front yard.
DIY scarecrow: Here’s a popular fall-themed decoration that you can make using many items you already have at home.
Haunted wedding lawn scene: If you really want to go all out and have more time than money, here’s how to make an eerily beautiful haunted wedding to decorate your lawn. Your neighbors will be dying for an invitation!
Entertaining for Halloween (and alternatives to Halloween parties)
Halloween movie night party: We’ve given you a complete guide to some of the best Halloween movies to enjoy and how you can stream even more, whether you want family-friendly or scary. Plus, get ideas for decorating and costumes to wear so you can host the perfect Halloween movie night this year.
Halloween party on a budget: We’ve got ideas for themed parties for all ages where the big idea is to have maximum fun for a minimal amount of money. We cover food, decorations, costumes, music, and games and activities.
Alternatives to Halloween: Not everyone is into celebrating with ghoulies and ghosties, and that’s OK. Here are some ideas for more general fall celebrations. Here are four fun things you can do instead.
Savings on haunted houses. In some cities, haunted houses are a rite of passage, but the cost of being spooked can be quite frightening. Fear not. We tell you how to get out with your life — and your bank account — intact.
Halloween (and other) deals in October
Finally, be sure to check our constantly updated freebies and deals post for the latest discounts on dining out and more. You’ve worked hard at saving money; you can probably treat yourself!