Halloween isn't typically a bank-busting holiday, but that doesn't mean it isn't easy to overspend. Whether it's the food, drink, or decor, there are a number of ways to save on your Halloween party without skimping on the end result.
1. Make the Meal a Potluck. This is one of the best ways to save on food, plus you'll avoid the hassle of pleasing the finicky eaters in your crowd. Tell everyone to bring a covered dish, and better yet, assign categories like salad, main entrée, and dessert. If you plan your potluck right, you won't spend much on food and your guests will be more than satisfied.
2. Keep It Non-Alcoholic. The holiday this year falls on a Wednesday, which makes it entirely respectable to not serve alcohol. But if you must, go for low-cost mixers that focus more on the spirit of the season than the quality of the spirits you serve. Eyeball punch anyone? Make a batch of punch, add the liqueur of your choice, and use peeled green grapes for the "eyeballs." Your guests will be too busy admiring your creativity to wonder what brand of alcohol you used.
3. Simplify the Menu. If you don't go the potluck route, there's no need to serve a full-course meal. It's a minor holiday, and both kids and parents alike will be munching on candy throughout the night. Try serving quick-and-easy Halloween appetizers. Just let your invitees know the meal will be light, so they can fill up beforehand if needed.
4. Save on Decorations. Believe it or not, you can often get primo Halloween decorations at your local dollar store. Pick up orange and black crepe paper, spider webs, and a black cat, witch, or other character decorations. Add spooky music and you're good to go. When it comes to decorating for Halloween, follow the KISS principle: keep it simple, silly, and have fun!
5. Email the Invitations. If you still use snail mail for invites, consider joining the rest of the world in using services like Evite, Facebook, or basic email to let your guests know about the main event. It’s free, takes less time, and is better for the environment. Plus, more of your guests are likely to receive and respond to your invitation if you alert them online.
Final Thoughts. Don't forget the trick-or-treaters! Just because you've saved a boatload on the festivities doesn't mean you should stop there. The average American spends more than $20 on Halloween candy—a cost that can be reduced by buying candy at the local dollar store or by simply finding which stores have candy on sale.
What ways do you save on Halloween parties?
David Bakke is a frugal living contributor for MoneyCrashers.com, a top personal finance blog. Find out cheap Halloween decorating ideas as well as spooky Halloween appetizer recipes for your next party.