You have only to look at the stats to see how Halloween has exploded in recent years. Halloween spending on decorations and costumes is almost $6 billion annually, according to the National Retail Federation.
Businesses of almost every type — retail shops, food businesses, insurance agencies, garden centers, marketing companies, and professional offices — can benefit from decorating and marketing at Halloween.
Halloween Trends and Events
So what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to Halloween for small businesses? Check out these trends that small businesses can leverage. You’ll be so far ahead of the game, it’s scary.
Sugar skulls as a design feature are popular year-round. But there’s also a distinct Halloween overtone, too. And they are a long-held Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertes) Mexican tradition.
These colorful and fun designs are popular for temporary tattoos and Halloween makeup.
Here’s another way to leverage the trend. Have sugar skull coloring books available in a kids’ corner with colored pencils at your Halloween event. Or simply give the books out as free gifts around Halloween. They will provide hours of delight for kids and adults alike.
It’s an easy and inexpensive DIY project to create your own sugar skull coloring book with your brand on it. Instructions: go over to Pixabay.com and choose 10 free sugar skull designs in black-and-white. Print them on sheets of plain paper with your logo in the corner. Staple together. The paper and toner will cost about 35 cents per book. Throw in a box of Cra-Z-Art colored pencils (50 cents at Walmart). Total cost: 85 cents per coloring book and box of pencils.
See our Sugar Skulls Coloring Book for an example…
Dramatic Halloween face makeup has become a big trend. Videos on YouTube showing how to apply Halloween makeup get millions of views.
Shop owners and/or staff who are into this trend could wear Halloween makeup for the day. However, really dramatic makeup may be a bit much for many business settings. Keep a light touch.
If you are talented you can apply the makeup yourself. The cost to have Halloween makeup professionally applied could run upwards of $100 to $200. Or simply go to a Halloween store or shop on Amazon and buy a temporary tattoo kit for your face.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This year, why not create a Nightmare Before Christmas display to decorate your business or use the theme to host an event?
If you haven’t seen the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” you’ve missed a real cult classic. Tim Burton’s 1993 visual masterpiece has an enormous millennial following. The movie was shot at Disney using stop-motion animation (aka claymation).
The movie has spawned a trendy Halloween style, sometimes in neon or blacklight effects. What’s great about the theme — should you be brave enough to incorporate it – is that it can extend beyond Halloween right into Christmas.
You can find officially licensed items online. Or shop for “inspired” decorations at big box stores. Target, for example, offers a stylized Moonlight Bash line which includes trendy party items as well as Halloween decorations.
If you are a fan of handmade crafts, you can find inspired items over at Etsy (see image above) and at local craft shows, too.
Spooky candles create a Halloween mood. Flameless candles offer a safer high tech alternative. They create a realistic illusion of candlelight with a battery unit, timer and an LED light.
Flameless candles are good to include in lighted store display windows or on shelves. Very large ones can make an extra impact at your front door. You can also use them to light Halloween luminaria outdoors, avoiding the challenge of keeping candles lit on a windy evening. Pictured are flameless luminarias from Lumabase.
Outdoor Light Strings and Decorations
Every year sees more outdoor decorations for Halloween. LED light strings in orange or purple for trees, doorways and eves are popular. Lighted jack-o-lanterns and skulls are also popular.
Gauzy ghosts and ghouls that can be hung in trees or on the side of a building are a trendy decoration. Sometimes they come with sound to “speak” to passers-by for a chilling thrill.
Dress Up Pets in Costumes
Pet costumes are one of the hottest trends! If you have a working cat or dog in your business, or if you allow employees to bring pets to work, dress up those pets! Chewy.com is a good place to find pet costumes. According to the NRF, last year the most popular pet costumes were (in order of popularity):
- Hot dog
- Bumble bee
- Star Wars character
- Super hero
Another option is to hold a “pets welcome” open house or organize a pet parade together with other nearby businesses. Promote the activity in advance on social media, via an email blast to your customer list, and by putting a sign in your window. People love to show off their pets and it will bring in tons of foot traffic.
Giant orange pumpkins, tall green witches or scary glowing ghosts — these characters and others are available in inflatable form of 8 to 20 feet or even taller. Or how about a giant inflated spider climbing on your roof? Inflatables are real attention grabbers and a decent-sized one can cost $75 to $150 at any big box store.
Most inflatable Halloween decorations incorporate lights for a spooky show at night. Just remember: if you get inflatables that are too huge, or keep them up too long, you might run up against local zoning regulations like one car dealership did. Business owners, always check your zoning regs.
Vintage Halloween Decorations
Vintage decorations are experiencing a resurgence of interest. Think plastic light up pumpkin lamps and melted plastic popcorn decorations.
Incorporate these decorations in your shelf or window displays to connect with customers who remember that era. Even millennials and Gen X-ers who never knew the decorations the first time around enjoy vintage stuff for its quirkiness.
The example pictured is from the mid-20th century. You can find vintage Halloween decorations at flea markets and antique or resale shops. Don’t forget eBay, which at any given time may have over 20,000 vintage Halloween decorations listed.
Face Painting for Kids
Face painting events have become popular because kids enjoy the creativity and crave attention. To hire a face painter to make your event an experience shoppers won’t soon forget, expect to pay around $100 per hour. Rates may vary in your area. Search in Google or go to a gig site like The Bash to find one.
If your face painter can do light sugar skull designs, you combine two trends into one.
The visual nature of face painting has another advantage. You can share photos on social media. Just make sure you have permission of participants and parents. You’ll generate plenty of content to continue enjoying the experience online — all the way through to next year!
Staff Dressing up in Halloween Costumes
Have you noticed how many workplaces these days have employees who wear costumes around Halloween? It can make the day festive and bring a smile to customers’ faces. It’s not suitable for every business. Check out: Should I allow employees to dress up for Halloween?.
Oversize Plush Masks
Another Halloween trend these days is the oversized plush mask. Think “stuffed animal head” similar to a sports mascot. These masks completely cover the head.
Plush masks can now be purchased at party stores and online. Some adults wear them without a costume because the big head alone makes an impact. Average cost: $25 to $50.
While not a great costume idea for employees who are working, it’s a fun idea to don one of these for short periods. Use it during a Halloween party to entertain customers and their kids.
No Longer Hot Trends
Clowns: Skip the clowns. Too creepy. Need we say more?
Wax Teeth: Believe it or not, wax teeth used to be hot for kids and adults at one time. Not any more!
Homemade Treats for Trick or Treat: Commercial-packaged treats for trick or treat are the way to go. Everyone these days is careful about what they eat, due to safety concerns.
Think outside the box, have fun, get creative – and take advantage of 2019 Halloween trends to generate the most interest for your small business!