My children love Hallowe’en. It’s one of their favourite days of the year, going out after dark and returning with a sackload of sweets.
I like community feel, visiting neighbours who’ve put out pumpkins and decorations, but I’m less keen on the price tag. In recent years, Hallowe’en seems to have exploded into an excuse for extra shopping: costumes, decorations, sweets, accessories and recipes.
But Hallowe’en doesn’t have to come with a scary bill. This year we spent less than a tenner.
Now, if I was more organised and a professional blogger, I’d have set up Hallowe’en photos in advance and posted this before October 31. But I wasn’t and I’m not, so it’s a round up of what we actually did.
Here are our seven things for a fun but frugal Hallowe’en, in case it sparks any ideas for next time!
Bagged bargain pumpkins
I saw a ridiculous stat that 95% of pumpkins in the UK are bought to decorate as lanterns. Supermarkets will be competing for your business, so if you have several branches nearby, it’s worth checking which is cheapest. I use mysupermarket.co.uk. This year I went to Morrisons, as they were selling medium-sized pumpkins for 75p each, and 2 for £1. They weren’t the biggest pumpkins in the world, but were perfect for the kids to hack into lanterns.
Picked up LED lights
One year, I lined our front path with lanterns made from jam jars flickering with tea lights.
Bad idea. A couple of the jars literally exploded from the heat of the candles.
I’m also a bit nervous about naked flames inside pumpkin lanterns, near potentially flammable fancy dress. So this year I was delighted to find a couple of little orange LED lights for only £1 a Tiger, to use in our pumpkins. Later in the same shopping trip I spotted five white LED tealights for £1 in Primark. Maybe next year the jam jar lanterns can make a slightly safer return!
Hefted down the Hallowe’en box
Much like packing away Christmas decorations for another year, I also box up our Hallowe’en things. Reusing stuff saves money and cuts landfill. Plus, packing it all in one place makes it much easier to find assorted decorations, costumes, facepaints, witches’ fingernails, fake cobwebs, scythes and so on!
My daughter went off to check costumes at our local supermarket, and came back delighted with a new mask to add to an existing outfit. I was delighted because it only cost £3 – and has now been put away for next year. My son didn’t get a mask, so I added £3 to his savings instead.
Got stuck into DIY decorations
Years ago, I made the children a couple of felt bags to collect Hallowe’en sweets. It took aaaaages but does mean I drag them out every year rather than buying plastic bags or forking out for plastic pumpkin baskets.
Even if you don’t have an arty bone in your body, paper decorations can be dead easy. We cut out pumpkins shapes from orange card and ghosts from white card to blu tack onto the windows. I also use black card for bat shapes, which we hang round the front door, suspended with black cotton.
I’m still working on persuading my children to consider home made costumes. So far, I haven’t managed to wrangle them into the easy option of an old sheet with eye holes.
Checked out cashback apps
Around Hallowe’en, see if any of the cashback apps will help cut your costs. One year, Topcashback Snap & Save offered £2 off pumpkin purchases (post here). This year, they were offering £2.50 off any purchase of sweets or chocolates (valid to 4 November).
I didn’t actually use the Snap & Save offer for Hallowe’en – we don’t get many trick or treaters on our road, so I only spent a couple of pounds on mixed Swizzle sweets. Instead, I used it towards Christmas and my #foodbankadvent reverse advent calendar. I bought two tubs of Cadbury’s Celebrations for £7, and submitted a picture of my receipt so I’d get £2.50 back.
Made a meal of it
Remember the pumpkin lanterns? Rather than chucking away the seeds and flesh, I had a go at making them into something we’d actually eat. The day after carving, I put the oven on for home made fish and chips. While it was hot, I separated out the pumpkin seeds, spread them on a baking tray, and popped them in the oven to make a crunchy snack. I also chopped up the pumpkin flesh, sprayed it with spray oil, and bunged it in the oven to roast.
I had plans about making a fancy tomato and pumpkin sauce, but in the end it made a super speedy meal the next night, chucked in with cous cous, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes.
Held a Hallowe’en movie night
The cinema chains are always keen to promote the latest scary blockbuster at the end of October. Instead of forking out for cinema tickets, we held a Hallowe’en movie night. We knocked up some home made pizza, and watched one of the spooky DVDs we’ve picked up over the years. Check out my top 13 family friendly films for Halloween here. From Casper The Friendly Ghost to ParaNorman, there’s something for everyone.
Now – over to you. Did you spend anything on Hallowe’en or ignore the whole thing? Any top tips for thrifty savings – do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!