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8 Ways to Save on Halloween

Cut your candy spending by 40% when you skip the chocolate, and buy decorations in November.

The easiest way to save cash on Halloween is to hide inside with your lights off and pretend you're not home. But who wants to be a Halloween Scrooge? If your answer is "me," you should probably try a different article. For everyone else, we've gathered up tips to help you save on treats, costumes, and spooky decor.

Consider Going Non-Chocolate for Candy

This year, Americans will spend an estimated $2.7 billion on candy, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation. In fact, survey respondents were far more likely to say they were buying candy than any other Halloween item — 95% of consumers will buy candy, as opposed to the 69% buying costumes, 72% buying decorations, and 37% buying greeting cards.

If you buy hard candies, you could spend 40% less per kid to hand out the same amount of candy by weight.

How can you cut down on candy costs and still have happy trick-or-treaters? First off, let's set a baseline. While you can easily hand out less candy, two fun-size bars per trick-or-treater seems to be the most common amount. These bars usually weigh half an ounce to 1.5 ounces. Chocolate treats tend to cost between 20 cents and 30 cents an ounce at full price, giving you an average cost-per-kid of about 50 cents.

Dedicated chocoholics may frown, but hard candies like Smarties and Jolly Ranchers ring up at closer to 15 cents an ounce. You'll spend only 30 cents per kid to hand out the same amount of candy by weight. Plus, your handout would be much bigger — instead of two mini bars, two ounces of Jolly Ranchers is 10 pieces of candy!

Clip Candy Coupons and Wait

Of course, you can pay less for any type of candy by shopping smart. Halloween candy coupons tend to be released throughout October, while prices in-store often drop in the last day or two before the holiday. If you clip coupons early and buy at the last minute, you can sometimes stack your savings.

SEE ALSO: How Can You Tell If That Coupon Is a Scam?

If you'd rather buy early, choose your store carefully. Good bets include hitting up the dollar store, buying in bulk from an online seller, or going to a membership store like Costco or Sam's Club.

Control Portions Yourself

Another tip is to put the candy in trick-or-treater bags yourself, ensuring the greediest ghosts get the same goods as the most polite pirates (and helping you avoid either running out or overbuying). Don't do that bowl-on-the-porch thing; one mean-spirited trick-or-treater will ruin the fun for everyone. If you're new to your area and don't know how many trick-or-treaters to expect, ask your neighbors — but keep in mind that bad weather could throw off estimates.

Go Non-Candy

You could also consider the daring strategy of stepping away from candy entirely and handing out a non-edible treat. If you buy treats in Halloween-style bulk, you may be able to find something cool for less than you'd pay for candy. Glow sticks, for example, make a great treat that's cheap and useful on a dark October night.

Buy Decorations in November

Our best decor tip won't help you this year. Why? Because the best time to buy Halloween decorations is after the holiday. For the past three years, we've seen stores like Home Depot and Lowe's cut up to 75% off Halloween decorations in early November. While you'll likely see pre-holiday sales as well, waiting to buy means you don't get to display the decorations for as long.

For the past three years, we've seen stores like Home Depot and Lowe's cut up to 75% off Halloween decorations in early November.

When choosing decorations, don't head straight for the cheapest stuff. If you can't reuse it for years to come, you may be losing money over time. Many cheap items wear out quickly, and it doesn't take long for even modest yearly spending to add up to more than you would have spent on more durable items.

Create Your Own Decorations

Another good option is making the decor yourself. Even if you're not usually Pinterested (sorry, interested) in craft projects, you might want to consider them for Halloween. It's one occasion where having your creations look a little beat-up, messy, or misshapen can be passed off as intentional.

If you want to buy craft materials, make sure you check for coupons. Craft stores like Michaels and A.C. Moore frequently run excellent coupons, like 50% off one item. With a little creativity, though, your spending on craft supplies may be little or nothing at all.

Beat-up clothing can be stuffed with straw and plastic grocery bags to make a fine scarecrow. A tattered white sheet can be cut, tied, and hung with fishing line to make a fluttering ghost. And any weatherproof material can be painted and set up as tombstones. If you want to do something a little more creative but aren't sure how, there's almost definitely a YouTube tutorial waiting to guide you along.

Buy Costumes at the Last Minute

Costumes usually plummet in price after Halloween, too, but those are harder to shop for a year ahead of time. Post-Halloween shopping is still a good bet for adult costumes, but it's often hard to predict what a kid's size or interests will be. (Sorry, but saving 75% on a costume that never gets worn is still a waste of money.)

SEE ALSO: How to Get a Deal on a Halloween Costume

The next best option? Last-minute shopping. Many retailers will cut 30% to 50% off costumes a week or two before Halloween. "Trendy" costumes — like those that are popular due to a recent movie release — are a particularly likely target for markdowns, as a retailer can't be sure how well they'll sell next year.

If you're buying a kid's costume, consider buying a size up. First, if October 31 is chilly, they can put a sweatshirt or coat on under their tutu or turtle shell (rather than spoiling the look by putting it on top). Second, you can give the costume extra life by throwing it in the dress-up box after the holiday passes. Plus, you might get lucky: if your kid is still obsessed with the same thing the following year and hasn't grown much, you might get by reusing the same costume.

Make Your Own Costumes

DIY is a great option for costumes, too, and you don't have to be a dab hand with the sewing machine to make something fun. Find an appropriately colored item to use as a base, and get to accessorizing. (Walmart often carries sweatpants/sweatshirt combos for around $12 if you don't have something on hand.)

Of course, if you're a craft-master, you can always get more ambitious, like the parents who handmade this transforming Transformer costume for their child. The sky really is the limit, and unless you have a truly crazy idea, you can probably find an instructional video or blog.

Readers, what are your favorite ways to save on Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.

Contributing Writer

Formerly a content writer for DealNews, Erin Coduti now brings that experience to the blog team as a freelancer. Previously, she wrote for a television news station and a literary fan magazine.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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