By: Rebecca Seratt
UT Extension Agent
The spookiest day of the year is right around the corner. With Halloween only a week away, have you made all the plans for your festivities? If not, I have a few money-saving tips that might keep you from spending a hauntingly large amount of cash this October.
Let’s face it: Halloween can be expensive! There are costumes to pick out, candy to buy, decorations to put up and parties to attend. One trip down the candy aisle can empty your whole wallet if you aren’t careful. So let’s start there.
I think it’s safe to say that candy is probably the most iconic part of celebrating Halloween. Therefore, it is probably also the most expensive part. Here are my tips for staying afloat the rising sea of candy madness:
Think about how much candy you need and who you need it for. If you want to have enough candy for every trick-or-treater who visits your home, base your quota on how much you needed the previous year and adjust your candy purchases accordingly.
If you have a strict candy budget, spend what you have allotted and if/when it runs out you can turn your home exterior lights out as a sign you are done passing out candy for the evening — don’t feel like you have to run out and purchase more because you have more trick-or-treaters than expected.
If you want to stretch your budget, avoid pricier chocolates and go for items such as lollipops, gum, and other wrapped candies.
If you know your trick-or-treaters and their parents, consider whipping up batches of homemade goodies such as fudge, popcorn balls, or Rice Krispie® treats. (Parents and children you are unfamiliar with may be leery of homemade goodies due to food allergies, so consider having a few purchased candy items on hand for them.)
Remember that it’s totally ok (and encouraged by me!) to handout healthy treats to the youngsters. This year consider handing out fresh fruit such as Granny Smith apples or bananas, trail mix, or granola bars.
Don’t buy candy too far in advance if you will be tempted to share it with your family before Halloween actually arrives. It was fairly common in my household growing up to eat candy intended for trick-or-treaters and then have to go buy more equaling more money spent than intended.
Getting to decide what I wanted to be for Halloween was always so much fun when I was a youngster. The options were limitless! However, I do remember that my parents didn’t care to spend a small fortune on costumes for my sister and I, so if you’re costume budget is limited, here is what I suggest:
If you want to buy a pre-made costume, set a price limit BEFORE heading to the store. Show your child the costumes that are within your price range and let him or her choose which one of those options they like the best. This helps them narrow down their choices and keeps you from spending way too much on an outfit only to be worn once.
Halloween costumes make great hand-me-downs. Last year’s costume too small for your oldest child, but will fit your youngest one perfectly? Problem solved and money saved!
Don’t be afraid to put together your own costume. I say “put together” instead of “make” because “make” might be taken as having to sew, alter, or create a brand new garment that you don’t have time for. Put together means taking items you already have or can purchase for cheap to create a great costume. It’s as easy as putting on jeans, boots, and a hat to be a cowboy (or cowgirl). Or perhaps taking a used prom dress, white ribbon sash, and a fake tiara for your little girl to be “Ms. America.”
Check places such as Goodwill and thrift stores for inexpensive costume pieces. Also check out websites such as Pinterest, for costumes you can create using everyday household items. (A bag of jelly beans created by wearing a clear garbage bag poncho-style and tied at the bottom and filled with multi-colored balloons is my favorite).
For more information call your local UT Extension office at 989-2103 or follow us on Facebook at UT Extension—Chester County.