If you live a frugal lifestyle, holidays can test your commitment to thriftiness. It feels silly to spend money on decor, tableware and lawn ornaments that only come out for a few weeks a year. But that’s the point of a holiday – spending time and energy to celebrate a fleeting moment, regardless of how pointless it might seem.
The good news is, tricking your place out for Halloween can be a cheap treat if you approach it the right way. Here are some of our best tips from frugal experts.
Hit Up Craft Stores
Justin Pritchard, CFP of Approach Financial Planning likes fabric stores such as Joann’s, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for their huge selection of Halloween-themed fabric prints to brighten up your home. You can drape them over your dining room table or front porch. If you’re truly crafty, you can even buy raw materials to create your own decorations from scratch.
These stores usually have readily-available coupons for 40-50% off if you’re willing to look, and they usually match competitors’ coupons.
Check Out Yard Sales and Craigslist
When you live in a home long enough, you tend to acquire an abundance of holiday decorations over time. Chances are, someone near you is looking to unload some Halloween decor.
Check local yard sales, look at Craigslist and ask on NextDoor if anyone has Halloween decorations they want to get rid of. If a friend or neighbor is moving, they might also be looking to dispose of some plastic skeletons and glow-in-the-dark pumpkins.
Thrift stores almost always have a large selection of Halloween decorations, as well as costumes for much less than you’d pay at a party store. If you’re hosting a Halloween party, you can probably find spooky tableware for just a few dollars.
Buy in Bulk
If you and a friend are both struggling to find Halloween decorations on a budget, buy in bulk together and split the cost. This also works if you’re shopping at a warehouse club, where large packages of Halloween candy are much cheaper than the grocery store.
If you’re shopping online for decorations, don’t forget to use browser extensions like Ebates for cash back. You should also check your credit card for cash back at retailers like Amazon. Look for promo codes and coupons wherever you’re shopping.
Ten dollars for a skeleton sounds like a good deal, but is it? Most of us don’t have a good sense of what Halloween decorations should cost, so we fall for bad deals. If you’re looking to fully deck out your apartment or house for October, those little mark-ups can be a real budget murderer.
Before buying decorations, compare similar products at a couple stores to see what they charge. You might be surprised at the wide gulf in prices for the same items.
Scour the Dollar Store
While the Dollar Store isn’t great for items you want to last a long time, it’s perfect for seasonal decor.
“The Dollar Tree has those same plastic hands sticking in the ground as Walmart does for one-fifth the price,” said Sarah Wilson of Budget Girl.
Before you visit big box stores, check your nearest dollar store for cheap deals. Make sure not to go over budget just because the prices are good.
Recycle Your Trash
Have lots of online purchases coming to your door? Don’t throw those boxes away.
“Turn your Amazon cardboard shipping boxes into tombstone markers by cutting them out in the shape of a gravestone and painting them gray or black,” said Katie Rucke of DebtWave Credit Counseling, Inc.
You can then place these in your front yard and drape them with fake cobwebs or spiders.
Instead of buying individual items for every holiday, why not make things easier for yourself? There are a handful of decorations that work for multiple holiday seasons.
For instance, pumpkins and gourds are great for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. A string of white lights can work for any holiday. A plain wreath can be decorated with holiday-specific trinkets to use year-round. If you get creative, you’ll probably think of other ways your decorations can multi-task.
Use Household Supplies
Plenty of household supplies can be used for Halloween decorations. Drape gauze from your medicine cabinet onto your bushes to create a cobweb effect. Cut up a black trash bag vertically and hang it from your door (bonus points if you glue fake spiders to it). Drip red nail polish on a cheap black tablecloth for a bloody look.
“Grab garbage bags and put two horizontal holes near the bottom of the bag, insert a hanger at the bottom seem, flip over and you’ve got your ghost,” said Angela Matthews of Happy Investor Method.
You can find more ideas on Pinterest and YouTube, which have projects ranging from basic to complex. If you don’t have all the tools needed to make your own decor, ask your closest friends to come over for a Halloween decorating party. By pooling your resources, you might have enough to decorate your whole house.
Plan for Next Year
Prices for decorations drop significantly right after the holidays end. If you don’t end up finding enough decorations this year, you can stock up for 2019 the day after Halloween. Decorations will be significantly marked down, sometimes up to 80-90%.
“Invest in quality décor items if you’ll continue to use them year after year and you have a place to store your decorations,” Rucke said.
Store your decorations somewhere airtight and safe, not a leaky basement or creepy attic. You don’t want real spiders crawling over your fake ones. Remember not to buy more than you can comfortably keep.
Financial writer Leah Ingram said one year she and her husband saved seeds from their Halloween pumpkins and planted them in their backyard. The plants grew so well, they had extra pumpkins to give out to each of their neighbors. You’ll need a lot of room to grow pumpkins, so make sure your backyard is prepared.