The average shopper spent just under $75 on Halloween-related purchases in 2015, according to the National Retail Federation spending survey. But if you use the best savings strategies, you could spend a lot less on Halloween this year — including Halloween parties.
Whether you're hosting a big blowout for Halloween or planning a smaller gathering for friends, there are plenty of ways to avoid a financial scare this season.
Here are some ways you can throw a killer Halloween party for under $50:
Halloween party on a budget
Halloween party on a budget
1. Shop Online for Halloween Decorations
Decorations and props are essential for any Halloween celebration, and you’ll find plenty of great deals on Halloween-themed items at stores like Walmart and Target.
But when you only have $50 to spend on the entire event, buying a Spooky Living Tree for $15.88 at Walmart or a Halloween Changing Light String for $27 at Target can easily put you over budget. Fortunately, you can still create the right ambiance by flexing your crafting skills and buying wholesale items.
Sites like WholesaleHalloweenCostumes.com and Oriental Trading Company sell a variety of party items for a few dollars each. Pick up items like Glow Spray in a Can for just $4.90 to cover dozens of items in the party room or 20 feet of Fright Tape for $3.90 on WholesaleHalloweenCostumes.com. Buy party favors and table decorations in bulk starting at $1.99 per dozen from OrientalTrading.com. These items can help you decorate larger areas, such as doorways, tables and walls with minimal effort — and a minimal dollar investment.
2. Charge Money Without Charging a Cover
You don’t have to charge a door cover to pass some party costs on to your guests.
“You could charge a costume entry fee to pool money for the best costume,” said Brent Shelton, online shopping and consumer expert at FatWallet. Charging a $5 fee to enter a costume contest, for example, means you could make $50 when just 20 people enter and split the entry fee 50-50 for the grand prize and to cover party costs.
Refreshments tend to be one of the bigger party expenses. In fact, the average cost of a cocktail party can range from $25 to $230 per person, according to CostHelper.com.
Shelton suggests that hosts can cut costs by having guests bring food to pass and inviting home brewers to show off their skills in a brewing competition. Depending on how many people you’re inviting, these measures can save you a few hundred dollars on the cost of entertaining.
3. Hit the Dollar Store
Give yourself a budget of $20 to $30 to buy goods at the dollar store, and you’ll be able to pick up a variety of Halloween-themed items — and non-holiday items — to take care of your guests. If you’re the crafty type, even better — you’ll find everything from wreaths to paper gift bags ready for painting or decorating.
For example, Dollar Tree’s Halloween Headquarters is stocked with craft supplies, including plastic pumpkins, skulls, decorative candleholders and goblets for just a dollar a piece. You can use these items to put together an eye-catching centerpiece or decorate tables and mantels.
And don’t forget the food aisle. You’ll find everything from cookies and bread to peanut butter, hot chocolate and other staples. Plus, bagged candy and other treats can be great for filling small bowls at the party table. Just make sure to check the expiration dates, and keep an eye out for any bulk buys to save even more on food costs.
4. Borrow Your Costume
If you throw a Halloween party and want to dress up as a character from a movie or TV series, explore the idea of borrowing a costume from friends, family members or neighbors.
You can post a request on your Facebook page or in a local Facebook Group to see if there is any interest. Some people might be willing to rent out their costumes in exchange for other products or services, like free meals or anything you might have in your garage that you want to give away.
You can also make use of sites like NeighborGoods, which lets you create and join groups in your neighborhood to share anything from ladders for Halloween decorating to costumes. This can be a great way to save on the cost of a new costume, which can range from tens to hundreds of dollars via Amazon.com.
5. Take Advantage of ‘Buy 1, Get 1 Free’ Deals at Grocery Stores
When you need to buy soda, bottled water, chips, salsa and other party favorites in larger quantities, shave off a significant amount of money with “buy one, get one free” deals at your local grocery store. Saving 50 percent on these items makes it that much easier to come in under budget.
Since the deals rotate throughout the week — and will be different at every store — you might need to do some sale sleuthing to find great deals. Plan on hitting the store circuit at least a few weeks in advance, so you can get the best deals on different goods.
And if you don’t feel like making a tour of the town to scoop up deals, consider using apps like Grocery Pal or Flipp, where you can get a preview of store circulars and coupons in a few screen swipes. These apps can also help you organize your shopping list and calculate total savings.
6. Arrange for Live Music or a DJ — for Free
If you’re organizing a larger party and want to keep guests entertained, having live music or a DJ setup at the event will make your party a standout. Ask musician friends or amateur DJs if they want to perform at your Halloween party in exchange for the publicity and a good time.
Additionally, you can post requests on Facebook or even venture over to Craigslist to find someone who wants to play for free. Another option: Check out Meetup groups in your area that perform together, and get in touch with the organizer to see if the group wants to attend.
Just make sure the performers will be bringing their own equipment and that they are prepared to sign liability waivers, so you aren’t left holding the bill if any equipment gets damaged. You could offer free food and drinks in exchange for their efforts, or return the favor by promoting them online.