Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

It’s that time again… Halloween is just around the corner! And you’re in charge of throwing this year’s biggest bash…decorations, food, costumes – O my!! Prepping for a party can no doubt come with unwanted headaches and hefty price tags but you don’t have to let overspending come back to haunt you!

We sat down with lifestyle expert, money-saving guru and CEO of http://www.TheGroceryGame.com, Teri Gault, to find out how to take the fright out of Halloween party planning. And what we found out is all treat and no trick. Read on to find out how you can throw a spook-tacular Halloween party for under $100!

BN: Who can help slash prices when it comes to selecting the menu?
TG: YOU don’t select the menu. The circulars plan your menu for you. Start gathering weeks ahead and shop little by little according to what’s on sale. Hummus is on sale weeks before? Find a package date that’s good until your party date and then on the last week, you’ll buy whatever veggies are on sale to go with it.

Choose your meat dish from the front page of one week. The big picture will usually be the best deal. Pop it in your freezer, if you find the meat of your choice weeks before. A big pot of chili is a good and easy option as dry beans soaked overnight, then slow cooked, are cheap to add to chili. Any type of beef, whether ground or cubed, or even ground turkey is great in chili. Choose whatever meat is on sale. As the weeks go by, look for a great sale on cheese to grate, and canned tomatoes to add in.

Pasta is a super cheap side dish or even main dish. Check circulars for a great pasta sale and stock up for your party, which can be weeks before if the sale hits early. Make meatballs from ground beef, Italian sausage, or anything that’s on a killer sale.

Stick to in season produce. Caramel apples are traditional Halloween fare, because apples are in season and super cheap. Look for carmels to be on sale and nab them when you see them.

On the last week, your menu will only include whatever fruit and veggies are in season and on sale.

By doing all of the above, you can cut your food cost in half or better. Adding a coupon to each sale saves about 67% or more.

BN: What is the most cost-effective way to allocate my funds?
TG: Food and drink should be your highest budget item, but with great value, as you will gather the best of the best deals over several weeks of circulars.

BN: When should I purchase candy and what stores offer top budget-friendly sales?
TG: Supermarkets and drugstores have great deals on candy. Look for store coupons in drugstore circulars in the weeks before Halloween. Then match up those store coupons with manufacturer coupons from the Sunday paper for even deeper discounts. Whenever you see a limit, like “limit 3” on any food or candy at a grocery store or drugstore, buy the limit. A limit is usually an indicator of a deep discounted offer, maybe even a “loss leader”, which is at cost or even at a loss to the retailer. You can almost always add a coupon to any sale, including a loss leader.

BN: Where can I find the best inexpensive decorations?
TG: Decorations can be super inexpensive if you choose the right ones. I’ve found great decorations for super cheap online for lots of holidays and theme parties. Once you find what you want, open another browser and do a search for promo codes so that you can get additional discounts or free shipping at checkout.

Look for the best sales on pumpkins and carve small ones and big ones for ambience. Funny jack-o-lanterns make for a festive mood. Lots of tealights in paper bags with sand give a soft glow, and are super cheap. Cut out jackolantern faces using a hole punch straight through the lunch size bags, for light to escape on both sides. Streamers are cheap, as a few rolls go a long way to add color and make the scene festive. Rolls of curling ribbon in Halloween orange strewn around the food table brings in color and a fun feel. Fruit on skewers in vases serves as food and decoration all in one.

BN: How can I get a creative costume without breaking the bank?
TG: Makeup is always the key to making a costume most effective, and thankfully makeup is cheap if you use what you have. Think comedy and invent your own character, like a cartoon. A visit to a thrift store can spark lots of ideas. Wear all white, and use a permanent marker to make tire tracks starting from top to bottom on the clothes. Follow with black eye liner to make the tire tracks turn across your face. There doesn’t even have to be blood, as its just cartoon funny that you came out unscathed.

Being a scarecrow is super easy using thrift store clothes or even a cute outfit you already have. Anything goes in terms of clothing. A sexy scarecrow is very cute. Buy straw from a craft store, and using packing tape, tape the straw inside the edges of all hems and sleeves, cleavage, etc., hanging out a few inches. Paint on some pretty doll face makeup, and a straw hat, and you’ve got a cute costume for just a few dollars.

Women look cute dressed up in a traditional man’s role, but feminine and beautiful with makeup as your cheapest and most effective tool. A sexy auto mechanic, in a blue worker’s shirt, sleeves rolled up, with your name as a business written on it with a permanent marker, “Nancy’s Transmission Service”. Or you could get more creative with that. A short skirt, spikey heals, makeup, and black makeup as a few cute grease smudges are adorable. You can do the same with any man’s role, and especially if you can borrow a few props from someone you know, like a carpenter with a tool belt.

Bonus tip: Nab as much clearance candy as you can after Halloween, sometimes 75% off. Use it broken up to bake into cookies and brownies for the holidays.

Happy Halloween!!

Originally published October 2011
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