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Going Broke on Halloween Candy and Costumes

Halloween for kids

How much will you spend on candy this year?

The average American will spend $66.28 on Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That means that a lot of people are shelling out big bucks to celebrate the holiday.

The biggest Halloween expense is costumes, followed by candy, with American families shelling out an average of $22 for Halloween sweets, Science Daily reports. Presumably, the rest of the money goes towards decorations.

As my Strollerderby colleague recently pointed out, Americans have been trick-or-treating since the 1920s. But back then, people handed out apples, pastries, breads and even money.

Nowadays, Halloween is big business with Americans spending $1 billion on candy each Halloween.

“Companies went after Halloween candy a long time ago,” says Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University. “Candy companies are active and aggressive marketers who offer convenient, pre-packaged treats to fulfill the tradition; Halloween is now a model for other holidays — candy baskets for Easter, candy canes for Christmas, holiday-themed M&Ms, chocolates for Valentine’s Day.”

How much money do you plan to spend on Halloween this year? Is it possible to have fun without going broke? Here are 8 tips that have proven useful at our house:

1. Go to a Halloween party or trick-or-treat so you don’t have to stock up on candy.  Yes, putting out a bowl of candy that says “take one please” is just asking for kids to “take all please,” but you won’t be around to fill it back up anyway.

2. Make your own costume. Target might disagree, but making your own costume is fun and worth the effort — it can cost next to nothing.  Free printable masks are available online. If you’re crafty, there are plenty of no-sew options that are just as cute as anything store bought. And your own closet holds a wealth of possibilities, especially if you just need a costume to tag along with your kids.

3. Re-use decorations from previous years. We literally have a skeleton we keep in the closet! If you save your decorations, you’ll never have to buy new ones!

4. Consider hand-me-down costumes or buying costumes at a thrift store. Thrift stores are a trove of quirky, bargain-priced duds just waiting to be transformed into a Halloween get-up. Think old team jerseys, flannel shirts, and retired prom dresses — there’s your football player, cowboy, or princess. And just like clothes, some costumes never go out of style, so hand-me-downs are another way to an inexpensive Halloween.

5. If you do buy candy, get the economy-size pack at a discount store. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper — just make sure you don’t eat it all yourself!

6. Dollar stores have deals. You don’t have to shell out big bucks at specialty Halloween stores for decorations, costumes, or candy.  Instead, check out your local dollar store. They usually have different holiday and party items that could easily become the perfect decoration or addition to your costume.  The candy they stock is the same candy you find at the supermarket, so buy it here instead.

7. Make your own decorations. Just because it’s store-bought doesn’t mean it’s better.  There are plenty of crafts you can do with your kids that are both festive and fun.  Besides, plastic bag ghosts do have a lot of charm.

8. Skip the haunted house and do something free and fun. If you’re looking for a fun and free Halloween activity for your family, don’t opt for a haunted house or spooky hayride that could cost some serious cash. Instead, gather around the TV and watch your favorite Halloween movies—the classics like Caspar and Hocus Pocus are almost always on television this time of year. You could also bake some awesomely inexpensive Halloween treats, read some Halloween books, or download some free spooky Halloween sounds to tell ghost stories to.

More posts:

Halloween Costume Ideas: Strollerderby Picks

iPhone 4 Tops Kids Holiday Wish Lists

“Toddlers and Tiaras” Dads: Creepy or Cool?

Beware: Halloween is Bad for Your Health

Boy Calls 911 to Complain About Dinner

Bullied Girl with Huntington’s Disease Gets Toy Spree

After IVF Mix-Up, Couple Sues Over Dark Skinned Baby

10 Creepiest Baby Names

PETA Pickets Elementary School

Book Time with Santa Online

photo: flickr/Juushika Redgrave

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