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Don't be afraid to save this Halloween

You don't need a financial fright to have fun with Halloween. Watch our reporter try out some costumes while you pick up some savings tips.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 18, 2010 3:24PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger and Jim Robinson at partner site Money Talks News.


The most frightening part of Halloween is how much money we spend on the holiday: almost $6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. That works out to about $66 per American for costumes, candy and decorations.

But there's no reason to carve up your wallet along with your pumpkin, if you've got a little time and can muster up a little creativity. Halloween is one holiday where cheesy, cheap tricks actually work well. You can even pull off homemade versions of some of the most popular costumes this year. For instance, pop sensation Lady Gaga is a common choice this year -- which means you can wear just about anything, including meat -- although that might be biting off more than you can chew.


Watch the video below as reporter Stacy Johnson sacrifices his dignity for journalism by appearing in several costumes, then meet us on the other side for more.

Going gaga. If you want to pull off the Lady Gaga look, hit the closets and garage sales with this list:

  • Elbow-length gloves.
  • Huge belt.
  • Crystals and crazy jewelry.
  • Wings and collar.
  • Sunglasses (very big or odd looking ones).
  • Platinum wig and wild makeup.

Vampires are still in style as well, and thanks to the "Twilight" flicks, you don't need to look like a Victorian era aristocrat to pull it off. Pale skin, maybe some cheap plastic fangs, and a haunted expression will work well with casual clothes. Try applying some light foundation -- if you're a guy, ask a female friend to help you out if you don't know what that is -- to achieve the "undead" look, or suntan lotion can work in a pinch.


Thrift stores can provide you with cheap outfits, too. And if you're just spending a few bucks, there's no harm done if you make some alterations. You can cut things up for a ragged or patchy look, add some fake bloodstains, or redecorate as you see fit. Be creative.


Homemade makeup easy and cheap. Whether it's for you or your kids, here's a simple and cheap way to make white face paint to pull off any look -- from a joker to a vampire. Mix these together for white or add food color for creepy colors.
  • 2 teaspoons white shortening
  • 5 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon white all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 drops of glycerin
Add some realistic blood. Need to add some blood for effect without bleeding out your budget? Here's a super simple recipe with ingredients you probably already have at home. Mix corn starch and water in a large bowl while stirring in the corn syrup and cocoa. Add food color slowly.
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 5 teaspoons corn starch
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons red food color
  • 1 tablespoon powdered cocoa
  • 2 drops of green or yellow food color (optional)
Bruises, scabs and moles. Need to add a few skin defects to your costume? Check these out:

For bruises, use deep blue eye shadow and apply with a wet brush. Use your fingers to add a bit of grey and blue eye shadow. Finish the edges with olive green eye shadow and blend it all with a small brush and dust lightly with foundation powder.


For decorations, check your garage or closet for stuff you're never going to use again anyway, or hit up the dollar store. Styrofoam can make a cheap tombstone, and might not look too shabby if you spray-paint it. You can cut up some cardboard boxes and make simple shapes like spiders or bats, then hang them from string. If you have a long box, you've got a coffin. Cotton balls can be stretched into cobwebs.


If you're still at a loss for ideas, check out Halloween Tips for suggestions on costumes, props, treats, games and parties. Coolest Homemade Costumes has a photo gallery with hundreds of ideas, too. Want to add a few more creepy ideas? Here's everything from fake hands to aliens in jars.


The bottom line for saving money on Halloween is creativity -- what people pay top dollar for is really just plastic and prepackaged ideas. You can keep your cash for other holidays and have more fun just by thinking up your own decorations and costume. But don't skimp on the candy. Disappointing a bunch of sugar-high, 4-foot-tall monsters can be pretty scary.


More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Oct 20, 2010 2:24PM
But i am afraid of the boogie man that comes at night and takes my candy.... Or you tell me where it goes
Oct 20, 2010 2:21PM

But i am afraid of the boogie man that comes at night and takes my candy.... Or you tell me where it goessaving money on Halloween is creativity is fun for the entire family. I like scary movies too

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