In college, I went all out for Halloween. Okay, well not all out, but one time I went as a juice box which was insane. A different year I went as Juno which was freaking hilarious. Pictures? Okay, if you insist.
I loved Halloween in college because you could replace cool costumes with clever costumes, and everybody understood. You could also replace cool costumes with sexy costumes, but when it comes to choosing between sex and humor, humor wins every time. (Can all the guys with 'Dad Bods' give me an Amen?).
Clever costumes are also fair game for parties with the post college set until you have kids. Then you need to start dressing your kids up, and somehow everyone thinks kids need to wear Superhero and Princess costumes. Not so, kids can wear clever costumes too!
Still if you're anything like me, you're having trouble reconciling Halloween past with Halloween present. I like to think the dissonance is due to my cleverness, but really the problem is that I am both cheap and lazy. I want to take my son trick or treating, but I do not want to purchase a Spiderman costume or much of anything, so I've come up with this Halloween Guide for cheap and lazy parents. I'm sure this will help all of you.
Pumpkin Carving is a messy and boring activity; if you can, avoid it altogether. If you can't, consider buying a few pumpkins from the grocery store, but remember, you'll be the person stuck doing most the carving, and you can't do the puking pumpkin guts trick you did in college. I suppose you could do the pumpkin guts trick, but you're the person who is stuck raising the consequences.
If some over-achieving friend of yours is going to hit up a pumpkin patch, agree to tag along with the kids in tow (free entertainment!), but buy your pumpkins from the grocery store ahead of time. And since you're buying these from the grocery store, consider buying a myriad of pumpkin spice treats to serve at the pumpkin patch (you savvy cheap parents, always bringing snacks to farms).
Costume ideas are tough if you're unwilling to shell out any money for them, and you always wait until the last minute. These are the things that my family is considering going as this year.
Coffee Run: Disposable mugs and running gear. We get bonus points because we have all kinds of reflective vests and flashy lights
Pumpkin Pi: Wear all orange (bonus points for an orange hat with a dead vine attached), attach a piece of paper with as many digits of Pi as you want. (Alternative variations include Pumpkin Pi R Squared)
Pirates: We'll carry around DVDs and a sign that says, 'Bootleg DVDs, $5'
Greek Yogurt: Togas plus a sign that says yogurt. Bonus points if we write the sign in sort of a Greek fashion.
3 Little Kittens who lost their mittens: We'll make cat ears and cat tails (I've got old panty hose for the tails and headbands for the ears), and I'll have my husband print out "Missing Mittens" fliers.
Success Kid: We'll wear a green and white shirt and ball up our fists. We might also carry around various words to populate the meme.
Giving away shit from your pantry is officially bad form on Halloween, so you've got to figure out some treats to give. If you're a cheap and lazy parent like me, you probably will forget to buy candy, but have no fear, I've got suggestions.
First, buy freezer pops (a suggestion I got from Femme Frugality who claims it went over well). This is a genius idea because freezer pops are delicious and cheap.
Next, attempt to get out as early in the evening as possible. This is easy with toddlers, since trick or treating can start as early as 5:30PM, and the longer you're gone, the fewer treats you have to provide. However, if you get out early, you might end up retiring early too, which means you're in for a long night of trick or treaters. When you run out of freezer pops, you can either shutter the house, or start giving out your kid's candy.
I'm not saying this will earn you parent of the year, but I am saying that you're reading the Halloween Guide for Cheap and Lazy parents, so maybe you should expect a few suggestions like that.
As an alternative to giving out your kid's candy, you can buy more than enough treats, and plan to return the excess. Just double check your store's return policy.
What are your suggestions for a cheap and lazy Halloween?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.