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Halloween on a Budget: Costumes and Decorations that Won’t Break the Bank

Published by Darrel Crouthamel

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p>Each year, people happily welcome the one day where they can be whoever (or whatever) they want for 24 hours, turning their homes into haunted palaces, completely free of judgment and stereotypes. The one day of the year where spooky noises, spiders and zombies are commonplace.

With costume stores, craft shops and candy stores, Halloween can end up costing a small fortune but one doesn’t need to break the bank in order to enjoy all that this fun holiday has to offer.

Be Thrifty

Vintage stores, thrift stores and consignment shops are perfect places to find wacky pieces on the cheap. Everything from retro to rocker can be found with a little rummaging and creativity. Another bonus – the clothes are cheap enough that ripping and staining them will be guilt-free. There are also lots of great, inexpensive costume jewelry pieces to be found, so hunt carefully.

Fabric stores are another great resource. Purchase a few yards of white muslin then tear it into strips to create the perfect bandages for a mummy costume. Wrap loosely around the body and safety pin to white clothes as haphazardly as desired for a creepy look. Add some red paint “blood” to spook it up even more. A large white sheet with eye holes cut out makes for a classic ghost costume. Paisley and other printed, silky materials make a great head scarf or belt for an authentic hippie look.

Home Heist

Tons of great items commonly found lying around the house can make great decorations. Here are a few fun, kid-friendly decoration projects:

  • Cut up cardboard boxes and use a little spray paint and/or markers to create fake tombstones.
  • Use yarn or wool to create spider webs then pick up a few plastic spiders for super cheap.
  • Make “blood” to go into glasses for decoration by mixing ½ cup Grenadine Syrup, ½ cup Corn Syrup and 1-3 drops of Green Food Colouring (to remove some of the pink hue)
  • Use black, orange and white construction paper to stencil on and cut out bat, pumpkin and ghost shapes that can be hung just about anywhere with scotch tape or wire

Food Fiend

For an eerie Halloween party beverage, “Ghoul-Aid Punch” is a perfect choice.


  • Cover openings of a Halloween mask with duct tape.
  • Line inside of mask with plastic wrap.
  • Set mask in a bowl and fill with water; freeze overnight.
  • Combine 1/2 cup each of water and sugar, zest of 1 orange, 6 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick; bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Strain and chill.
  • Mix 1 quart cranberry juice and chilled syrup in a punch bowl.
  • Stir in 1 (25.4 oz.) bottle sparkling cider and 1 liter club soda.
  • Remove ice from mask and float it face up in punch.

Budget101.com suggests filling bowls with various food items that mimic body parts and asking guests to reach in!

  • Peeled grapes = eyeballs
  • Cooked spaghetti = intestines
  • Jello = liver
  • Carrot = finger
  • Nut shells = toenails
  • Cooked cauliflower = brain (add colors to the water and partially cook it for a realistic look!)
  • Piece of hot dog = nose
  • Pieces of chalk = teeth
  • Piece of liver = heart
  • Dried apricots = ears
  • Plastic glove with water = frozen hand

Make Up with Make-up

People often have stacks of half-used make-up in their cars, purses and bathrooms. Gather it all together and see what fun looks can be created with all of the different colours and textures.

Face powder, lipstick, eyeshadow and lip and eye pencils can all be used to create exaggerated retro looks, clowns, zombies, and much more.

Creative Candy

Buying candy for Trick-or-treaters and baking Halloween-themed goodies for parties can add up quickly but fear not, there is no need to sacrifice favorite holiday foods. A few thrifty moves can make it all possible.

Check out clearance candy isles and stock up. Most candy lasts for at least a couple of years so end of season sales mean next year’s candy shopping is already complete.

Cookies, cakes and cupcakes can easily be made Halloween-y by playing with icing, food colouring and candies. Buy some Halloween-shaped cookie cutters for more precision.

It’s easy to avoid a frighteningly expensive holiday while still looking ghoulishly good. Happy Homemade Halloween!

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