Halloween is one of those holidays where people love to decorate and customize their homes for the season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) writes that consumers in the US will spend $2.7 billion on decorations this year, even more than the $2.6 billion they will spend on candy. Add in 3.2 billion for costumes and extra for parties, food, greeting cards, etc., and consumers will spend more than $9 billion this Halloween.
There are plenty of ways to save money on holiday decorations, but there are also some important Halloween safety tips for homeowners to take to make your home safe and inviting if you want to welcome trick-or-treaters on October 31st.
- Keep your entrance well lit. You might want to use spooky colored lighting outside your front door, but make sure your path is well lit so no one will trip or fall. Remember, you can expect all ages of kids coming to your door, and some of them will be in masks that obscure their vision. Help them out by ensuring your front door and walkway are clearly visible.
- Clear brush and branches out of pathways. Again, Halloween masks make it hard for kids to see everything in their path. Clear any brush or branches on the ground to eliminate tripping hazards, and trim any low-hanging branches that could poke someone in the eye. Plan for children of all sizes and their parents to ensure everyone approaching is safe.
- Remove obstructions near the sidewalk. Don’t force kids to walk in the street if you can avoid it. Keep the sidewalk in front of your house (if you have a sidewalk) clear and free of obstacles.
- Use a weatherproof speaker. You can get an inexpensive outdoor speaker that works with Bluetooth so there are no wires to run. Don’t blast too much noise, but nice spooky sounds or music can make your home more fun and inviting.
- Lock up your pets. For the safety of your pets and kids, keep your pets locked up. Install a “baby gate” to keep your dogs away from the front door. Having lots of visitors on Halloween could be stressful for your dog, so don’t take any chances that a frightened dog might attack a costumed child in self-defense. And beware of trick-or-treaters who opt to “trick” you by teasing your pets. Especially if you have a black cat, keep your kitty secure until the holiday is over.
- Check your railings. If a child has a bulky costume and a big bucket of candy, they might need to rely on handrails to avoid dropping anything or falling over. Make sure your railings are in good repair and can handle the higher traffic Halloween night could bring.
- Be careful with extension cords. Pathway lighting is a great idea, but be sure not to run an extension cord across any pathways. Also be careful not to overload extension cords with too many lights or other accessories.
- Ground your electrical connections. While you’re dealing with outdoor lighting, make sure all lights and wiring are grounded. Your electrical outlets outside should have GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters), so they’ll stop sending current if they get wet.
- Park inside. Organize your garage and keep your car inside on Halloween night. This will help you avoid vandalism, and also give a clear open driveway for trick-or-treaters to use when walking up to your door. Also avoid driving on Halloween night—that’s a bad time for pedestrian accidents, so heed the NHTSA’s warning if you are thinking of driving that night.
- Skip open flames. Don’t light any candles, even if they’re going to be contained in a jack-o-lantern. Use flickering LED lights—they look like real candles, but generate no heat and the batteries should last all night. Plus, you can re-use them every year; take the batteries out before you store them with the rest of your decorations.
- Check your smoke detectors. Even if you don’t use candles, your neighbors might. Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order with good batteries, and you have a working fire extinguisher in case a fire breaks out and threatens to spread to your property.
- Don’t use flammable decorations. Some traditional fall decoration materials, like hay or cornstalks, are quite flammable. Don’t take any chances that a lit jack-o-lantern could find its way onto your property and start a blaze.
- Secure your property. If you have a security system, make sure it’s armed and in good working order for after the trick-or-treaters go in for the night. If you’ve been thinking of a getting a video doorbell (like Ring or Google Nest), Halloween would be an excellent time to have it—you’ll be able to see everyone coming to your front door and even have a recording of any shenanigans that go on in front of your home entrance.
- Keep heaters safe. If you’re in a colder climate, be careful if you set up an outdoor heater. Make sure it’s where no one can be burned by it, and where it can’t ignite any decorations or part of your house.
- Decorate wisely. Decorations are a fun way to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home and show you’re actively participating in the holiday. But don’t bust your budget with over-decorating, and take some steps to be a smart decorator:
- Re-use decorations. Get decorations you can store and reuse every year. This will be friendly to your wallet and the environment.
- DIY. Make your own decorations – there are lots of great ideas online that will save you money and give your home a personal touch this Halloween.
- Buy on the cheap. Halloween décor is used once per year, so be aggressive when shopping to get the best prices. Use thrift stores, consignment shops, dollar stores, etc. Use extreme caution and test electrical and battery-operated items if not purchased brand new.
- Pair up. Work with your friends and neighbors to help each other make decorations and plan a shopping trip to a bulk warehouse store together. That way, you can split the cost of candy and décor items. After the holiday, talk about trading decorations with each other to mix it up for next year.
Many home improvement projects that make your home a better Halloween stop will be permanent fixes that can benefit you all year. For those short-term fixes, like decorations, track what you spend this year so you will know how much to budget during future holiday seasons.
If Halloween has you financially overwhelmed and you’re not sure how to face the coming holiday season, talk to a financial coach today for credit or debt coaching that will give you personalized guidance to achieve financial freedom.