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Hosting Our Halloween Party for $3.46 per Guest

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My mother, brother, and his girlfriend visited us last week from PA. In their honor we threw a Halloween party and invited 25 of our friends and family. What a blast! We wanted it to be a really festive occasion, but of course we wanted to keep costs down so we challenged ourselves to remain within our fun/groceries monthly spending category. To achieve this we made all of the food, did not purchase full costumes, assembled our own decorations, and came up with some nearly free entertainment. I’d like to share these with you below in the hopes that you can use some of these ideas for your own future Halloween parties.


We sent out free, animated invitations through Evites. You can also use 123greetings, Purpletrail, or otherwise search the web to find free online invitations.

Cost: $0


When I was a Girl Scout one of our leaders held a very memorable Halloween party for us. She created these bags of “body parts” that we each took turns feeling with our hands and with a blindfold. It felt so real! I wanted to create this same fun for my guests, but have the bags sitting in a corner so that anyone who wanted to participate could (but didn’t have to). We set up the following bags: twigs out of our yard for bones, cold cooked spaghetti for guts, and peeled grapes for eyeballs. For the bags I used plastic grocery bags inside of paper lunch bags with the labeled body parts in marker. Paul burned a CD of any music with a creepy/Halloween theme he’s collected over the years. Finally, I picked up a booklet of Halloween tattoos for $1.00 for any of the kids (or adults) who wanted to use them.

Cost: $1.08


With all of the choices out there it quickly became overwhelming for me to pick out costumes, especially for under $10 (the budget I had allocated for this). I decided to do a version of Medusa for myself by sweeping my hair up and planting rubber snakes throughout. For my mother, I purchased a ladybug antennae headband (I signed up for emails from Party City and scored a coupon for 20% off of my entire Halloween purchase). For Paul we purchased white makeup to make him into a statue (though we ran out of time to make his costume because of all of the food prep!).

Cost: $9.46

author and mother smiling with caution tape behind them
author and husband smiling in picture


A good portion of the decorations was the “crime scene” food display in the dining room. Other low-cost decorations included playing black and white horror flicks we borrowed from Paul’s parents on the television (muted in the background), crime scene tape we found on Rakuten's Buy.com, a brain mold (to use with the food display), and spaghetti jar votive candle holders we made and hung in the backyard (this was a completely free project as we used spaghetti sauce glass jars we have been saving and the following from around our home: votive candles, twine, and two wire hangers).  I picked up a palm tree frond that looked just like a witch’s broom while walking outside of my office building one day and painted the handle black. We also purchased two carving pumpkins and one small pumpkin to hollow out and use as a container for the pumpkin pie dip.

Cost: $22.81

palm tree frond with painted black handle that looks like witch's broom
picture of four handing, homemade, mason jar candle holders


Our Crime Scene food display was also part of the  decorations and entertainment. We made a body bag from a black trash bag  by cutting a line down the center and placed  a shrimp/cocktail sauce concoction molded to look like a brain inside (this one was pretty grotesque!). The rest of the menu included:   bat wings (chicken wings), devilled eggs, chili dip, eggplant garlic  dip, pumpkin pie dip with apples, an Amber Ale Cheese dip with crackers, stuffed jalapeños, Maple Pumpkin Butter, and a pumpkin roll. We also bought 5 two-liter bottles of soda. Remember those free plates, napkins, and utensils I snagged before our Grossman family reunion earlier this year? We had enough left over for this party as well. Also, I had a free $25 gift card to Wal-Mart from the pilot program energy study we took part of this past summer (the cost below reflects the use of this gift card).

Cost: $53.13

picture of halloween party spread in dining room

Our total cost for everything ended up being $86.48, or approximately $3.46 per guest. Not bad for a memorable experience!

How have you saved money on Halloween and/or Halloween parties? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Other Articles You May Enjoy:

Finances of the Undead: Why You Will Never see a Zombie Banker
FFF: Frugal Fall Family Fun
6 Frugal and Fun Activities for Fall and Halloween

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.

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