She and her husband live in Salisbury, N.B., along with their three kids. Each year, the family brainstorms their group costume ideas weeks before the big day.
However, Morton learned years ago that outfitting three kids and two adults in store-bought costumes was a heavy price to pay.
“We love Halloween … but yes, it can be very, very costly if you let it be,” said Morton.
Morton isn’t alone in this. According to a 2015 survey by RetailMeNot, Canadians spent an average of $52 per costume. Enough candy to feed the neighbourhood cost respondents an average of $42, and decorations clocked in at $43.
“Halloween can be an expensive time of year for many Canadians, especially if you are trying to play catch-up with your summertime credit card bills,” Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, previously told Global News.
“It can put you in debt if you are not careful.”
That’s why Morton makes her family’s costumes out of things she already has around the house, occasionally picking up odds and ends at her local thrift store.
Morton and her husband frame the process of creating costumes as “an adventure” for their kids, and now, the whole family actively looks forward to it.
Here, she shares some tricks for going all out on Halloween without breaking the bank.
With the help of her family, Morton typically starts by thinking of a concept that is easily achievable.
“It has to be something that fits for all of us,” she said. “Getting them excited about something you can’t necessarily find at the store is helpful.”
The challenge to pick something that works for all of them makes it a fun creative exercise for her kids.
Then, she takes her kids with her to local thrift and secondhand stores to see if they can find pieces that will work.
“The only time we buy costumes is when it’s on clearance,” she said.
Looking ahead to next year, Morton also likes to scour the Halloween section of her local store in the days after Oct. 31.
“I always watch for what goes on sale,” she said. “I like to pick up pieces … that could work next year, especially if right now, it’s only $5.”
You can also end up spending a lot on decorations for your house and candy for trick-or-treaters — but it doesn’t need to be that way.
“You don’t have to hand out full-sized chocolate bars,” said parenting expert Judy Arnall.
“One thing we do … is go and buy all the store candy the day after Halloween, when it’s on sale, and then store it until next year.”
Use this as a chance to teach your children about money
According to Arnall, your kids will understand if you’re honest about not having the budget to go “all out” this Halloween.
However, she believes having that conversation is important so they’re in the loop. It can even be a good jumping-off point for discussing money more broadly.
Like Morton, you can talk to your kids about the value of creativity if they’re skeptical about making their own costume.
Making your own costumes can also be a great opportunity to spend quality time together, and that’s what most kids care about.
“Work on it together,” she said. “You’re spending time with them and you’re teaching them how to be creative.
“Kids don’t really remember what costumes they had or how much candy they had. They value time with parents and friends, and that’s what stands out on Halloween.”
— With files from Patricia Kozicka