WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts 10-14: A frightfully fun and frugal Halloween!

Posted October 14, 2010
Updated October 15, 2010

With only a couple more weeks until Halloween, it’s time to gather the candy and costumes and prepare for the craziness of the holiday! It’s easy to find fabulous costumes and impressive decorations, but if you aren’t careful, your Halloween could become frighteningly expensive. With a little planning and creativity, you can stay within a reasonable budget – one that won’t horrify you and your bank account!


Costumes are one way you can easily break the bank at Halloween. During a recent visit to a costume store in the mall, I was shocked to find costumes for $150 – for a Halloween costume! This year, my girls have a budget of $10 each. That seems a little more in line with our frugal way of life than $150 each. Here are some ideas and resources for playing dress-up on a budget.

Search your own closet: Your own closet may have all that you need for a fabulous costume, like that sequin dress you know you will never wear again!

Head to Goodwill and thrift stores: a frilly shirt and full skirt make a great Gypsy costume. They may even have some store bought costumes marked way below retail. I just searched for costumes on for the Raleigh area and there were tons of choices in the $7 - $20 range. Click HERE for Craigslist.

Swap with friends: It’s a great way to recycle those cute costumes you and your friends purchased last year.

Buy next year’s costumes in the middle of November when they are 75% off. You can even include them in a holiday dress up kit gift so they serve two holidays!

Here are some fun frugal and creative costume ideas:

Super Frugal Mummy: Wrap up in TP for a really cheap mummy (because I know you bought the TP using a sale and coupons!)

Wrapped Gift: Get a big box and cut arm and leg holes, wrap it in any kind of wrapping paper. Put a big bow on your head and you are a wrapped gift!

Spa Princess: Wear a robe and slippers, put hair up in a towel, carry a hand held mirror and wear face cream.

Baby: This one is popular with tweens and teens. Wear pajamas (footie PJ’s if you have them), wear hair in pigtails, suck on a candy pacifier, carry a stuffed bear.

Jellyfish: Here’s a really creative idea from a Jellyfish! Wear an all white outfit. Take an umbrella and hang iridescent ribbon, streamers or bubble wrap cut into long strips down from the edges. Wouldn’t that look awesome? I think I may be a jellyfish this year! Click HERE to see the jellyfish costume.

Crayon: I love the very simple crayon idea from Wear a solid color sweatsuit and make a pointed hat in the same color using construction paper. You can also use face paint in the same colot. Then use posterboard and write the word CRAYON on it and tape or pin the sign sideways on your torso. Now you are a crayon! This is one you could put together very quickly if you need a costume fast.

For some other great do-it yourself costumes see these links: costume ideas

Ideas from

Costume ideas from


Drug store rebates with coupons and sales are a great way to make sure you have plenty of candy at a reasonable cost.

Buy less expensive lollipops instead of more expensive chocolate (of course you will need to buy at least one bag of your favorite chocolate so just make sure you get that on sale!).

Non-candy goodies: has an article suggesting you give away little bags of pennies with a note explaining that they are for making wishes – my kids would not be amused.  Other more well received non-candy items that could be frugal if purchased on sale: temporary tattoos, pencils, erasers, stickers, bouncy balls, spider rings, mini bubble and wand bottles.

Freeze clearance chocolate for using during the holidays. They make great stuffers in stockings! For solid chocolate, you can melt it down and dip all sorts of things in them for yummy holiday treats – pretzels, strawberries, cookies, your finger.


Buy ahead: As is the case with costumes, buy Halloween decorations in November for the next year. Every year I add a few more pieces to our collection at 75 – 90% off the retail price!

Make a giant spider web out of white, gray or black yarn on the front porch. Make spider out of a balloon and construction paper legs or styrofoam ball and pipe cleaners for legs.

Make tombstones out of gray pained cardboard cut in the shape of a tombstone. Write some scary or humorous epitaphs on them. Click HERE for some epitaph suggestions.

Another classic fall decoration is the scarecrow. Stuff some old jeans and a plaid shirt (or overalls and a shirt) with crumbled newspaper. Have some hay straw sticking out of the cuffs and collar of the shirt and out of the bottom of the pants. For the head, use a pumpkin with decorated or carved face and stick a straw hat on top. Place your scarecrow out on the front porch to greet your trick or treaters.

Make small hanging ghosts with facial tissues or white wrapping tissue tied over golf balls. Make larger ones with sheets tied over soccer balls.

For more homemade decorations, see the following links:

Click HERE for decoration suggestions has a bunch of great Halloween crafts and decorations HERE.

For a number of great Halloween tips from including pumpkin carving advice and suggestions for family-friendly Halloween movies, click HERE.

With all those ideas, you should have no fears about staying within your Halloween budget. Please share your favorite Halloween tips and ideas! I hope you all have a safe, fun, frugal and candy-filled holiday!



Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 16, 2010

    jzka - I bet those kids were lining up to get the fast food coupons! What a fun treat!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 16, 2010

    Great job on the candy KLW!

    Here's another candy deal at CVS starting tomorrow, Sunday 10-17:

    Mars, Nestle, Fun Size, Hersheys, twizzlers snack size candy
    Sale: $2.50 each
    Store coupon: $1/2 store coupon printing at in-store coupon kiosks
    MQ: $1/2 Nestle fun size coupon from 10/17 (hopefully it will be in our paper!)
    Total for 2 after store coupon and MQ = $3.00 ($1.50 per bag)

  • KLW Oct 16, 2010

    Thank you for the tip, jzka. I actually just got back from CVS and got the candy there...great deals combining manufacturer's coupons with the candy sale and a CVS in-store coupon that printed when I scanned my card ($1 off 2 M&M/Mars bags). PLUS I'd received a "20% off your entire purchase" coupon in the mail that was good only for this weekend, plus I had $10 in ECBs that I earned doing a survey through the CVS Advisor Panel. So I still did pretty darn well...woohoooo!

  • Trickat Oct 16, 2010

    To KLW: Paired with a buy 3 get $1 Hershey's coupon from a few weeks ago, RiteAid's 2/$4 Reese's, Hershey's, Kit-Kats this week with an additional $1 ECB on 2 isn't bad.

  • Trickat Oct 16, 2010

    Some fast food restaurants are selling treat books for $1. None of our McDonald's participate anymore, but Wendy's gives 10 jr. frosty coupons and Burger King gives 7 value fry coupons with a bonus soft drink/icee. Every year, we have to turn away "repeat" goblins trying to get double and triple coupons from us!

  • kcampbell113 Oct 15, 2010

    We have 3 young kids who are very into fairy tales. After giving various suggestions they decided on the 3 little pigs. The girls have pink leggings and shirts all ready so all I have to make is piggie ears. I came across a great idea for using a baseball cap for the pig face. I got cardboard from work and am planning to hot glue straw to one and sticks to another. Our 18 month old will have the house of bricks so somehow we will attach it to the stoller and he will wear overalls. The girls want my husband to be the big bad wolf - we'll see.

  • rayne0524 Oct 15, 2010

    Thank you, Iplaced 2nd in our costume contest at work. I was able to use the costume twice that year because I wore it out with the kids when we took them trick or treating.

    As a kid we had an employee of Frito Lay living in our neighborhood, so we all looked forward to getting chips. It was a great non-candy treat.

  • KLW Oct 15, 2010

    Can't believe I missed it Faye! Thanks. Oh well.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 15, 2010

    Love the idea of adding the light strings to the hat, tk!

  • tkwestbrook Oct 15, 2010

    I was a jellyfish last year for our work costume contest. I was beaten by a sushi roll. But I made a great Jellyfish! I used a sombrero I covered with all the stuff you listed (plus battery operated light strings). It was great!