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Money Tips: Celebrate Halloween for Less Article Photo

Money Tips: Celebrate Halloween for Less

Trick or treat! These 3 words will be echoing throughout neighborhoods nationwide in less than a week. Are you prepared for the spooky celebrations? Before you begin, beware of the scary spending stats of Halloweens past.

According to, in 2014, US consumers spent 2.33 billion on candy alone, for the Halloween season. Add to that 2.79 billion on costumes and 2 billion on decorations. That equates to an average of nearly $75.00 per person spent on Halloween-related items. Truly terrifying!

Read on to find out more about Halloween’s origins, how it has evolved, and how you can get into the modern-day Halloween spirit without the frightful expenses.

Some Halloween History

Celebrated on the night of October 31, the holiday’s name is a shortening of All Hallows Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. This was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them while festivals would often involve bonfires.

Today, Americans typically celebrate Halloween and its traditions by dressing up in costumes, going to parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, telling ghost stories, visiting "haunted houses,” making bonfires, and of course, going trick-or-treating. And while all of these festivities sound like fun, the holiday has taken on a more commercial feel in recent years losing some of its authenticity and gaining a large price tag.

5 Tips for a Festive, Frugal, and Frightful Halloween

While it’s easy to get caught up in the Halloween hub-bub and go a bit overboard preparing for the October 31st festivities, it’s also pretty simple to save on your Spookday celebrations. With a little planning, some creativity, and a BOO-rific budget, your attire and decorations will do the scaring rather than your receipt at the costume shop checkout counter.

  1. Dress up for Less – DIY costumes – check out the thrift store or your own closet for costume components. Often you can get away with just purchasing accessories and make-up rather than an entire costume. If you’re creative, you can also secure great deals at the craft store and throw together original costumes for much less than you’d pay for complete packaged versions from a major retailer or party store. If you can wait until the last minute to buy costumes when prices often drop, this is a surefire money-saver, especially if you or your kids are not set on a specific costume idea. While the selection may be somewhat limited, you can usually use your imagination and creativity to throw together a ghoulish getup or two.

  2. Pumpkin-Palooza – Pumpkins are a classic symbol of Halloween, and of Fall in general. It’s a custom to adorn our homes and gardens with variations of the bright orange squash, and to have fun carving them as part of the Halloween décor. Many American families venture to their local pumpkin patch for a weekend hayride and pumpkin picking experience. Ironically, this is often the most expensive place to actually purchase your pumpkins which typically tote a price tag of about $.60 per pound. For a 15 lb pumpkin (a decent size for carving) your total would be $9. A comparable pumpkin at the grocery store during the fall costs about $4 or $5. Word to the pumpkin-savvy…buy a few mini pumpkins at the patch as a souvenir and purchase the big guys at the market.

  3. Candy 101 – If you expect a ton of trick-or-treaters then buy candy in bulk and on sale at a wholesale club like BJs or Costco. On the other hand, if you know the crowds have been sparse on past Halloweens, don’t go crazy with candy – just buy enough for the few ghosts and goblins who venture into your neck of the woods. When it comes to handing out the sweet treats, either do it yourself or appoint a reliable candy-handing-outter -- don’t let the neighborhood kids grab handfuls or you’ll be resorting to pennies long before night’s end! Recycle candy – have your kids make pit stops back at home throughout the course of their trick-or-treating travels to do a candy dump and leave behind any candy they don’t like. Add the rejects to your candy bowl for trick-or-treaters.

  4. Dollar Decorations and Supplies – you can transform your front yard into a ghoulish graveyard, an autumnal oasis, a haunted mansion, or whatever scene suits your Halloween fancy, and you can do so without spending an arm and a leg. Make a stop at your local Dollar or discount store to stock up on plastic spiders and rubber rats, fake cobwebs, skeletons, orange and black lights, scarecrows, wall hangings, candy, treat bags, glow sticks, and much more. These one-stop shops will have you and your home Halloween-ready for so much less.

  5. Post-Halloween Stock-Up – And just like that, another Halloween has come to an end…all of that prep for a few frightful hours of fun, Fall frolic, and let’s not forget… tons of candy. November 1st is the perfect time to hit the Halloween clearance sections at your local retailers. Any Target, Walmart, or similar establishment will want to quickly move out the Halloween leftovers to make room for Thanksgiving and upcoming winter holiday merchandise. This means they’ll be slashing prices. You can get some great buys on costumes, accessories, and decorations for next year’s festivities! And if you didn’t get enough of your favorite candy – well, it will likely be abundant and super cheap so go ahead and indulge.

Don’t forget – if you’re looking for some fun, safe, family-friendly, and usually free Halloween events and activities contact your credit union to find out what’s in store on their late-October calendar. Here’s to a happy and low-cost Halloween!

By Cyndi Cohen
Published October 27, 2015
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