It’s just days before the most frightening of fall fun and you haven’t gotten started on your Halloween plans yet? Don’t count yourself out of the celebration just yet.
Halloween spending is projected to top $9 billion this year, according to Wallethub. But if you are on a tight budget or your student loan debt is scary enough without going on a fake blood and skeleton shopping spree, never fear (okay maybe fear just a little, because it is the season).
We have five options for you to scare up decorations and costumes on a budget:
Target Dollar Section
Usually this is where budgets go to die, but in this case, the tantalizing display of $1 and $3 items is all you need to get your home in top Halloween shape. They have decorations ranging from trendy (cute Halloween lights and all things fall burlap) to spooky (decorative pumpkins, ghosts and black cats, oh my!) to fun (window clings and DIY decor packs). You can even pick up a last minute costume in this section in the form of animal ears and tails.
Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist
Fall is also prime tag sale season and what better time to score a deal than a fall garage cleanout? There’s no reason to pay full price for foam tombstones or a vampire costume that was worn once for three hours when your neighbor is selling it for just a few bucks. Your local buy, sell, or trade Facebook groups are also excellent resale resources if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for on other sites.
Halloween is a great time to hit up your area thrift store when figuring out a costume for that last-minute party invite. In addition to actual Halloween costumes, thrift stores give you the option of creating your own masterpiece, whether it’s grabbing a red bandana and a blue button down to dress up as Rosie the Riveter or slipping into a 50s-era dress that turns you into Lucille Ball.
You don’t have to shell out $50 at the Halloween pop up store to win your costume contest. And you don’t have to break the bank to make your house one of the spookiest on the block. Pinterest, often the bane of the non-crafter’s existence, can be a wonderful resource for Halloween on the fly. Check out this list of 428 ideas for Halloween costumes, or this compilation of 51 DIY Halloween decorations. Plus, most Halloween festivities take place after dark, so if you aren’t Martha Stewart-perfect, no one will ever know.
Stuff You Have Around the House
You probably have the foundation of a great Halloween and you may not even realize it. Rip up an old pillow and stretch out the stuffing to make spooky cobwebs to hang from your windows and trees (and save it for next year too). Grab some black construction paper and print out traceable bats, cats and monsters to create eerie silhouettes. You can even take your old clothes and stuff them with blankets or pillows to create a ghost or zombie that will greet your Halloween guests. Need more ideas? Here’s a list dedicated to Halloween ideas using items you already own.
If this Halloween has left you stressed and scrambling, hit up the stores in the days after Oct. 31st to score deals on decor and costumes for Halloween 2019. Many retailers slash prices by 50 or even 75% off in order to get the Halloween merchandise off the shelves to make room for Christmas.
May your Halloween — but not your cash flow — be deliciously terrifying!
Sarah Netter is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News.