Halloween is a fun day for both kids and adults. But with costumes, candy, and decorations to buy, the price for your celebration can creep up quickly. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend $80 on Halloween.
But the cost of Halloween doesn’t have make you panic. Like putting together a great costume, a little imagination and creativity may be all you need for big savings.
Stacy Johnson, founder of Money Talks News tells you how to look great on Halloween and still save a bundle in the process.
Now that you’ve got the idea, here’s more on how you can save on Halloween 2012.
Find your costume idea
Whether you’re looking for a fresh and timely costume or prefer a classic, there’s no shortage of places to look for fun and unique ideas.
The best place to find many of the popular costume ideas this year? Your local costume or Halloween store. Some popular options for 2012 include characters from the “Game of Thrones” TV show as well as “Spiderman” and “Thor” from the blockbuster movies. See what’s for sale, but don’t buy anything yet.
Creative ideas are available online as well. One of the best places to get visual ideas for Halloween in 2012: Pinterest. Check out hundreds of photos and ideas that others have pinned related to Halloween and scroll until you find inspiration for your own costume as well as creative examples for kids – like Dora the Explorer or Angry Birds.
Trendy costumes for adults are always a hit, and you’ll find hilarious topical costume ideas online. You could dress up as gold-medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney and her unimpressed expression, or the “Tanning Mom” accused of putting her daughter in a tanning booth earlier this year. Think about recent headlines and turn them into a unique costume.
Don’t forget simple yet thoughtful costumes that will still impress. If you love “punny” ideas, a cereal killer can be made in minutes with basic supplies.
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Assemble a used or reused costume
Here’s where the real creativity comes in: assembling your costume. While you could buy one at the store, you can easily create your own, well-made costume at a fraction of the cost.
Start with old remnants from previous costumes to put something new together. Vests, tights, and other items you wore last year work great for a variety of costumes. Accessories like hats and wigs are often interchangeable too. Use a top hat to complete your costume as Abraham Lincoln.
Not enough to go on? Hit up your friends or the parents of your kid’s friends and swap. They’re likely looking for new options, so trade.
Materials found around your house can also be used to create a costume. Cardboard boxes, for example, can be cut up and made into a robot, Lego piece, or even a Rubik’s Cube.
If you’re looking for something ready-to-wear, check Craigslist or eBay for used costumes. Many traditional costumes don’t change year to year, so you may find a vampire or pumpkin at a deep discount. You might even find free costumes up for grabs on Freecycle.
You can check out these other options to save money on kids’ costumes.
Get a deal at the thrift store
Thrift stores are a great spot for deals. If you’re planning to shred up a shirt or drench yourself in fake blood, you won’t have to worry about ruining nice clothes you’d like to wear again.
You’ll also find wacky stuff in thrift stores, with a wide array of clothing in all sorts of designs and colors. Maybe you need red pants to complete your clown outfit or a vest to transform into a pirate. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll likely find a wide range of sizes and styles unrivaled by other clothing stores.
Just don’t be afraid to cross the aisle and shop both the men’s and women’s sections. Anything goes for costumes, and no one will notice the difference if you look great on Halloween night.
Don’t forget DIY special effects and decorations
Makeup and decorations can be made inexpensively at home using common ingredients and materials.
This recipe for fake blood just takes cocoa mix, corn syrup, and food coloring to make realistic-looking blood. Colored makeup for a witch or Frankenstein’s monster only requires a simple recipe like this one combining a base with food coloring – which may be safer than store-bought products that might contain harmful chemicals.
Homemade decorations require a little time to make and materials you may have around the house. Want a homemade spider web? This site has six different types made from common items like yarn, cheesecloth, and electrical tape. Or if you just want a cotton web, try cotton balls.
As with costumes, look to recycled materials for decoration possibilities. Instead of tossing out milk jugs, you can transform them into a ghost-lit walkway, and you can use glass jars and some common foods to create spooky eyeballs and fingers.
Find a bargain on bulk candy
Sugar candy is often cheaper than chocolate. You can grab a package of 360 Dum Dums from Sam’s Club for about $8. Or compare dollar-store deals. Dollar Tree offers 15 rolls of Smarties for a buck.
If you still choose to go with chocolate, buy the smaller sizes of candy sold in bulk. Walmart sells bags with 95 pieces of Hershey’s Halloween candy for $8.88. Skip the full-size candy bar packs, which go for $10.98 for only 18 pieces.
Don’t just let kids grab a giant handful and run. Spread the love around by giving each trick-or-treater one or two pieces. You don’t have to feel stingy – just remember how many more houses are on your block for kids to fill their candy sacks.