The average American plans to spend well over $70 this year on Halloween decorations, candy and costumes. Can you see us recoiling in horror from there?
A little advanced planning can help you spend less. In that spirit, we’ve put together five things you can do to decorate your house for Halloween on a serious budget.
1. Spooky music sets the scene for nothing : It’s amazing how imaginations will run wild when given very little stimulus. If you did nothing but turn out all the lights in your house and put a portable speaker or iPod dock on the porch blaring some spooky music, you still would make passing trick-or-treaters squeal with delight.
2. Brown bag luminarias set the mood…for less than $4 : Flickering candlelight adds just the right bit of mystery to homes at Halloween. Grab some brown lunch bags, fill the bottom quarter with sand and stick in tea lights – Ikea sells bags of 100 for $3.99. Better yet, check around your house first. We’ll bet you have more than a handful of half-burned votives or tea lights. Battery-operated votives work well, too. You can also use empty plastic gallon milk cartons. Simply cut off the bottoms, peel off any stickers, and decorate the carton’s main side with a ghost-like face. Place the votive candle or battery-operated votive inside and you have a ghost-lined walkway.
3. Sprinkle tombstones on the lawn…for $0 : Cut out tombstone shapes from cardboard boxes you already have. Make them look old and worn by pressing the edges with your fingers. If you have gray, silver or black paint, apply a coat. If not, just decorate the boxes with markers and place them around your yard. Pile leaves or bits of straw around the bottoms for a bit of spooky flair.
4. Hang ghost balloons…for $5 : Have some basic latex balloons blown up with helium at your local party super store. When you get them home, drape them with light, white sheets and blankets and voila – you have ghosts floating in your midst.
5. Pick a pumpkin at the grocery store or farmers market …for $6: In general, supermarkets and farmers markets have the best prices on pumpkins. A quick check of all types of stores in the expensive New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas revealed grocery stores drove the hardest bargain. A 15-pound pumpkin can be yours for $5 or $6. Farmers markets are also a great place to go pumpkin hunting. The markets we visited had a wide variety of pumpkins for sale, including miniature pumpkins and gourds that sell for 50 cents each and typical carving pumpkins going for a few dollars.
The bottom line: A few minutes for brainstorming and planning decorations will help you stretch your dollars.
Welch and Rockmore are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.