When I was a little girl, Halloween was a simple and cheap affair. We’d make costumes out of stuff we had at home, grab a pillow case, and walk up and down our block. Everyone who opened the door knew who we were, and we knew them. We returned home with warm homemade cookies, fruit, and my very favorite, a little envelope with 10 shiny pennies from the man who worked at the local bank. That, my friends, is what Halloween is supposed to be.
Unfortunately, Halloween has gone the way of all holidays: a commercialized spending spree. The average person will spend $72.31 on costumes, candy and decorations, adding up to a total holiday splurge of $6.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Gone is the family adventure of trying to decide how to become a fairy princess when all you have is a leotard and a roll of tin foil. Gone is the community of neighbors trying to guess who is the kid under the sheet.
However, as with anything in life, you can choose to “take back” the holiday. Decide that you are going to create something special, educational, and frugal out of a day that has become exorbitant, greedy and – well – scary.
Here are my 10 ideas for an Old Fashioned Halloween:
- Decide that you will only make your costume out of things that you have in the house. Search online for homemade costume ideas or use my favorite Klutz book, “Make Believe – A Book of Costume and Fantasy.” Readers on BargainBabe.com came up with dozens of homemade costume ideas during the 2010 Halloween costume contest and the 2009 Halloween costume contest.
- Start working on your costume in advance. Not only does this give you time to create a great costume, but it makes for a great project to do with your kids or special someone.
- Consider making a duct tape outfit like the ones from the Stuck at the Prom scholarship contest.
- Have an old fashioned Halloween party. Tell all the guests that costumes must be homemade only. Make the party a potluck and have everyone bring a Halloween themed food item. Include bobbing for apples and other Halloween games.
- Make popcorn balls and candied apples on a stick. If possible go to the orchard and pick the apples yourself. Make real popcorn on the stove instead of the microwave.
- Pumpkin carving ideas and more ways to carve your pumpkin. If you are afraid that your child will get a nick on their finger from using a knife, then watch Gever Tulley’s TED talk on “5 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Children Do,” and get over it. My daughter is a pumpkin carving fiend and has been that way since she was very young.
- Make a witches brew. They come in all varieties. I like cooked oat meal and green food coloring. Add some gummy worms. Yum!
- Create a HUGE Halloween party for the whole town like the Bethel Pumpkin House. This wonderful family has been creating the largest carved pumpkin displays for many years and inviting everyone to help. This IS the real deal. I’ve been there.
- I’m not much of a scarey story person, but a lot of kids love to be scared so find someone who is good at this for your party.
- Research the history of Halloween and its traditions with your kids.
If you are going to buy a costume and candy, Bargain Babe has been sharing Halloween coupons every Thursday. What are your Halloween traditions?