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25 Tips to Save Money on Halloween Decorations This Year

From filling the lawn with creepy tombstones to piling pumpkins on the front porch, decorating for Halloween is tons of fun. And even with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting how many consumers will celebrate Halloween this year, it’s still the highest-ranking Halloween activity among consumers who plan to celebrate the holiday,  according to 2020 statistics from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Predictably, it’s also one of the most significant expenses of celebrating the holiday — surpassing candy-buying and tying with Halloween costumes in planned purchase costs, according to the NRF survey. That makes sense. What’s Halloween without a haunted house?

Yet depending on how far you want to go with it, you can easily drop hundreds of dollars on inflatables, motion-activated talking skeletons, and flying ghosts. Fortunately, whether you plan to throw a Halloween party or just want to impress the neighborhood trick-or-treaters, it’s possible to trick out your house, even on a tight budget.

Tips to Decorate for Halloween on a Budget

Whether you’re a seasoned do-it-yourselfer, want to try your hand at some simple projects, or prefer to buy all your decorations, a few money-saving tricks let you have the most impressive house on the block without breaking the bank.

Plan Ahead

If saving money is your goal, there are several things you should do before setting foot in a store.

1. Decide on a Theme

It’s easy to throw everything you see into your cart when it comes to Halloween. All the decor looks tempting. To cut down on impulse buys, stick to a theme. Not only will it give your home a more cohesive look, but you also won’t waste money overbuying ornamentation that doesn’t contribute to your design plans.

It’s tempting to think Halloween is a theme in itself. But try to narrow it down. For example, will you do a zombie theme? Ghosts in the graveyard? A witch’s gathering? And if you have a preferred design aesthetic, you can narrow it down even further. For example, much as I love Halloween, I’m not into blood and gore. I prefer vintage styles and lots of whimsy. And that means I’ll pass right by all the bloody zombie arms and go straight for retro or Victorian wall plaques like the “dead and breakfast” sign from Oriental Trading.

2. Shop Your Home First

I keep big plastic storage totes filled with decorations for all the holidays. So before I head to the store, I always stop there first to rummage through our stuff from past years and find things to reuse. Having a reliable system for seasonal decor is just one of the many money-saving benefits of organizing your home. It lets you easily access and see what you have so you can stick to your budget and not overbuy.

But don’t stop with the things you’ve specifically designated as seasonal decor. Instead, keep an open mind as you search through every room in your house to find things that fit your Halloween theme. For example, you use a stuffed black cat from your kid’s toy chest for your witch display. Or you can use an everyday farmhouse-style tablecloth, such as a black and white buffalo check pattern, and rattan placemats from your summer picnic stash as a perfect pairing for your Halloween table, as illustrated by The Design Twins.

3. Set a Budget

Only after you’ve decided on a theme and “shopped” your home should you opt for spending money on Halloween decorations — including craft supplies for DIY projects. That’s where making a budget comes in. Aside from shopping sales and using coupons, saving money is all about careful planning. Plus, it helps keep your spending in line with your resources — which you’ll only know when you take careful stock of your ability to spend on Halloween decorating. And that will keep you out of debt this holiday season.

So after accounting for all your fixed expenses (bills) and necessary discretionary spending like groceries and gas, take stock of what’s left. What portion of your “extra” funds are you willing to dedicate to Halloween decorations?

To figure out what that number is for you, be sure to account for anything else you routinely spend fun money on, like entertainment, eating out, and recreational shopping. Also consider things like Halloween candy and costumes. Because if you spend your whole stash on decorations, you won’t have anything left for the other things you enjoy.

Once you have that number, stick to it. You don’t want to have to resort to using credit cards, especially when Halloween is only the first in the fall and winter holiday lineup.

After that, you do what you’d do for any other holiday budget. For example, if you spot a giant lawn inflatable that costs $200, and you only budgeted $100 for your Halloween decorations, you know you have to pass it up to avoid exceeding your resources.

Save In-Store

If you’re planning to scout out stores for all your Halloween decorations, arm yourself with coupons and rebate apps to help you double your savings. But even with coupons and rebates, it still pays to choose where you shop wisely.

4. Avoid the Speciality Stores

This time of year, Halloween stores like Spirit Halloween start popping up everywhere in temporary storefronts. And while it’s tempting to think a Halloween specialty store is the perfect place to shop for Halloween decorations, the prices can still be steep — even if you manage to score some coupons.

But other stores that specialize in decorations, like Party City, are equally problematic. And while you can find plenty of Halloween decor at so-called discount stores that specialize in things for the home, like T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, their stocks of holiday decorations aren’t all that budget-friendly. Instead, stick to thrift stores, dollar stores, and discount retailers.

5. Shop the Thrift Store

Thrift stores are the place to find vintage goods if you’re into that look. They can also be a good place to come across modern decorations people donated due to decluttering or downsizing their homes. And if you’re opting for a frightening Halloween display full of blood, gore, and dead bodies — like a zombie or serial killer theme — thrift stores are the perfect place to find objects with a timeworn patina that make them look scary and sinister, such as rusty knives and garden tools.

Thrift stores also carry cheap everyday baubles you can use a little DIY magic to transform into creepy Halloween decorations. A few ideas include:

  • Haunted Figurines. Transform ceramic figurines into horror filmworthy shelf decorations by painting them in all black and covering their eyes with red, as shown on Sadie Seasongoods.
  • DIY Spellbooks. Pick up books you don’t mind destroying and transform them into a witch’s library with some crumpled tissue paper and paint. Get the full instructions at PopSugar.
  • Specimen Jars and Potion Bottles. Find some interesting-looking bottles and jars at the thrift store. Add some creepy labels you can download for free from World Label or Frynes Designs. Then fill them with mysterious powders, liquids, or “specimens” — like plastic spiders, eyeballs, or rats.

6. Shop the Dollar Store

You don’t have to spend much at all loading up on decorations when you shop the dollar store. And while many people think they carry nothing but cheap plastic and gaudy tinsel, dollar stores like Dollar Tree carry a surprising amount of spooky stuff. Some decorations even rival what you can find for significantly more at Halloween speciality stores. And that’s why seasonal decor is one of the top things to always buy at the dollar store.

The dollar store also helps you decorate your yard inexpensively. While some outdoor decorations need to be higher-quality to survive the weather, much of the plastic stuff you find at dollar stores will survive just fine. I have some dollar store glow-in-dark skeleton hand garden stakes that have survived torrential thunderstorms. And when it comes to indoor decorations, quality matters less since they rarely get touched, meaning even $1 decorations can potentially last through several years.

Dollar Tree is one inexpensive place to load up on Halloween decor. For example, their current stock includes decorations like:

  • Wall signs
  • Plastic yard signs
  • Foam tombstones
  • Hanging ghosts
  • Spider webbing
  • Plastic chains
  • Plastic garden fencing with skulls
  • Vampire bat garden stakes
  • Mini-scarecrows on garden stakes
  • Solar garden stakes (pumpkins and eyeballs)
  • Door decor such as tinsel wreaths
  • Tinsel garlands
  • Giant creepy eyeballs (for hanging in bushes and trees)
  • Crime scene tape
  • Off-white and black “creepy cloth” (like cheesecloth)
  • Halloween-themed jingle bell doorknob hangers
  • Window clings
  • Fall leaf garlands
  • Fall floral sprays
  • Paper lanterns printed with Halloween silhouettes
  • Candles and candleholders in Halloween colors with pumpkin, ghost, and spider embellishments
  • Mini-ghost and -witch figures with motion-activated sounds and lights
  • Mini-pumpkins, including glitter pumpkins, light-up mini-jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins with floral sprays, and foam pumpkins
  • Skulls, bones, and skeletons — including bat skeletons, rat skeletons, glow-in-the-dark human skeletons, glow-in-the-dark skeleton hands with ground stakes, bags of skeleton parts, bags of plastic mini-skulls, bags of glitter mini-skulls, mini-skeleton garlands, glossy ceramic skulls, and light-up glitter skulls with moveable jaws
  • Creepy-crawlies, including small plastic spiders, large tinsel spiders, glitter spiders, rats, bats, and bugs
  • Halloween-themed craft supplies, including ribbons and bows, ornaments, mesh tubes (for making wreaths), wooden cutouts, colored burlap, tulle, cardboard letterforms, and Halloween stencils

Happy Halloween Decorations Living Room Spiders Indoor

Note that not all Dollar Trees have the same in-store inventory. And depending on your region, there are other dollar stores to check out as well, like 99 Cents Only. And while “dollar” stores like Family Dollar and Dollar General sell decorations for more than $1, most of them are under $10.

Other places to find cheap decorations include Target’s Dollar Spot, where you can find some for $3 and $5, and Five Below.

7. Buy Pumpkins at the Grocery Store

We have an annual apple-picking tradition in our family. And the same orchard that sells our U-pick apples has a U-pick pumpkin patch. Additionally, they display wagonloads of big, round pumpkins at their market. And every year, I’m tempted to make a fall tradition of joint apple and pumpkin picking. Yet also every year, I see the same big, round, beautiful pumpkins selling for half or less than the orchard price at Walmart. Even our local grocery puts out bins of pumpkins for considerably less than the apple orchard.

As much as I’m all for supporting local growers, if you’re looking to save money, skip the farm and buy your pumpkins at the grocery store or a big-box store. In addition to the higher cost, local pumpkin farms frequently charge admission fees. And if you have kids, many U-pick farms include attractions like hayrides and corn mazes that require additional tickets your kids are likely to talk you into.

8. Use Coupons

You’ll get the most distance from your budget by shopping sales and using coupons. And while coupons are most people’s first go-to when trying to save money on groceries — including saving on Halloween candy — don’t forget many stores that sell Halloween decorating and craft supplies also have coupons.

For example, Michaels and Joann are great places to stock up on fabric and craft supplies for making DIY decorations. And they both regularly send coupons through direct mail. Plus, you can typically find those same coupons in their in-store circulars or directly on their websites. Just click “Coupons” on the Michaels website or “Coupons & Weekly Ad” on Joann’s.

Additionally, Spirit Halloween sends coupons for 20% off a single item in ValPak mailers, which you can also access online. And I never shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond — which routinely carries novelties for holiday decorating — without one of their 20% off coupons. In fact, always stash Bed Bath & Beyond coupons whenever you come across one because the store honors them past their expiration date. Further, you can use multiple coupons — one per item — in a single transaction. But even with a coupon, decorations at higher-end and specialty stores could still cost more than the same product from a discount store. So it pays to comparison-shop.

And don’t forget to check coupon apps. For example, a smartphone shopping app like RetailMeNot can find you any available coupons for area stores. It can even use your phone’s GPS to find coupons for the exact stores you’re in. And remember to check apps for specific stores — you can find store coupons for both Michaels and Joann on their smartphone apps. Additionally, you can always do a general online search to see whether there are any coupons for the stores you plan to visit.

9. Use Store Loyalty Rewards

Store loyalty accounts, like Michaels Rewards or Target Circle, allow you to earn points on your purchases to build store credit. You can then use your credit toward your decorating purchases. And both these stores offer tons of craft supplies and premade Halloween decorations.

If you have another store where you’d like to stock up, be sure to check into any loyalty programs. Though beware: Many stores only offer rewards like these if you sign up for a credit card. Skip that trap. Unless you know you’re the kind of person who will pay off their balance in full, any discounts that come with using a credit card won’t outpace the interest on your purchases. That’s especially true of retail store cards, which notoriously have the highest interest rates.

Also, while you can access many loyalty accounts in-store with only a phone number, most stores have their own apps you can link to your loyalty account. And that means easy perusing of weekly ads and coupons, including member-only coupons.

10. Use Rebate Apps

Rebates are like coupons in reverse. Even though they don’t help you save money upfront, they return money to you after your purchase. So check your rebate apps — like  Rakuten and Ibotta — for any cash-back offers wherever you plan to shop. If you find an offer, you’ll need to either link your credit or debit card to the app so you’ll automatically get your rebate on checkout or scan your receipt after purchase. Check on the specific procedure with the app you’re using.

Don’t forget: You can stack rebates and coupons for even better savings.

11. Stock Up During Post-Holiday Clearance Sales

If you’re stuck on something that’s over your budget, wait until the after-Halloween clearance sales to stock up for next year. That’s my annual go-to tactic for saving money on Halloween decorations. While the selection won’t be as great, the deals are unbeatable. For example, one year, knowing I wanted to do a Harry Potter theme for the next Halloween, I scored some small, medium, and extra-large black plastic cauldrons at 75% off from Spirit Halloween. But had I bought them before the sale, they would have been too prohibitive for my modest budget.

Even if you don’t yet know your plans for next Halloween, stores often carry generic Halloween decorations you can adapt to many themes or decor that fits your personal style. And even without a plan in mind, scoring 50% to 90% off during after-Halloween clearance sales can help you save significantly for the future.

But don’t wait too long. Start scouting clearance sales the day after Halloween. Stores switch over to Christmas stock the minute Halloween is over, and if you wait more than a few days, there may be nothing left for you to buy. I’ve made this mistake in past years and lost out on hot deals I had my eye on because I was trying to wait out the price drops.

Save Online

Shopping online helps you save money in a variety of ways. You can easily comparison-shop and use browser extensions and resale sites to buy used decorations for a fraction of the original price.

12. Comparison-Shop Online

Online shopping can be tricky. Occasionally, what you buy doesn’t match your expectations. Whereas, in-store shopping means you can directly see and even touch goods. However, getting the best deal means scouting prices at multiple stores, and it’s exhausting to physically visit every store that carries the decorations you want.

The answer is a simple Google search. First, search for decorations using the keywords for the product you’re looking for, like “plastic human skeleton.” Then select “Shopping” from the search menu at the top of the results page. It serves up a convenient list of retailers from all over the web selling what you’re looking for. Even better, the results give you the prices from all the retailers that carry the merchandise so you can easily compare the best prices.

And if you still want to see the goods in-store, Google shopping searches return physical retailer results — like Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s — as well as online ones. So you can scout out the best price and then go to the physical store of your choice.

13. Use Browser Extensions

If you decide to buy a decoration from an online retailer, don’t forget to use browser extensions like Capital One Shopping or Honey. These give you rebates on all your online purchases. Additionally, many browser extensions also help you find the best deal on the web and automatically test coupon codes at checkout.

Note that browser extensions don’t typically stack, meaning you can’t use multiple savings opportunities on the same purchase. But you can install several and see which offers the best rebate. For example, I often go back and forth between Rakuten and Honey, depending on which has the better deal.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

14. Check Discount Sites

As with physical stores, online shopping also features discount retailers. One place to check for budget Halloween decorations is Amazon’s Halloween store. While you’re likely to find some higher-end decorations, you’ll also find plenty of budget ones. In fact, if you use Honey in conjunction with your Amazon shopping, Honey helps you find the best deal on the site.

Also try online dollar stores like the websites for Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Five Below. And check out Oriental Trading. While you won’t score any budget costumes there, they sell decorations at lower costs than other retailers, including various animatronics and large-scale lawn decorations for under $50.

15. Avoid Online Speciality Stores

If your resources are tight, avoid online Halloween specialty stores like Halloween Express. They carry some truly amazing life-size animatronics, but not for less than $100. And many are several hundred.

Other stores to avoid if you’re watching your budget are high-end home stores like Pottery Barn and Grandin Road. As much as I love perusing Pottery Barn’s catalog for sheer eye candy or drooling over Grandin Road’s animatronic witches and motion-activated dragons, neither of these stores carry budget decor.

16. Check Out Online Resale Outlets

If you’re willing to buy used, you can find almost anything you’re looking for on a resale site like eBay. Alternatively, try an app like OfferUp that lets local resellers list their products for sale. The difference is you’ll meet with a local seller in person to trade money for decorations rather than having them shipped to you like you would on eBay. If you go this route, make sure to always meet in a safe location, like the parking lot of a large — and very public — retailer. Never meet someone at either of your homes.

Also, check to see if there are any local resale groups on Facebook you can join. Although you’re limited in selection to whatever others post for sale, you never know what someone might list, including exactly the thing you’re looking for.

Rethink Your Purchases

Being strategic about your purchases can help you save money, whether you’re shopping in-store or online.

17. Opt for Double-Duty Decor

If you typically decorate your home for fall — including Thanksgiving — and not just Halloween, opt for double-duty decor. You’ll save considerable cash if you decorate for one holiday instead of two, and many fall-themed decorations work equally well for either holiday. For example, harvest colors, pumpkins, potted mums, autumn leaves, dried corn stalks, burlap, and pumpkin-spice scented candles will take you throughout autumn.

18. Choose Reusable Decor

Give your Halloween budget far-reaching longevity by buying decorations you can reuse yearly. For example, forgo carving up the annual jack-o’-lantern and instead opt for a fake one. Even an inexpensive light-up one will keep for years. Compare that to the average price of buying a fresh pumpkin each year. They typically cost $10 to $20 each, depending on the size.

Additionally, go for generic decor you can reuse no matter your annual theme, like candleholders, reusable battery-powered candles, and Halloween staples like cauldrons, skulls, and autumn leaf garlands. And you can even get extra mileage out of some of these decorations by reusing them for other holidays. For example, you can reuse leaf garlands for Thanksgiving and battery-operated candles for Christmas.

Outdoor Porch Halloween Decorations Leave Garland Pumpkins Bats

19. Invest in Quality

While it’s true some dollar store decorations will last you through many Halloweens, other decorations — typically those you use outside, like inflatables, lawn statues, and animatronics — need to be of higher quality to last. You’ll have to pay more upfront if you go this route, but when you invest more in high-quality goods that will last through the years, it saves you more in the long run. That’s because you develop a stock of supplies you can pull from yearly without having to rebuy.

If you’re on a tight budget, make it easier to stock up on quality decorations by investing in only one or two high-end pieces per year. That way, you’ll build a stash over time without having to shell out a lot all at once.

And note that you don’t need to spend a lot on decorations that aren’t reusable. For example, you’ll have a tough time reclaiming fake spider webs for reuse, so buy those at the dollar store.

20. Rely on Spooky Lighting

If your budget only has room for minimal decorating, use lighting in lieu of buying a lot of decorations. A little mood lighting can instantly give any room a warm, autumnal glow or ramp up the scary vibe — without breaking the bank.

For a fall harvest feel, use candlelight. Real candles flicker cozily and can add a seasonal scent. But for safety and reusability, consider investing in faux candles. As a budget bonus, you can put them on a timer to save battery life.

If you’re going for more fright factor, replace the lights in your haunted areas with red bulbs. They make any room seem instantly terrifying. And if you opt for LEDs, they’ll last for years.

Another fun way to add special lighting is with fairy lights. Use battery-powered lights to wind strings around witch’s cauldrons, pumpkin topiaries, and haunted tree branches.

And of course, don’t forget to light up your jack-o’-lanterns. Use LED tea lights instead of candles for safety. Or opt for glow sticks, which you can get in different colors. You can purchase both LED tea lights and glow sticks at the dollar store.

Make Your Own

As long as you have a few basic tools and supplies at home — like a glue gun, scissors, paper, and duct tape — you can inexpensively DIY some decorations guaranteed to scare the pants off the neighborhood trick-or-treaters or your Halloween party guests. See our article on DIY Halloween decorations for even more ideas.

21. Repurpose Household Products

One of the best ways to save money on Halloween decorations is to make them yourself. However, if you’re not careful, DIY projects can end up costing as much (or more than) buying the decorations. One way to trim costs is to look around your house for remnants that can take on a second life as craft materials, like plastic milk jugs, cardboard boxes, fabric scraps, or worn-out clothes. With a little glue, markers, or paint, you can transform them into Halloween classics like ghosts, tombstones, and zombies. Best of all, repurposing trash keeps it out of a landfill.

A few ideas that use common household materials include:

  • Ghost-Lit Walkway. Use a black permanent marker to draw ghost faces on empty milk jugs. Then throw a glow stick in each, fill them with water to keep them from blowing away, and use these luminaries to light up an outdoor pathway.
  • Monster Eyes. Collect a stash of leftover toilet paper tubes and cut eye shapes in them. On Halloween night, insert a glow stick into each tube and plant them in your bushes. All trick-or-treaters will see as they walk past are the glowing eyes.
  • Haunted Trees. Collect fallen branches from your yard. Spray-paint them black. Then place them in your indoor or outdoor potted planters or vases. For an extra creep factor, perch faux ravens or bats (which you can pick up from the dollar store) in the branches.
  • Zombie Boards. Make planks of “wood” to board up windows by cutting cardboard strips from your leftover delivery boxes. Use a black permanent marker to draw wood grain lines on them, and then criss-cross them over your doorways or windows. To enhance the zombie effect, trace hands and arms onto black construction paper, and tape them around the boards so they look like they’re trying to break through, as shown on Jay’s Cup.
  • Lawn Witches. This witch trio takes its inspiration from the significantly more expensive holding hands witches from Grandin Road. Repurpose some empty plastic jugs to make the witches’ heads. Then drape them with cheap black tulle to give the illusion of dresses. Top each witch with an easy-sew (or dollar store) witch’s hat. Use garden stakes to anchor them into the ground, as shown on Scratch and Stitch.

22. Hack the Dollar Store

In addition to buying decorations at the dollar store, they’re also an ideal place to find inexpensive craft supplies and other materials you can use to make DIY Halloween decorations. A few ideas include:

  • Bloody Candles. Buy an equal number of white and red candles — either pillars or tapers. Light the red candles and drip the melted red wax over the white candles to make them look as though they’re bleeding. Find the full instructions on Dream a Little Bigger.
  • Crime Scene. Cover furniture with cheap white bedsheets or tablecloths from the dollar store. Then make a body outline on the floor using dollar store masking tape. Then cordon off the room with dollar store crime scene tape.
  • Window Silhouettes. Cut Halloween shapes — like a witch stirring a cauldron, a black cat, or a monster — from black poster board or foam board, both of which you can buy from the dollar store. Tape them inside your windows, so they create a shadowy silhouette during the night as your inside lights glow from behind them.
  • Floating Candles. Use a glue gun and dollar store glue sticks to make drips of glue on toilet paper tubes. Paint all of it white. Then glue a battery-operated LED tea light from the dollar store in the top of each tube and hang them from the ceiling using clear nylon bead string (also purchasable at the dollar store), as shown on Nifty on Buzzfeed.
  • Black Floral Wreath. Start with a grapevine wreath form and some black faux flowers purchased from the dollar store. Weave the flowers into the wreath form and finish with a dollar store faux raven. Get the full instructions on Good Housekeeping.

23. Stock Up at the Craft Store

If you can’t find all the supplies you need at the dollar store, getting inexpensive materials at the craft store can still save you money over buying premade decorations. And you may only need to buy one or two supplements to add to your dollar store or repurposed supplies.

A few ideas include:

  • Eerie Orbs. Buy some clear plastic bulb ornaments, print creepy photos onto transparent vellum paper, and insert them into the ornaments. Then affix the ornaments to the tops of taper candleholders, like the ones on Woman’s Day.
  • Stacked Pumpkin Topiary. Pick up five inexpensive plug-in jack-o’-lanterns. Spray-paint three white and two black. Then drill holes into the tops and bottoms of each, so you can thread them onto a wooden dowel to keep them stacked. Then put the whole stack into a pot of flowers on your front porch, and plug them in using a multiplug extension cord. Get the full instructions on Tater Tots and Jello.
  • Lawn Gravestones. Cut some plywood in the shape of gravestones, spray-paint them gray, and use stencils to paint on spooky phrases, as shown on Jen Woodhouse. If you don’t have the tools or skill level, you can also make tombstones using cardboard. However, you’ll need to bring them inside if it rains, as cardboard won’t fare as well in bad weather.
  • Witch Wreath. Make loops of satiny black ribbon, and pin the loops to a 16-inch wreath form to make a ruffly looking wreath. Add a witchy silhouette cut from black paper. Get the full instructions on Country Living.
  • Halloween Moon. Turn a light fixture into an eerie, glowing moon. Using a sponge and putty-colored craft paint, blot the interior of a glass globe light fixture. Then cut a flying witch silhouette from black paper and affix it to the “moon,” as shown on Sadie Seasongoods.

24. Drape Cheesecloth Everywhere

Cheesecloth is a crucial material for any DIY Halloween toolkit. Its loose, gauzy weave is reminiscent of cobwebs and ancient, forgotten places. You can drape it anywhere — over a mantel, lampshades, a dresser, a chair, or a window — to give your home an instant haunted house feel. It’s also the ideal material for making ghost decorations. A few ideas for cheesecloth ghosts include:

  • Floating Ghosts. To give it a freestanding ghostly shape, soak cheesecloth in liquid fabric starch and drape it over a form shaped to look like a ghost’s body. Let dry, remove the form, and you’ll have a ghost that “floats” on its own, as shown on Home Talk.
  • Life-Size Halloween Ghost. Use a similar method to make a life-size levitating ghost for your outdoor decor. Make a larger frame, this time using wooden stakes and multiple Styrofoam balls. Then follow the same basic method as for the floating ghosts. Get the full instructions on HGTV.
  • Ghostly Outdoor Draperies. Inexpensive cheesecloth makes the perfect budget material for ghostly draperies. Hang yards of cloth from lightweight poplar boards you can staple to your porch roof like they did on HGTV.
  • Dancing Lawn Ghosts. Make a DIY version of Grandin Road’s dancing ghosts using Styrofoam balls, wooden dowels, and cheesecloth — all of which you can purchase at the dollar store. Just stake the styrofoam balls in the ground using the dowels, drape the white fabric over them (using glue or pins to keep it in place), and tie the ends together so they look like they’re holding hands. Get the full instructions on Listolic.

25. Use Trash Bags

Another inexpensive yet useful material for your Halloween toolkit is a box of garbage bags. Use them to make everything from giant spiders and spider webs to dead bodies and creepy curtains. A few ideas include:

  • Giant Spiders. Make use of your fall leaves by raking them into a large black garbage bag. Then cut legs from additional bags and wrap them around your stuffed bag to form a smaller spider head and larger body. Get the full instructions on the Hefty website.
  • Spider Webs. Using a similar technique as cutting paper snowflakes, fold your trash bag, and then cut away chunks so your trash bag resembles a spider web when unfolded, as shown on The Sits Girls.
  • Dead Body Prop. Stuff old clothes with crumpled paper, and then put the “body” in a garbage bag. Then wrap the body and bag with duct tape like they did on Craftibilities.
  • Creepy Curtains. Plastic fringe adds a creep factor to any room in a haunted house. Simply slice strips into a bag (from the opening up) without going all the way through, and hang the fringed curtain from any doorway.

Final Word

Halloween is fun because it brings out the kid in us. The air starts to cool, pumpkins appear on grocery store shelves, and before you know it, you’ve turned your front porch into a mad scientist’s lab.

It’s easy to overdo it. But not to worry. No matter how much you enjoy going all out for Halloween, you don’t have to break the bank. A few simple tricks will keep you on track with your finances. And if you enjoy doing crafts and DIY projects, saving money on Halloween becomes a creative challenge that can bring even more fun to the holiday.

Do you decorate for Halloween? Do you have any money-saving tips to add to this list?

Sarah Graves
Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

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