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By Lia Blanchard

A ghoulishly great time doesn’t have to break the bank!

Elicit Eerie Expectations

Let’s start at the beginning of your guests’ experience – the invitation. Word of mouth is free, but does that really create expectations of the freakishly fun fete you are planning? Create the mood without spending a dime by sending invitations through Facebook or Evite, using graphics you make yourself or already have on your computer.

Set a Spooky Stage

Whether you’re going for creepy or carousing, a little creativity is all you need to create a festive atmosphere!

Music: Create your own monstrous music playlist with these free downloads, or just hook up your computer to some speakers and connect to a free Halloween radio station!

Décor: This might be the only part of your party where you’ll spend money – but not much! Very inexpensive Halloween décor can be found at dollar stores or online at PartyCity.com, PartyCheap.com, and OrientalTrading.com. If you can wait until after the actual holiday (or the day after) to shop, you will save 50-90% at post-holiday sales.

Food: From vampiric vittles to deathly drinks, your guests will love contributing to a potluck! Your invitation might include links to recipe ideas, a Pinterest board of examples you’ve created, or easy purchase-and-bring prepackaged items.

Freaky fun

Halloween parties are about having a good time; the holiday is pretty entertaining in and of itself, so you won’t have to do much here, and you certainly won’t have to spend money!

Costumes: Guests that come in costume entertain each other, especially if there is a contest involved! Have folks vote for winners in various categories – creepy, funny, etc – and make a big production of announcing the winners. No prizes are necessary; the fun is in the judging, so everyone’s a winner!

Games: Depending on the crowd’s taste and ages, easy – and free! – games to play with a Halloween theme are: charades, bingo, whodunit, guess-the-creepy-item, pin the spider on the web, treasure hunt, or musical chairs.

Movie: Put on a good old-fashioned horror film! Whether you make a “showing” of it, or just have it on in the background, it will add to the atmosphere and get people talking.

Make your home as creepy as this one without spending a thing!