Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cheap Tricks; Cheap Treats: Frugal Halloween Ideas

Every year Americans spend billions on Halloween, including $1.16 billion in candy, $1.15 billion in costumes and $840 million in decorations, according to the National Retail Federation.

But you don't have to spend a lot to have fun. That's the word from Jill Cooper, a thrifty grandmother, and Tawra Kellam, her daughter. For the last eight years, the mother-and-daughter team have operated a website ,, based on their book of that same title.

Jill Cooper has fond memories of fun, but frugal, Halloween parties and costumes. Her 33-year-old son created an unusual Superman costume from his own wardrobe. Instead of buying or renting an expensive red-and-blue caped outfit, he attended a previous Halloween party as Clark Kent.

His attire: a standard business suit with a Superman T-shirt underneath.

''It didn't cost him anything, but we were laughing at him the whole evening,'' Jill Cooper said.

She's also created her own standout costumes. She went to one party dressed in red cardboard lips, a red mask and a Hershey Kiss apron. With bold lipstick imprints all over her face, Cooper introduced herself as the ``Kissing Monster.''

''I handed out Hershey Kisses all evening,'' she said, adding that everyone was impressed.

Cooper buys Halloween decorations at post-holiday clearance sales. She has found fake cobwebs to drape all over the party room for 25 cents a bag and orange electric lights for $1 a strand in November.

Here are some fun, inexpensive party treats:

• Orange slime: Take orange gelatin mix and dump it onto a tray before the mix completely jells. Refrigerate and serve the slime at the party.

• Floating eyeballs: Put grapes in the punch to create the illusion of floating eyes.

• Bloody eyeballs: Boil cherry or grape tomatoes for half a minute. Let the tomatoes cool, then peel and serve.

Among other clever ideas from are recipes for frugal face paint and ``toxic juice.''

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