Let’s face it, apart from Christmas, Halloween is pretty much the best holiday of the year. Halloween parties are the perfect excuse to dress up, get a little tipsy, listen to cheesy music and generally have a good time with friends (and cute strangers dressed like animals and/or zombies). If, like me, you love the idea of throwing a party, but in reality you’re a little broke and disorganized, there is no need to panic. Halloween hosting on a budget can be made easy, even if it’s super last minute!
First things first — decorations.
A must for setting the scene and getting people in the mood for the fantastic night you have planned.
1. Mini ‘pumpkins’
Pumpkins are a Halloween must, but they can get pretty pricey! Not to mention, carving a ton of pumpkins is almost definitely going to end in a migraine and a sliced finger. So for a quick, cheap and knife-free alternative, try drawing scary pumpkin faces onto oranges or clementines with a marker.
These mini “pumpkins” not only look cute lined up on a table or window sill, they also double up as a healthy snack at the end of the evening for you and your guests! (Or as an appetizer before drunk-ordering pizza.)
Approx cost: $3
2. Simple spooky spider webs
Now, I am a notoriously un-crafty person, but even I must admit that these DIY spider webs are too simple to deny. All you need: black trash bag, scissors and tape. They look pretty cool draped on your windows or walls, and you can even use them as a Halloween table cloth. Pretty impressive, I’d say. There’s a really great tutorial on how to complete the decorations here.
Approx cost: $3
3. Ghostly lanterns
This is a really great idea that uses items you probably already have in your home! Use your empty milk cartons/jugs to create these ghost lanterns by first removing any labels and giving them a good wash. Then take out your trusty marker to draw some ghostly faces, simply drop some lights in (LED candles or string lights work well) and you’re finished. They look great outside the front door or along the window.
Approx Cost: $4
Next up, a costume.
As a host, you will want to settle with a standard costume-wise. But who wants to drop a day’s worth of wages on a costume you will wear once and then throw to the bottom of your wardrobe for another year? Here are a few ideas that won’t leave you forfeiting a day’s food for the sake of a creepy costume!
1. Costume swap
It may seem obvious, but this only recently occurred to me… swap a costume with a friend! Last year’s outfit may seem like a no-go for a second year in a row for you, but it’s practically brand new to your friend. You don’t have to be the same size as your friend if the costume is versatile. Ask around if anyone wants to swap, and just like that, you’ve spent no money and you’ve got yourself a new costume for your party.
Approx cost: $0!!!
2. Get bloody
If you really want the simplest outfit, just add blood. Rip an old T-shirt, get out some red food coloring, add it to some water, splatter the mix across your T-shirt and voila! You can add some powdered sugar to the mix if you want to make it thicker and decorate your body with it too. This can also be added to any pre-existing outfit you may have mind if you want to make yourself just a little bit spookier.
Approx cost: $2-$4
Last order of business — party snacks.
Food and drink is a part of hosting that can become particularly pricey, especially if you want to impress with cocktails and canapés. There are, however, some fun and easy solutions that I’ve personally tried, tested and enjoyed (maybe a little too much).
1. Jell-O hands and fingers
This can be a really fun addition to the table at a Halloween party. Simply get some cheap Jell-O powder (red or green look best), add water, pour into a rubber glove and set in the fridge. Once set, you can easily peel off the glove and decorate the hand any way you like, e.g. put them into a bowl of punch, or cut the fingers off drop them in people’s drinks.
For an extra “kick” add wine to the mix and you’ve got some delicious alcoholic Jell-O fingers!
Approx cost: without alcohol $3/with wine $10
2. Blood or slime punch
Ask your lovely guests to BYOB as this will thoroughly cut down your costs (this usually seems like common practice nowadays anyway, but a gentle reminder never hurt). Prepare some “blood” punch mix with cranberry or grape juice, lemonade and add either lime or orange slices. For “slime,” simply use some green lime cordial and lemonade. When the guests arrive, just add the liquor and you’re well on your way! (Don’t forget to add in the jelly hand or fingers for a fun twist). If you want to get a bit more creative, get some old jars from the cupboard, remove the labels and get your marker out to decorate them with spooky faces. It’s cool to drink out of jars these days so it’s a great added touch.
Approx cost: $4
Bonus $0 Ideas!
Sign up for a free trial on a premium music streaming app, they usually have plenty of pre-made Halloween playlists for you to enjoy at your party. Not only does this cost nothing, it also takes the hassle out of curating your own, and it’ll be ad free.
Similar to the costume swap idea, some thrift stores/resale stores will buy last year’s Halloween costume from you (if it’s in somewhat good condition of course). This gives you some extra $ toward either a new costume or other Halloween expenses!
If you already have the red food coloring for getting yourself all “bloody,” try adding a tiny drop to ice cubes before setting. This creates a trickling blood effect that will look awesome dropped into your friends’ drinks.
Don’t forget, even if you aren’t hosting the party yourself, pass on the suggestions to your friends or family who are. Sharing is caring!