Halloween has become increasingly popular in Australia over the last 10 years – a trend credited by many to the influence of social media and global crazes such as dressing up and trick-or treating.
A quick look at Google Trends reveals that searches for ‘Halloween costumes’ in October from Australians have been on a steady increase for over a decade now.
According to Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Lecturer, Dr Mark Ryan, the rising popularity of Halloween is influenced by marketing and American cultural practices.
“Australian culture is a combination of British and American culture in some regards and for a long time there was a strong resistance to Halloween,” he told the Huffington Post Australia.
“But over the last five years or so – possibly longer – it’s becoming more accepted and more of a mainstream cultural practice.
“It seems more and more families are now taking it up in terms of trick-or-treating being a fun thing to do for the kids and family around this time of year.”
If you’re one of the many Aussies getting into the Halloween spirit, here’s our guide to having yourself a spooky time.
Costumes are one of the most exciting (and most visible) parts of Halloween, but they can easily end up burning a hole in your pocket. Depending on where you look, some kids’ costumes can cost upwards of $50! Here are some tips on how to save money on costumes, while still looking as scary as ever:
1. Go the DIY route
Most people would be surprised by how many costume-worthy bits and pieces they have hanging around in their wardrobe. Got an old sheet? Go as a spooky ghost or zombie bride! What about a plain black top and pants with a black sock as a tail and cat ears? Or you could even grab yourself affordable face paint or a witch’s hat – boom, you’ve got yourself an instant costume at an affordable price.
2. Shop around
If you have time, why not shop around for a lower price? Lots of costumes end up in second-hand stores, along with older, vintage-style clothes which you could fashion into a costume of some sort. It’s also worth having a look at eBay, gumtree or other online retailers to see if you can find any bargains. From conventional scary Halloween costumes like ghosts, devils and monsters, to pop culture references like Star Wars and Minions, there’s something for everyone – just make sure you take into account shipping times and costs. You definitely don’t want your costume showing up on the 1st of November.
3. Embrace the sharing economy
If you’ve held on to a costume from a previous year but don’t feel like outfit repeating, why not see if any of your friends are in a similar situation and would be interested in swapping costumes? It’s a win-win situation; you avoid showing up to a shindig in the same costume you wore last year, and you didn’t have to spend a cent on this year’s costume!
Treats for trick-or-treaters
Lollies are a popular choice for handing out to sugar-hungry trick-or-treaters that come knocking. One of the most popular ways to save money on lollies is to buy them in bulk. Online websites such as Lolly Warehouse and Confectionery World are perfect for ordering ahead of time, with different mix-and-match options to suit a variety of themes.
Costco Australia also has a number of bulk lollies available for purchase – although you may not have as much variety buying them in store. Additionally, shopping at Costco requires a membership which will set you back $60 for a year.
If you’re not particularly fond of the idea of feeding sugar-laden junk food to the neighbourhood children, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives. You could buy a packet of glow sticks to help make the kids more visible on the streets, bouncy balls to help them burn off the sugar, or hand out oranges with pumpkin faces drawn on the skin to promote healthier eating. Any sort of miniature toy or knick-knack you could put in a party-bag is fair game – just be sure to check any age restrictions on the toys first.
While Australia still can’t quite match the art and intricacy of American house decorating, Halloween decorations are growing in popularity regardless. Chief Party Dude (yes, his real title) Dean Salakas from online party store ThePartyPeople.com.au told Canstar their Halloween decoration sales are up approximately 5% – 10% on last year, with growth set to continue.
“Big hanging props, such as large skeletons, have been super popular this year and all the staples including spider webs are still really good sellers,” Mr Salakas said.
While themed decorations around vampires have had their day, Mr Salakas said devils have made a resurgence and zombies remain popular.
“Medieval is another theme, such as Game of Thrones, which people are getting into, and there are a lot of TV shows around that which are driving that interest,” he said.
Besides carving the pumpkin, what other decorations can you use when on a budget? Many discount stores have Halloween decorations available, but to get an even better deal, consider stocking up on further discounted decorations in the days after Halloween, in preparation for next year.
An alternative is to DIY! Cobwebs can be cut out of bin liners, bats made from cardboard, or “BOO!” signs created using whatever materials you have available. You can get plenty of ideas online, including on pinterest.
Not a fan of Halloween?
While Halloween is growing in popularity, there are still a number of Australians who don’t participate in the holiday. If this is you, Queensland Police, South Australia Police and Western Australia Police have put together their own printable posters for you to put on your front door or letterbox. They also have a poster available for Australians who welcome trick-or-treaters.
Like with any activity, it’s important to keep your safety in mind. Neighbourhood Watch Queensland has released some of their top tips for staying safe during Halloween:
- Make sure your children are accompanied by a responsible adult when they go trick-or-treating (bonus points if you can get the adult to dress up)!
- Before you set off, it may be prudent to make sure your car is parked in either a carport or garage rather than on the street. Some of Halloween’s less savoury traditions have crossed over to Australia along with the fun ones, and this can include egging along with various other forms of vandalism. If you don’t have anywhere to park your car that isn’t on the street, it may be a prudent move to have a car insurance policy in place, just to be safe. You can compare policies tailored to your preferences with Canstar.
The table below displays a snapshot of comprehensive car insurance policies on Canstar’s database with direct links to providers’ websites. Before committing to a particular policy, check upfront with your provider and read the PDS to confirm whether you will be covered for vandalism, and whether it meets your needs. Please note this table has been sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) and was formulated based on a male driver aged 25-29 in NSW.
- Stick to the footpath rather than the road. Halloween can be exciting but try to remain calm and get your children to walk instead of running between houses.
- Wearing a black costume reduces your child’s visibility at night time and makes it easier for them to get lost, so keep this in mind. You could potentially provide them with a Halloween-appropriate lantern or glow-stick to increase their visibility.
- Never enter or let your child enter a stranger’s house, even if they have invited you in. Always remain on the doorstep.
- As with anything, there is safety in numbers. Consider joining your friends when trick-or-treating, or organising a group of adults and kids from your street to go trick-or-treating together.
- Another important thing to watch out for is lollies without wrappers. Whether you’re giving or receiving sweets, always make sure that they have a wrapper on them. This provides peace of mind to parents that the lollies haven’t been tampered with in any way before being eaten.
- Also remember to take extra care of your pets at Halloween.
The table below displays a snapshot of Accident & Illness pet insurance policies on Canstar’s database available for a one-year-old dog of a medium breed with direct links to providers’ websites. Before committing to a particular policy, check upfront with your provider and read the PDS to confirm the cover details, and whether the policy meets your needs. Please note this table has been sorted alphabetically by provider name (A-Z).
Trick or treat?
Overall, Halloween is a time for all things spooky and scary. Whether or not you decide to trick-or-treat, there are a number of ways to get into the Halloween spirit. Anything from scary movie marathons and fright nights at local theme parks to themed parties and even certain street festivals, there is something for a range of budgets.
Cover image source: FamVeld (Shutterstock)