Is it too early to think about the trick or treaters coming? Not at all! You've seen the displays. You've seen the candy. You may have even seen the coupons. According to a survey done by the National Retail Federation, shoppers will shell out an average of $79.82 on costumes, candy and decorations last year up from $72.31 in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation. If you have a couple kids who need outfitting, you are almost certainly doomed to be well above average this year. Altogether, the NRF estimates this year's total Halloween spending to reach $8 billion!
In addition to supplying candy for door to door trick or treaters, trunk or treating has been growing in popularity - which means you may need to buy double the candy. This year, please don't simply pay shelf price for Halloween candy. It's so easy to save yourself $20-$30 and get the same (or better) results. Below are some great tips that can help keep you from experiencing a post-Halloween fright when you check your bank account.
1. Use coupons! Of course you would expect me to say this, right? Several Halloween candy coupons have been appearing in Sunday's coupon inserts. You can print many coupons from the Internet as well. I would try to get as many copies of those as possible. Don't wait to print Internet coupons even if this week is not the best week to use them. Internet coupons can disappear - and it will be an opportunity missed. You'll find your best deals as the sales really kick in in the weeks to come - so don't worry about using them right away. Your job right now is to simply collect as many coupons as you can. SavingsAngel will be among the first to alert you when to strike simply by watching for the best sales that match up with those coupons. Last year (as in years past), bags of candy for fifty cents was the norm.
2. If you are calculating a budget, there is no need to spend more than ten cents per trick or treater and still delight any ghoul, pirate, or princess. Decide early on how many pieces of candy you are giving away to each child. You can even decide early on what you'll be giving away to the older teenagers who stop by without a costume and forget to say thank you. (I've got a special bucket of candy corn with their name on it.)
3. Halloween gift certificates to restaurants can be a great deal. Wendy's will be selling a book of ten coupons (each for a free frosty) for one dollar. McDonald's is offering 12 different menu items for $1. If you are time crunched and don't want to bother with redeeming manufacturer coupons and watching for sales, I would buy a stack and call it good. Ten dollars can supply 120 trick or treaters while distribution will be very simple. If you have extras on the morning of November 1st, give them away to co-workers, your child's classroom, or even the occasional adult treat. There is no age restriction on the Wendy's frosty - but you'll need to 12 or younger to redeem the McDonald's certificate. Check with your local restaurant for availability.
4. Supplement your candy offering with items like Kool-Aid packs, fun pencils, stickers, and small toys. Most of these items can be purchased at extremely low prices. If you can find glow sticks for a dime I highly recommend this. We've had reports of some shoppers getting ten in a package for one dollar with a 40% off coupon at Michael's. SavingsAngel members have posted about getting Kool-Aid packets for free and giving them away. If you've got items like these at home and you're not going through them fast enough, throw them in the bowl. Some kids will be absolutely delighted that they got something original. Other parents may be delighted their kids got a break from the sugar and corn syrup. The nice thing about pencils, stickers, toys is there is no expiration date on them. Save what you didn't give out for last year and you'll be ahead of the game for Halloween 2012.
5. If you end up with extra candy, most chocolate and candy products have a pretty long shelf-life if you keep it cool and dry. If you want to keep it longer, store it in the freezer. You can use frozen chocolate and candy in your own homemade candies and cookies the winter holiday season. While you are deciding just how much candy you'll allow your kids to eat, this might be a good time to decide what to store for a future date - rather than letting them get to the bottom of the bag as soon as they like.
6. Shop for decorations and Halloween non-candy trick or treat items (pencils, stickers, little toys) on the morning of November 1. The clearance sales will start immediately to make way for Christmas items. Buying Halloween decorations in the month of October should be a tradition you never repeat if you'll start giving yourself an allowance for post-Halloween shopping. Exercise caution with buying kids costumes a year in advance, however. Kids can outgrow them and it may be hard to determine who they'll want to dress up as next year.