While Halloween can be great fun for kids (and for adults who get into the spirit!), it can also be a headache when you have to stock up on enough sugary treats to feed a small ghoulish army. We’re all looking for ways to save on Halloween candy this time of year, so here are a few tricks to pay less for your treats.
1. Stalk the weekly deals – Think of Halloween candy shopping the same way you think of shopping for school supplies: It’s a necessary evil (pun intended!), but you can bring down the cost by picking up deals on various items as they crop up across the season. Halloween candy starts going on sale in September, and if you pick up a bag or two during the best deal at your local grocery or drugstore each week, you’ll be well-stocked by the time the holiday rolls around. Stores use Halloween candy as limited quantity loss leaders (deeply reduced items that are typically listed on the front page of the circular), so make a point to add these into your weekly shopping trips rather than waiting until the last minute to stock up. (While you’re there, be sure to make the most of picking up some Halloween costume ideas on a budget as well!)
2. Use coupons – Save on Halloween candy by using coupons on every single bag. Coupons aren’t just for grocery and household staples: You can coupon for candy – especially this time of year! Check your local newspaper and on Coupons.com for seasonal candy coupons that you can stack with sales to save even more. Keep your eyes open for “peelies” on candy packages, blinkies and tearpad coupons in stores. Pick up the candy that’s the most affordable after coupons, rather than honing in on your personal favorites – and remember that it’s usually more cost effective to pick up a number of small sale bags with coupons than to buy the giant bags at grocery stores or warehouse clubs.
3. Keep your hands out of the bag – The main disadvantage of buying candy in advance is that you’ll have to find the strength to resist temptation. Try to focus on buying candy that you don’t necessarily love to help avoid indulging a little too much in the weeks leading up to the holiday, and be sure to stash it out of sight. I always mark Halloween candy purchases with “DO NOT EAT – FOR HALLOWEEN” in Sharpie, as both a visual reminder to myself and a warning to the kids.
4. Restock with what your kids won’t eat – Your own little boys and ghouls will probably come home from their round of trick-or-treating with more candy than they’ll ever finish (or that you’ll want them to eat!). Let little ones that trick-or-treat in the early afternoon sort out their favorite varieties to keep, then restock your own candy bowl (to hand out) with the candy they’ve handed off to you for the late-arriving older crowd.
5. Shop online – You might not think about picking up cheap Halloween candy online, but retailers from Amazon to Walmart often offer deals on larger bags this time of year. Take advantage of Amazon coupon codes and promos, and keep an eye out for free shipping and % off codes for other online stores.
6. Avoid chocolate – Chocolate candy, while understandably a perennial favorite, often commands a financial premium over more affordable options like Dum-Dums, Smarties, or bubble gum. (As an added bonus, these cheaper candies are more allergy-friendly and may be appreciated by children who need to avoid milk, nuts or gluten.) Opt for a few bags of these for when you run out of chocolate – or don’t buy chocolate at all.
7. Watch sizes – Buying cheap Halloween candy at Dollar Tree and other discount retailers may seem like an attractive option, but always make sure you’re comparing apples to apples – or lollipops to lollipops! Discount stores often keep their prices low by skimping on quantity – and you’re not really saving if the bag you pick up for $1 contains just a third of the candy you’d get for $1.50 on sale at your local drugstore.
Use these seven strategies to save on Halloween candy this year, and you’ll have more to spare on the bigger holidays coming up in just a couple of months. Prefer not to hand out candy at all? Be sure to check out my non-candy trick or treat ideas!