I am the lucky mother of four boys. They’re all teenagers now, but when they were small we always enjoyed Halloween, and we rarely spent money. The fun was fantastic, but my wallet mostly stayed closed. Here’s how we did it!
FOR COSTUMES: We always had so much fun going through closets and our dress-up bin! Using our imaginations we would take clothes we already owned and invent characters (once my son was a pushy business man, another time my other son was Prince Charming dressed in civilian clothes, and yet another year I used white pants, white shirt and toilet paper to create a ghost etc) and use markers for makeup or found Halloween makeup kits for a dollar. Other moms could likely use their own vanity bags. I just happen not to own any make-up myself. Also, we’ve always had a few costumes that one of us had bought at thrift stores and clearance bins during the off season. My boys have always loved dress-up, regardless of the season! So Yugioh and Power Rangers and Ninja outfits could always be invented as well.
Admittedly, when my boys were young I wondered if I was being lazy. My mom ( Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD ) went all out every Halloween when we were kids. She would sew us genie costumes, beautiful angel outfits and more. Always with amazing imagination, sweat, and love. And later, after adopting four autistic boys whose sensory issues and more made costumes even more challenging, she would incorporate their needs and habits into the costume, rather than give up. We were pretty broke, so she never spent money either, but boy did she make it fun, and we looked great!
And the emphasis was always on fun, gaining skills, and more fun. So I no longer worry about my own laziness, since I did learn that from mom. And my boys and I don’t ever hold back on the fun!
FOR CANDY: This isn’t applicable to us because our home is deep in the woods, and we never have trick-or-treaters! It’s too scary out here for even the bravest Ninja Turtle!!
FOR THE SCHOOLS: I always wanted to be part of the spooktacular fun in the classrooms and absolutely love celebrating and imagining with the costumed kiddos! At first I didn’t know how to participate without spending money. It seemed that requests for treats were never-ending. Eventually, though, I just got comfortable volunteering my time and playing dress-up too! The fun of Halloween lies in the unlimited imagining and it’s playful nature. So, I played!
FOR DECORATIONS: I always used the stuff my boys made at school, and then–again!–we would use our imaginations to turn stuff from around the house i nto something spooky. We used a black dress, fallen branches and a stuffed animal to make a scary monster one year. And I’ve been known to pick up the odd spooky addition on clearance at the end of the season. I think the pumpkin was the only thing I ever consistently spent money on! It doesn’t hurt that our house is spooky already, hiding deep in the woods, wild and unmanicured!
THE ATTITUDE: When handling Halloween I would always focus most on the fun and take advantage of the yearly social skills teaching! Two of my sons had autism symptoms, including a need for social practice. For one son there was teaching him how to ask only one or two questions at each door, and to try and keep the questions on topic. My younger son had to be encouraged to walk up and willingly meet a new person and practice eye contact… all with the immediate reward of candy! And, of course, all four of my boys had the yearly opportunity to meet neighbors and learn how to handle a sugar high!
With the focus being on all of the fun learning opportunities, spending money was easier to avoid.
At least, it was for me!
And though my mom may have done it a little better, I’m still pretty proud of the boo-tiful fun my boys and I have had every Halloween!