Food / Lifestyle / My Story

Halloween on a (student) budget

By Kristen Birch

I LOVE costume parties!

I have a box, probably the size of two small children, that is crammed with bunny ears, superhero capes, devil horns, toy guns and Mardi Gras beads. My most treasured invention is a sheep outfit. I attended a costume party last year with the theme Cartoon Network so I decided to go dressed up as Sheep in the Big City.

I glued white stuffing (usually used as bedding for my hamster…sorry Fruity) to a shirt to form the body, glued more stuffing to socks to use as mittens, and used felt material to create sheep ears. Unfortunately for me, I spent the entire day in the sun and burnt my back and face horribly. So, I was a red-faced and extremely sweaty sheep that night. I cannot tell you how hot that outfit was.

The point however is that Halloween is my second favourite holiday of the year (Christmas being my first). I get to dress up AND eat a ton of sweets! Who could ask for anything more?

Naturally, I decided to throw a party. The only problem is that I am on a very tight student budget and no one seemed that willing to help out with the costs, so I was stuck with having to pay for the décor and the food. But that did not stop me and it does not have to stop you!

Lucky for all you lovely readers, Halloween is this weekend (we had to celebrate early because of exams) so you get to read this post and take away a few tips for your own Halloween party, instead of waiting for next year. How convenient!

This is my take on how to have a Halloween party on a budget!

What you will need  for the décor:

A big pile of printing or scrap paper (white)

A few black permanent markers

A pencil



A pumpkin (or more if you can afford it)

Orange balloons

Helium (if you can afford it, but I found balloon holders to be cheaper)

Black garbage bags



Any of your Halloween decorations from last year


Draw all different kinds of Halloween images on to pieces of paper, cut out, outline with permanent marker and stick on to walls using Prestik or sticky tape. I drew bats, ghosts, tombstones and spiders (some of which I hung from the ceiling using string).

Get your oranges and draw pumpkin faces on them using your permanent marker. So easy and they look like mini pumpkins. I placed them around the room, on the candy table and even in the trees.

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Use black bags and paper to make spider webs. Here is a link on how to do it. I stuck some of my paper spiders on the webs after sticky-taping the webs to the wall.


I shredded and stuck the leftover parts of the black bags (from making the webs) on the door frame so that when people entered the room they had to walk through the strips of black bag. It reminded me of the ghost tunnel that we had at games day at prep school.

I then printed the words Trick or Treat and made a banner, which I stuck on the wall. I got the template for it from Microsoft Word. (If you open Word, click New, and then search “Halloween” in the templates, there are some really cute templates there). That is also where I made certificates for different best-dressed awards.

I then blew up the orange balloons, drew pumpkin faces on them and attached them to the holders.

That’s basically it. I had a big hairy spider that I bought from Crazy Store, which I hung from the ceiling and I also bought an orange wire-like decoration thing that I sticky-taped around the room. This was also from Crazy Store. But those were the only store-bought decorations.

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Now….for the sweets! The best (and most time-consuming) part!

What you will need:

100 marshmallows

Two tablespoons of cocoa

A little bit of icing sugar



100 sosatie sticks (skewers)

A pumpkin (obviously mine is an African pumpkin and not orange like the ones you see in movies)

Two boxes of jelly

Four sachets of gelatine

¾ cup of whipping cream (but you won’t need to whip it)

Popcorn kernels

4 oreos

Wood (for the fire)


First, for the popcorn. I tried to make orange-coloured popcorn using a certain recipe. I bought orange food colouring (R23!!) and used this method, but it failed horrible because I mixed sugar in water to substitute for the corn syrup (I don’t even know what that it is, let alone where to buy it…do we even get it in South Africa?)

The sugar burned and spat all over my kitchen, hitting me a few times in the face (it burns like hell) and made the largest amount of smoke I have ever seen. I had to run out of my flat to escape suffocation (and because I had just straightened my hair…as if I would allow it to smell like smoke). It also made the popcorn really soggy, no one ate it and so I had to throw it away.

So, my suggestion, just make normal popcorn! Popcorn kernels are soooo cheap (R9) and one bag is plenty. But if you want to give it a try, here is a different recipe for it.


Now for the cool recipes!

My very real-looking worms. I was so proud of these. I used this recipe and watched this video. I used orange and raspberry jelly so I did not use any food colouring because they were already pink. I burned the straws at one end so that the liquid jelly would not seep out and this seemed to work well. Just follow the recipe and you should be fine. It is a VERY messy thing to make, but lots of fun. I let the jelly set over night and then rolled the worms out of the straws with a wine bottle (ha!).

Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to serve. I crushed oreo and sprinkled it on top of the worms so it looked like dirt. Everyone loved them!!


For the ghost marshmallows. Take a toothpick or earbud and dip it into a chocolate icing mixture (cocoa, icing sugar, milk, butter…I never measure anything) and make ghost faces on your marshmallows then pierce with a skewer and stick into the pumpkin. We made a fire and roasted them.


After all this, I realised I had no actual “candy” so I ended up buying some orange Fizzers, gummy bears and apricot sweets. I had some heart candies left over from Valentines Day, so I sprinkled these on the table.

My friends made a punch. I don’t drink so I’m not sure how they made it, but it was probably just lemon Oros and vodka. I had a taste and it was super nice. Didn’t taste like alcohol at all…if that’s what you are going for.


So, that was my Halloween party on a budget. I’d love to hear how yours went! 😀

Oh, and I went as “Hawaiian Punch”…get it?

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One thought on “Halloween on a (student) budget

  1. Pingback: My sugar addiction: Another winner | thehealthybugs

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