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Halloween on a Budget: Candy

As we all know, Halloween can be an expensive holiday.  Between costumes for the kids, spook-tacular decorations for the house, the Halloween party and of course the candy-crazed trick-or-treaters.  In this final installment of our Halloween on a Budget series we are going to explore some ways to save money on Halloween candy and treats.

If you are like my family, we don’t have a ton of money to spend on expensive boxes of candy.  10 bucks for a box of 50-80 chocolate bars sounds pretty good at first, but when you start handing candy out to the seemingly never ending visits from the neighborhood ghouls and goblins, you realize that you’ll be turning the light out and avoiding the doorbell sooner than you expected.

While I think we agree that it is unreasonable to hand out all name-brand candy, we also don’t want to get the reputation of being the cheapskates that are giving out the crappy candy.

What seems to matter to my kids when they go trick-or-treating is a delicate mix of quantity and quality… with quantity coming in first!  So our goal is to be able to provide a lot of different candy that we can mix up ourselves, making the Halloween experience at our house a memorable one, for the right reasons.

The first step to a great Halloween on a Budget is to buy candy early… and often.  So it’s a little late for this year, but if you start buying candy Halloween the day after Halloween, and buy a bag every time you go to the grocery store throughout the year.  We buy a mix of “good” candy, some so-so candy and then some of the “cheap-o” candy.  When Halloween rolls around next year and you bust out the Halloween candy stash, you will think you hit the “Mother lode”.

But for now, you can check the big box stores and see if they have put their Halloween candy on sale yet.  You can even buy your candy supply the day of Halloween, you just might find some stores that have put their candy on sale early.

Portioning — Controlling the amount of candy that is leaving your house during the mad trick-or-treat rush is the key to a Halloween on a Budget, so instead of a big bucket of candy that you let the little ghosts reach into and take what their little hands will hold, we are going to prepare Halloween bags instead.  You can give each kid one or two of these bags.  If you have no idea how many visitors to expect you can figure you should be okay with 60-80 bags of candy.  We use the cheap zip-lock type sandwich bags from Walmart or Costco.  You can get a bazillion of those bags for like a dollar… well, not really, but they are pretty cheap.

When preparing your candy bags don’t think that you have to get rid of all of your candy stash, what you don’t use now you will have for next year.  If you start to run out of bags and the doorbell is still ringing, make up a few more, it only takes a few minutes.

Now comes the easy part, passing out the candy!  Give each kid a bag or two, remember why we have prepared these bags and avoid going crazy giving each kid a pile of your candy bags… pace yourself.

When the evening is over and Spiderman, Sponge Bob and the hoard of Zombies are sitting on their living room floors, with their glorious piles of candy, you can rest assured that your bag of candy, while maybe not its entire contents, will surely get  moved to the “good stuff” pile, making another Halloween great for a bunch of sweets-craved kids! …and you will have had a great Halloween on a Budget.

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