I know I am dating myself here, but back when I was a wee lass, Halloween was a simple holiday, simply for kids. And when I say simple I mean that a few weeks before October 31st, we kids, (not our parents) would start thinking about what we wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Then we would scrounge our closets and other parts of the house for things we could use to accomplish our goal. There were usually things like cardboard boxes, tin foil, old clothes of our parents, yarn, fabric scraps and other such items involved. If our parents went all out and bought us a costume, it would be this thing that came in a 12” x 12” box consisting of a flimsy cover-up with a picture on it to represent what we were supposed to be and a cheap mask with a rubber band in the back to hold it on, like this:
These are way more ambitious homemade costumes than we ever came up with. LOL!
On Halloween day itself we would rush home from school, put our costume on and head out with an old sheet or grocery bag to go around the neighborhood trick or treating. We would be home by dinner to review, organize, and trade our loot and that was it. Halloween over.
As for decorations, maybe we would have a few cardboard cutouts of pumpkins, or bats, or ghosts, that we would tape on to our door or windows. And these we saved and used year after year. Oh, and the adults did not celebrate at all. They were not really involved other than to help us with our costume, if we asked, and buy and give out the candy for the trick-or-treaters.
Fast forward to today and it (like almost every other holiday, and so many things in our society) has become a multibillion dollar industry that goes on for an entire season.
Now I know I am sounding rather curmudgeonly here and don’t get me wrong I am not against people having fun for Halloween, adults included. I am just saying that if you are in debt, or not saving enough, it would be prudent on your part to reign in the holiday spending. Even my own (frugal) family has gotten into the spirit. When my kids were little we began hosting a spooky bonfire party each year at this time, adults included, which even though my kids are all adults now, we still often continue to this day.
As I said we held our annual Halloween event, but I never went crazy with the spending. Since I knew it would be happening I kept it in mind all year long when I was shopping at yard sales and thrift shops. And I would take a look for clearance sales in the stores in the days after Halloween. And, of course, I would save things and use them year after year.
I would also pad the decorations with things I had around the house, such as many candles in jars. Even Christmas lights can work for a spooky effect. I would recycle old halloween costumes into creepy scarecrows strategically placed around the yard. My kids would often put together a haunted house or trail, also cleverly using whatever household things they could find. For instance, one year “Dr. Ner’do well’s” lab contained body parts in jars, A cauliflower for the brain, grapes for eyeballs, chicken bones for fingers, etc.
We also invited everyone to come prepared with their favorite scary story to tell as we sat around the fire. Free frights and chills for everyone!
So I think you can see what I’m getting at here. I don’t think we will ever be getting back to that simple sweet Halloween of my childhood years but there are still many ways to get into the spirit and have tons of spooky holiday fun, adults included, without giving up your hard earned money. A little imagination can go a long way towards making your piggy bank happy and still making your Halloween spooktacular!
The author and a friend in our homemade costumes at last years bonfire party.
Happy Frugal Halloween!