Get Stingy on Halloween (Sort of)

6 years ago

The first year I was a home-owner as opposed to an apartment dweller in Kansas City, I bought a ton of candy and waited impatiently at the door. Approximately three small children came by and then a herd of costumeless teenagers rang the doorbell at 10 pm. After that, I kept my lights off or was gone on Halloween until we moved to our current house in the suburbs.

Here, things are different. Here, there are seven children within five houses and more where that came from. And also, interestingly! People commute into my neighborhood from other parts of town. They must have heard how good the getting is at school -- I was shocked the first time I saw a minivan pull up and about ten kids pile out.

Credit Image: Juushika Redgrave on Flickr

While I'm not actually going broke over Halloween, you could -- even if you're not a parent. The candy, the decorations (if you do that sort of thing), the kid costumes -- THE ADULT COSTUMES -- Halloween has become its own industry, complete with pop-up costume stores and mail-order catalogs.

Paul Vazquez at has the following suggestions. My commentary to follow.

  1. Buy Cheaper Candy -- Sugar-based candy (e.g., Sweet-Tarts, lollipops, etc.) tend to be much cheaper than chocolate-based candy.

  2. Don’t Over Buy --
    Try to buy only the amount of candy you need for trick-or-treaters based on last year’s traffic. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

  3. Dollar Stores -- Instead of dishing out candy to trick-or-treaters, consider trinkets. Many fun and inexpensive bag stuffers (e.g., stickers, pencils, erasers, glow-in-the dark jewelry, bouncy balls, and plastic vampire teeth) are available at your local dollar store or from a number of online vendors. Another upside to non-perishable treats is that whatever you don’t use you can put away for next year.

  4. Buy Now for Next Year -- If you have the storage space, stock up on Halloween decorations after Halloween and put them away to use next year. Post-holiday shopping can easily save you 75% or more.

  5. Make Your Own Decorations

    • Gravestones can be made from Styrofoam, a can of paint, and a broad-tipped marker

    • Black lights, florescent paint or chalk, and a black sheet help create a spooky backdrop for the porch

    • Colored paper bags with cut out jack-o-lantern faces and tea candles are a cheap way to light the path to the front door

    • Paper plates, paint, pipe cleaners, and construction paper make great spiders

    • Tissue paper, cotton balls, rubber bands, and a black marker make great ghosts

I totally agree with number five. We always make our own decorations with the one exception of a skeleton covered in glitter that I found at Target last year and had to have. You can move his arms and legs around and he sticks like that. I like to have him hang in the garage all year in various yoga poses. Sometimes even frugal mamas have to live a little.

I also like "don't overbuy." I would add to this "wait until Halloween day to buy your candy." Because, like, you totally eat the whole bag otherwise, right? And then you have to buy it AGAIN, and then there's some left over and before you know it, you've eaten 45 boxes of Whoppers.

But the other three? Buy cheaper candy? That candy sucks. Nobody wants the cheap super-sugar candy that comes in ten pound bags and still smells like the inside of a cardboard box when you eat it. If you're going to buy candy, buy candy -- just get a deal on it! Maybe even use coupons! Buy stuff that's not candy? I take issue with this in the same way I take issue with goody bags at birthday parties. No parent wants MORE PLASTIC SPIDERS. Not only is it totally a waste of money, it's worse for the environment than candy, I'm pretty sure. At least you eat the candy. And buying leftover Halloween decorations to save for next year sounds like the gateway drug to hoarding to me. I'm all about leftover winter holiday decorations, but do you really need store-bought Halloween decorations? For one day? Not a whole, festive season? Maybe you do. Let me know where you live, and I'll drop by with my daughter this year.

How do you keep Halloween fun but inexpensive?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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