Well, October is already almost upon us and the weather is finally starting to cooperate and feel more ‘fall-like’. If you’re considering throwing a Halloween party that your wallet will love as much as your guests then look no further! Here’s my tips for celebrating Halloween with a price tag that won’t haunt you.
Decorations and Party Ware: If you’re buying stuff for this year then I would suggest The Dollar Tree. They consistently have really cute, family friendly Halloween decorations for, well, a dollar. Last year I scored some really cute ghosts with witch feet and some really decent Halloween solar lawn lights that actually worked! This year I found adorable crashing witch feet. They also have a multitude of general Halloween themed paper plates and napkins.
If you are into pre-meditating like myself, then the absolute cheapest is to buy up a bunch of stuff AFTER Halloween at anywhere from 50-75% off. This is usually what I do to load up on things that don’t go bad like paper cups, plates, and napkins. I’ve also picked up table cloths, balloons, and a multitude of decorations for next to nothing. The only downside is planning a year in advance and then storing it all.
Candy and Cupcakes and Party Favors ‘Oh My’: After years of kids actually turning down the ten-dollar-a-bag chocolate candy mix in favor of the far cheaper Air Heads and Laffy Taffy I finally learned not to waste my money or my calories (guess who usually winds up eating all the left over Kit-Kats?). Now, I grab those Nerds, Laffy Taffy, and Air Heads again, right AFTER Halloween at 75% off. You can freeze them if you are worried about them going bad, but honestly I have stored them in a cool, dry place and they taste perfect the next year.
Sounds gross, but those pre-packed tubes of orange or black icing for cookie decorating also never go bad. Nor do Halloween sprinkles or Halloween Funfetti cupcake mixes. Seriously, I just bought a box and the expiration date is, no lie, two years from now. Also, look for Halloween themed cupcake wrappers on clearance- no one will ever suspect they are from previous years.
If you are buying for this year I would suggest The Dollar Tree again. They definitely have cheap candy prices, but do watch the size of the bag. Their prices are usually cheaper, but the quantity tends to be less. Along the same vein you can score some non-candy party favors in small quantities here too. Oriental Trading Company is a great one if you are buying in bulk and can get free shipping. Try and get all your cups, plates, balloons, napkins, candy, crafts, decorations, and party favor toys at one time (I think free shipping is on $40.00 or more orders unless they are running free shipping promos). If you are of the ‘Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ generation they carry some really cute Snoopy and Charlie brown items especially the plates and napkins.
Costumes: Personally I don’t buy into the fifty dollar costumes sold in those ‘pop up’ Halloween stores. Unless you are going to some sort of Gala Halloween ball there’s no point in spending that much on a costume you will only wear once. If you are a crafty seamstress (I am not) you can sew your own, though fabric has become down right expensive. I would wait for the mailer coupons for places like Joann Fabric and Hobby Lobby or see if you can score enough fabric in the ‘remnants’ section to piece something together.
For my kids I have had great success at (you guessed it) Goodwill. This time of year they will have racks and racks of Disney Princess dresses and super hero costumes that kids wore once and then outgrew. I gobble them up and use them for dress ups all year long. Then come Halloween when they keep changing their minds about what they want to dress up as I tell them they can be anything on the costume rack in the basement. Goodwill does a great job of painstakingly sanitizing everything that comes in, but with fabrics I still feel better if I throw them in the dryer on medium-high heat for an hour just for peace of mind.
Above: Gratuitus Goodwill Costume Swag Shot
My other go-to is, again, The Dollar tree. I tend to find the accessories for my costumes here such as, say, num-chuks for the year we were all Ninja Turtles. Right now they have these adorable bumble bee, lady bug, and butterfly outfits. The wings, antenna, skirt, tiara, and wands are all sold separately, but that still puts you at around five dollars. Then you just throw in a black or red shirt and pants for the lady bug or a yellow or black shirt for the bumble bee and there you go- an adorable, yet inexpensive costume for your kiddo.
Activities: So what to do at your Halloween bash? I found dozens of kid friendly campfire/ghost stories online. You can tailor the scariness level to the age of your kids. If you don’t have a fire place or fire pit then sub in a camping lantern or flashlight! Covid plus toddlers plus the holidays plus nowhere we could go forced me to be REALLY creative with holiday activities. I found that with the help of the Oriental Trading Company and some leftover plastic Easter eggs we could entertain the kids with: A Turkey Egg hunt for thanksgiving, A New Years Ball Drop hunt, a Cupid egg hunt for Valentines Day, a Leprechaun Egg hunt for St. Patricks’ day, and most importantly- a ghost egg hunt for Halloween. Super cheesy and probably won’t appeal to the older kids unless you hide five dollar bills in there, but it kept my three and five year old’s busy for hours.
Food: A super simple, super cheap main course is pumpkin shaped pizza. I make my own dough, but you can buy it pre-made too (I know Trader Joe’s carries a decent pre-made dough) and roll it into a circle first. Then I use my fingers to pinch a ‘stem’ at the top of the dough. Add your sauce and cheese and use vegetables and meat to make your Jack-o-lantern face and you’ve got a really cute, really tasty dish.
For dessert we take the Halloween themed peeps (they come in pumpkins, ghosts, Frankenstein’s, and black cats…oh and this year we found skulls too) and make s’mores out of them. A word of warning- they don’t toast very well over the fire. I think the sugar coating makes them prone to burning, but about 18 seconds in the microwave seems to do the trick- and it’s fun to watch them grow HUGE in there! I also had a recipe for molten peep ghost cakes that were a bit of a chore to make but tasted divine! Sadly, I can’t find the recipe, but I am 99% sure it is in this cookbook (see link below). I scoured online for it and cannot find it- boo! (pun intended)
As always, enjoy these ideas- be creative, have fun, make them you own, and have a Halloween that’s so affordable it’s eerie!