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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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Halloween bargain hunting

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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but between all the costumes, candy and decorations, it has historically been one of the most expensive for our family. I've spent more than my fair share over the years, and this season I've vowed it's going to be different.

Toward that goal, I have already stocked up on candy that I've paid no more than $1 a bag through using coupons combined with sales prices. This is great because we typically have about 200 kids visit our neighborhood each year, and they really haul it in.

In fact, a recent study conducted by asked 1,200 boys and girls about their Halloween haul. Here's what they said:

Most kids said they get at least 50 pieces of candy, with over 44 percent saying they get more than 100 pieces.

Only about 20 percent of kids said they eat all their Halloween candy.

Whether they eat all or just some of their candy, it takes most kids a long time to do it. Nearly 60 percent said they need two weeks, a month or more than a month. About 25 percent said they need only one day or less than a week. And the rest of the kids said they needed anywhere from one second (yeah, right) to a year.

Here are some great ways to save money for Halloween:

Create your costumes

The ones you buy in the store are oftentimes cheaply made and by the end of your trick or treating they're ready for the trash. My parents didn't have money to suit up four kids in costumes, so we made our own. I kept that tradition and one year I made for my son a spider costume - a black knit hat, black sweatshirt, black sweatpants, and some used black stockings stuffed with socks. After stuffing the legs, sew or pin them to the sides of the sweatshirt. I strung the legs together using fishing line and connected it to the sleeves of the sweatshirt so that every time he moved his arms his spider legs would move.

You can go as a rock star with glittery clothes, jewelry and spiked hair. Go with a friend and pair up as a washer and dryer - all you need is one or two moving boxes, tape, scissors, and spray paint. Use bottle tops for knobs, and some clothes.

You can also create the classic mummy with just a sweat suit, an old white sheet (the older, the better) and a hot glue gun. Cut strips and glue them on. Many of these items you can find right in your home.

Costume swaps

Earlier this month was National Halloween Costume Swap Day. However, no worries if you missed out. Check with your family, friends, neighbors and see if they have any costumes you can swap or borrow.

Going gently used

Don't be afraid to purchase gently used costumes from Craigslist or eBay. Children tend to want to be a different character each year, so don't waste your hard-earned dollars on brand-new costumes if you can help it.

In essence, my policy is 'Go Green: Recycle, Reuse and Re-Invent.'

Thrifty decorations

Shopping the thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sales, flea markets can be quite beneficial for your Halloween theme. I recently found bags of spider webbing for 25 cents a bag at Goodwill, and there were lots of decorations as well.

Making your own

It's actually rather easy and a lot of fun to create your own creepy decorations. Tombstones are my favorite - simply some old plywood or sheetrock, black or gray spray paint, and gray/white/black finger paint. Search for some ghoulish R.I.P. sayings in the Internet and be creative. Ghosts are also very easy and inexpensive to create. Take some old white sheets and place a filled balloon or a soccer ball in the top as a head, then hang them from the trees and let them sway in the wind. I've even taken some old white pillow cases and made 'baby' ghosts that hung on the outside lights.

Making it spooky

Put colored (red, yellow or green) light bulbs in your fixtures, make chalk body outlines in your driveway or sidewalk, and even play some scary noises or music from the window. Let your creative juices flow; the kids will love it (and the parents too).

Use coupons for treats

The closer to Halloween we get, the more you'll find printable coupons to use toward bags of candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Right now, you'll see printable coupons to save on bags of Skittles, Starbursts, Wonka and Nestl candy at Coupon Network, and will soon follow suit with printable coupons.

There are also some great deals at Toys R Us, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Hannaford.

It's not just the candy

You don't have to give away candy. Stores have bags of novelty items such as spider rings, pencils, erasers, stickers and even toothbrushes and toothpaste. Don't be surprised if you get moans and groans since most if not all kids really want candy. One year I gave away bags of Goldfish and, unless the kids were under age 3, they were not impressed. But there are alternatives.

Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2011 16:48


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