The Savvy Spender: DIY Halloween Ideas

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. People playing dress-up, gorging on goodies and having fun spooking each other out — what’s not to like? And as an adult, I continue to look forward to celebrating this holiday every year. The National Retail Federation predicts that in 2017, Halloween spending in the U.S. will reach $9.1 billion. But with Halloween coming right before the holidays, I hesitate to spend too much, since I want to have more for end-of-the-year holiday expenses.

I save by going the do-it-yourself route. Here are some DIY Halloween ideas I’ve implemented to curb my spending on this fun holiday over the years.

Make Your Own Costume

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can go all out and create your own costume. This can be cheaper — and more fun — than purchasing a ready-made costume from the store. Because I’m not terribly savvy with threading needles or dress patterns, I usually cobble together a costume from items found in my closet, alongside a few inexpensive store-bought accessories.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with repurposing accessories and costumes from Halloween past. One year I used mouse ears, a tail and a red cape I had lying around to create a Pizza Rat costume. Another year I found a fake mustache and bought some pizza gummies, combined it with cardboard pizza box from a local pizzeria and was a pizza delivery man. (As you can see, I am a big fan of the ‘za.)

Jackie's Halloween Costumer

Visit a Thrift Shop

I skip the Halloween shops entirely and head over to local thrift shops and consignment stores in my neighborhood. The key is to do this as early as possible. Some thrift shops have Halloween stuff out as early as September. At Goodwill, I found the furry suit for my Pizza Rat costume for $10. Not only do I scour the racks of thrift shops for cool, inexpensive costumes, but I also look for partyware and decor. All of my Halloween home decor, from ceramic pumpkins to dangling lights, comes from a thrift shop.

Look for Free Fun Things to Do

While a trip to a pricey haunted house sounds like fun, you can forgo costly admission prices by looking for cheap or free ways to entertain yourself. I love checking out some of the great haunted houses in my town of Los Angeles, such as Boney Island. To find similar options where you live, do a quick search on Facebook or consult your local arts mag for listings of the best local free Halloween attractions. I’ve also checked out daily deal sites to see if there are any discounts at pumpkin patches, haunted houses, hayrides or Halloween-themed escape rooms.

pizza man costume

Make Your Own Treats

If you’re looking to save some money on treats, consider giving out stuff you already have. I’m not talking about year-old candy from last Halloween, but handing out stickers or making your own bite-sized treats, which could be a little cheaper. Have your own garden? Give out fruit. If you’d still rather buy treats, dollar stores usually have a great selection of candy for very little money.

Halloween doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny to be fun. By putting on your creative hat and coming up with DIY Halloween ideas, you can stay within your budget.

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