5 Facts About Halloween Spending – and 6 Tips to Save Money

As a Chief Mom (or Dad) Officer of your household, you know it’s Halloween when your kids start begging you for the latest costume, lots of candy, and would like it if you bought enough pumpkins to cover your kitchen in Jack O’Lanterns (or maybe that’s just my son).

This year I have a mix of costumes. For the 18 month old, I picked up a doctor costume. It’s a nifty one with little toys to go with it, and it’ll make a good dress up costume for him even after Halloween is over. My middle 9 year old son got several costumes from his older brother and it likely going to be Luigi from Super Mario Brothers. My oldest at 13 is almost too old for trick or treating, but not quite yet. He wanted to be Vash the Stampede from Trigun (an anime), so that means a handmade costume because I’m not spending $160 to get a cosplay one. I’ve been spending evenings with him and my mother sewing a red trench coat for him to wear. I’m not the best at sewing, but my mother is a champion.

When I was a kid, sewing a costume was preferable to buying one – both financially and aesthetically (because in the 80’s the costumes didn’t look that good). Now, even with sales and coupons at the fabric store, it’s expensive to make your own. And if my mother couldn’t help my son would be out of luck. Thinking about this got me wondering how America spends on Halloween. So I checked out the National Retail Federation’s 2016 Halloween Headquarters for some data. Check out what I found!


I found this interesting – I’ve definitely noticed the superhero trend for both boys and girls at the Halloween stores this year. And I don’t buy candy because (1) my street has no sidewalks, (2) the houses are pretty far apart so no one trick or treats here, and (3) we take our three kids to other neighborhoods so we’re not home on Halloween.

So if the average spending is $83, how can you be better than average and save money on Halloween while still having fun? Here are six tips on how I tackle saving money on Halloween with three kids:

  1.  Buy at a consignment shop. Check out this awesome Sully costume I got for the little guy last year for $9. Halloween costumes are usually worn once, maybe twice, so picking up a pre-owned one can be a steal

    Hi I’m Sully!
  2. Use what you have around the house. Last year my then-12 year old was Dr. Who. He already had a sonic screwdriver he had received as a Christmas gift, and he made the outfit out of things we already had around the house. Look around the house to see what you might already have – maybe your kids got Hulk gloves as a gift, or a Captain America shield, or a firefighter hat at a school event. See if you can use clothes and accessories you already have to pull together a costume.img_2840
  3. Cook a themed breakfast. I love to make my kids homemade pumpkin shaped pancakes, using chocolate chips for eyes and nose and some candy corn for the mouth. Or you can leave those off and just shape them like pumpkins. I always have pancake ingredients around the house and shaping them like a pumpkin is easy (you just make them into an oval and then add a line for the stem). I’ve even put real pumpkin into them so they turn orange. This is fun and costs almost nothing to do.

  4. Make some cookies. With the average spending on candy at almost $25, if you’re like me and don’t hand out candy you can make your own awesome Halloween cookies for very little. Pick up the cookie cutters on sale/with coupon at a store like JoAnn Fabrics, AC Moore, or Michaels (they always have coupons). You should be able to pick up cookie cutters that will last for years for under $5. While you’re there check out what they have for decorations. We made these last year and they’re a very simple sugar cookie recipie with colored icing (powdered sugar, milk, and food coloring). It was hours of fun and they came out great, for very little moneyimg_2800-1
  5. Paint your own decorations. While you’re at JoAnn Fabrics, AC Moore, or Michaels getting your cookie cutters and decorations be sure to check out their selection of paint-your-own wooden crafts. Every year I pick them up for $1 each (sometimes less) and we all paint something. Over the years they’ve built up so we have lots of decorations for the house, and its fun to see how what the kids make changes as they grow.
  6. Shop after Halloween. Take that average decoration budget and stretch it further by picking up decorations for Halloween after they all go on clearance the day after the holiday ends. You can do this with costumes too but I find the selection is very poor after Halloween (except in the consignment shops – see Tip #1! Plus now that my kids are older it’s hard to predict what size they’ll be next year). You can get some really cool things for not much money as stores try to clear their shelves to make room for Christmas things

I hope you enjoyed learning more about how the average American spends money on Halloween, and how you can be better than average. What’s your favorite money saving tip? Anything in the spending facts surprise you? Let me know in the comments or drop me an e-mail.

Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web.

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