Yes, you can decorate your house for Halloween for less than $15

The average American plans to spend well over $70 this year on decorations, candy and costumes. Can you see us recoiling in horror from there? Fortunately, as with all things, a little advanced planning and organization can help you spend less and save more. In that spirit, I’ve put together a list of things you can do to decorate your house for Halloween on a serious budget.

1. Spooky Music Sets the Scene…for $0

It’s amazing how imaginations will run wild when given very little stimuli. If you did nothing but turn out all the lights in your house and put a portable speaker or iPod dock on the porch blaring some spooky music, you’d still be guaranteed to make passing trick or treaters squeal with delight.

2. Brown Bag Luminarias Set the Mood…for Less than $4

There’s something about the way candle light flickers that adds just the right bit of mystery and mood to homes at Halloween. Grab some brown lunch bags, fill the bottom quarter with sand and stick in tea lights – Ikea sells bags of 100 for $3.99. Better yet, check around your house first. We’ll bet you have more than a handful of half-burned votives or tea lights you can use. And if you have any battery-operated votives around, they work well too. You can also use empty plastic gallon milk cartons. Simply cut off the bottoms, peel of any stickers, and decorate the main side of the carton with a ghost-like face. Place the votive candle or battery-operated votive inside and you have a ghost-lined walkway.

3. Sprinkle Tombstones on the Lawn…for $0

Cut out tombstone shapes from cardboard boxes you already have at home. Make them look old and worn by pressing the edges with your fingers. If you have grey, silver or black paint, given them a coat. If not, just decorate them with marker and place them around your yard. Place piles of leaves or bits of straw around the bottoms to add a bit of spooky flair. has a good tutorial if you’re looking for one.

4. Hang Ghost Balloons…for $5

Get some basic latex balloons blown up with helium at your local party super store. When you get them home, drape them with light, white sheets and blankets and voila – you have some ghosts floating in your midst.

5. Pick a Pumkin at the Grocery Store or Farmers Market…for $6

In general, supermarkets and farmers markets have the best prices on carving pumpkins this time of year. A quick check of all types of stores in the expensive New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas revealed grocery stores drove the hardest bargain. A 15-pound pumpkin can be yours for $5-$6. Farmers markets are also a great place to go pumpkin hunting this time of year. The local markets we visited this week had a wide variety of pumpkins for sale, including miniature pumpkins and gourds that sell for $0.50 each and typical carving pumpkins going for a few dollars.

The bottom line: a few minutes of brainstorming free ideas and organizing your decoration plans will help you stretch the dollars you have.

Does Halloween bring out the kid in you? How much do you typically spend on Halloween decorations for your home?