How to spend less on Halloween

By Sheryl Smolkin

According to the Retail Council of Canada, Canadians annually spend upwards of $1 billion on Halloween-related products and services each year, with the average Canadian spending more per capita than the average American on various Halloween- related goods. In fact Canadians have become so enamored with Halloween that holiday-related spending is second only to Christmas.

So how can you spend less on Halloween without disappointing all the big and little ghosts and goblins that live with you or show up at your door? Here are some ideas:

  1. Buy later: Don’t buy Halloween candy when it hits the shelf in September. Chances are you will eat up the first batch and just have to buy more. And your waistline doesn’t need the extra calories.
  2. Buy what you need: There are very few young children who trick or treat in my neighbourhood. Yet “just in case” every year I buy several boxes of mini-chocolate bars to give out. As a result I typically end up spending more and eating the leftovers.
  3. Buy in bulk: It’s easy to toss a box of individually wrapped candy bars or small bags of chips into your grocery cart and call it a day. But do the math. Chances are that if you buy treats from the bulk store and package them in small plastic bags tied with a ribbon, the cost per item will be much less.
  4. Make your own costumes: I must confess I just spent $40 on an “Elsa” costume for my granddaughter because she is crazy about the character in the Disney movie Frozen. But her other grandmother sews and has made her great costumes for a fraction of the cost in previous years, including a very clever dinosaur that she loved every bit as much.
  5. Re-use, re-cycle: Check out Value Village or another local thrift or second hand store. For a few dollars you can find great stuff to outfit yourself or your little one as everything from a hobo to a travelling salesman to a ballerina.
  6. Costume swap: If you bought or made your child the most popular costume last year, for sure it no longer fits. Furthermore, even if it does fit, she won’t want to wear the same thing two years in a row. Set up a page on Facebook and invite your friends to participate in a costume swap.
  7. Avoid over-decorating: A pumpkin carved with a funny face and lit with a candle shows the neighbourhood you are open for business. But you don’t need cobwebs, sound effects and a fake grave with dancing skeletons to attract people or enjoy the evening.
  8. Have a party: Halloween is often cold and wet in Canada. A house-party with lots of games and orange food can be a lot more fun than traipsing around in the rain or wind with heavy coats covering up lovingly crafted costumes. This website has hundreds of economical Halloween party ideas.
  9. Check out community events: If you don’t have the time, money or space to host a Halloween party, check out community events. You will likely discover that your local library, community centre, school or museum is hosting free or low cost events.
  10. Buy on sale for next year: If you have space to store then, buy costumes in sizes your children will grow into, decorations and non-perishable snacks when they go on sale November 1st. However, be prepared for the fact that the kids might have very different ideas about what they want to wear for Halloween when they are one year older and if you put your purchases away in a really safe place by next October, you may not be able to find them!

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