Halloween the first of many fun, exciting and yet very expensive holidays in a row. It starts with the crisp air, then the leaves start to fall as the temperature drops and we break out the hoodies, leggings, skinny jeans and flannels we embark on the forever long feeling of cold. Kids know when it’s coming before they are even old enough to realize exactly what it entails, it’s like as soon as the weather shifts they are all “oh my god, I need a costume stat” (well mine are anyway). I used to really enjoy Halloween, dressing up, going trick or treating with the siblings and cousins, hiding candy in my costume so that I could sneak it later when I was told I was cut off – it worked every single time by the way so start doing a pat down on your kiddos haha. Ah those were the days right?
You see I am from Florida so Halloween was much different then than it is now in so many ways. Now we have a window of trick or treating, its way to friggin cold to dress up as who you want the way its supposed to be and then there is the competition to see who decorates their house the best, has the best costumes and the amount of candy…go ahead and add all of that up and the reality sets in that if you are one that partakes in all of that, yes even if you DIY everything you are right around how much you typically spend on Christmas! Yup, I said it, go on and do the math. I am here to help save you some of that money and walk you through what I do to avoid the cost of all of those things, well most of them and you won’t believe but no, majority of it is NOT DIY. It involves where you shop, when you shop and HOW you shop.
First off well start with the “Window of Trick or Treating”, yea yea I know, you’re thinking “there’s no cost in that” oh but that is where you’re wrong. You see here in my city our window is from 6pm-8pm on Halloween, seems logical right? Well what the arsehats that came up with this window didn’t think about was the fact that most working parents don’t get home until AT LEAST 6pm, so then we have to make the decision, do we take an hour or more of PTO so that we can have time to make dinner, dress our little monsters up and head out or do we even have the option of taking PTO, a second parent or someone that can help get things moving so that we can still enjoy the evening? Chances are one parent will get home earlier, whether it be due to taking some PTO or working from home (unless you’re a single parent then this gets exuberantly out of hand and I give you made props) and the other will work a normal shift, rush home, make sure that everyone is fed, dressed up and out the door. Wait…I skipped the cost part…or did I?
You see there is the PTO that is a cost, yes it is paid time off, but it is costly because you need that for when the kids or yourself are sick or for vacation fun not for rushing home to partake in a prearranged holiday. Then we have the cost of feeding everyone in a jiffy with the quick all American rushed dinner…delivered or picked up pizza or McDonalds, both unhealthy and will be followed by more unhealthy shenanigans. Then the debate of who watches the candy and who walks around the neighborhood freezing so the kiddos get the experience? I prefer walking, because lets be honest here if I am standing in front of a table of full size candy bars I am going to eat way more than I should which will end badly for all parties involved including cash in the pocket since well have to go buy more candy. I told you it adds up.
So you’re probably wondering when I will get to the saving you money part right? I’ve rambled enough, just get to the point(s). So step one, be honest with your kids about what to expect from Halloween, if you’re on a tight budget for a reason, remind them why. Kids appreciate this way more than we expect them to. So if you are going to drop the “were making our costumes this year” or “we aren’t giving out full size candy bars again” bomb on them at least tell them why. Also, make it fun! Kids really do strive for experiences over the material things. I am going to use what we are doing this year as an example of how to save some money on the biggest part of Halloween – costumes. Every year our kiddos want a new one, they want to be someone different (unless you are my four year old that has been Elsa willingly for the last two going on three years and will not pick a different dress to save her life) right?
Well here is what I do, starting a couple years ago I found myself in the clearance isles of Target (so dangerous) looking for a princess dress for Christmas for my daughter, that was shortly after Halloween (YES I am absolutely one of those people that start their Christmas shopping super early, it is basically year round for me and the reason why in a separate post). As I am browsing I start seeing the prices of these costumes and a massive light bulb went off, were talking bright enough to light all of Target lightbulb. Yea I realize I am not the only one that figured this out but so what, I have more to it than next years costume. You see I was able to find stuff for her and my son for the next few years, and not just for Halloween, Kids LOVE playing pretend, they can be Toy Story, Frozen, My Lil Pony, Lego Characters, Super Heroes ALL YEAR ROUND. So when the next Halloween rolls around they will usually want to pick from the ones they have been using because they see how much fun they are and they know how to be their best character! Last year I got them both three costumes and paid $12!! You can’t DIY for that much can you?? That covers the costume dilemma, in case you missed it due to my rambling…purchase an abundance of clearance costumes AFTER Halloween and make sure you give it 2-3 weeks when they are at their lowest and you’ll score.
Next up, dinner!
This one is short and simple, I’ll even include a recipe and in a few words! Garlic Toast Pizzas, so easy and delicious. All you do is take a box of Texas Toast Garlic bread (doesn’t have to be this brand I just LOVE it) grab some pizza sauce, mozzarellas cheese and your fav toppings and have fun, then cook in about 10 minutes or less and there you have an easy, inexpensive (not much healthier) dinner. The total cost should be under $10, most of the time cheaper than a couple large pizzas. Here is the recipe.
The one item I can’t give you much advice on saving for is decorations, that is because Halloween isn’t one that I really decorate for. I prefer to do a general Fall season decor. The only advice I can give is head to your local Dollar Tree and go at it, seriously there is everything you could imagine there now and its still just a dollar! Also Pintrest has over a million different DIY ideas and most have items from the Dollar Tree being used. Heres a link to get you started.
Last but most definitely not least, candy. I spent so many years overspending on candy that most of the time we ended up having more than half to ourselves to supply our stash for months. Between the leftovers and what the kids brought home it was overwhelming. Last year we had more than enough again but in all fairness we just moved and weren’t sure of how many kids to expect. This year we have a rough idea and will be counting heads. We became Costco members for the second time last year and used that membership to buy the fundraiser sized boxes of full size candy bars to hand out. Seems like it’d be expensive but it’s really less. Instead of handing out handfuls of minis and having the kids ask for more they get a big one and you should see tier faces, the more big bars they get the more excited they get. I really feel that if everyone just gave them one full size bar their nights would be complete. So Costco generally has the boxes for around $15-$20 each for about 30 bars… normally priced at about $1 each, so you’re already winning. The small fun size or mini bags run you about $8 for a bag of about 60…unless you are only giving the poor children a max of two tiny bars the math right there explains the savings. There’s more though, what do you do with the leftover big bars? Well you have many options but I have two favorites. One you can donate any unopened bars (actually any unopened leftover candy) to a local veterans hospital and they give them to the patients and it is such an amazing thing. Two SMORES…Hershey isn’t the only bar you can indulge in a Smores with. Trust me…I am the queen of smores and I will make anything sweet into a smore. You can also keep them in your desk for a stash treat, in the pantry or freeze them and they are way easier to store than a ton of minis that you paid way to much for and probably should’ve given the kids more 🙂
So there you have it my beautiful friends, my tricks for helping you and your family treat this Halloween! I hope this was helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to read all about it, even through my rambling. Feel free to stop a comment or question below. Also if you want to see some fun crafty and handmade Halloween goodies drop by my shop at craft-ily.com.