One of my four-year-old daughter’s favorite holidays is almost here: Halloween!  Here are a few ideas for celebrating with less.

Pumpkin Patch - Homestead Farm 

  1. Borrow a costume.
    Find out what your kids want to be, then ask around to see if someone has an entire costume or key element in their size.  For the ambitious, form a larger costume exchange event for an entire organization.  Kids love to dress-up year-round, so why not refresh their play clothes with something free?
  2. Costume Challenge: Make a costume out of items already in your house.
    Be creative.  Can you make the costume you want out of items you already have in your house?  If you need to make a few modifications, but don’t have a sewing machine, borrow one from a friend or use safety pins or fabric tape to hold items together.  (After all, it only has to work for one night!)
  3. Make your own face paint.
    If you have lotion and washable children’s paint (or food coloring), you can quickly make your own face paint.  This recipe from Family Sponge serves as both a fun activity and great addition to a costume.
  4. Visit a farm.
    Get your pumpkins straight from the source and have some fun doing it.  Many farms offer free or cheap fall activities and inexpensive pumpkins.  Plus, you can feel good that almost 100% of your purchase goes straight to the growers!  This is a good list of farms in Maryland and Virginia that offer fall fun.  For the rest of the country, try
  5. Decorate with fresh pumpkins, dried corn, gourds and squash.
    I love the idea of decorating with nature and fall produce is in style through Thanksgiving. After the holidays, you can compost it, roast seeds, or bake a pie. No decoration storage space required.
  6. Make some (recyclable) decorations.
    Turn Halloween into a series of craft projects using items you already have around the house.  Paper crafts are especially fun and can be recycled after Halloween.  Here are a few ideas.
  7. Sell your candy back to the dentist or donate it to a charity.
    Many dentists offer to buy kids’ candy for a dollar or two a pound.  Some organizations, like Operation Gratitude, collect and send candy to troops.  If you can get your kids to part with their stash, these are two great ways to teach them about making choices and helping others.
  8. Freeze candy and eat it all year.
    Chocolate lasts a long time, but storing it in the freezer can extend its life (plus frozen chocolate tastes amazing)! One mom in the October 2014 issue of Family Fun magazine adds Halloween candy to her cooking all year.  Snickers would make a delicious addition to a batch of brownies!
  9. Reduce Trick or Treating.
    You could avoid Trick or Treating altogether if you don’t have kids and don’t want to see all the cute costumes, but if you find Halloween to be a good time to catch up with neighbors, buy only one bag of candy.  Save a little for the neighbors’ kids, give out candy until it runs out, then go downstairs and watch a scary movie with the lights out.
  10. Make your own Halloween party treats.
    There are so many fun, Halloween recipes, you could make them all year.  Here are a few great ones from Real Simple that don’t have many ingredients, but are sure to please.
  11. Bonus: Next year, grow a pumpkin.
    Pumpkins are so easy to grow, we accidentally grew a pumpkin one year after we chucked our rotting pumpkin into the planter next to our house for the deer.  This site gives you all the instructions you need and some tips on growing pumpkins with kids.  If you need more details, Bonnie Plants has a decent site that’s easy to navigate.