Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tricks to saving money on trick-or-treat candy

Photo courtesy of Danielle Buma - Flickr
There is always the potential to spend a frightening amount of money on Halloween whether it be costumes, parties and other Halloween decorations. Even homemade costumes can be pricey when including costs of having to run to the store for materials or accessories to finish the creation. Add in party supplies and other knick knacks and one becomes just about tapped out on the green. Did I mention that there is still the matter of purchasing candy?
The cost of trick or treat candy seems to grow exponentially every year. Adding to this conundrum is the guessing game of trying to figure out how much candy is required for the neighborhood kids. Regardless of trick or treat head count, there are some helpful ways to keep the cost down on this year’s halloween candy purchase. Also note that none of these suggestive tips includes throwing a penny or two in the trick or treater’s bag!

Purchase non chocolate candy

As desirable as chocolate can be, the prices tell how coveted it really is. Does not matter whether shopping for hersheys, twix, snickers, etc. If the candy has any trace of chocolate you will pay much more per unit of candy. Stick with the cheaper alternatives such as twizzlers, lollipops, gum.

Purchase Trick or Treat Candy in bulk

Another potential way to save money on Halloween is to purchase trick or treat candy through volume discounts. Check out large bag options offered at warehouse clubs (Sam’s or Costco). The large box discount stores such as Target or Walmart will occasionally also offer large bag options. Simple calculations by the ounce or piece will be a good way to comparison shop.

Purchase Non Candy Items for Trick or Treaters

Every year as we inspect the kids Halloween treat bags, we always manage to find a few non edible, yet nifty items such as erasers, stickers, and tattoos. These items generally can also run a tad cheaper than candy and are much kinder on the teeth. A great place to find inexpensive Halloween party favors for trick or treat bags are Party City, Oriental trading and even the seasonal aisles at Walmart or Target. The local dollar  stores will also offer up some really cool  non candy ideas for handing out to the trick or treaters.

Use Leftover Candy and Treats from Summer

A few years ago, our home came close to running completely out of candy towards the end of the Halloween evening. However, we were fortunate to have leftover lollipops and small wrapped laffy taffy pieces to offer as a backup! Leftover items in the pantry such as small boxed raisins, granola bars, fruit chews make a great trick or treat offering.  It is also a great way to clean out the pantry to make room for  winter items. Also consider any leftover snacks from the sports season or school lunches  such as small packages of crackers, cookies, or even the 100 calories treat packages.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY Apple Cider Slushie Recipe

One of our family fun highlights of the Autumn/Halloween season is our trip to the pumpkin farm. The visit to the pumpkin farm provides all sorts of great entertainment ranging from complex corn mazes, spooky trails, pumpkin patches, apple orchards, petting zoo, along with plenty of games and souvenirs. One of the highlights of this annual trip is cooling off with an apple cider slurpee (though listed as a “slushie” by the farm concessionaire). There is nothing complex about these drinks as they are just a combination of crushed ice and fresh apple cider. Some people choose to grind real chunks of apple and add other items such as cinnamon, lemon juice, and even maple syrup. Nope. Not necessary.

As great as these taste, they can also run about three to four bucks a drink which quickly adds up for my family of five. That $20 spent on drinks alone, puts a crimp on my apple cider donut/souvenir budget! Good news is that because these are so easy to make, we don’t have to wait to go to the farm to enjoy this tasty apple slurpee. We can make this cool treat right in the comforts of our kitchen. I can get a gallon of cider at the local Meijer or Aldi (along with bag of ice) and make my own batch for whenever the apple cider craving kicks in.

 Below is a recipe to prepare for five. I get a good slushie consistency with my Ninja blender. We usually make a few batches during the cider season which runs from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.

DIY Easy Apple Cider Slushies
 (Serves 5)

 5 cups of ice
 3 cups of cider

 1. Blend until ice is reduced to slush consistency.
 2. Serve in glasses.
 3. Add Straws

 Doesn’t get any easier than that, right?

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Save Money when Shopping for Halloween Decor

During the Halloween season for Halloween décor if your anything like us you’ll want to start getting ideas and collecting things for your display. But a display costs money. So let us tell you about some tips and stores you can go to to find some décor for your display.

 Thrift Stores

           One of the best places to shop is Goodwill. Go in weekly in the weeks leading up to Halloween. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. Not everything’s amazing and you may have to dig but you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. We will be searching this for the next several weeks for any potential halloween props; fog machine included!

   Dollar Stores 

        Another great place to look is the Dollar Tree. You may not find a ton of outdoor stuff but you will find a lot of cool party supplies, Halloween candy, trick or treat bags, costume accessories, décor. One great purchase we recently made were some cool furry tarantulas that we will be adding to our bushes to spook them up.

        Five Below also has a great selection. Besides lots of candy and seasonal crafts, Five Below also has spooky fake skeletons and tombstones. As you the title implies, everything at Five Below is under $5. Can’t go wrong there.  Also remember you can always spice things up with spray paint and cobwebs which are also found at these stores.

Garage Sales

          Garage sales are a good idea to stop at during the Halloween season. Garage and estate sales will often offer us plenty of hidden treasures there such as lighting, extension cords, candy dishes, and sometimes seasonal decorations.

      Drug Stores    

        If you have a local drug store like Walgreens, or CVS you can sometimes find cheap little  decorations and candy. Also drug stores like these have huge candy selections perfect for trick or  treaters.

 Hopefully  you will find this information useful and provide some low cost ideas for creating fun halloween displays within and outside of your home. Below are the links for each of the stores mentioned earlier just in case you would like  to research  background info as well as use store locator features for those that may be located in your area.



Outdoor Witch Decor for the Front Yard

Welcome to our first blog post. Our household just loves halloween, and this spooktacular season is on our minds just about every day of the year! The biggest allure to this holiday is the anticipation of setting up interior and exterior decorations.

A few years ago, my wife stumbled upon plans for DIY outdoor halloween wooden yard accents courtesy of martha steward living. The options for outdoor decorations included patterns for witches and numerous options for cats; the plans can be found here.

Needless to say, I put this project into motion one Sunday afternoon and feel inclined to add a little more to this display each year. These yard accents are really easy to make and can be accomplished in as little as a few hours, especially if you have a helper to sand or paint. The most time consuming part of this project appeared to be sawing through the conduit  (which anchors display into ground)

The lawn ornament patterns are downloaded from Martha Stewart website and print on 8 x 11 1/2 sheets of paper that are adhered to 3/4 inch plywood using a spray adhesive. The cutting process is performed with a jigsaw. When I did this project, I actually made two witches and used the first witch cutout to serve as a template for my second witch.

I would guesstimate the cost of this project (for one witch) to be between $40 and $50. Cost depends on items that you may or may not already have like spray adhesive, black paint, extra conduit, paint brushes, etc. The props (consisting or lantern and broom) can be found at most craft stores (e.g. Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabric). I would also recommend going to thrift stores such as Goodwill or Salvation army to look for the lantern. Just don't skimp on the thickness of the plywood. The thicker plywood is justified as the display will be much stronger to withstand tight jigsaw cuts and windy days.

I am in the process of adding a few cats to this display for 2014 and will be adding some halloween toned lighting. I strongly recommend this project for those that like traditional halloween accents that are not too frightening for the younger trick or treaters.