Halloween is reported to be the third-most expensive holiday of the year, right behind Christmas and Valentine's Day. If you have small children, expenses for costumes, candy, decorations and possibly admission fees to Halloween events can take a toll on your budget.
Many costumes can cost more than $35 at party stores, which adds up quickly if you have more than one child. With a little creativity, you and your children can make easy costumes with items you have around the house. For 100 easy and inexpensive costumes you can create at home, check out www.familyfun.com. Some ideas only take a few minutes to pull together!
This week, I asked viewers to submit their favorite Halloween savings tips, and they came up with many clever ways to save on costumes, decorations and more.
From Mercedes Wayman of Longmont, Colo.:
"For those costumes that rarely get used, exchange them with other people. The Web site http://preschoolrock.com/index.php/costume_exchange lets you exchange costumes with other people. All you have to do is pay for shipping. I think that's a great way to use and get costumes."
From Glenda of Moses Lake, Wash.:
"I have two children, and at the end of each September I would find out what they both wanted to be (the younger they are, the more suggestions I gave). I then scout out the Salvation Army, Goodwill to find either the costume itself or materials and supplies to make one. One year, I found a feathered wig and an old striped housecoat that became a great clown outfit for my six year old. Another was an extra large pink sweatshirt and a can of hair spray and my daughter became a troll. For the less crafty, a plain black garbage bag and, yes I'll dare to say it, duct tape, makes a great M & M bag."
From Sharon Hansen of Loganville, Ga.:
"If you haven't discovered thrift stores, you haven't truly been a bargain shopper. Not only do I find cool jeans and vintage clothing for my teen, but also the coolest clothing for costumes ever. Also watch out for special sales. Sometimes certain days of the week mean discounts. In my area, the Salvation Army store has all clothing half priced on Wednesdays. The Goodwill store varies, some days certain color tags are discounted, or certain items. For example, on Mondays all yellow tags and ladies dresse[s] are 50 percent off. The sales will vary in your location and may also vary from week to week. Look for funky boots and shoes, evening dresses, tuxes, wigs (be sure to clean first before wearing), vintage styles and even decorations. Some stores will save up decorations and put them out right before the holiday. Check back on the days right after the holiday to get even bigger discounts on seasonal items."
From Lynn Schoephoerster of Colorado Springs, Colo.:
"I will buy candy at the end of one season at a discount -- 50-75 percent off and save it for another season. If it is chocolate, it saves well in a freezer or deep freeze. Costumes work the same way if you can find one you like at a discount. I keep a plastic bin in the basement for the different holidays where I put my discount items that I am saving for the following year."
From Gina Richey of Richland, Wash.:
"I have two daughters who are years apart in age. When we pick out costumes, I tell them they will have to wear their costumes for two years so they choose carefully. By the time the second year rolls around, they are so excited to wear their costumes again that they don't care about not getting a new one. Then the next year, little sister wants to wear big sister's costume that now fits her, so we get three or four years of wear from one costume."
Be sure to stock up on seasonal paper goods, decorations and costumes to save 75 percent or more the week after Halloween. You'll be ahead of the game for next year!
The best way to save is to avoid overbuying candy. Most likely, you will have plenty of candy. If you run out of candy, you can always give out nickels or dimes to the later trick-or-treaters. Find bargain candy at the dollar store; watch for sales at the grocery store and use coupons from the Sunday coupon circular to pay rock-bottom prices for the candy you buy.
Have fun with your children or grandchildren while saving money by making your own decorations. Carve a pumpkin together. For just a few dollars, you can create a memorable annual tradition with your child and decorate your front porch or window at the same time.
Check the local calendar section in community newspapers and magazines to find inexpensive or free festivals and events. Look for admission coupons in the newspapers and local magazines. Check the Web sites of sponsoring organizations to find printable coupons for event admission. Many schools, churches and places of worship offer free festivals and fairs around Halloween that are open to the public.