Halloween Party Ideas: fun cheap or free style!

To commemorate the fact that Halloween is TOMORROW, I thought I’d end our countdown with the grand finale, the mother of all mother Halloween posts!  Sharing my spooktacular ideas to make your halloween party fun cheap and free!
Let me preface this by saying…
I need a nap.
We had our big, huge, looking-forward-to-this-all-year, 3rd annual Halloween party on Saturday.
It was wild.
It was crazy.
And it was really, really fun to throw…
So fun, in fact, I got sick from it.
So, sorry this is delayed! I’ve been sick as a dog all week.
Lovely. I hate colds.
I’m calling it my “Halloween Party Hangover” (even though there wasn’t a drop of alcohol involved).
I got tired of sitting in bed, sick, all day, so I thought I’d take a break and reveal what we did this year! Enjoy :)
3rd Annual Page Halloween Party Breakdown:

First off, I made the invite through evite.com. It’s free, they have tons of cute designs, it’s easy for people to RSVP (which is a MUST!!!!), easy for you to see the guest list, and easy for you to message your guests.

I made a sign for the front door to let people know they could just walk on in. Of course, I always have to add a little flair to it :) I will teach you how to make these paper pinwheels sometime this week, they look so cool in person!

The sign on the bottom right of the collage was put on the door leading to our basement so people knew where to go.
These cute guys greeted our guests as they came in. Made by my amazing neighbor, Rebecca! Can you believe that?

I made a haunted staircase for people to walk down to get to the party.
  •  I had one large black light on the floor at the top of the stairs (left pic), and put black light bulbs in the other overhead light fixtures. You can buy the bulbs anywhere, I got mine at Kmart. They aren’t cheap, they were $3-$4 each. I recommend buying them after Halloween on clearance and stocking up for next year!
  • I made ghosts using cheap white tulle, and white balloons with permanent marker faces on the balloons. I recommend drawing on the BALLOON and not the TULLE, so you can use the tulle for other things! I held the balloon inside the tulle with a simple rubber band.
  • The inflated skull at the bottom of the stairs we bought for $4 on clearance years ago.
  • The caution tape we’ve also had for years, I can’t remember where I got it! But it’s a sturdy vinyl/plastic-y material so we reuse the same tape year after year, even if it’s been cut.
  • I used packing tape to hold everything to my wall.
  • The battery-powered candle votives lining the stairs were 2 for $1 at the Dollar Store.
  • At the bottom of the stairs I hung two cheap black garbage sacks that I shredded into strips so to keep the stairwell dark. People had to walk through the strips to get to the party, completing the creepy “cave” feel.
At the bottom of the stairs, once you walked through the garbage bags, I had a photo booth set up.
  •  To make the photo booth I bought a Halloween vinyl table cloth from the dollar store and taped it to my wall. *Note: In the future I will do TWO table cloths side-by-side because I hate that my wall showed on the sides of the pictures! You’ll see what I mean soon.
  • The bride of frankenstein was borrowed from my amazing neighbor Rebecca…who MADE HER! She’s so talented.
  • The Halloween disco ball was on clearance after Halloween from years ago.
The photo booth was a fun way to capture the creative costumes of our guests, and I always make an online photo album for people to come and grab the photos of themselves. It’s a fun “take-home” gift for people.
Thor, Katniss Everdeen, Forest Gump/Jenny/and their Shrimp
Bob Ross the painter from PBS/a witch, “Ice loves coco“, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang characters
“Trots and Turds” dog walker/pregnant woman with baby coming out of her stomach (she’s actually pregnant), pregnant cheerleader (also actually pregnant), and my way-too-good-looking neighbors (THE Rebecca who made all those cute figures!)
This year we were supposed to be an 80’s rock band. But…my son (the guitarist) and my daughter (the drummer) went to bed before the party, and we never ended up dressing my dog up in his outfit (yes, even the dog participates!) so we were really a disbanded 80’s band by the end of the night :)
  • My husband’s black mullet wig we got from Walmart for $5
  • My pink shirt I had from college
  • My sparkly shirt and zebra skirt I got from Charlotte Russe on clearance for $2.99 each.
  • The leggings I got on clearance at DSW shoes months ago for less than $1.
  • My husband’s red pants are red pants he actually wears (they are so hot! I love them!) that he got from Uptown Cheapskate in Satl Lake.
  • Everything else we had lying around in our closets and costume box.
I decorated our “Party Lair” with simple decorations.
  •  I bought the streamers from the dollar store, because they are 2 for $1 which is better than most places. I only ended up using one package of two streamers, I had a ton leftover that I will save for next year. And yes, I roll up and save my streamers for other parties and crafts!
  • The little lanterns were from the dollar store and the bigger ones were from Target ($2.50, showcased HERE). We hung them from the ceiling with fishing line and packing tape.
  • the black fringe was made from cheap black garbage bags.
 Unlike our Party Lair, in our kitchen I went ALL OUT.
I made a candy bar for guests to make a bag to take home, or fill a cup to enjoy during the party.
  • The vinyl table cloth was from the dollar store.
  • The tree was made from a 1/2 a roll of packing paper from Staples ($5ish for the roll). I ripped off a section of paper, rolled and scrunched it up, and taped it to the wall with packing tape. I had grand plans to hang bats from the limbs, but I tend to get burned out toward the end of decorating…so that element was nixed from the list :)
  • The candy bar sign I made in word, printed on simple orange paper, and put in a black frame I had lying in my garage.
  • The witch legs hanging out from under the table was made by my neighbor Rebecca. She fount the tutorial on Pinterest and said it was really easy! She said you just stuff leggings with batting, tape shoes on with black electrical tape, and stick rebar or sticks in the legs to keep them straight.
  • The “It’s all bout the candy” sign was a freebie from THIS outing.
  • The candy in the candy bar I bought from the bulk section at Winco. It was SO MUCH CHEAPER THERE!!!! The candy selection included:
    • Red hots
    • Carmel and peanut butter-filled monster eye balls
    • Cinnamon bears
    • Red cinnamon dot things
    • Black and orange gumdrops
    • Black and red licorice
    • Gummy worms
    • Candy corns
    • Reeces Pieces
    • Orange slices (“pumpkin” slices)
    • And anything else black/red/Halloween-ish.
    • I also had a jar of glow sticks that the kids went CRAZY over. I got tubes of 15 glow bracelets for $1 each at the dollar store.
  • I put the candy in apothecary and mason jars that I had lying around my house, many of them from Tai Pan Trading.
  • I just put normal spoons in the candy dishes for people to scoop the candy out with.
  • I bought little treat bags from the dollar store and little plastic dixie bathroom-sized cups for people to hold their candy in. (picture of the treat bags are below)
For the food table
  • Table cloth from the dollar store.
  • The banner I made with scrapbook paper and dollar store ribbon, tutorial to come soon!
  • The small candles were from the dollar store, the large ones in the big votive containers were from around my house. Better pictures below.
  • The food was mostly brought by my guests! I asked them in the evite to bring either a creative caramel apple topping, or a spooky treat to share. We had SO MUCH FOOD!
  • Most of the food trays were from the dollar store, same style as HERE, and that’s how I made the cupcake stand.
And, of course, we had a caramel apple bar.
(caramel recipe HERE)
  •  The orange vinyl table cloth and the black fabric runner were from the dollar store.
  • I bought tiny apples from Walmart for people to dip, to have individual, mini caramel apples! They were so cute, the picture doesn’t do them justice!
  • The caramel was homemade. It’s SO EASY to make and SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying bags or bricks of caramel. Recipe HERE
  • I kept the caramel warm in an electric fondue pot kept on the lowest setting.
  • I used normal kabob skewers for the apples, and just had them laid out so people could skewer their own so the apples didn’t turn brown.
  • I laid out bowls from our kitchen for the toppings. My guests brought many of the toppings. The toppings included:
    • Cinnamon/sugar
    • Nerds candy
    • Mini M&M’s
    • Mini marshmallows
    • Crushed Oreos
    • Sprinkles
  • I had a cutting board on the counter at the end of the table (out of kids’ reach) so people could slice their apple if they wanted to.
  • I had mini plastic cups on the table for those who preferred to fill a cup with caramel and daintily dip their apples. Not many people went that route :)
And, of course, somehow I managed to not even take a SINGLE picture of the drink table! But it was a small table with a vinyl table cloth on it and two huge glass drink dispensers (one was mine from Costco, one I borrowed from a neighbor). I made my party punch in one, and had ice water in the other. And of course…there was lots of dry ice involved in both :)

*Note: I learned the hard way that when you add dry ice to plain water, it makes it carbonated, like Perrier water. YUCK! So either just keep the dry ice in the already carbonated punch, or have it in a container the floats on top of the water so it doesn’t carbonate it.

I tried to have extra touches throughout the party. Here’s a breakdown of them…
  • The small candles and candle sticks/votives were from the dollar store. I made the “bloody candle” by lighting a red dollar store candle, and dripping it down the white one. Super easy, cool effect! The large candles and votives were from around my house.
  • Now you can see the treat bags in the bottom right photo. Perfect size for a candy bar, and it was only $1 for the pack from the dollar store!
  • The spider web in the small bottom picture was $3 from Kmart.
  • The witch hat was $2.50 in the dollar bins at Target.
  • The black candle stick and pumpkin were from around my house. The candle stick was bought years ago at Down East Home, the pumpkin was after-season clearance at Tai Pain Trading.
  • The BOO words were made HERE.
To make it darker in my kitchen, I made a garbage bag spider to cover the light.
  • I used cheap garbage bags and filled them with balloons ($1 per pack from Walmart).
  • I used packing tape to get it to stick to my ceiling.
  • I used streamers for the legs, $1 for 2 rolls at the dollar store.
And, of course, you have to have activities at your party!
  • Since we had so many people, I figured it would be hard to organize games. So we just set up Rock Band in the theater room and let people come and go. It turned out to be a huge hit!
  • In the guest room I brought down a ton of toys from our play room and made a Little Monsters Play Area for the kids. It was GREAT because it gave them somewhere to play. Unfortunately I only took this picture after most of the toys had been cleaned up, but we had our lego table, cars, balls, and other toys down there.
  • We also had foosball set up for people to play.
  • The signs were made in word, printed to white paper, and taped to paper place mats that I got on clearance the other day from Joann Fabrics. It was $5 or so for a booklet of them (like oversized  scrapbook paper packs).
It was a wild, fun night, with TONS of people!
It was a ton of fun…but my poor dog was glad to see everyone go. It’s a bit overwhelming for a big pup sometimes!

WHEEW!
So now we all need a nap. What did you do for YOUR Halloween party??

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Comments

  1. Heidi says

    Oh wow! Looks like a par-tay! I love the big ceiling/light spider! And a caramel apple bar – O-YUM!!! We hosted our first Halloween party this year and found ourselves with a whole house full of those dollar store pumpkin and ghost lanterns too. Best decoration ever! We looked everywhere for cheap black lights as well, and actually found the cheapest ones at Big Lots of all places, for $1.25 each. Thanks for sharing all your tips and decor – stashing this post away until next Halloween!

  2. funcheaporfree says

    Oh man! You got a way better deal than I did. It was a last-minute purchase (shame on me) so I didn't have time to shop around. The good news is that I can reuse them each year, but still…$1.25 is a great deal!

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