When I look back on Halloween when I was a kid, I can still picture those houses with the flickering lights and the ghosts hanging from the trees.

I remember feeling spooked going in, and totally relieved when I made it out alive. Now, I realize how much effort those neighbors put in just to show the kids a good time every year.

Not everyone can afford to transform their house into a zombie wasteland, but it’s totally feasible to throw up some decorations and hand out candy.

In fact, I can tell you how to do it for as low as $20.

Nothing puts you in the creepy spirit like slicing off the top of a pumpkin, scooping its guts out and carving a face on it. It’s like re-enacting a scene from a horror film.

It’s much cheaper to buy carving pumpkins from the grocery store. Bi-Lo and Food Lion have them for $5 each, or get two for $7 at Walgreens.

Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, though. If you want to make a fun afternoon out of it with your kids, pick your pumpkins from the patch.

On Tuesdays at Boone Hall Plantation, kids get in for $8 a head and parents’ admission is free. The pumpkins sell by the pound, so aim for the smaller gourds if you’re on a budget.

Candy is the tricky part, though technically the “treat” part. It’s hard to figure out how much you’ll need, especially if you’re new to the neighborhood.

Ask some of your neighbors who are Halloween veterans. You may even make some new friends while you’re at it!

First, start at the Dollar Tree. Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops are cheaper there than anywhere else. Also look in the toy aisle for trinkets such as spider rings. Use those items for fillers because if you’re handing out two or three pieces of name-brand candy that cost up to 30 cents per piece, that really adds up.

Publix has 50-piece bags of Hershey’s candy and 92-piece bags of Skittles and Starbursts for buy one, get one free this week. At Target, you’ll get a $5 gift card when you buy 76- to 100-count bags of candy for $10.

Fake spider webs are the cheap secret to every haunted house. Spread them across your doorway, in the trees in your yard, anywhere. Just be prepared to spend some time cleaning it up the day after.

The Dollar Tree carries fake webs for $1 a pack, but they sell out fast. Call ahead before you make the trip. If they’re all out, you can buy one pack for $3.99 and get one free at Walgreen’s. For all other decorations, try these deals:

Publix: 25 percent off all decorations

AC Moore: 60 percent off all decorations

Kmart: 50 percent off porch greeters and lighted pumpkins, 30 percent off fog machines and strobe lights

Rite Aid: 50 percent off all decorations, buy one get one free Halloween string lights

Walgreens: 25 percent off interior decorations, LED mini strobe light for $8

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906, follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail. For more tips, check the Retail Report blog at blog.postandcourier.com/retail-report