Consuming more than just candy

*Wig and other accessories not included with this costume*

The storefront of a Spirit Halloween. Photo credit to @spirithalloween on Instagram.


Halloween is a fun and spooky holiday! It’s actually one of my personal favorites, but it comes at a hefty price. The whole idea of Halloween is based around consumption, or at least it is framed that way in our current society and sociocultural context. The expectations are that people buy brand new costumes each year and then provide various sorts of candy, festive displays and other treats for people to enjoy. 

It’s a lovely concept. I vividly remember in elementary school when my art teacher told our class that Halloween was her favorite holiday because it allowed for generosity to be showcased and embraced. I think this is a great point, especially because the whole idea of giving out candy allows for people to be kind and welcoming to strangers and so forth. However, the idea is grander than the execution.


Candy is extremely overpriced and costumes are no different. People may not value one house’s generosity as much as another’s because they do not offer the same candy quality, variety, decor and more. The houses with the king sized candy bars are always seen in a more favorable light.

Candy also causes people to confuse generosity for actual evilness. Would people really waste their own money and energy in putting drugs in candy for people to consume? While there are definitely some bad apples in the world, should we really be assuming that everyone is out to get us? It may be Halloween, but let’s be afraid of the creatures and fictional elements rather than what people may or may not put in our candy. 


In order to have the perfect spook-tacular display in one’s home, they have to deck it all out in cobwebs, tombstones, potions, $300 12-foot-tall skeletons and whatever else one may find creepy. Now I say this as my family and I decorate our house each year. In fact, I used to host a haunted house for eight years to raise money for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. I absolutely loved this experience, but I also am privileged to have been able to facilitate that experience and obtain the means to decorate, provide costumes and have people volunteer to scare. 

Now, our haunted house was never as crazy as the ones you may find on YouTube, but it still was fun and creative nonetheless. This extremism of decorating has even expanded upon the screens of YouTube to television and streaming. “The Great Halloween Fright Fight,” an ABC show where families compete to see who has the most extravagant Halloween display, is another example of this extremism. I actually watched an episode this past weekend to get me in the Halloween spirit and it was insane. One kid, who was only 17 years old, had over 100 animatronics in his walk-through experience and display. This level of consumerism should not be the ideal of Halloween, but it makes for outlandish entertainment.


One should not have to do all of this in order to celebrate the holiday. It is also hard when most activities to celebrate the holiday revolve around spending money. Spirit Halloween is free to walk through and have fun with the various props, but it still is a store and is based around consumerism. 

The same can be said for the other major stores and their displays for Halloween. The professional haunted houses and other scary experiences are also an upcharge, such as with Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. The nice thing about Dorney Park Halloween Haunt is that your ticket to the park also includes the mazes and other elements, which is more of an exception rather than the norm. 


However, this level of consumerism and idea of celebrating the holiday in the right way also allows for creativity to blossom from unlikely areas. People are able to take a step back and find unique ways to celebrate the holiday. For example, costumes can be niche and obscure and allow for people to explore and create with the elements already in their closets. I personally love this and I have dressed up as two of Olivia Rodrigo’s songs for Halloween by now, which isn’t bad, it’s just a little weird. 

My personal haunted house also allowed for creativity and a use of resources already available. I personally loved how we used Dollar Tree tablecloths to serve as walls between scenes. We also created a sinister and captivating sequence with the seven deadly sins thanks to Dollar Tree frames spray painted green for Envy, blankets for Sloth and clothes in my sisters’ closets to bring these powerful sins to life. Thank you to my mom, grandma and the rest of my supportive family for all of their incredible hard work with the haunted house. This was a truly incredible experience and while it still operated within the ideas of consumerism, we made use of what we had and collected over the years to be practical, interesting and dynamic.

Also, there are still fun and affordable ways to celebrate the holiday and consume joy rather than more materialistic items. We don’t have to be swallowed in Greed, another one of the seven deadly sins. Whether it be a movie night with friends, baking the spooky ghost and pumpkin cookies, or listening to your favorite spooky songs, it’s all wonderful ways to enjoy the spooky season. You don’t need the latest Spirit Halloween animatronic, or the next Home Depot 12-foot creation, to celebrate, though they do look spooktacular. I also love a good after Halloween clearance sale, which may make me a little bit of a hypocrite, but at least it’s on sale!


In the end, Halloween is just one day of the calendar year. There is not one right way to celebrate the spooktacular holiday, especially not when the bloody killer of consumerism lurks at every turn and corner. 

Do the accessories not included with the costume really need to be purchased? What is the difference between generosity and consumerism? Will capitalism ever let us know the difference?


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