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Americans Are Expected to Spend Scary Amounts on Halloween This Year. Here's How to Celebrate Without Breaking the Bank


Two young women and a young man on a couch in Halloween costumes shopping with a laptop and a credit card.

Image source: Getty Images

If you've been in any store in the country since September, you probably already know how much folks like Halloween. The themed decor and foodstuffs have been hitting the shelves for weeks -- and flying right back off of them.

Indeed, Halloween spending is set to exceed last year's total by more than 13%, according to the National Retail Federation. Its survey estimates folks will spend around $12.2 billion this year compared to last year's $10.6 billion.

Some amount of that is likely due to inflation, but not all. A record number of people are expected to participate in festivities this year, with 73% saying they'll be celebrating in some way (compared to 69% from last year).

Although overall spending is set to rise, your personal finances don't need to be part of that statistic. There are a ton of ways you can enjoy Halloween without overspending. Here are a few tips.

1. Reuse or upcycle from previous years

The biggest Halloween expense for many folks is the costume. But why waste $40-plus each year on a new costume?

Everything that's old is new again. Simply use the same costume you used last year, assuming it's in workable shape. Chances are few people will notice -- and fewer still will care. Don't want to be your own doppelganger? All it takes to turn old Halloween costumes or decor into new things is a little creativity (and a lot of spray paint).

Of course, you don't have to stop with your own closet. The things our parents wore at our age are so old they're cool again, so have at 'em!

Pro tip: Any costume can be zombie-fied into something new with some scissors, dirt, and "blood" -- a mix of corn syrup, chocolate syrup, and red food dye.

Outgrew the lab coat from two years ago? Rip off the arms, add a bit of "blood," muss your hair: zombie doctor. Went as a cat last year? Muddy the fur, splatter some blood, and boom: zombie cat. Bonus points for being unexpected. Zombie astronaut? Love it. Zombie Power Ranger? Winner.

2. BOYE your Halloween party

Finances may be tight, but that doesn't mean you can't still have a frightfully good time. You just need to throw a BYOE party: Bring Your Own Everything.

Ask your party guests to each bring a snack or drink option to share with everyone. It could be a bag of chips or two, maybe a 12-pack of something -- whatever's needed. If you want to be organized about it, take a nod from a third-grade party and make a list of everything that's needed so folks can sign up for what they want to bring. Or just go with the flow and see what shows up!

If you want to get really into it, have guests bring goodies that go with their costumes. (Though perhaps suggest the vampires bring red soda, rather than something…thicker.) Vote on who had the best fit for their costume, then let the winners have first dibs on whatever's left in the candy bowl at the end of the night.

3. Buy candy in bulk, in types you enjoy

Handing out candy to the neighborhood monsters is a big part of the holiday, so I always try to find some good deals on candy. My local grocer does some good buy-one-get-one deals near Halloween, but I've actually gotten the best value buying candy in bulk from Sam's Club. (I like the special Halloween-themed versions of popular treats that come out for Halloween.)

If you're worried about having too much candy, don't; simply buy a type you and your family enjoy snacking on (in moderation) throughout the year. Most candy will keep for at least six months, and many kinds can last 12 months or more when stored properly.

Keep your unused Halloween candy in a cool, dark place, and dip into your stash whenever you need a little piece of Halloween fun the rest of the year.

Halloween is meant to be a lighthearted holiday

One of the best things about Halloween is that it's meant to be a lighthearted holiday. It's about fun and pretend, candy, and plenty of silliness. You don't need to break the bank to be perfect for Halloween. Nothing has to be perfect on Halloween. In fact, Halloween is arguably better when it's a bit kooky (mysterious, and spooky).

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