31 Ways to Save for Halloween

By Susan Lahey · October 04, 2023 · 8 minute read

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31 Ways to Save for Halloween

While the National Retail Federation is expecting record spending this Halloween of nearly $103 per person, revelers might be planning to focus more on Halloween savings this year. Inflation is scarier than ghosts.

Luckily, creativity is one of the hallmarks of this spooky season, and savings are easy to achieve. Here are 31 ways to do it.

Get Creative with Costumes

Costumes may be the best part of Halloween. You can “be” anyone or anything for one night. But costumes don’t have to be expensive. In fact, with a little creativity you can have a great costume for almost nothing.

1. Rent, Don’t Buy

Sites like Halloweencostumes.com and Costume.com rent theater-level costume styles for a fraction of the purchase price.

💡 Quick Tip: When you have questions about what you can and can’t afford, a spending tracker app can show you the answer. With no guilt trip or hourly fee.

2. Make Your Own

Extend Halloween fun by making your own costume. The internet is full of innovative ideas — homemade costumes that turn the wearer into jellyfish or fairies, or that create illusions, like someone sitting on a flying carpet.

3. Hit the Thrift Store

Thrift stores and surplus stores can not only provide the materials for a costume, they can also give you ideas: buy a wedding dress and become a ghostly bride or purchase a lab coat and become a mad scientist. You also might spot great savings on fall fashions while you’re at it.

4. Swap Costumes with Friends

Swapping costumes with friends is a great way to save money. And your outfit from last year may be someone’s dream costume for this Halloween.

5. Look For Sales

You can shop online at Halloween retailers and regular discount stores that sell costumes. Some may have sales to boost early purchases, or to clear out inventory as Halloween gets closer.

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Decorate on a Budget

You would think pumpkins would be a super cheap decoration, but that’s not always the case. There are, however, some easy ways to haunt your house magnificently and take advantage of Halloween savings at the same time.

6. Become a Prop Master

There are lots of videos online explaining how to make everything from real-looking spider webs to authentic tombstones and creepy candles. Want to be eco-friendly? You can substitute toxic chemicals and unsustainable materials like Styrofoam with more sustainable materials.

7. Repurpose Last Year’s Decorations

Rework the decorations you used last year to create a whole new look. Give that mummy a hat, or have the witch you made last year hide behind a bush this time. If you’re crafty, a bit of paint or touch of glue can give your decor a whole new look.

8. Hit Garage Sales

Check out local garage sales and estate sales for decorations other people are ready to discard. You can often find some cool vintage treasures!

9. Trade Decorations with Friends

Tired of your old skeleton? You can switch it for a pal’s ghoul or light-up graveyard. You can offer up your old decorations on social media or just have everyone gather and trade like Halloween market.

10. Try the Discount Stores

Super discount stores often have great decorations for almost nothing. Dollar stores, surplus stores, Spirit Halloween stores, and others can provide garlands, Jack o’ Lanterns, skeletons — you name it.

11. Scan Thrift Stores

A thrift store is like a treasure hunt inside a shopping trip. You never know what you’ll find at a thrift shop but you’re sure to find inspiration for decorations!

12. Don’t Forget the Lighting

Lighting changes everything. Put a green or purple bulb in a lamp and a basic room is automatically made spooky, especially if you’re lighting something from below.

13. Make Creepy Shadows

With nothing more than some paper and scissors you can make scary silhouettes for the windows: a werewolf looking in, or a dagger-wielding murderer, for example. Put in front of a flashlight, they can even create some large, scary shadows for a spooky wall.

14. Scary Music Makes Ambiance

The most ordinary scene can feel terrifying when you add scary music. You can look online for options from classical pieces like Dance Macabre to soundtracks from horror movies complete with howling winds, distant church bells, and crows calling. There are even spooky tracks available on streaming services like Spotify.

15. Look for Pumpkin Deals

Most Jack O’ Lantern pumpkins cost less than $10, but if you need more than just one, the pumpkin costs can mount quickly. Some retailers have special offers on pumpkins that can really squash your spending. One way to potentially spot good deals online is to follow retailers on social media.

16. Grow Your Own

It’s too late this year, but you can grow your own pumpkins next year. You may be able to grow other decorations to use for fall, like corn husks and twisted tree branches that can later be made into haunted forests and witches’ brooms.

17. Shop in November

Everything Halloween related goes on deep discount the day after Halloween to make room for the upcoming holidays. Many people take advantage of these closeout sales to save money while also stocking up on decor for the following year. Don’t forget about websites — there are often good deals to be found online.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

Low-Cost Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Haunted houses and ghost tours can cost as much as $50 per person, but there are a lot of ways to celebrate Halloween without spending a scary amount of money. Try hosting your own party, where you can save on food by shopping the sales, using coupons, and having potlucks.

18. Look for Coupons

Coupon sites offer discounts on haunted houses and other spooky activities. Just make sure you read the fine print. Some coupons may require you to visit during the week or might only be valid for specific shows.

19. Show a Scary Movie

Hold a movie marathon where your friends and family create the lineup by bringing their favorite scary films. Or tune in the Halloween classics on television. Serve popcorn and inexpensive Halloween candy. And if someone has a projector, you can show it outside and make it that much spookier.

20. Host a Costume Contest

Consider inviting the kids to dress up and compete to create the scariest, funniest, and even most creative costumes using items they already have at home. The prizes don’t need to be expensive, just something from a dollar store.

21. Carve Jack-O’-Lanterns

Have friends bring their own pumpkins and have a jack-o’-lantern carving party. You can even roast the seeds and serve them as a snack.

22. Host a Scary Makeup Party

Have a get-together where you paint your faces with inexpensive makeup to look like werewolves, vampires, and banshees. Watch some online tutorials for inspiration as you get into the Halloween spirit.

23. Tell Ghost Stories

This is a great activity to do in the dark, maybe even around a fire with some s’mores. Have everyone come with a ghost story to share.

24. Have a Seance

Also great to do in the dark near a glowing fire: Use a Ouija board or other tools to speak to the departed. It’s extra fun if one or two people hide out and make ghost noises.

25. Have a Haunted House

You needn’t put on a big production. Simple things can bring a lot of spooky fun like hanging old pictures and telling ghost stories about them while leading participants around darkened rooms. Play scary recordings and have someone hiding behind a few corners to jump out.

26. Check Out Local Haunts

Do you have a house, an old church or another place in town that’s known to be haunted? How about a neighborhood that really goes to town on the decorations? If so, Halloween is the perfect night to go visit.

27. Check Out Local Free Events

Look for local churches, malls, or schools that are putting on free Halloween parties or fall festivals for the community. Consider it ready-made fun.

Save on Treats

Halloween just isn’t Halloween without the candy. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep you and your trick-or-treaters happy.

28. Buy in Bulk

Get giant bags of candy from club stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. They can provide you with enough candy for the whole neighborhood — and a party at home.

29. Visit Low-Cost Retailers

Low-cost retailers like Walmart and Target often have special large bags of candy that may be on display in the holiday aisle rather than the regular candy aisle. If you can’t find it, ask for help.

30. Use Coupons

You can look for retailer coupons that give you a few dollars off your candy purchase, or even offer a buy one get one free deal.

31. Focus on the Fun

On Halloween, people are ready to be tricked, to be scared, and to believe the illusions that give them a little thrill of mystery. Instead of worrying about impressing others, focus on having good experiences and creating lasting memories.

The Takeaway

Halloween is about the kind of fear that gives you goosebumps, not sleepless nights. With today’s inflation, and a need to stretch dollars further than before, it might be a lot less scary, in a good way, to focus on your savings goals this year.

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Photo credit: iStock/Talaj

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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