COMMENTARY | When my son was in elementary school, he invited his classmate who had just moved to the U. S. From Russia to go trick or treating.
I could tell his Russian friend thought Halloween was a bizarre holiday. He asked why American children go around begging for candy. Were they hungry?
According to a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, a record number of Americans are celebrating Halloween this year. Retailers are expecting people to spend $8 million on the spooky holiday.
I know we plan to get our spook on this year. Although, truth be told, every day as we deal with the ghosts of the Great Recession and skeletons in our stock market accounts.
Shelling out for candy, costumes
According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend $70.82 on Halloween this year compared to $72.31 last year. Looking back at my receipts from last year, I see I spent a total of $107 on Halloween, which included $22 for candy, $60 for costumes and $25 for decorations. This year, I've already dropped $45 on Halloween candy.
Marketing the vanilla side of Halloween
I think one of the reasons more people are participating in Halloween is because the holiday is no longer just about witches, ghosts and goblins. My church participates in "Trick or Treat" street in which children and adults dress up for fun. Different businesses, churches and community groups sponsor booths. They have fun decorating their booths and giving away candy.
Recycling the old costumes
Throughout the year, I've saved some money on Halloween by recycling old costumes and decorations. Many of those surveyed said they will use last year's decorations. Four years ago, when John McCain was running against President Barak Obama, my son wore an "Insane for McCain" t-shirt and a Hillary Clinton wig for Halloween I found in the clearance basket. It was frugal and funny at the same time. The average American plans to send $28.65 per person on Halloween costumes this year compared to $26.52 last year.
Participating on a Halloween budget
The survey shows a third of people are going to buy less candy for children going trick or treating. I often find the buy-one-get-one-free deals at the grocery store. Sure, you can save costs by turning the lights out and pretending not to be home, but that's no fun. Candy is not very expensive. And, it's not a child's fault that this economy is spooky.
Anyone can make a cheap Halloween costume. When I was a child, my parents gave us some cardboard boxes, some aluminum foil, markers, costume jewelry and glue and told us to make our own Halloween costumes. Since I'm not very crafty, my princess or gypsy costumes were always bit scary, but maybe that worked in my favor.
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