Halloween on a Tight Budget

PumpkinIt’s that time of year: jack o’ lanterns adorn the streets, kids run around picking up candy, decked out in awesome costumes like the lucky bastards they are, while us poor grown-up saps either accompany them or squeeze into inappropriate (and often demeaning) get-ups, swill some punch, and often end up making bad life decisions.

In past years, I’ve made up for losing prime Halloween-ing years in my youth (being stuck in a foreign country) by overspending on several bags of candy, picking a costume that will allow me to acquire a cool prop (like a sword, or an axe), and partying for a few weekends.

Some folks get so creative with their costumes. Clearly, I am thrilled about this one.

Some folks get so creative with their costumes, it’s exciting. Clearly, I am thrilled about this Franzia box (it had a real spout, pouring real Franzia wine!!).

This year is different though; I’m broke and working late all weekend, so party attendance will be limited and resources are scarce.

But once upon a time, I LOVED celebrating Halloween, so I decided to brainstorm ways to enjoy the holiday, even if only in small ways.


Even small additions to your home can bring some holiday cheer. This year, I found some templates online, and cut out some bats, pumpkins, and a leering skeleton. Small touches, but it brings a smile to my face every time I seem them around my apartment.


Neighborhood Viewing

Last year, I traipsed into a Medford neighborhood that had gorgeous yard decorations for the spook-ily inclined. Who says Christmas is the only time to wander around taking in the view? Take some time and stroll through a suburb; you might be pleasantly surprised. Here’s a lovely view of Beacon Hill:

Ghost Stories

Though Poe is always a good choice, this collection edited and illustrated by Barry Moser is chilling as well. Bram Stoker’s “The Judge’s House” is the creepiest for me, rivaled only by W. W. Jacob’s “The Monkey’s Paw.”

Moser book


Who doesn’t like a ghoulish dessert? My favorite Halloween treat is Dirt Cake, and Betty Crocker has a particularly appealing recipe with ice cream included.

Betty Crocker dessert

Betty Crocker ice cream dirt cake

Movie Watching

The most inexpensive option for celebrating (if you already own the films). My viewing this year included:

Psycho (1960): Hitchcock at his most terrifying. Note to self: don’t shower today.

The Others (2001): A film about the creepy goings-on of a Jersey, England home post-WWII. Nicole Kidman is great in it.

Shaun of the Dead (2004): Zombies, Brits, beer. Make sure you don’t got red on you, that you have blunt objects, and that you have a nifty pub to hole up in during the zombie apocalypse. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

Clue (1985): Enough said. This crazy comedy is witty, fast-paced, and full of grisly murder. So many good quotes, so little time. Also, Tim Curry is delicious. What more do you want?

Hocus Pocus (1993): Topping off the Halloween night, the classic to top all classics. The Sanderson sisters descend into 20th century Salem, threatening to suck the lives of all the children to attain eternal youth. Great costumes, campy song numbers, and a creepily bound book. If you haven’t seen this movie, YOU HAVEN’T LIVED.


treat bagThis year, I will be picking up some discount candy and cards to send to friends. Who cares if it is November 1st; there’s still time to spread some holiday cheer and nom way too many calories.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and I’m glad I can still enjoy October 31st, even in miniature. And, as Stephen King has said, when all else fails, “go for the gross out”:

My awesome costume from 2009

My awesome D.I.Y. zombie hunter-victim bite from 2009

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