by Maisie Knowles
You don't have to be handy with a sewing machine to make great Halloween costumes. When your kids are little, it's especially easy to go the DIY route since they're fairly easy to please. In addition to fabric stores, look to the Domestic Queen for ideas for a creative costume.
Everyone knows the best deals on Halloween costumes happen after Oct. 31, but what good does that do you right now? Thankfully, some stores offer discounts on costumes before the holiday. For example, you can get a coupon code at FreeShipping.org for 30 percent off costume orders from the The Children's Place.
Last year, your middle schooler was happy to be a fuzzy tiger. This year, she wants to be Marie Antoinette. When a desired look is beyond your budget, it could be less expensive to rent a costume from a local costume store or supplier.
In addition to scouting thrift stores, go to thredUp.com for gently used costumes. While the site doesn't have the size selection of a formal retailer, you can score outfits from such name brand retailers as Carter's and Pottery Barn Kids for less than $10. There's also the additional bonus of using that costume to restock your dress-up closet after Halloween.
Despite your best intentions, some of the candy you purchase could become a midday snack for you during a moment of weakness. Accept this reality and make a smart selection by consulting Redbook's list of best and worst candies for your waistline. Purchase the candies in "the best" categories to avoid additional temptation.
Costco and Sam's Club represent great places to find popular candy in bulk, but they're not the only resource for cheap candy. You can also buy in bulk from an online retailer like Oriental Trading Post where you'll find festive candy items like eyeball lollipops and "ear wax" gummy candies.
You can save a lot on the cost of candy by limiting yourself to a few bags. After all, you don't need to give away giant handfuls to each visitor -- one or two pieces are just fine. If you find yourself with a ton of candy near the end of the night, feel free to unload the rest to the late-comers.
After your kids have tricked and treated their night away, you can use some of their candy to make tasty treats. This option not only makes for a fun and festive family activity but also helps you regulate how many sweets your kiddos get once their "favorites" pile is gone.
From your local supermarket to the high-end decorating gallery, you can find Halloween decor pretty much anywhere these days. However, spending boatloads of money on seasonal embellishments is usually a bad idea. Since Halloween is a kid favorite, get creative with a free crafts book from MrFreeStuff.com and make decorating your house a family affair.
If the DIY route just isn't doing it for you, stock up on cheap Halloween decorating supplies from your local dollar store. It's amazing how festive you can appear for less than $15, plus you can also pick up treat bags and party supplies while you're there.
Triangle eyes and one-tooth grins are a classic look for carved pumpkins, but you can get more creative without purchasing a kit. Print out a free pumpkin-carving template from Pumpkin Masters and make your jack-o-lanterns the talk of the neighborhood.
-- Maisie Knowles is a working mother of two who writes on parenting and partner issues. Visit MaisieKnowles.com.