by Paul Vazquez
Costumes on the Cheap
Halloween can be a pricey proposition if you're really celebrating the holiday. From costumes to home decor, there are a number ways that you can mitigate the costs of Halloween fun. Paul Vazquez of Keycode.com, a coupon aggregating site, shares his tips for spooky savings.
•Since most new costumes only get worn once or twice:
- save and wear hand-me-down costumes from older siblings
- trade costumes with friends or extended family
- hold a neighborhood or community costume swap
- shop for used costumes at thrift stores, consignment shops, and on eBay or Craigslist
•Purchase multi-use and multi-purpose costumes: Shop thinking about how a costume can be refashioned and recycled, or consider how a costume can become part of a child’s dress-up wardrobe that can be used year round.
•Make it yourself: Many costumes lend themselves to self-styling (e.g., soldiers, princesses, ghosts, scarecrows, animals, and more). The only limitation is your imagination. Look around the house since many of the things you have on hand can be used to make great costumes. And a trip to the thrift store will not only give you some great costume ideas, but also some great bargains on what you need to help your child look their best while trick-or-treating.
•Shop online: The advent of the Internet has made costume shopping much easier, and in many cases less expensive. The Internet has a seemingly endless number of costume merchants. This makes it easy to comparison shop and hunt down the best deals. Also, some merchants offer online discounts and many will offer free shipping on minimum purchases.
•Wait until the last minute: This is probably not the most appealing alternative for a number of reasons, but if you wait until October 30th or the 31st you can find good deals on ready-made costumes. But plan to be very flexible. If your child has their heart set on a particular costume, you probably don’t want to try this one for obvious reasons.
•Don’t pay twice: Once you have your child’s costume, safely tuck it away someplace until they need it for a party or for trick-or-treating. If you let your child play in their costume before Halloween, you run the risk of having to replace it. There’s plenty of time for dress-up after the holiday.
•Buy now for next year: If you have the storage space, stock up on Halloween decorations after Halloween and put them away to use next year. Post-holiday shopping can easily save you 75% or more.
•Make your own decorations:
- gravestones can be made from Styrofoam, a can of paint, and a broad-tipped marker
- black lights, florescent paint or chalk, and a black sheet help create a spooky backdrop for the porch
- colored paper bags with cut out jack-o-lantern faces and tea candles are a cheap way to light the path to the front door
- paper plates, paint, pipe cleaners, and construction paper make great spiders
- tissue paper, cotton balls, rubber bands, and a black marker make great ghosts
•Shop online: There are countless online merchants that offer great deals on holiday decorations and gear. From orange lights to pumpkins, from cats to music CDS, just about anything you can imagine is available online and most times at great prices – especially if you can find a discount code.
Candy & Treats
•Stock up early: Look for deals on candy and snack-sized pretzels or chips during the months leading up to Halloween. You can often find lower prices and coupons in August or September that might not be available come October. And here’s a tip: when buying early, make sure not to pick your favorites.
•Buy in bulk: Save money by coordinating with friends and neighbors when you buy candy and treats. Purchasing as a group and splitting the cost will allow you to shop for extra large bags of candy at your local “big box” store.
•Buy cheaper candy: Sugar-based candy (Sweet-Tarts, lollipops, etc.) tend to be much cheaper than chocolate-based candy.
•Don’t over buy: Try to buy only the amount of candy you need for trick-or-treaters based on last year’s traffic. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.
•Dollar stores are your best friend: Instead of dishing out candy to trick-or-treaters, consider trinkets. Many fun and inexpensive bag stuffers (e.g., stickers, pencils, erasers, glow-in-the dark jewelry, bouncy balls, and plastic vampire teeth) are available at your local dollar store or from a number of online vendors. Another upside to non-perishable treats is that whatever you don’t use you can put away for next year.