Personally, when I think about expensive holidays, Christmas is the first to come to mind.

After that comes Valentine’s Day (hey, dinner and a movie isn’t cheap!).

But when it comes to Halloween, kids in ghost costumes aren’t the only things that sneak up on me. Halloween can actually end up being pretty expensive.

The cost of candy, costumes, decorations, going out, and hosting parties can really add up. If you have kids, this cost can be multiplied. But don’t get scared – there are plenty of ways to save money during Halloween.

Saving on Candy

Dressing up is fun at any age, but for kids, candy is probably the most exciting aspect of Halloween. Getting the right amount of candy requires some good estimation skills, and even then, you can end up spending too much. Keep these things in mind:

  • Buy Generic – It’s unlikely that trick-or-treaters will care too much about the brand of the candy that they get from you. As long as you have something to give them, they should be happy.
  • Buy in Bulk – Having too much leftover candy after Halloween is a real concern, but buying in bulk can save you a lot of cash. If you’re sure that a bulk purchase will be too much, consider splitting the cost with a neighbor or friend.
  • Hand out the Candy Yourself – It can be fun to let kids reach in your bowl and take a handful of candy, but this also means you’ll run out sooner. Try giving only one piece to each child so you don’t have to buy as much.
  • Take Your Kids Out – If you have kids, go trick-or-treating with them instead of handing out candy at all.
  • Resist the Urge – We’re all guilty of it – sneaking away with some candy that we’re supposed to be handing out, or helping our kids eat some of theirs. But watch out – the University of Colorado reports that the average child gains 2.2 pounds in just three days from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. If you’re helping them eat it, you’re gaining weight as well. Combine that with the weight gained during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and pretty soon you’ll be spending money on trips to the gym, specialty foods, and maybe even exercise equipment.
  • Choose Candy That Will Last – Hard candy, when stored in a cool, dry place at room temperature, can last up to a year. Dark chocolate stored in a cool, dark, dry place can last even longer than a year. Few candies will make it make to next Halloween, but choosing candies such as these can get you through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.

Saving on Costumes

Whether you’re helping your kids find a costume or dressing yourself, be sure to stay in a DIY mindset. Halloween shops and retail stores can get unnecessarily expensive.

  • Have a Costume Swap – Rather than buying your kids those expensive pirate costumes, see if your neighbors have pirate costumes that they’d like to trade for something you already own. If you invite a lot of people, your kids can have even more of a choice.
  • Visit Thrift Stores – Secondhand stores have a ton of cheap clothing that’s often old or tacky enough to be used in a costume.
  • Raid Your Family’s Closets – Looking through your own closet for costume ideas is a no-brainer, but don’t forget about your parents, siblings, cousins, etc. They may have old clothes and props that you can use. Also, you could use whatever you find to dress your child up as a another member of your family (this usually makes for a pretty memorable Halloween).
  • Cheap Ideas – Think of something that you can quickly make yourself. For example, you could put on a raincoat, tape newspaper to it, slick your hair to one side and go as a “weather-person in a hurricane.” A classic cheap idea involves wrapping yourself in tin foil and going as a “leftover.”

Whatever costume you end up getting your child, don’t let them wear it until Halloween. Parents sometimes let their kids play in their costumes for weeks before Halloween, and when the big day comes, the costume is practically ruined. Save money by making sure you only have to buy a costume once.

Saving on Parties

There’s one simple way to save money on Halloween parties – don’t have one! However, if you’re determined to have a party, try using these tips:

  • Have a Potluck – Have your guests bring food instead of buying and cooking it yourself.
  • BYOB – If you want to make the food, at least have your guests bring the drinks.
  • Set a Budget – Sit down and list exactly what you need for your party. Shop around for the best deals, and stick to your list. It’s far too easy to succumb to impulse purchases of candy and decorations when you’re actually out shopping.
  • Think About Decorations – When it comes to decorating your home, try to either re-use old Halloween decorations or make your own. Simple things like “spirit jugs” made out of old milk containers can be fun and easy.

Perhaps the best way to save, though, is to shop right after Halloween. You’ll find incredible discounts on decorations, costumes, candy, and anything Halloween-related on Nov. 1. So, like most money-saving tactics, you just have to plan ahead. If you think about Halloween a year in advance, the hidden costs won’t have any chance of sneaking up on you.

This guest post was written by Mike Carlson, who is a freelance writer and web developer from Seattle, Washington. In his free time, he enjoys playing his trombone in a local jazz band, hiking, kayaking, and playing video games. Mike is interested in everything finance, SEO, and web development – especially new and emerging technology and techniques.

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