3 Ideas for a cheap and frugal Halloween

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Halloween is one of those retail holidays that can easily suck the life from your wallet until it is dry.  Mail-ordered costumes, custom stencils for artistically sliced gourds (technically pumpkins are gourd-like rather than true gourds), environmentally unfriendly half servings of sweets… oh the madness!  Don’t let it!  So many years, Brian and I tried to go all out for Halloween – we would get costumes, go to the bars, spend lots of money, and inevitably, be disappointed.  So for the most part, we’ve given up on these aspects of Halloween.  Instead, we often do a combination of these cheap Halloween activities:

  • Make your own costumes: This is a fun activity for any age!  Brian and I have been successful and not-so-successful at making costumes from themes such as Alice in Wonderland (Brian was the Mad Hatter) and ancient Rome (Cleopatra and Anthony).  We often hit up thrift stores for fabric and odds and ends.  And old suit jacket from the 60s or a cool retro top hat makes a great costume starter.  You do need to be handy with a thread and needle if you need to make alterations to shirts or dresses, but a simple stitch in the right places usually does the trick.  When I was young, my mom (who is awesome with a sewing machine by the way) made me a super cute penguin costume.  Alone among princesses and ninjas, I was a cozy and warm flightless bird.
  • Invite your friends over: Doing the bar crawl is fun when you’re 19… and that’s about it. It’s expensive, drinks are expensive, and face it – no matter how hot your slutty fairy/witch/princess/nurse costume is, there will always be a sluttier one.  It’s practically a given.  Rather than competing for the attention of cute drunken boys, have a few friends over, make some Halloween themed food and drinks, and have a go at pumpkin carving.  While you’re at it, you could play some cheesy Halloween music or put a slasher flick up on the TV for background “ambiance”
  • Ignore it completely: Let’s face it – Halloween as we know is hardly what it was intended to be.  There’s little respect given to the dead and butchering squash into aesthetically pleasing faces doesn’t exactly scream harvest festival.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just skip the “holiday” stress and enjoy 50% off candy the day after.
This year, Brian and I did a grab bag of activities.  No costumes for us this year – instead we carved pumpkins with a few friends and we also got together for drinks and scary movies with another set of friends.  It was super fun and not very expensive at all.
Happy Halloween everyone!
This post also appeared on Life as Mom: Frugal Friday

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  1. Happy Halloween! I’ve never been big on Halloween, even in college. It was really a time for the girls to dress up and go nuts, and I just sat back and enjoyed the show. These days the wife and I pretty much ignore Halloween; we’ll buy candy in case some kids come by the house but other than that we don’t do much.

    This year we’re headed over to a friends house to have games outside for kids to partake it. It will be interesting..but again, I’m not dressing up. 🙂 I spent $6 on candy and that’s as much as I’ve giving away to the “holiday”.

  2. We are just taking the kids trick-or-treating then we will TRY to not eat all of their candy =)

  3. Yup, that’s what we did. I only had to buy a few things for my costume, then we just got together with friends at someone’s house. I think I probably spent $40 total on everything including snacks and drinks.

  4. I enjoyed Halloween as a kid but not so much as I got older. Yes I remember the drunken party at 19 years old. Man I felt like crap the next day.

    We don’t hand out candy anymore either.

    I do love Halloween music. Just listening to the Monster Mash as I type this.

    Happy Halloween!!

  5. We have spent $4 on Halloween this year buying 3 bags of candy. Our kids’ costumes were free (already worn once for a trunk-or-treat on Friday), the pumpkins my MIL bought us when she took my boys to a pumpkin patch, and we just reused last year’s decorations and a few handmade milk carton ghosts. No need to go broke trying to have fun. I think a lot of the fun of Halloween is being creative!

    • CF says:

      I don’t know where you guys are buying candy that it is so cheap! The mini chocolate bars around here start at $4 a bag and you don’t get very much at all.

  6. Pauline says:

    Happy Halloween! It is not a tradition for me but I have been a couple of time in the US for Halloween and enjoyed it. As adults, sharing a night in with friends is usually more fun than trying to attend THE party and spend most time getting there, back, or never finding the place… I have tried to hard for a few years before realizing you can have a great time with not much.

  7. Jordann says:

    We didn’t celebrate on actual halloween this year, or put up decorations which was a big cost saver. Instead we bought some costumes and went out to a friends house for a party – definitely cheaper that way!

  8. My sister in law and hubby made their own costumes and they turned out really good. It really is amazing what you can put together yourself. We didn’t get around to doing anything ourselves this year.

  9. Good tips. We ended up not doing much as the whole house got sick. 🙁 But, we went out yesterday to buy discounted candy…so the kids won’t lose out.

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