The scariest part of Halloween isn’t if you will run out of treats before the last wave of kiddos rings your doorbell. It can be the amount of money you spend. After you add up the cost of costumes, parties, candy and outings (see our huge list of Halloween happenings here), it might feel like a real-life nightmare. Whether you like your All Hallow’s Eve to be super creepy or just slightly spooky, there are ways to have a great time without emptying the coffers.
Save on Halloween costumes
DIY Costumes: You don’t have to shop the Halloween stores to get a great costume. Check out this list of 102+ easy DIY costumes for kids and adults.
Organize a costume swap: Set up a costume swap with a group of friends, your kids’ school, scout troop, neighborhood or community group (if you participate in Nextdoor.com, this is super easy).
The larger the group, the better. It’s pretty simple. Collect costumes ahead of time. For every costume a participant donates, they get a ticket, redeemable for one costume on the day of the event.
Leftover costumes can be saved for the following year or donated to a group that serves children.
The Costume Challenge: All you creative procrastinators, this one is for you. Think Halloween crossed with Project Runway. Set a timer and let the family raid dress-up boxes, their own clothes, their siblings or roommates clothes and other household objects.
Make sure duct tape is available! This eliminates the pressure for the “perfect” costume, and focuses on the fun of the process instead. Video the mad dash for costumes and then the final modeling down the catwalk.
Thrift and Consignment Stores: Visit thrift and consignment shops. Many, especially Goodwill and arc Thrift will have costumes. Those that don’t will surely have inexpensive clothing and accessories to create costumes. Here’s a big list of thrift and consignment shops in the Denver area.
Save on Halloween candy
Buy in bulk: If your neighborhood is a hotbed for Trick-or-Treaters, plan ahead and make a trip to a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco.
Recycle unwanted candy: There are so many fall festivals and Halloween parties that happen before the holiday that it’s a good bet that your kids have candy that they don’t even like. Add that candy to the Trick-or-Treat cauldron.
Lower your standards: Don’t try to be the best house on the block. Buy whatever candy is cheapest. Believe me, kids are nicer (and actually say “thank you’) these days than when we were kids. Nobody will egg your house for handing out lollipops instead of full-size candy bars. Disclaimer: Probably.
Use coupons: Buy whatever candy you can find coupons for. Check the Sunday paper or download and print them out from here.
Don’t buy candy you like: You know what I’m saying here, right? Maybe you have never eaten the all the mini Kit Kats or Milk Duds before Halloween and had to go back the store to buy more. Or maybe you have. No judgment from Mile High on the Cheap.
Halloween Candy Buy-Back: This doesn’t necessarily save you money when you buy candy, but it does give your kids some cold hard cash and could potentially save some dentist bills. After Halloween, many dentists offer to buy back excess candy from kids.
And, remember, it doesn’t have to be excess candy that your kids collected. It could be candy that didn’t get handed out to Trick-or-Treaters. Learn about the program and see which dentists in the area are participating.
Save on Fall Fun
Save on haunted attractions: Start by looking through this list of haunted houses and corn mazes and more. Follow each link, because many of the sites have coupons you can download, or have certain days that are discounted. Then check out Groupon for discounted admission, as well.
Visit corn mazes and pumpkin patches: We grow stuff in Colorado, and not just pot. There are almost a dozen corn mazes and pumpkin patches where you can hang out. Some are free, while other charge a fee. Follow each link, because many of the sites have coupons or discount days.
Fall Festivals: Virtually every weekend between now and Halloween has a slew of free and cheap events celebrating fall. Be sure to check out our Free & Cheap Things To Do This Weekend post to see what’s coming up in the Denver/Boulder area. Here’s a list of Halloween happenings.
Create your own traditions: Often, kids’ best memories are their family’s own traditions, and they don’t have to cost a thing, or not much, in any case. Tell ghost stories around a fireplace. Make a tradition of a neighborhood walk after dark the last full moon before Halloween. Create a food tradition, like this pumpkin cake or these ghoulish fingers.
Save on Halloween Decorations
DIY decorations: Check out these cheap DIY decorations from Living on the Cheap. Learn how to make a decorated wine bottle, a giant spider, a Jack-o-Lantern toilet paper roll or a styrofoam graveyard.
DIY Scarecrow: Also from Living on the Cheap, here are directions for a DIY scarecrow.
Shop the dollar stores: Dollar stores are a fantastic source of cheap decorations. Cheap, as in a buck, 100 pennies, $1. Mile High Cheapskates know never go anywhere else to buy decorations until you check out the dollar stores.
Free Jack-o-Lantern stencils: Choose from a huge selection (700 and counting) of pumpkin stencils from the Pumpkin Lady. They are free to download. They’ll be in PDF format and will include basic instructions.