$13 At the Dollar Tree - 2017!

A yearly tradition I look forward to far more than anyone probably looks forward to reading it, this will be the first $13 Halloween Dollar Tree shopping spree conducted in our new home of Oregon, where shockingly enough, Dollar Tree is actually the only dollar store chain. I used to contrast these articles with $13 spent at Dollar General, but they don't have those out here, nor Family Dollar or even any miscellaneous one-off 99 cent gift shops.

So do I compensate and spend $26 at Dollar Tree? That's not a very Halloween number. Nobody is spooked at all by there being 26 of something. Does that mean I should bump it up to 31? That's...that's just too much. Spending thirty dollars breaks the entire spirit of shopping at the Dollar Tree.

No, I will play the staunch traditionalist here. Thirteen dollars it remains.

$1 Spent: Happy Skull Tealights!

A large number of Halloween items I've purchased over the years are designed to house a small candle or one of these LED imitations, but for whatever reason I've just never really get around to lighting them up.

Maybe that will change now that tea lights come in these wonderful little skull shapes, with fake flames for noses and bloody red scars for good measure. Blood, scars, stitches or any combination of the three can pretty much triple the appeal of a Halloween skull in my book.

You won't even see these happy skulls if you actually use them inside your pumpkins and other lighted decor, but you'll know that there are happy skulls, and you know what they say, knowing there are happy skulls is half the battle.

$2 Spent: Jar of Eyes Sign

The phenomenon of wooden signs shaped like jars is one that I've only become aware of since last year, and this is a fine use for it. Eyeballs are definitely one of the top five things you can keep in jars, and I love the messy, hand-painted aesthetic of this. The purple lid is also really pleasing, and the ghostly green bow ties it all together. I'd expect to see this at a Michael's or something for at least fifteen to twenty bucks.

$3 Spent: Multi-Panel Skeleton

Likewise, I've seen stuff almost identical to this for up to thirty dollars in higher-end stores, but we can always count on Dollar Tree to be honest about how much some hunks of plywood should actually cost. From the lacy border to the aged paper background, this is some pretty gorgeous artwork for something that's only a hundred pennies.

$4 Spent: Laboratory Wall Scene

These never look quite as good in person as they do on their package, but they look good enough, and this is a pretty nice one, with a beautifully bubbling green brew as the centerpiece.

$5 Spent: Halloween Sticker Sheet

Everybody loves stickers, and this is a fairly interesting selection. You've got more than one angry skeleton, a blood ripped-out eyeball, a zombie hand getting dangerously close to a bloodied cleaver, an entirely green ghost who wants you to get that damn camera out of his face, and strangely, three different options to tell someone they smell horrible or need to clean their toilet in spooky terminology.

$6 Spent: Skeleton Rat

Last year, Dollar Tree threw its hat into the skeleton animal ring with some cheap but highly satisfactory skeletal ravens. This year, they've brought them back and added these swell rats! Only their heads and jaws can be posed and the skulls are completely fictitious, but hey, they're one dollar. Here's hoping next year they'll bring in some one-dollar skeletal fish, frogs or bonespiders.

$8 Spent: 2017's Coffin Boxes!

Speaking of me looking forward to things most people don't care about, these cardboard coffins have been a Dollar Tree staple since 2014, each available in three sizes and each with a surprise monster printed within.

It's almost always been the orange coffin that houses a mummy, whose design has changed every year but has always been top quality. last year's example is actually still my favorite for its simplistic spooky-cuteness and kitty cat friend, but 2017's is nicely grisly, complete with a missing arm, and the aged wood background is just gorgeous.

Perhaps the best thing about this mummy, however, if you look back up there at the lid, is that its arm comes off when you open the box. Oh my god, that's so damn clever!

You will notice, however, that I bought two of these coffins this year. That's because the other one is almost cooler than our gauzey pal:

Not just a beautifully detailed, happy skeleton, but a beautifully detailed, happy skeleton clutching its own heart...or at least a decrepit old plush Valentine's day heart it thinks is its heart. How cute would that be!? What if that was just a skeleton thing, using non-perishable facsimiles of body organs so they feel more complete?!!!

$9 Spent: Instant Mini-Balloons

Speaking of mummies, there's a pretty good one included in this four-pack of tiny, foil balloons. When you smash one with your fist, it's inflated on its own by a chemical reaction that's probably highly toxic and not great for the ozone layer, but I'll just inflate one of them:

We know that eyelashes are supposed to denote "girl" cartoon characters, which doesn't make any sense, but it's not every day I see a pasty, purple-pustuled corpse with any female-coded characteristics, even the most arbitrary ones, so a lady this is. The same character appears on some stickers, treat bags and other items this year as well as the one-eyed candy-corn cyclops you may have noticed in the same bag. I think the balloon was the right choice.

$11 Spent: Monster Bobbleheads

Speaking of lady monsters, these resin bobblers come in Werewolf, Vampire, Black Cat, Witch, and...the BRIDE of Frankenstein!?! JUST the bride!? Oh man, I don't think I've EVER seen her included in a set of monsters without her bolt-necked male counterpart around! Who would have thought a bunch of Dollar Tree figurines would offer a rare opportunity for The Bride to stand alone as the sole Frankensteinian representation!?

Her design is the coolest in the whole set, too, with her ghoulishly pink skin, haunting moan and disturbing red-rimmed blue eyeballs. I just had to get one, but I wanted to get at least one more so she wouldn't be lonely, and I think the best choice was that adorable, purple-haired witch. The rest of the set is kind of underwhelming, except perhaps the cat, which I might grab sometime later. Then it can just be lady frankenstoid and purple haired witch, together forever with their really huge cat as nature intended.

$13 WELL Spent: Noisy Plastic Monsters!

Sometimes you just need a hunk of plastic shaped like a monster, and you just want it to sit there and be loud and obnoxious. Dollar Tree's got you covered with these lovely witch and ghost figures, each of which emits one of the two fundamental Halloween decoration sound effects. You might know the ones I mean off the top of your head, but here's a refresher:

A cool thing about these is also how easily you could remove their sound devices to stick into your own custom Halloween projects. Only one dollar for a classic sound effect gizmo in a fun, plastic monster shell!

...But on a final note, and speaking of noises, is this not the most beautiful sound in the world??? I think I'm gonna go back, buy as many of these as I can and just hang them in a big bushel at home so I can do this all the time.