Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

Uh, dis is not funny humans

Halloween is one of my very favorite holidays! Well, that plus Thanksgiving and Christmas… I’m basically in a state of holiday-related bliss for the entire fall, which–not coincidentally–is my favorite season! I can’t help myself, I’m a devoted lover of all things pumpkin, spice, autumnal, leaf-related, and bearing even a remote resemblance to Halloween itself.

I’m not so much into the spookier side of things (just ask Mr. Frugalwoods who refuses to watch horror movies with me because I insist on pausing at every scary part, which means we usually never make it through the movie… ). I’m more of a It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown type of person. And a candy-corn eating person…

I adore the fall to such an extent, in fact, that I’ve devoted several posts to the topic over the years. Clearly I’m a tad obsessed. Should you like to scroll through my obsessive celebrations of fall, here they are:

Given my un-containable adoration for this time of year, I had to devote this month’s Reader Suggestions to the topic of frugally celebrating the holiday. Obviously, the most frugal thing to do would be to skip the holidays altogether. To ignore the calendar, bah hum bug about the trick-or-treaters, and pretend you live in a holiday-less world. But that sounds awful! And we’re all about sustainable, enjoyable, luxuriously frugality around here–NOT deprivation. Mr. FW and I don’t skip a single holiday; rather, we celebrate each one in our own unique, frugal style. According to CNBC, “Consumers are expected to spend an average of $86.10 each for Halloween, compared with last year’s $82.93.” Seriously?! $86 on Halloween? Clearly, we have an opportunity to discuss frugal options for spooky celebrants.

How The Frugalwoods Do Halloween

Frugally, of course!!! Here’s the breakdown on how we handle each traditional element of this holiday:

1) Costumes

It was a very bumble bee Halloween around here last year

Hand-me-down, free, or homemade, of course! Last year, Babywoods 1 was a bumblebee, wearing a costume handed down from my sister, which all three of her kids wore. Next year, Babywoods 2 will be the fifth kiddo to dress in this adorable bee-fit! Since Halloween costumes get so little wear, this bee looks brand-new despite being trotted out year after year.

I’ve noticed on my various online free/cheap/used baby stuff groups that many parents are selling their kids’ costumes for dirt cheap prices right now. If you’re not able to secure a hand-me-down, check out Goodwill, garage sales, Craigslist, FreeCycle, the Buy Nothing Group, or any other online buy/sell/trade group. Inexpensive costumes are everywhere! For added frugality, consider buying/sourcing next year’s costumes AFTER Halloween when they’ll be on super clearance.

As with all things frugal, I don’t get my heart set on a specific costume or theme–I embrace whatever happens to come my way on the cheap. As for Mr. FW and me, we just sort of cobble together a semblance of a costume from whatever we happen to have on hand. This year, I’m thrilled I’ll get to wear my baby-mama skeleton maternity shirt again! Handed down from my sister, this’ll be the fifth (actually I think the sixth or seventh as I’m pretty sure it was handed down to my sister originally… ) pregnancy to enjoy such a hilarious costume. Mr. FW, for his part, is a big fan of the “black sweater and headband” combo whereby he wears a black shirt and a bumblebee headband or a cat headband or a duck nose… as with all things in his life, the man prefers to be a minimalist. He told me he’s going as a lumberjack this year, which to be honest, is pretty much what he looks like every day ;).

2) Candy

Frugal Hound represents with some candy corn

We don’t get any trick-or-treaters out here in our middle of nowhere, deer-covered woods. And so, last year we went to a delightful Halloween potluck at our town center and Babywoods crawled around in her bee costume. Back when we lived in the city, we’d sit out on the front stoop with our next door neighbors to hand out candy. We brought out wine and beer to enjoy and had buckets of candy for the neighborhood kiddos.

I purchased a gigantic bulk bag at Costco several weeks before Halloween for a very reasonable price. Buying in bulk is the way to save! Any leftovers went into my office. There’s no need to hand out whole candy bars or super expensive chocolate–find some cheap bulk candy and call it a day.

3) Decorations

I am the recipient of quite a few hand-me-down Halloween decorations from my parents and my in-laws. When they clear out old decorations, I gladly take them! I love having these memories of my childhood (and Mr. FW’s) to help us celebrate in style. A few years ago, I purchased (on sale) a pack of fake little pumpkins as well as a fall wreath, which I use every year. Aside from our ghost candle holders, which I grew up with and LOVE, all of our decor is generic “fall” so that it can stay up from September to late November (which is when I paper our house in all things Christmas). And let’s be honest here… I’m lazy so I also leave the ghosts up… what!? They’re cute!

Ghost candle!

I primarily use artificial decorations so that I don’t have to buy new pumpkins/gourds every single year. Less expense and less waste. I’ve been using the same fake pumpkins for at least 8 years now and will continue to use them probably forever!

It’s not like this stuff goes out of style, so there’s no need to buy new every year. For the first time ever, we grew our own pumpkins this year, so we’ll be adding them to our decor before we cook them up and eat them!

Adding to the low cost and ease of our decorations, I strike a somewhat minimalist tone with my fall decor. I don’t have it everywhere, which means I don’t have to unpack and then repack tons of decorations. Saves time and money!

How Frugalwoods Readers Celebrate Halloween Frugally

I received too many fabulous responses from readers to include all of them below, but you can check out the full conversation on our Frugalwoods Facebook page. And now, onto the reader suggestions!

Julie’s dog in costume!

Priscilla shared, “I absolutely love Halloween, and I think this is in large part due to the fun, frugal, homemade Halloween traditions I grew up with. When I was little, my mom and I would make scarecrows each October. The clothes were my old children’s clothes stuffed with newspaper. The scarecrow heads were sewn from some of my dad’s old plain color work shirts with a face drawn on the front. Hands and feet were made from corn husk or strips of brown paper bag. Halloween traditions like this made the holiday so much fun and cost almost nothing. We also had a nice collection of children’s Halloween books most of which were from thrift stores or garage sales.”

Julie says she dresses her dog up with outfits from the dollar store mixed with items she already has around the house (photo at right!).

Kari wrote, “My husband and I got in the Halloween spirit last year by hosting a Pumpkin Massacre! It was a potluck party with pumpkin carving (BYOPumpkin) and campy Halloween movies. We don’t have children, but in the past we have assembled our own costumes from thrift stores and our parents’ closets. I also used to volunteer with, and later organize, a Halloween can drive through our hometown church in support of a local food bank. This was a fun (and free!) way to get out on Halloween and meet our neighbours, and we collected literally tonnes of food. We handed out flyers a week or two before Halloween letting people know who we were and that we would be coming by during Trick or Treating, and the response was amazing, and only increased over the years. People would have shopping bags full of dry good and flats of cans waiting for us at the door, and would often leave bags of food on the doorstep for us to pick up if they weren’t home. We got permission from a nearby grocery store to borrow some shopping carts for the night, as we couldn’t carry all the donations, and we would have a few volunteers in a truck picking up full shopping carts and dropping off empty ones to volunteers whose carts often filled up after one block!”

My autumnal/Halloween decor

Lucy reports, “I feel like Halloween is always cheap for people in the UK! I carve a pumpkin, watch a horror film and that’s it.”

Bethany shared, “My sister bought my middle daughter a cheetah costume…it was one of those warm polar fleece ones from Old Navy. Great for a Minnesota Halloween! Anyways, she wore it every year as long as it fit and now my youngest wears it. She’ll wear it until it doesn’t fit…or she starts to have an opinion about her costume…whatever comes first! ”

Melissa wrote, “I live in Salem, MA (Halloween capital of the world) so there’s a ton of free stuff to do… parades, historical reenactments, and of course people watching… It’s great for kids so if you are in the area (eastern MA, southeastern NH) definitely make a day trip and look on the Haunted Happenings website. Come early in the day to get Street meter parking and stay out of spots designated as resident only- tickets can be tripled in the month of October.”

Mallory reports, “Halloween decor is all from the dollar tree or hand-me-downs. We’ve also gotten into costumes that use ‘real clothes’ which we either already have or get from a thrift store or Buy Nothing (i.e. Last year we were Luke and Lorelei from Gilmore Girls and this year we’ll be Peanuts characters).”

Halloween 2015: Frugal Mummy Hound. Don’t worry, she only wore this get-up for about 30 seconds.

Kerri wrote, “I usually shop consignment first for my two daughters costumes. I have also used Freecycle to get free costumes for my girls. I do not give out candy on Halloween. We go trick-or-treating outside of our neighborhood and so I don’t leave a light on or candy out. I also have a pumpkin that light up that my mother bought for me years ago and we use that along with a few other decorations that we recycle each year.”

Laura and Angela both report using the same inexpensive Halloween costumes for their kids for several years in a row.

Laronda says, “Freecycle, thrift stores, and cheaply homemade costumes for our three kids–one homemade octopus will be getting its third wearing next month. 🙂 Also, we are members of a couple of local parents’ groups–one has a $12 annual membership, and it’s getting our family of 5 into a local pumpkin patch/petting farm/amusement park for $22, which is less than half price. That one annual discounted event has saved us quite a bit over the past 7-8 years, and we’ve also gotten discounts to everything from baseball games to indoor play spaces–plus another group of people circulating free or nearly-free children’s costumes!”

My baby momma skeleton ensemble! So excited to wear this for a second time!

Bodhi wrote, “My mom used to sew us little animal costume onesies out of ‘animal print’ fabric from the fabric store. We added ears and our costumes were complete! And warm!”

Staci shared, “I found a super cute puppy costume for my little at a big consignment sale that just happened in our city – $3.00 and it has enough room underneath for her snowsuit in case it is necessary (super cold Canadian). That and a pumpkin to carve and then cook afterwards for baking and we are set!”‘

Amy said, “I LOVE fall, Halloween, and pumpkins. In years past I’ve spent $$ on buying a bunch of jack-o-lanterns as well as smaller, decorative pumpkins. After a little research I learned how easy pumpkins are to grow, so my husband and I planted 16 plants of 4 different varieties. So far this fall we’ve harvested 45 pumpkins! They are covering the porch, the deck, the kitchen counter, even my desk. And thanks to a whole summer of growing the pumpkins, I’ve been in a Halloween mood for months! Overall we spent maybe $10 on seeds, plus another $30 on Neem Oil and Liquid Fence (but we have plenty of those leftover to use on next year’s crop as well).”

Jessica shared a great tip for keeping costs low on the treat-or-treat front, “We found that giving out fruit snacks instead of candy is just as popular with our neighborhood kids, and a lot cheaper. Plus, any leftovers go in our work lunches.”

My homemade pumpkin bread–perfect for the fall

Jill said, “I sew capes and cloaks for costumes out of unwanted tablecloths. The material for most tablecloths is perfect for kid’s costumes because it is usually stain-resistant and expected to be washed several times. I made a red-riding hood cloak out of a red Christmas tablecloth I found at the Goodwill for $3.” Nicely done!

Morgan wrote, “My husband’s and my favorite tradition: carving a $2.99 pumpkin from Aldi, baking some yummy pumpkin/apple/cinnamon baked good, and watching a scary movie at home. That and a bag of candy (which we usually eat ourselves… not many trick or treaters come down our street), and I’d say our total is generally under $20.”

Julie suggests buying Halloween items after the holiday itself, when they’re usually “75-90% off… even the dollar store.”

Hannah reports, “I’ve received a bunch of stuff from my Buy Nothing Group. We now have tons of fall decor as well as a monkey costume for my little boy.”

Halloween 2014: Ballet hound!

Jenny shared, “I have a lot of the Halloween decorations my mom used around the house when I was young, so it’s fun to get those out every year and enjoy them with my own kids. We also pick out a few pumpkins together to carve a few days before Halloween, enjoying roasted pumpkin seeds after the fact! We do family costumes, and so far I have always been able to piece everything together with items found at thrift shops and making whatever other pieces I need. As for candy, there are usually so many sales the few weeks before Halloween that I am able to snag a few bags for relatively cheap. My trick for not eating it all beforehand? Make sure I don’t buy my family’s favorites!”

Happy Halloween!!!

From growing your own pumpkins to making costume capes from table cloths (an idea I will most certainly be implementing when my girls are older), Frugalwoods readers once again demonstrate that it’s possible to do anything and everything with frugal aplomb!

Being an avowed, lifelong frugalist doesn’t mean living a life of miserly deprivation or avoiding the holidays. Rather, it’s all about being creative, inventive, and not turning to the boring, store-bought route for everything.

How do you celebrate Halloween frugally?

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  1. Like some others, we also buy our decor from the Dollar store. Our pumpkin is also one of those electrical ones so we get to use the same one every year 😀😀😀
    And this year, we are skipping the costumes and only buying candy.
    We can get away with this, because the kiddo is only 15 months old, and doesn’t know or care much about Halloween. We will see how it will work out in the future.

  2. My favorite thing to do is carve a pumpkin and roast the seeds. Now that we have kids, we enjoy trick or treating with friends. We have 3 kids, but only ended up needing one costume (daughter has outgrown everything!) We also go to our church’s Fall Fest and play games and enjoy time with friends. To me, the holidays are all about the family and friends!

    I like the idea mentioned of doing a pumpkin massacre and carving pumpkins with friends. That would be really fun!

  3. My wife and I go to our church where they have a fall festival. Its usually optional to dress up which makes it nice if nothing is on sale that our kiddos can fit into. For the most part though we’re not big Halloween people and just try to relax as we know Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming when things start to get crazy around us. Lots of family time which is great 🙂

  4. We get the whole extended family together to carve pumpkins! It’s kinda ridiculous since it’s all adults and now one 1 year old! The best part of carving pumpkins with 15 people? We get all the pumpkin seeds since nobody else likes them!

    This year we even grew our own pumpkins to cook with. Next year we’ll grow our own to carve!

    We also have a friend who hosts a Halloween party every year. We love going to somone else’s house! We just bring some beer and a dish to share, it’s so much cheaper than hosting at our place.

  5. Now that both our sons are adults, we do Halloween by pretending it doesn’t exist. Sorry to be such a party pooper, but it does save money. 🙂

    Seriously, we live in downtown Philly so we don’t really get any trick-or-treaters.

    1. I used to love Halloween but as an adult in grad school with no kids… My midterms are scary enough!!! 😱

      But since being an adult or even a late teen, I found no reason to buy a costume! My favorite of all time is safety pinning a bunch of mismatched socks to a leggings and leotard (or shirt… Or sweater….) And being the sock monster that eats all your socks in the dryer. But, for the past many years if I go out, I dress as ballerina. As many layers of tights as needed plus a leotard, and hair in a bun and flats. Free and a comfortable temperature, and you can move. I made this my go to costume after trying to be a master’s with sails that raised when I stuck my arm out, and I was dragging sails all night and couldn’t wear a coat. Very unpractical.

    2. I think that’s also a great way to celebrate Halloween. Mr. FAF and I just didn’t buy costumes for ourselves and are not planning to. If it weren’t for our son, we probably wouldn’t buy any Halloween props either. We will probably use the props for a long time though hehe.

    3. We used to do that and will continue until our daughter asks us to celebrate halloween (she’s now 10 momths old). For now, we’ll just bring her to a local pumpkin patch, take a couple of pictures and make a delicious pumpkin smoothie! 🙂

  6. I like to buy items that can be reworn to use as costumes. My daughter (2) got bumblebee pajamas last year bad and headband, and still wears the pajamas. This year my son (7) is wearing a Spider-Man hoodie and mask and is going to wear the hoodie all winter. Our new baby will wear a pumpkin hat and pants my coworker crocheted for him and he can rewear those all autumn too, until he gets too big!

  7. I’m definitely a minimalist when it comes to fall/Halloween decor! A few touches here and there go a long way. I am a little more into Christmas decor haha, but even still I slowly will purchase items on sale and use stuff I already have!

    I will say though, Halloween costumes get a bit trickier as my kids get older. I have three little girls – 5, 4, and almost 1. My one-year-old won’t be dressing up haha – I’ve never dressed up a baby. My older two, however, are insisting on being Shimmer and Shine. I’ve checked hand-me-down stores and came up short so I ended up purchasing their costumes on Amazon for about $19 each. Not too shabby, and knowing my girls’ love of Shimmer and Shine, I’m sure the costumes will get used a LOT more than just on Halloween haha!

    Happy Halloween to you!! Loved this post, btw!!


  8. Oh my gosh those photos are priceless! We’re spending our Halloween like Amy said – thrifting! Dressing up is just a part of it. Reusing decorations is much more frugal. We only set aside maybe $20 for Halloween.

    P.S. there’s like…no spec of dust in your home is there?! Everything looks so clean and clear. Our home is embedded into 100 ft tall evergreens with all the free pine needles to boot. Bah!

  9. Hey Liz! You should check out the clothing swap happening at the Montpelier grange every second Saturday of the month. Infant and kids clothes, maternity and women’s stuff for just $3 donation and they have lots of space for kids to play while parents go through the clothes. They will also have costumes. This is Erik’s wife and I hope to be able to meet you soon!

    1. Oh wow! Thank you so much for the tip–I will have to do that!! Nice to meet you, Erik’s wife :), we’d love to get together soon.

  10. I love the holiday too! Mr. FAF and I just dropped $50 on a Halloween costume for Baby FAF and $25 on the props.

    I insisted that I could make a costume for Baby FAF and we can use a free Halloween prop I got from the curbside. But Mr. FAF said it’s our first Halloween together as a family, so he wants to buy something new for all of us >.<

  11. We grow our own pumpkins! They might be a little misshapen some years, but who cares?! Our son won’t be wearing a costume per se. He’s only three months old and so many of his outfits look like costumes (football, cowboy, cuddly bear) that we figure that is good enough for someone who will likely nap through most of it! I also start saving coupons now for candy. I’m not big into coupon anymore, but there are some great deals and websites that do all the calculating for you. We just swing by our local Walgreens.

  12. I’ll be one week postpartum this Halloween so we are staying very low key this year. I have a 2 year old so I got him a pumpkin shirt at a consignment sale and we hit up a pumpkin patch. He is still young so that will be it this year. Our total cost is $5!

  13. Liz, I love that you did this post and would love a thanksgiving and Christmas one too. With 3 kids, two of them who had strong opinions about what they were going to be, we ended up spending $55 on 3 costumes at wal-mart. The caveat is that our boys play dress up all the time and so do the neighborhood kids so we get our money’s worth. Last Halloween, my husband bought costumes at half price the day after at Walmart and save them for Christmas presents for our boys. They were a hit. This year my baby girl is 1, and I saw a precious belle costume at wal-Mart and I couldn’t resist. I’m not on fb and I’m not sure whether we have bunch of a buy nothing group here. I live in Chelsea, Alabama and it’s a rural suburb of Birmingham. We get a ton of trick or treaters and I like the suggestion of buying yummy snacks bc that means I won’t be tempted to it them!😳 We try to buy aldi pumpkins to carve and we put mums out from Walmart. I also throw a little party for my boys and two others with cupcakes and few decorations and queso and chips and then give them a light up Halloween trinket from the dollar tree and talk about how they are the light in the world so forth… It’s just my way of adding a little faith teaching to what we are doing. Besides all this, I found that Halloween was a great way to get to know and meet neighbors on our street. Many people just don’t come out and socialize these days but Halloween kinda broke the ice. So it’s been worth the investment. I wish I could craft or make them but I just can’t. I had to do what was easy this year with my husband working a ton of overtime but please keep it up with posts like these. So helpful!!!!

  14. You could do what we do which is turning the lights off and locking ourselves in the basement with our poor dog who freaks out when people knock on the door 😛 Maybe not the most “in the spirit” Halloween, but a good chance to snuggle up and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas (best movie ever!)

  15. The view through your windows is so gorgeous you hardly need to decorate for Fall! In our community few children go door to door any more so after years of getting my treats ready and having no one come I quit buying candy. I was born on Halloween and believe it or not don’t have a sweet tooth (what a waste!) so it’ll be a frugal birthday celebration at my house. I’ll get some second hand books by my favorite authors and a homemade pumpkin pie. WooHoo!

  16. I am SO EXCITED for Halloween! It’s one of my favorite holidays.

    We save money on Halloween by:
    1. Making homemade costumes, which we re-wear every year. This year I made a Crazy Cat Lady costume for $20 from thrift store supplies. I’ll wear it at FinCon actually, so I’m thrilled to give it a pre-Halloween trial run.

    2. I used to be an extreme couponer. While I don’t do it hardly ever, I will do extreme couponing for Halloween candy. I’ll get bags for $1 apiece when it’s all said and done. I’m sure buying bulk would be less fuss, though.

    3. I make decorations from Dollar Tree craft supplies as well as items from the thrift store. I swiped a broom our neighbors were going to throw out and placed it on my porch as a ~spooky~ witch’s broom.

  17. Well I spent less than half of the average, so that’s good. I get a lot of trick or treaters so the majority was on candy. I like to make up the treat bags and put a little variety in there. Also bought a pumpkin from a man who grows them every year and this year he is in the hospital so the neighbors are making sure his pumpkins are still out there for sale.

  18. I love hand-me-down costumes. My youngest was the 4th or 5th baby to be a baby duck last year. And this year he’s wearing a hand-me-down turtle costume.

    My older one wants to be Darth Vader so we are borrowing the mask and light saber from some friends and getting him Darth Vader pjs so he can wear them for several months.

    We usually go trick or treating with some friends so we don’t buy any candy. I also use the same decorations every year.

    Great ideas!

  19. All of those dog costumes are the best thing ever! Halloween is semi non-frugal here now that the kids are old enough to have opinions. It’s our favorite holiday by far though, so I’m OK with that. On a frugal note, I found some leaf garland and a pumpkin inflatable in the tossed-out bounty of the local college dorm move-out last year, so that’s the extent of our decorating. We go to the free town Halloween party every year which is wonderful also. Everyone looks forward to it and we go with a big group…free fun!

  20. I love carving pumpkins but other than that, I don’t do seasonal decorations. Just not my thing, although I love seeing other people’s!
    I also love homemade costumes. You can often rent or buy something perfect but a homemade one is usually way more unique and creative. And you know you won’t run into someone wearing the EXACT same thing. Not sure if I will do a costume this year though as I have to work that night. I guess that is one way to be frugal, haha.

    1. Haha two of my friends did frugal ninja turtles last year – completely unplanned – for my Halloween party. They did have a lot of good group photos though!

      My favorite adult costumes are t-shirts + accessories. My husband won’t dress up most years (though he would wear full DIY ghost busters costumes, we need to bring those back soon!) so this year he is getting a Batman shirt and I am pinning some leaves to a green shirt to be Poison Ivy. 🙂

  21. Our county park system has had a Halloween Costume Swap each year for a few years. You turn in old costumes and then go on another day to use your tokens to pick up a new one. This year was our first time learning of it, and it was super easy and great. It’s also a great way to teach children to be frugal and not get stuck on one specific Halloween idea. Both of my kiddos will be cops this year, as they had two costumes in both their sizes. Next year, I’ll be donating a whole bunch more and knowing they’ll go to good use at least!

  22. Im a huge fan of secondhand costumes. When my two year old was a baby, he was the most adorable Sully (from monsters inc.) It was an expensive costume but I got it from the consignment shop for a great deal. I just put a picture of it up on Instagram the other day after She Picks Up Pennies had reminded me about it

    My older kids (10 and 14) no longer will go along with whatever I suggest, but we still find ways to save. My husband is making my 10 year olds Shredder (from ninja turtles) costume from things we got at the dollar store, paint, and aluminum tape. My mother and I sewed my 14 year olds costume last year and it’s being repurposed again this year.

    Happy halloween all!

  23. I found a free haunted walking tour of downtown Chicago, which we are taking advantage of in a few weeks. Free (aside from a tip for the guide) and we’ll get some steps in at the same time!

    One of my favorite frugal costumes is to go as one of your friends for Halloween (ala Friends where Joey dresses as Chandler!). As long as it’s done as a loving tribute and not in a mean way, it’s usually a big hit. And I usually don’t have to buy a thing!

    Finally many people have mentioned Aldi’s for pumpkins but they have so many wonderful seasonal items and decorations too. Just this morning my fiancé mentioned how much he loves the smell of their pumpkin spice hand soap- and it’s a steal at $0.75 per bottle! We also stocked up on acorn and butternut squashed this year, which make for a lovely gal tablescape before becoming a huge batch of soup – we’ve been eating from the same batch of butternut squash soup all week!

  24. I too love this time of year. Our family is busy stocking our shelves with food we grew, stacking wood (free from neighbors and friend with tree cutting business) and kindling (free from a local cabinet shop). We are almost ready to hunker down. Just waiting for butter to go on sale! Last year QFC had their butter on sale for 1.88 per pound, no limit! I bought 15 pounds and froze it! Just waiting patiently for a sale. I find Thanksgiving a very inexpensive meal to prepare. I tend to buy a turkey and that’s about it. We grow just about everything else. I’m responsible for our extended families winter solstice dinner and I cook duck. 3 to be exact. Once again, it’s the only expense for the whole meal. Halloween means buying candy and dragging out all my spooky candle holders and the cardboard skeleton for the front door that is almost 30 years old! This is a cozy time of year for us and I cherish our evenings together.

  25. We dress up at work. I went to the thrift store and bought a witch hat for $3.99. I already have a broom, black dress, tights, and booties….lol. I made chocolate oatmeal no bake cookies because the Halloween candy is still so expensive at DG. I want it for myself….lol.

  26. I love these ideas! We got our son’s Halloween costume new this year – but only because we found one on a clearance Halloween website that with a free shipping code and Ebates made it less than $10. Plus, his coming baby brother can wear it in a couple years! We also bought some clearance decorations – an acorn fall sign for the front door and some fake pumpkins, that we put out every year. We don’t get many trick or treaters on our street, which is sad, but it does mean we get to buy less candy!

  27. My favorite costume for my daughter when she was young was to pin a bunch of green/purple balloons to her coat and she went out as a bunch of grapes. Totally memorable!

  28. I actually don’t think $85 is all that bad, but it really depends on the size of your family and age of your kids.

    When we had one kid, and he was young – it was pretty easy with handmade costumes. Some years, they are more though.

    We are engineers, and sometimes we really get into making costumes though. Those will cost a bit more.

    For example, one year my older son was a submariner (when he was 2). I had to buy the sailor suit pattern and make it. That was probably $10-15 all told. We paper-mache’d our wagon into a submarine, which required a little paint. And we repurposed a broken fan into the propeller.

    Some years we have no energy and just go off and pay $15-20 for something at the drug store. While that is not cheap, those cheap costumes get years of wear from the kid and his friends across the street. They came over for 3-4 years after and play dress up (Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, a race-car driver, etc).

    Oh, that reminds me of the race-car driver year. We built a cardboard car and put in LED headlights.

    Last year was pretty cheap – big kid was a rubik’s cube, which lasted all of 10 minutes because he really couldn’t maneuver in it. Little kid wanted to be superman, so he just wore his superman pajamas, and I made him a red cape from an old shirt of mine.

    This year, little kid is opting for superman again. Big kid wants to be a Dog DJ. ?? Dog costume with headphones? We’ll see about that. I made a Flying Monkey costume one year, maybe I can figure out a dog.

    Candy wise, we live just past the last street light where the sidewalk ends. We rarely get any kids coming by because we are not at home (we are out) and by the time we get home, we have only gotten a few teens.

    Decoration wise, we use the same ones every year. 2 sets of lights and a few hand-drawn pumpkins or spiders or bats that the kids made at school.

    Party-wise, we usually potluck with a few families.

  29. Our parents and in-laws are Halloween minimalists — there will be no hand me down decor from them. 🙁

    That said, I largely use the same stuff year after year, some of it splurged on when my teen was smaller. For a few years she’d pick a splurge — which is how we have a flying bat and a tarantula that drops down at large noises — other stuff was bought by me on clearance post-halloween. I haven’t bought Halloween decorations in years, though, and don’t anticipate buying any this year, because, quite honestly, we have enough!

    We carve out $3 pumpkin our of tradition, and cobble together all costumes because, really, that’s part of the fun!

  30. For littler kids in particular, their costumes can be easy if they can tell you what one or two items are most important. (Cape? Crown? Tattoo? Glasses? Sword? Necklace?). If that is done to their satisfaction, the rest can be less precise, especially if they need to wear winter coats. I was a gypsy one year, with canning jar lid earrings held on with rubber bands, and that, with a full skirt and play necklaces, made me feel very authentic.

  31. We buy our Halloween decorations from Dollar Tree, they have lots of holiday items you can pick from. We still have a glow in the dark skeleton from the Dollar Tree hanging on one of our doors at home. It’s been on there for the last three years now and our baby always likes to look at it.
    Last year for his Halloween, our 18 month old son was Curious George and fortunately we got as a giveaway from nextdoor.com along with other baby clothes we received from one of the people living in our area. It was perfect because he was familiar with the character from the ‘Adventures of Curious George’ book we were reading to him at that time.
    This year we are looking into making a firefighter costume or a hamburger for him. Gonna look at Pinterest this weekend to get ideas of what we need to make it.

  32. For anyone who wants to be especially frugal with their pumpkins, you can use the puree for soups and such and make pumpkin guts bread from the stringy parts (after you remove the seeds). (There are recipes on the internet. I have used different ones over the years) Eat the pulp, the guts, the seeds and compost the remains and you have squeezed every penny out of that pumpkin. (We grow at least a dozen every year but still don’t waste any of it.)

    I love the dressed up dog pictures. My two Irish wolfhounds would eat me if I tried something like that with them.

  33. When my kids were young they made their own costumes. I would contribute about 5 bucks they could use to buy something from goodwill or the fabric store to help round it out. They were very creative and had a blast with it. I was just in the dollar tree today and they have some good costume props I haven’t seen before in there, like a turtle shell, alligator head, and pirate vest.

  34. Three words: Saltines for treats.

    Honestly, we buy full size candy bars for the kids. We hardly get any trick-or-treaters (our doorbell will ring once or twice) so we heavily reward the kids who do show up, and for those kids, we are the coolest house around.

  35. Put on dark garments, stand in a dark doorway and hold a flashlight under your chin. That gives the scary look that is very Halloween and it costs nothing. You can use things you already have around your home.

  36. I too try to strike a minimalist tone with my Halloween decor. I have window boxes in front of my house and the cold weather kills all the flowers by the time fall comes around. So a few years ago I bought some fake fall leaves, flowers, and pinecones from the dollar store. My house looks super decorated and it was a one-time $15 investment that will last for years to come! I can rotate them out each season and don’t have to take any extra effort like watering 🙂

  37. When I was 7, my Mom got inspired one year and made me a fairy costume from a pattern. The base of the costume was a pink cotton dress, lower-calf-length and huge; I imagine the pattern was designed to cover a large assortment of body sizes. A net apron covered with gold-painted cardboard stars went over it, and there was a magic wand and a headpiece that also featured gold stars. It was a lot of work to make, and may not have been very frugal – except that after a couple of Halloweens, the dress got turned into a nightgown and I slept in it for years, until I was in my mid-teens. (Did I mention it was huge?) Eventually I got tired of it, but then my sister decided it was very comfortable to sleep in and she took it over, and wore it until it finally fell apart in the washing machine. So in the long run, I think Mom got her money’s worth out of that costume.

  38. I love Halloween! So glad it’s finally here. We live in a city neighborhood that people like to bring their kids so we get slammed. I have 2 big bags from Costco that I hid from everyone including my husband – $32. My 12yr is a jokester and decided that he would be happy with a giant rubber duck on top of his head so why not? – $8. My 13yr wants to be Veronica from Heathers which I was lucky to put together from goodwill- $13. We have the same decorations and lights we’ve been using for 20 years so no money on that.

  39. I live in Australia so Halloween isn’t a huge deal, more an optional celebration (though it is becoming more commercialised each year).
    This year, my partner and I are heading to a friend’s place for an evening of ‘B’ grade, campy horror flicks and snacks. Everyone is bringing a dish or some snacks to contribute, so i’ll be making some homemade dips – roast pumpkin hummus and guacamole. Slice up some carrot sticks, add a bag rice crackers and I have a healthy, delicious dish that everyone (including my plant based and gluten free friends) can enjoy for under $10. As for costumes – I tripped over another friends cat in her kitchen late last week and cracked my head on the benchtop, so I am currently sporting two black eyes (I am very clumsy)! I might put on some pale makeup and go as a zombie version of myself. A silver lining to an unfortunate accident!

  40. I try to keep my decorations in good condition, but spending maybe $20 every three years or so to replace some lights seems OK to me.

    I think I have been Harry Potter for the last 10 years, so no spending there!

    My biggest expense is candy. I live in the city and am bombarded with children each year. Probably spend $40 on two bags of 250 pieces of candy. I give out 1 piece each and I always run out of candy before kids are done trick-or-treating. It’s super fun though – I set up my fire pit out front with my lawn chair and a 6-pack and watch the kids run around. I look forward to it every year.

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