How To Have A Low-Budget Halloween

Are you too broke to go trick-or-treating this year? Good! More candy for the rest of us! But even though Halloween brings out the competitive sweet-tooth in us, we want to share Kiplinger’s tips on how to have a cheaper Halloween.

Two of them—”get creative on costumes” and “follow a budget”—are things every reader should already know. After all, there’s absolutely no point in buying your kid a Venom costume when you can just pull a box down from the attic and dress him up as Grandpa the Barfly. But a few of the other tips are worth checking out.

Hide kids’ costumes on a high shelf until October 31. “The big secret of the industry is that a lot of times children buy costumes twice,” says Bianchi. “Their parents make the mistake of letting them try them on and play in them. Then they want a new one for Halloween.”

Buy candy in bulk and split the bag with a friend, neighbor or family member.

Shop online for deals on decorations and party gear.

Shop for decorations on November 1. You can snag clearance-priced items — typically 50% to 75% off — the day after Halloween.

On a personal note, we ordered a severed leg from an online Halloween supplier once (yeah? so what?) and it took about 12 weeks to arrive—so you may want to save the “shop online” tip for next year and be sure to order anything you need online early enough to have room to adjust if it doesn’t arrive.

“Halloween on a Budget” [Kiplinger’s]
(Photo: Yogi)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Just do what my co-workers do, and convince the kids that Halloween is the devil’s holiday. Then it’s free.

  2. Then they want a new one for Halloween.
    Say no.

    OK, is the baby in a cat costume laying on top of a real cat or does the black cat costume have a white tail for some reason?

  3. Antediluvian says:

    I’ve always found that if you turn off all your lights, hide in the basement, and don’t answer the door, you end up getting to keep all your candy. :-)

  4. OnceWasCool says:

    Halloween should be done away with. I am not against giving kids candy, but people sending kids out to beg from strangers nowadays is just not smart. I wouldn’t even walk up to doors in my area at night.

  5. Antediluvian says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    Well, the image’s file name is con_roadkillbabycostume.jpg, does that help?

  6. AlexDitto says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: It’s a calico.

    I completely agree. I can’t believe any parent would buy their child two costumes just because they played in one and got tired of it. That’s pathetic.

    Do people really shop for decorations every year? I know I’ve been using the same Styrofoam pumpkin and plastic bat for three years now. Costs me nothing.

    Also, you could do what my parents did, and make your children feel awkward and self conscious while they’re still young, so they refuse to go trick-or-treating. By the time I was seven, I thought the whole ordeal was dumb.

    I wonder if I can get away with giving the children that come by stuff that’s already in my pantry… I think I’ve got some cans of kidney beans in there somewhere….

  7. Beerad says:

    @oncewascool: Then maybe you’re living in the wrong neighborhood. It helps to actually meet your neighbors once in a while.

  8. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @oncewascool: Thats why all the kids in the hood go to the mall or the richie areas to trick or treat.

    I can say without a doubt I spend more on Halloween than christmas. It’s not that I don’t like christmas its just not my thing. I LOVE Halloween though, I decorated my house last weekend and I am going to Knotts scary farms this weekend and the Queen Mary haunted cruise Yay! I think I have more decorations in my office than most people have on thier house.

    Now I just have to get that animatronic zombie fixed in time for the big day….

    But more on topic, one of the local news pushers was running a story on cheap costumes. Things like gluing a bunch of plastic cups together and making a DNA string, and painting a bunch of plastic bowls to look like eyeballs. I know it was a long time ago but if I saw that in school that person would definatley get beat up, not by me per se just knowing kids. There is inexpensive and then there is cheap, Cheap = beat down.

  9. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @AlexDitto: I don’t buy new stuff every year, I will replace things that are worn out. Usually I will hit up all the local halloween stores the day after and get what I want for 70% off or so. I add on every year changing the theme around a little bit. Now my personal costume? Usually I will take bits from old ones and add on to them. I usually only buy new costume stuff once in a while.

    My neigbor just spent about $400 on a new Vampire costume…thats crazy. You can make one that looks way better for a lot less.

  10. pdxguy says:


  11. Lynn12 says:

    We stopped going trick-or-treating several years ago. We just have a small Halloween party for the family and friends. Each guest brings a bag of candy to fill a pinata & all the kids walk away happy.

  12. SaraAB87 says:

    There are a lot less trick or treaters here than there used to be, most parents cannot afford to take time off to be with their kids on halloween (and most companies here absolutely forbid parents with kids from taking off halloween), and with trick or treating basically ending around 5pm here you can see why we don’t get many trick or treaters. No responsible parent lets their kid out alone on halloween, yes it does happen but not that much. In other neighborhoods around here the kids group together with one or 2 adults who are able to go so that even the kids with working parents get to trick or treat but that doesn’t happen so much over here yet parents don’t have to worry about sending the kids out alone.

    Most kids are in store-bought costumes or they don’t even dress up either, which kind of defeats the point, most of the creativity has already been lost. With carve your own pumpkin kits containing fake pumpkings, store bought costumes and kids coming to the door without costume pretty much the whole holiday has been lost.

  13. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @SaraAB87: Wow that sucks that they stop the treating at 5pm? WTF? what kind of fun is that. We have actually seen an increase every year on my street since 03. We usually don’t sut down till 11ish or so.

    Yeah I hate it when kids come by w/o a costume, especially if they are like 15 or 16. I send em off with no candy. Make an effort at least..come on.

  14. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    d’oh shut not sut

  15. rkmc12 says:

    My mother buys the big boxes of little bags of chips from Costco, which seems to work well.

  16. wring says:

    duh, turn off the lights and pretend you’re not home so kids wouldn’t knock on teh door!

  17. MercuryPDX says:

    @SaraAB87: With carve your own pumpkin kits containing fake pumpkings

    That’s the best holiday decorating tip ever. I went to a local craft store after Halloween and bought about 10 hollow foam pumpkins at 75% off and one of those books. It took about 30-45 minutes to carve out each design with an exacto knife, and you can do the more difficult patterns with ease. I used a drill with a hole bit to cut a spot in the bottom, and light them with a string of white Christmas lights. The bonus is you do it ONCE and you can use them over and over again each year.

  18. UpsetPanda says:

    I remember when I was a kid, trick or treating lasted until 10 or 11 pm, because that was when it got to be too late for kids and parents to be out, chowing down on candy. You got your candy, went home, and continued making yourself sick there.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    What’s sad is that parents across the country bought into the, The World Will EAT Your Kids urban legend. Every “threat” out there has been tracked down and revealed to be myth, from razored apples to poisoned cookies to lurking predators. Granted, more kids ARE on the street, so drive carefully, but that’s about it.

    So sad – I weep for kids’ lives today.

    One kewl thing about today’s Halloween, though: grownups MUCH more likely to dress up.

  20. jmschn says:

    Who cares about Halloween for’s an adult holiday now!! ; )

  21. jmschn says:

    Who cares about Halloween for’s an adult holiday now!!!! ; )

  22. julienne says:

    “Buy candy in bulk and split the bag with a friend, neighbor or family member.” What? Where do you get 100 lb bags of candy? The feed store?

  23. Me. says:

    I’ve talked to so many people whose little boys are going as ninjas. Why? Because little boys love ninjas and all the parent has to do is dress him all in black: everyone (except the costume industry) wins!

  24. mac-phisto says:

    when i was a kid, we always made our costumes from crap we had around the house. my best costume was samhein – even won an award for that. made the entire costume out of decorations & costume parts from previous halloweens.

    i always had more fun making costumes than just buying something from a store. the quality of the masks & outfits anymore is crap. even the $100+ masks i see are just awful.

  25. nysports says:

    This is like the saddest set of posts ever. “Don’t go out,” “lock yourself up,” “be home by 5,” “don’t take off work or else.” My God, what is wrong with you people?