Halloween on a Budget

Halloween is a spooky holiday that many children look forward to every October.  It starts with the thrills of visiting your local haunted houses, carving silly jack-o-lanterns with your family and friends, trick or treating for yummy candy and of course creating your very own crazy, silly and creative costumes that don’t break the bank.

It’s important, however, to balance fun along with safety, when we think about celebrating Halloween.  Everyone certainly wants to have a safe, fun, inexpensive and great Halloween night that the entire family can enjoy.  All it takes to accomplish these goals is some easy safety tips as a guideline and some creative, homemade costume designs that can fit everyone’s budget.  Halloween season is a great opportunity to bring families together to engage in some family-friendly activities for little or no cost.  All it really takes is some elbow grease, teamwork and a lot of creativity.
First things first – all parents need to know how to make Halloween as safe as possible for you and your child, before you can think about creating that fabulous, one of a kind costume for trick or treating.
• Supervision – Children under the age of 12 should be with an adult at all times. Never let your children too far ahead of you.  The rule of thumb is that they should always be in your line of vision.  It’s very important to educate your children to never go into a stranger's house. No matter how nice they seem, it is important to stay on the doorstep and leave promptly after you have received your treat.
• Precautions – Don’t forget to decorate trick or treat bags, costumes and all outer wear with reflective tape or stickers and choose light colored costumes to improve visibility. Your children will be out later when it is darker and it is important to be able to see them at all times. Choose face paint and make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's vision. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as to be seen by drivers.
• Check All Candy – Always remember to inspect all treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded, torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.
• Obey Traffic Laws –Safety comes first…always use sidewalks and traffic signals when walking around your neighborhood. Cross at corners, make sure to follow the traffic signals and if there are no sidewalks, make sure to walk with the traffic.
Dressing up in costumes are certainly a fun Halloween tradition, but purchasing costumes can become very expensive for families, especially in these difficult economic times. There are a number of inexpensive ways and things you can do to create a unique, amusing and silly costume for your child and have fun while you are doing it! Encourage your child to first explore clothing and other accessories that you may have at home that can be used for a costume. Then you can spend a small amount of money on special accessories for them to create that one of a kind outfit.  Here are some great ideas…
• All Black clothing = black cat or a bat
• All Red clothing = devil, red M&M or skittle (use a little tape for the M on the shirt!)
• All white clothing = angel
• Pajamas = a baby
• Jeans and a flannel shirt = A cowboy
• Branches, brown paper bags, string, glue – scary Halloween Tree
• Sports uniforms and equipment – basketball, hockey, soccer, golf, soft ball or baseball player…
It's also very easy for your older child to dress like his or her favorite television or book character by using things from home. You can use recycled materials to create many unique costumes as well. Put some holes in a cardboard box for a child's head and arms. Your child can be a TV, a Rubik's cube, a dice. Let them use their imaginations to create whatever they think will be a hit in their neighborhood.
Other low-cost ideas…
• Take a trip to visit your local Salvation Army, thrift store or Savers or any local resale shop that may sell gently used costumes and accessories that can be an affordable option for many families.  You may be surprised at what a great selection they have for costumes and accessories.
• Start a Costume Swap with your family, friends and neighbors.  It’s simple – just have everyone bring their old costumes to your swap and exchange away.  Remember to set the ground rules beforehand.  You may also want to invite your child’s childcare or school to get involved in a costume swap event.  It’s a great activity for their PTO’s or Parent Committees to get involved with during this season.  The opportunities and ideas can be endless and lots of fun for all ages!
Halloween is a great, family-friendly tradition that allows us the opportunity to spend this holiday with each other.  So take advantage of the season and spend quality time with the people you love, make some life long memories in the process and stick to your budget.  Happy Trick or Treating!


Kelli DiDomenico brings over 20 years of experience to her role at The Children's Workshop as Director of Parent and Community Relations.  Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.  She was the Director and Owner of her own School Age Program and a Program Manager for Therapeutic child care before rejoining the TCW team in 2010.  She is also a very active member of the communities we serve.