The Ultimate Guide to an Amazing, Inexpensive Halloween

Here are frightfully easy ways to have a great, inexpensive Halloween.Here are frightfully easy ways to have a great, inexpensive Halloween.Halloween costumes, candy, decorations -- the cost is frightening. People even buy specialized trick-or-treat bags, for heaven's sake!

Back in my day, I roamed neighborhoods more than a mile away from home with a handful of friends. As long as I was back before 9 p.m., I was free to gather as much candy as I could shoulder.

Purchasing a costume was not an option that my mother entertained. Her thinking went like this: Halloween is a holiday where people you don't know give you for free what kids desire most -- candy. So don't tell me you can't find one hour to put together a costume to entertain them. I believed that if I dared to ask her to buy me a costume, she would reply, "You want free candy and for me to buy you a costume?"

My mother believes in earning rewards.So our Halloween costumes were homemade, except for the one year I persuaded my grandmother to buy me a jailbird costume. It was shiny and perfect in the package, but when I opened it I discovered flimsy polyester material and a leg iron so fragile that it broke the first time I fit it around my calf. I was too embarrassed to tell my grandmother, but the costume sucked.

Costumes can cost well over $100 and contribute heavily to Halloween expenses -- $79.82 for an average family, according to the National Retail Federation. All this spending has spurred The Consumerist blog to declare that DIY Halloween is over. Gah! I can't think of anything more terrifying! Let's prove them wrong and make ourselves below average.

Halloween expenses can be broken down into four categories: candy, costumes, treat bags and decorations. Let's go through each one.

Candy

I know you hate clipping coupons, but now is the time to save the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts. Hold onto your coupon inserts from the past three months, if you can. Don't get the paper? You can always buy candy coupons from a legit site. Watch the weekly flyers from your local drugstore and grocer carefully. Oftentimes there are incredible candy deals this time of year because of the intense interest in Halloween.

Other options are to (politely) ask neighbors who don't clip for their coupons. The Coupon Mom posts Halloween candy coupons, too. But they go fast! Or, search online coupons at Coupons.com, RedPlum, Shortcuts and SmartSource.

Costumes

Savvy Sugar has nine easy homemade costumes, the most unusual of which is a Jersey Shore Gal. Got a tight dress, a can of fake tan and lots of hair spray? You're ready to go. Jim at Bargaineering came up with five homemade kid costumes, including a bed bug and an artist. Yours truly put together the top 11 Halloween costumes to make at home, plus another 47 easy costumes for less than $10!

Treat Bags

Easy peasy. Any pillow case will do. If you insist on being creative, pull out the Crayons and go to town on a paper bag that has handles. Don't give in to the pressure to carry a cheap plastic Jack-o-lantern.

Decorations

Jody at Living on the Cheap made an entire haunted wedding party in their front yard. Spooky! Most of the supplies are gathering dust in your basement, from tent stakes to fishing wire. The formal clothing for the bridal party may be the most unusual items needed.

Looking for more traditional Halloween decorations? Angela at Money Crashers has detailed directions for how to make everything from basic tombstones to a coffin and spooky specimen jars. The projects are fun, easy and have few costs, if any. If you've got little ones, Kelly at The Centsible Life shares four super easy Halloween decor projects, including tissue paper ghosts and pipe cleaner spiders.
Last but not least, check out these fun pumpkin carving ideas!

- By Julia Scott
Each week, Julia Scott offers a collection of savings tips -- including some of the week's best links from around the Internet -- to InvestingAnswers readers. Julia is the founder of the savings and coupon blog BargainBabe.com.


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