Does Halloween have to cost a fortune?

Over the past decade, Halloween has become something much bigger than it used to be in the UK. It seems we have added Halloween to our list of holidays that require mass participation and mass spending.

If you’re approaching Spooky Season with trepidation about how much it’s all going to cost you, you’re not alone. Whether you need advice on where to buy cheap Halloween costumes, or where to buy cheap Halloween decorations, we’re here to help. 

Here’s our indispensable guide to saving money at Halloween and finding ways to make sure your little terrors have a Halloween to remember without making you scream about the cost!

What is the origin of Halloween anyway?

Have you ever wondered what Halloween is actually all about? Most of us know it as an import from the US, perhaps with some Christian or Pagan routes. But few of us actually understand the meaning of Halloween.

Halloween has a range of different origins. First of all, there was the introduction of All Saint Day on 1 November by Pope Gregory III in the eighth century, which was celebrated by Catholics throughout the world. The day before All Saint Day was known as All Hallows Eve. 

Then there was the Celtic festival called Samhain, which was intended to protect against evil spirits with the lighting of bonfires and the wearing of outlandish costumes. Somewhere, the two combined to produce Halloween. These days, of course, Halloween is more about sweets than pretty much anything else; but we still dress up, and we still light candles and we still surround ourselves in anything and everything spooky.

Where can I find cheap Halloween costumes?

Whether you’re looking for kids’ costumes for trick or treating or adults’ costumes for Halloween parties, tracking down something to wear is never straightforward. Here are some common questions about costumes, and our advice about how to cut costs:

Do I have to wear something new every year?

Absolutely not! Kids won’t even remember what they were wearing last October and, particularly if you are partying with different friends, re-wear an old Halloween party outfit as many times as you can! 

For kids who want something new to wear, perhaps stretching to a new mask, or face paints will keep them happy. 

What about all the waste?

Well, indeed. If we all purchased new Halloween costumes every year and threw out the old ones, the impact on the planet would be pretty serious. With clothing stores and supermarkets full of new, cheap, plastic-filled costumes and accessories, it’s tempting to buy new every year, but it’s totally unnecessary and pretty unethical in our opinion. 

One way to avoid adding to the Halloween waste mountain is to either re-wear what you already have, or buy second-hand costumes from a charity shop. Avoiding plastic accessories is always a good idea (although almost impossible!) and looking for costumes that are well-made enough to withstand several years’ wear or donation to a new home is sensible. 

What can I do with my costume from last year?

If you really don’t want to re-wear last year’s costume, why not donate it to a charity shop? Alternatively, swapping costumes with friends and family is a great way to refresh your Halloween wardrobe for free and without sending costumes to landfills.

Can I make my own Halloween costume?

Yes. Making a Halloween costume out of items of clothing and accessories you already own is a great way to reduce the costs involved with celebrating Halloween. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Freddie Kruger – stripy jumper, trilby, jeans, face paint, cardboard blades taped to fingers
  • A mummy – Wear white and wrap yourself in loo roll! 
  • Witch – black dress, witch’s hat, makeup, broom
  • Woody from Toy Story – plaid shirt, jeans, sheriff’s badge, large stick-on eyebrows

Or for some more creative ideas, check this out!

Where can I find cheap Halloween decorations?

Although we Brits don’t go to town quite as much as our American counterparts, an increasing number of households have started to make a serious effort for Halloween. Decorating your house with everything from plastic skeletons and Jack-o-lanterns, to upscale light shows and sound effects, is fast becoming the norm in some areas and you may be feeling the pressure to keep up with the Halloween Joneses. 

As with any festival or celebration, the smaller things are actually what you remember and appreciate the most. Why not get your kids involved with some Halloween crafting sessions so that they can make their own decorations for a fraction of the cost. Sites like Baker Ross are great for buying relatively inexpensive crafting kits for seasonal decoration. And look out for the sales after Halloween to stock up for next year!

Old-fashioned pumpkin carving is really inexpensive and will keep your little ones busy while you enjoy a homemade gingerbread latte! Make sure you buy a pumpkin carving kit (available in the Pound shop) to save your kids’ fingers!

How can I save money on Halloween sweets and snacks?

Although making your own Halloween treats might not be cheaper than buying them, it is a great activity for kids, saving you money on party games and other entertainment. And you can eat the results! 

Sweets don’t need to break the bank these days with your local pound shop or other discount store selling inexpensive treats by the bucketful. Make sure you buy enough though – there’s nothing worse than running out when there are eight angry little zombies at your door!

Remember – it’s all about fun, not spending

We know, kids very easily succumb to peer pressure and often plead and beg us to buy everything their friends have in the run-up to Halloween, Christmas, their birthdays and, well, all year round really! But it’s OK to say no if you’re struggling financially, or if you simply want to avoid the consumerist side of Halloween this year. 

Managing your finances is difficult at any time of the year, but when something like Halloween comes along, it can make things a real challenge for some families. Getting into debt to cover the extra costs involved with celebrations is never the right decision. Instead, look for free activities in your area, set your kids a challenge to make decorations or costumes from what you already have, and raid the wardrobes for last year’s spooky stash. You’ll often be surprised at what skeletons you may find lurking in your cupboards…!

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