My birthday is on Halloween, so every year I get super excited. I plan what my costume will be, decide how I want to celebrate and text all my friends to let them know.
Last year, I was finally able to host a Halloween and birthday party at my house. I was so excited. I haven’t had a party at my house since I was in high school, and I wanted to make it a big blowout.
But once I got to the party supply store, I was shocked. Everything was so expensive, including the cheap plastic decorations.
It was too close to party time to find a cheaper option, but I learned a lot from that experience. Here’s how I save on Halloween now and what I learned from last year.
Look for Party Supplies and Decor at Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are one of the best places to get party supplies on a budget. You can find cheap punch bowls, mismatched glasses tablecloths and random pieces of decor.
Make sure to compare prices on Halloween decor online before you stock up. Some thrift stores will mark up Halloween supplies right before the holiday, because they know people are interested or desperate.
Some thrift stores also have special sales, like 50% off on Saturdays or 10% off if you bring a reusable bag. If you truly want to get the best deal, look for Halloween decorations and combine them with other coupons.
Even if you’re not a crafty person, you can still make your own Halloween decorations. I like to print out stencils of bats, ghosts and pumpkins and cut them out of construction paper. I then stick the stencils on the walls with regular tape.
A 100-count pack of construction paper is between $5 and $10. You can find free stencils on the internet. I like to do black construction paper for bats, orange paper for pumpkins and white for ghosts.
It takes a few minutes to cut out the stencils and tape them to the walls. As soon as you find out you’re hosting a Halloween party, start working on the stencils. This is a tedious craft, but it’s very affordable and you can reuse the designs every year.
You can also buy black poster board and cut out scary outlines for your exterior windows. You can find a stencil online. If you take off the decor carefully, you can reuse it for next year.
Decorate with Pumpkins
Decorating with pumpkins and other gourds is a fun, frugal way to brighten your place for Halloween without buying cheesy decorations. To get the best deal, compare prices at the grocery store and look at farmer’s markets and pumpkin patches outside the city.
I went to a nursery recently to buy plants and asked how much their pumpkins cost. They were charging $2 for small decorative pumpkins. I then went to a pumpkin patch in a rural part of the state and only paid 50 cents for the same small pumpkins.
There are two types of pumpkins, carving pumpkins and pie pumpkins. If you buy pie pumpkins just to have around for your party, you can bake them later. This way, you’re using the same pumpkin for two purposes.
Find an Affordable Costume
Costumes are the best and most fun part of Halloween, but they can also be the most expensive aspect.
Instead of buying a $50 costume from Party City, try to get creative. First, see what you already have in your closet. You might be surprised at what you own that lends itself to a cheap costume. For example, last year my husband went as the Lion King. He wore a paisley-printed robe he already had and bought a $5 lion mask at the party store.
This year, I’m going as a superhero from the Amazon show, “The Boys.” I already have most of the supplies I need because I’ve gone as a superhero before. I went to Michael’s to buy fabric to make a no-sew cape, which only cost $9 because I had a 50% off coupon.
Picking a fun costume doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find lots of frugal ideas on Reddit. If you really get stuck on an idea, brainstorm with your friends. They might have some suggestions.
Check Candy Prices
Before last year, I had never lived in a neighborhood with trick or treaters. I went to the grocery store to buy candy, excited to hand it out to cute little kids.
Once I got to the store, I was shocked at the prices. I couldn’t believe how much a bag of candy cost and how much I’d need. Again, I’d waited until the last minute and didn’t have time to comparison shop.
Later a neighbor told me her trick. She buys some nice, name-brand candy and also buys a lot of Tootsie Rolls, which are more affordable. If you sprinkle in both, you’ll get a nice of mix of candy without breaking your budget.
Warehouse clubs also usually have good deals on candy if you shop ahead.
Check out the Dollar Store
Though it seems obvious, many people skip dollar stores when they’re buying decorations and party supplies. They think the items there are too cheap and will fall apart quickly.
But the quality is good enough to last for one party, even if it gets rowdy. Try to get things that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. For example, streamers are affordable and can cover a whole room.
If you think you’re going to host a Halloween party every year, try to buy decorations you can reuse over and over again. For example, balloons and fake cobwebs are only good for one year but fake pumpkins can be used many times.
Once the party is over, check out your local stores to see what Halloween decorations are on sale. Many will offer 50% off or more on decor that you can save for next year. Sure, it sucks to pay that money now and wait a whole year, but you’ll be glad you did.