Reuse your old stuff to save money on Halloween


It’s scary how much money some of us spend on Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $66 on candy, costumes, and devilish decorations this year. Total Halloween spending could reach nearly $6 billion — all for things that go bump in the night.

There’s no doubt that getting your ghost on and unleashing your inner ghoul is big business for retailers. Heck, I saw spooky Halloween things stocked on store shelves in early September. Jeepers!

Vote Halloween Poll

Want to have a howl of a Halloween without going into hock? Peek in your closets, dig through your old gear, and shop for novelty items sparingly to creep out your friends for a lot less this year. Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a Free Halloween Costume

You don’t need super sewing skills or a special store bought Halloween costume to have fun this Hallow’s eve. Nope. I’ve had a good time at many Halloween parties over the years by wearing the clothing already hanging in my closet. Rigging a ready-made or free costume is easy — you just need a little creativity to see past your daily duds to find something spooktacular.

halloween costume bridesmaid

Launch: 10 Free Halloween Costume Ideas for Adults, Kids, and Procrastinators

Dress as a decade, coordinate in a single color, be a pun, or bust out the bridesmaid’s dress to reuse old clothing and reduce costume costs.

halloween costumes ideas pets dog

Launch: 10 Cheap Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

2. Decorate Your Halloween Digs on a Dime

You don’t need to buy big inflatable plastic vampires and novelty gravestones to stage a haunted house or create a chilling vibe. If you’re throwing a party, set an eerie mood by reusing your green, white, or orange Christmas lights around the home. Carve a few pumpkins, relight old used candles, and legally download free music to set a scary tone.

Decorating your front door with a classic Jack O’ Lantern is pretty darn cheap and fun. So get a gourd and get carving!

how to carve a pumpkin

Launch: How to Carve a Pumpkin (without losing a finger)

Don’t forget to download a few free pumpkin carving stencils. These stencils are insanely popular with the downloading bunch. This post offers six simple designs.

pumpkin stencil scary faces pumpkin carving

Launch: 6 Free Printable Pumpkin Carving Stencils

Looking for more of a carving challenge? Try any of these eight pumpkin face stencils — there’s even one of Marilyn Monroe if you’re throwing a swanky soiree.

pumpkin stencil pumpkin faces

Launch: 8 Scary Printable Pumpkin Faces

To stage your lawn for Halloween night, just stuff fallen leaves into an orange garbage bag and get the kids to decorate the bag with scary faces. Or make a headless body by stuffing worn clothing into an old plaid shirt and a pair of jeans — don’t forget to add an old pair of boots to really give trick or treaters a kick.

3. Cut Your Candy Costs

How much are you spending on sugary sweets this year? According to the National Retail Federation, shelling out around $20 on Halloween candy puts your treat budget at the national average. To cut your candy costs by up to 30%, check out the bulk food section at your local grocery store and opt for non-Halloween themed hard candies over brand name bite-sized chocolate bars. Or do a little price check experiment at Costco before grabbing a bag of spooky sweets at your grocer’s check out — warehouse clubs like Costco often sell quality seasonal snacks at deep discounts for bulk shoppers.

Party hosts and parents can also save a bundle by making, or baking, Halloween treats at home. Halloween themed cupcakes and Ghoulish grub sell for premium prices in October, so look in your pantry and bake up a batch of homemade treats before buying packaged baked goods in a store.

halloween cupcakes frankenstein

Launch: How to bake frightfully fun Halloween Cupcakes

Use fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and nut butters to craft a healthier Halloween snack.

frogs funny frogs Halloween recipes

Launch: Recipes: Gross, Easy, and Fun Halloween Foods for Kids

Reuse your muffin tins, cake pans, or cupcake pans to cook up some severed meat heads. A package of ground turkey or beef and a few common condiments are all that’s needed to frugally scare the pants off your guests.

halloween recipes

Launch: Reuse a cupcake pan to make Monster Meat Heads for Halloween

Celebrating Halloween the frugal way is simple if you give yourself the time to plan ahead and use a little creativity to shop inside your home for reusable costumes and decorations. Have a safe and happy Halloween!


  1. Steve October 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Do what my family did. We went to Michael’s and purchased several of those fake pumpkins, buy pumpkin scent for the smell, but just carve and reuse them year after year. They cost maybe $5-$10 each.

  2. Anne Daub October 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Every September my family began its search for Halloween costumes. We scoured the magazines, the movies, the stores for ideas because we did the unusual: we made them from scratch. It was as much fun to spend an hour every evening together designing, picking out colors, materials, assescories and make up as it was the actual night. We’ve made pirates, mermaids, mummies, a Zena costume complete with esplanades, a detective complete with a whole array of “special” gadets. Then, each child got 1 pumpkin they could carve any way they wanted and then we would roast the seeds to munch on and watch some silly movie like Mary Poppins. My children are grown, but still remember with great fondness this fall ritual. My children never realized we were not very well off in those days and I was being frugal because of all the fun we had. It wasn’t so much the holiday, but all the fun we had together! And, really, that is what is important.

  3. Suzanna October 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I just LOVE your dog. That look on her face as she humours you is priceless!!

    Also would like you to know that I love reading your columns. Educational and entertaining!

    Thank you!

  4. Gillian @ Money After Graduation October 12, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Very cute treats ! I am so over spending a lot on costumes. Luckily as I get older it seems like there are less and less parties to need to dress up for. I am also a fan of swapping costumes with friends from years past !

Leave A Comment