Halloween is one of those holidays that used to be simple and now comes with a cost. The candy isn’t a budget buster, but costumes can carry a hefty price tag. Spooky décor, once limited to a few jack-o-lanterns on the stoop and faux cobwebs on bushes, has evolved into an extravaganza on par with Christmas – complete with musical light shows and giant inflatables. And of course there are the parties, whether your own or a potluck affair to which it is expected you’ll contribute something not only yummy but also theme-appropriate. For those of us with wallets on a diet the scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the ghosts and ghouls; it’s the spending.
Thankfully, planning an amazing Halloween party doesn’t have to mean racking up a terrifying pile of receipts. All you need to do is think back to the fright night parties that made you scream as a kid and get creative. Here are some simple and affordable Halloween food ideas, décor how-tos and more to help you plan an amazing Halloween party on the cheap.
Affordable Halloween Party Ideas
Stick to Classic DIY Décor
Those cutesy inflatables can’t stand up to the eerie appeal of the backyard cemetery, created out of nothing more than scrap cardboard and acrylic paint. Or put those falling autumn leaves to good use when you make a huge trash bag spider as pictured above. Gallon milk jugs or other opaque plastic containers light up the night with their sinister smiles – draw ghostly faces on the outside with permanent marker and pop in a battery operated tea light. Inside your home, think murky and keep the lighting low. Black crepe paper stands in for the kind of curtains you’d expect to find in a haunted house but don’t go too crazy with the tissue. Cheesecloth and inexpensive foam craft heads make super freaky ghosts with a lot more scare power. It doesn’t have to be all about illusion, either. Look around your home – try the basement or attic – for anything tattered, old and tarnished enough to set the mood.
Serve What You Have
You may not think the usual contents of your fridge are spooky enough for Halloween, but it’s all in how you prep it. Chicken fingers straight out of the freezer morph into monster fingers when topped with a pointy red pepper claw. Hot dogs, cleverly carved, look alarmingly like human digits, complete with slightly bloody fingernails (made of onion). Refrigerator breadsticks are transformed into bones, food coloring turns pre-made pizza dough into a slithering snakey calzone and that same hue can alter even the most cheerful fizzy punch into something that looks a lot like a killer witch’s brew.
Get People Partying
From there, it’s all about the games. While you could just let your ghoulish guest list mix and mingle there’s something about Halloween that inspires people to play. Modern kids are still thrilled to don blindfolds and squash their fingers into a bowl of brains (cooked spaghetti), eyeballs (peeled grapes) and bones (de-barked twigs). Older kids and grownups can turn on the creativity and help dress up your yard for the holiday when they compete in a scarecrow making competition. All you need is dry leaves – which many of us have in abundance – and a heap of old clothes.
Halloween spirit, meet household budget! Make this the year that you transform your happy home into a domicile of dread, no credit card necessary.
written by: Stephen Reynolds
Stephen Reynolds is a freelance journalist who covers shopping, entertainment and all things lifestyle. He is also an editor at www.UpwardOnward.com. Follow him on Twitter at @sreynoldswrites.
Trash Bag Spider image photo credit: makethebestofthings.blogspot.com
Cheesecloth Ghost image photo credit: marthastewart.com
Hot Dog Fingers image photo credit: EverydayIsAHollyDay4.blogspot.com