While it hasn't yet quite hit the heights set by our American friends, Halloween has been growing in popularity here in the UK. And even if you're working to a tight budget, it's a great excuse to throw a party and banish those early winter blues.
The great thing about Halloween is that the older your decor looks, the spookier it will be. Now is the time to dig out old, dusty white sheets (perfect for the traditional ghost), or black ones if you have them, to cover furniture for that abandoned haunted house look. Empty glass jars can be used as 'mad scientist' specimen jars with the addition of cheap decorations like severed fingers or eyeballs. Alternatively, simply add water and food colouring or milk for a dastardly 'witches brew'.
Forage in your garden or the nearby countryside for items that might help create a chilling, woodland setting - twigs, moss, ivy and dead branches - that can be put into vases, propped up with a little blue tack, or even used as table decorations and settings.
Arts and crafts materials like black card and glow-in-the-dark paints are reasonably cheap, and a great way to get the kids involved, and it's worth investing in spiderweb wool, which can be bought from just £1.50 from toy or party shops, and is easy to spread around your home for fright night.
Involve the guests
Take a little pressure off your party prep (and your purse) by asking the guests to bring their own little additions. Pumpkins, a Halloween must, are often two for the price of one in the lead-up to the 31st, so include one with each invitation and ask your guests to do the carving. As each guest brings their own twisted take on the creepy pumpkin face along, simply add tealights and place around the home or outside the front door for an easy decor addition.
When it comes to Halloween bites, you can really let your imagination run wild. Even something as simple as peeled grapes in a bowl of water can be passed off as eyeballs, but cupcakes, cookies and sausage rolls can all be turned into scary snacks with a little creative decoration.
Cheap ideas include multi-coloured jellies with jelly 'worms' wiggling out of the top, finger-shaped pastries with almond 'fingernails', and ice cream-scoop eyeballs, complete with strawberry sauce and a Smartie or M&M for a ghoulish bloodshot effect.
Those full Halloween costumes that are available in shops are ever so tempting, but we can't help thinking part of the fun of fancy dress is making your own costume. You might need the addition of a little fake blood or a pack of face paints, but even a couple of rolls of toilet paper or an old sheet can be turned into a Halloween outfit, so why waste money on shop-bought? Search for old items you have around the house that could become something altogether creepier, and encourage your guests to do the same. It's all part of the fun.
Sometimes the old ways are the best, and playing a few traditional Halloween games will add a little hilarity to proceedings. Apple bobbing is fabulously messy fun, for both adults and children, or try tying apples onto string that runs across the room, then asking each guest to eat theirs without using their hands.
The 'house of horrors' - where blindfolded guests must feel their way through eyeballs (peeled grapes), brains (cold porridge), guts (spaghetti in oil) and so on - will ensure everyone enjoys a little scare. And as long as there are no very little ones about, ask everyone to tell their most chilling ghost story to get everyone in the mood.
What are your tips for a Halloween party on a budget? Leave your comments below...