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DIY Ideas for a Fun and Frugal Halloween

Young kids in Halloween costumes, trick or treating at someone's door.
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What’s one of the spookiest things about Halloween? The costs.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem daunting—it isn’t a gift-giving holiday, after all—but when you make a list and add up all of the expenses, reality hits. Between costumes, decorations and the bags of candy doled out to fairy princesses, superheroes and zombies, your Halloween financial expenses could max out your budget.

Read on for some cost-saving tips for a financially fun Halloween.

Community Costumes

Store-bought Halloween costumes can be pricey, and—let’s face it—oftentimes uninspired. There are plenty of alternatives (for kids and adults), and you don’t need to be an expert with the sewing machine, either.

Well before October 31, take to social media or your community’s Facebook page and post you’re looking to swap Halloween costumes. Like you, your friends and neighbors probably have a few years’ worth of costumes—worn once!—collecting dust in a closet, attic or basement. The firefighter costume that your friend’s son wore in 2015 hasn’t gone out of style, and it could be the perfect fit for your child.

If you don’t come up with a match in your community swap, Grandma probably has some great costume jewelry to transform your child into a rich lady, and Grandpa could have some fishing gear to turn you—or your little one—into an ace angler. Thrift shops also have great finds, such as a trench coat, hats and sunglasses.

And don’t sell yourself short when it comes to making your own inexpensive costume. Check out Pinterest, where we found endless ideas. One of our favorites for a group of friends going to a Halloween party: the gang from “The Big Bang Theory.” A Sheldon T-shirt, a Raj dickie or Bernadette glasses are low in cost and big in the wow factor as a group.

DIY Decorations

Those inflatable pumpkins and black cats on the front lawn are cute, but the price tags are also overinflated. Why buy expensive decorations when there are dozens of blogs and home improvement websites dedicated to giving you do-it-yourself ideas? Like creating your own haunted house!

Start at the front door: Take an old sheet or pillowcase, add some filling—old newspapers or even dryer lint are great (and free)—to make a head and draw on some spooky eyes; you have a ghost to greet your trick-or-treaters. Surround him with spider webbing from the party store and turn your potted plants into a graveyard. Cut up a white poster board and add creepy messages using your black marker, then stick your tombstones into your plants.

Move the decorating inside, where you can cut bats out of black felt and hang them from a doorway or ceiling, paint your pumpkins with glow-in-the-dark paint (cut some of the leftover black felt into eyes and mouths, and attach them to the pumpkin with a glue gun), or cut orange construction paper into pumpkins and attach them onto a clothesline to make a pumpkin garland.

The best part about DIY decorating? You can do this with your family and turn it into a holiday tradition. When the kids are little, make a few each year to add to your collection. When they leave the nest, give them the collection to use in their own homes, especially if they start their own families.

Candy Control

When it comes to Halloween, don’t feel that you must keep up with the Joneses. Just because the next-door neighbors give out full-sized candy bars, doesn’t mean you must. For kids, Halloween is more about the thrill of the hunt and the experience than it is the candy. Really.

To save money, opt for the less expensive lollipops. Or use portion control. Give every trick or treater just one—not a handful.

Or better yet, why not come up with a candy alternative? Your local dollar store typically has Halloween-themed pencils in a pack of eight or 10, or so, for a dollar. Kids love fun pencils, and parents will appreciate less sugar.

Halloween should be a fun day without stress. With some planning, you can accomplish this, and at little cost. Now isn’t that a treat?

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CUNA 2021 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2021 Diamond Award Winner

Content Marketing

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