Ah, Halloween. The one day a year it’s socially acceptable to panhandle for free candy while dressed up as a Disney princess.
But even though it’s a holiday whose main event is begging for free stuff, it turns out you can spend a good chunk of change (try $7.4 billion!) on Halloween festivities, from high-end costumes to pricey decorations.
But have no fear this Halloween — at least not for your wallet. Here are 13 great ways to save money this Halloween.
1. Make Your Own Costume
Some of these costumes require more crafts skills than others, but if you’re proficient at DIY, you stand a chance to make money on Halloween by selling your wares, let alone saving the cost of your family’s costumes.
Heck, you might even be able to reuse your creation to make some cash on the side later by busking!
2. If You Hate DIY, Get a Cheap Costume
Not crafty? No worries!
Raid your closet and your local Goodwill for items you can finagle into costume status — and wear later.
3. Make Your Own Decorations
Crafting Halloween decorations instead of buying them can save major bucks — and look how cute some of these ideas are!
And, of course, the jack-o’-lanterns you’re carving anyway are a great decoration in their own right. But before you go out and grab that book of stencils:
4. Use Free Stencils for Halloween Pumpkin Carving
5. Buy Your Pumpkins at the Last Minute
Whether from pumpkin patches or the grocery store, the gourds are likely to be cheaper closer to the holiday. Your selection will be a little narrower, but that just makes it easier to decide!
Plus, if you pick and carve your pumpkin too early, it might rot before Halloween even arrives. So if you’re reading this and haven’t bought your pumpkin yet, you’re on the right track.
6. Actually Eat Your Pumpkins
Did you know that pumpkin pie filling doesn’t just come from a can? In fact, you can repurpose that pumpkin in lots of edible ways — and a few others, too.
7. And Your Indian Corn
Growing up in Florida, I didn’t see too many autumn-related weather changes. All the trees stayed green.
But one thing always meant fall was in full swing for sure: My mother would hang ears of beautiful Indian corn on our front door.
Turns out you can actually eat that Indian corn — Pam at Gingerbread Snowflakes made her own cornmeal, grits and popcorn!
8. Buy Candy in Bulk
You can save a few cents per bag by buying the economy-sized Halloween assortments of candy versus the family-sized or smaller bags. In general, fruity or hard candies are cheaper than chocolate.
And don’t just pick the biggest bag of sugary sweets willy nilly — shop around. Slight differences in what candies are included in your bulk bag can mean the difference between paying $25 or $14 for a similar number of giveaways.
But if you really want to save, stay up to date on local deals and check your local membership warehouse club (like Costco or Sam’s Club) — you might be talking about the difference between 11 cents per ounce and 26 cents per ounce.
9. Return Unopened Bags
If you open bags of candy one at a time as needed, you can return the unopened ones to the vendor and get your money back — and have less candy sitting in your cabinets.
10. Consider Candy Alternatives
Popcorn balls are cheap and easy to make, or you could pass out non-edibles like these Halloween-themed erasers (I might be a nerdy exception, but these treats would not have left me feeling tricked! So cute). At 720 pieces for under $14, they’re a steal.
Consider this: Even some bulk candies end up costing 15 cents per piece, and most kids want to grab a handful. You could give away a quarter to each visitor and perhaps still be saving cash!
11. Go to a Halloween Party Instead of Heading to a Big Event
Lots of Halloween fanatics are willing to shell out big bucks on events like Halloween Horror Nights — tickets start at $50 apiece.
Instead, have a few friends over or head to the office Halloween party. Plus, keep your eyes on your local newspaper for low- or no-cost Halloween events near you.
12. Make Your Own Adorable Favors
Not just decorations, but tasty treats too — look how easy some of these recipes are! You can stay on theme without paying for bakery-decorated goods.
13. Screen Your Own Scary Movies
Heading to the theater for a scary flick on or around Halloween is a tradition in my family. But what did you spend last time you went to the cinema? The answer may be scarier than Paranormal Activity could ever hope to be.
According to this list of AMC’s ticket prices, an outing for two adults would run you almost $30 — before the popcorn (100% necessary).
Stay home, pop your own and enjoy one of Netflix’s creepy offerings. Plus, if you get too freaked out, you can always turn on the lights.
Your Turn: How do you find freaky, low-cost ways to have fun on Halloween?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Jamie Cattanach is staff writer at The Penny Hoarder and a native Floridian. Halloween is her favorite holiday.