It’s that time of year again, when jack-o’-lanterns leer into the dark night and cobwebby skeletons hang from every bush. Halloween is great fun for kids and kids-at-heart. But, if you’re the one left paying for all those costumes, decor and candy, you may find the only scare you’re getting from Halloween this year is fear of the credit card bill’s arrival.
Don’t let Halloween costs spook you out! We’ve got eight great hacks for saving on costumes and decor.
Create an army of floating ghosts using nothing more than white trash bags. Gather a bunch of bags and stuff them with crumpled newspaper. Tie the “head” with a rubber band and use a permanent marker to draw spooky faces on your ghosts. Hang your frightful friends around your house and yard to scare off your party guests and trick-or-treaters.
Spooky bird houses
Create a mini haunted house to hang on your door or decorate your table using nothing more than a bird house, black paint and some cotton. Paint the bird house black and stretch cotton over it for a cobwebby effect. Finish it off with a few paper ghosts peeking out of the windows and doors and you’ve got yourself a tiny haunted house!
For a fun and freaky costume that costs next to nothing, go as a surfer being eaten by a shark. Dress in swimwear, with a towel draped over yourself if the weather makes it necessary and apply fake blood to a visible spot on your neck or arm. Use face paint to create a line of triangle-shaped marks to mimic the shark bite and apply the blood so it surrounds the bite and drips out. To create a realistic pull on the skin, apply several layers of non-flexible collodion on the triangles. As it dries, the collodion will shrink and pull in the skin. It won’t be too comfortable, so only do this extra step if you’re ready to go all in – and make sure you have the correct remover, too. Finally, for a fun touch, attach an inflated or stuffed toy shark to your costume.
Tip: You can spring for fake blood, or easily create your own with some corn syrup and red and blue food coloring. Stir in the red coloring, mixing until you reach the desired consistency. Darken with the blue coloring until you achieve that perfect color.
Mason jar lanterns
For easy DIY decor, paint mason jars with spooky designs and insert battery-powered tea lights for a bewitching glow. Line your walkway or porch with these lanterns to welcome trick-or-treaters.
Creepy crawlers everywhere
Use an inexpensive package of plastic spiders to scare your guests silly! You can freeze some in ice cubes for a spooky surprise in everyone’s drinks, scatter a few across the table to make someone shriek and even add some to your soap dispenser to really freak everyone out. Let your trick-or-treaters in on the fun by sprinkling some of these plastic critters into your bowl of candy. Let your young visitors stick their hands in at their own risk!
An eerie flicker
For a super-easy and super-cheap centerpiece, paint old wine bottles black. Use matte paint for the best effect. When your candlestick holders have dried, insert long orange taper candles into each one to add a festive look to your table.
Care for a lollipop?
Turn your pumpkin into a fun lollipop dispenser with the help of an electric drill. Use the drill to make small holes in your pumpkin and then stick a lollipop into each hole. Set it up on your steps for an adorable, help-yourself trick-or-treat.
For a costume that will make everyone laugh and won’t cost a penny, go as your college-aged self. Dig out those neon leggings from the ‘90s, or the bell-bottom jeans from the ‘80s, and use old accessories to make the full costume. If you had a crazy hairstyle back then, incorporate it into your costume for a head-to-toe effect.