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10 Thrifty Ways to Save Money on Halloween

This post is a part of a series we contribute to 97.3 WMEE's Mom Squad monthly e-newsletter!

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Updated October 2022.

Last year, Americans spent a record-breaking $10.14 billion on Halloween. Now that's scary! Fear not, though, readers, for there are several spooktacular ways to save on this much-loved holiday.

Three kids dressed in Halloween costumes.

Decorate with Items You Have On Hand

You'd be surprised at just how many Halloween decorations you can make, quickly and cheaply, with items that are already lying around your home. Make a giant yard spider out of black garbage bags, cobwebs from cotton balls, and tombstones from cardboard. Simply lighting a candle can add a perfect eerie glow and pouring your seasonal orange and yellow packaged candies (or M&Ms, candy corn, or jelly beans) into glass containers will add a pop of Halloween color to your home.

Related: 10 Cheap DIY Halloween Decorating Ideas

Make Pumpkin Purchases Last Minute

Waiting until the last few days before Halloween to purchase your pumpkins might mean you'll deal with some slim pickings, but it'll also save you several dollars. Plus, you won't have the issue of the pumpkins going bad before Halloween rolls around. Check out your standard grocery and retail stores a day or two before the holiday for some majorly slashed prices.

Related: Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns

Craft Your Own Costumes

The average cost of a Halloween costume nowadays rings in at a whopping $100.45. Multiply that by a family of four and you're out $400 for outfits you'll likely only wear once or twice. Designing your own costume might cost you a little more in time, but imagine what you can do with those monetary savings! Dig through your own closets, borrow from friends and family, and visit your nearest thrift shop to create a one-of-a-kind ensemble. Or consider buying articles of clothing and accessories that you could use again in the future.

Related: Over 200 Budget-Friendly DIY Halloween Costumes

Enjoy a Night In

Whether you're socially distancing or simply trying to save up this season, then visits to all of the Halloween-themed attractions, movies, and experiences—which often cost $10-20 per ticket or more—might not be the best way to spend your money. Instead, host a scary night at home. Make it fun! Set the mood by keeping the lights off all night, using only flashlights to move about. Create a playlist of spooky tunes, rent or stream a scary movie or two, whip up some Halloween-inspired recipes, and read a couple of ghost stories aloud

Related: Halloween Activities for Kids

Buy Candy in Bulk

Your best bet for saving on candy is to buy in bulk at warehouse retailers like Costco, GFS, or Sam's Club. Opt for hard candies rather than chocolates, as they will always run quite a bit cheaper. If a warehouse retailer isn't an option for you, then check out dollar stores—many will offer name brand sweets at a lower price. If you're okay with procrastinating, wait until the day before or the day of Halloween, as retailers begin marking down their current holiday merchandise to start switching it out for the next.

Related: Save Money on Halloween Candy

Find Affordable (or Totally Free) Events

Many community centers, churches, libraries, and more, offer free Halloween-themed events (like trunk or treats, story-times, and craft activities) during the month of October, especially for the kiddos. Several events in our area this year have been reworked to focus on social-distancing or to be more virtual to ensure both fun and safety! Also consider outdoor options like corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and area drive-in theaters. Find out what's happening in your area and take advantage of frightfully cheap fun. And don't forget about Fort Wayne's Fright Night!

Visit Dollar + Thrift Stores

Skip shopping at major retailers for things like decorations and add-ons to costumes as they tend to mark-up these items during the month of October. Dollar stores and thrift shops should be your first stop. Even better, stock up during their 50% off sales!

Related: Goodwill Sales + Promotions

Go Online

The Internet is your best friend for things like free Halloween music, pumpkin carving patternsHalloween activities for kidsparty invitations, and more.

Save on Party Expenses

If you plan on throwing a hair-raising Halloween gathering this year, consider cutting down on the guest list to help with social distancing and with saving money! Also plan for an after-dinner party to save on the cost of food and drinks, and encourage guests to bring along a treat or drinks to share. Make your own decorations and costumes, stream movies and music you already have available, and stock up on other necessities at thrift and dollar stores.

Related: 10 Tips to Throw a Halloween Party on a Budget

Prepare for Next Halloween on the Cheap

Once all of the ghoulish games and fearsome fun have come to an end, use some of the money you've saved with these tips to purchase high-quality, long-lasting Halloween decorations once they're marked down. Most retailers slash prices by 50-90% in the days and weeks following Halloween. You can also stock up on discounted candy and costumes to use and gift for the upcoming holidays!

Related: Save Money at After-Halloween Sales


What are your best tips for saving money on all things Halloween? Share them with us in the comments!

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