I don’t know about you, but I always feel a little panicked when I realize that Halloween is around the corner. It starts in September, with one parent asking what my daughter plans to be for Halloween. Halloween? It’s only September! And so it begins...
My daughter is at the age when she wants to choose her own costume. Gone are the days of stuffing her into a cute fuzzy bear onesie, or a premade ladybug costume handed down from a friend.
If you’re on a budget, take a look at these options to save cash and then sit down with your kids to go over what’s possible. They may already have ideas of their own, and in most cases you can find a way to meet their needs without breaking the bank.
We’ll start with some tips for great do-it-yourself costumes.
Photo credit: Jim Linwood
DIY Costume: Animals
DIY is a great option if money is an issue but you have a little time on your hands. If you’re super crafty, the world of homemade costumes is your oyster. But if your sewing skills are a bit rusty, here are some fun options that almost anyone can do:
Think of animals that can be all one color, like bears, rabbits, dogs, cats, etc. Dress your child from head to toe in that color – or use footy pajamas. Make ears from cardboard or stiff felt and attach them with two-sided tape or hot glue to a headband. Make a tail from pliable wire, like floral wire or a wire hanger, and a sock. Socks can also be used to cover shoes. Cover hands with gloves or mittens, or even a sock with finger holes cut into it. Add some face paint for the animal face and you’re all set! If you want to jazz it up, cut spots or small stripes out of felt or cardboard and affix them with two-sided tape or a glue gun.
If you're going to buy anything, you could add some pizzazz to a monochromatic costume with inexpensive manufactured accessories like animal ears.
Photo credit: TheNickster
DIY Costume: Bugs
Start with a monochromatic outfit again and then get to work on wings, antennae and legs. Wings can be easily made by cutting the shapes out of poster board and painting them. Be sure to leave a connecting piece between the wings so you can poke holes in it to strap the wings to your child with long shoelaces, elastic or wire. Remember to keep the laces or wire the same color as the rest of the costume.
Make antennae with pipe cleaner and attach to a headband. You can also make extra legs with several strands of pipe cleaner twisted together. Attach them to the wing straps or poke them through from the inside of your child’s shirt (if you don’t plan to use the shirt again!).
Photo credit: Kevin Dooley
DIY Costume: Clown
Dress your child in mismatched and oversized clothes, clunky rain boots and an oversized hat or mop wig. Decorate the clothes with cardboard or felt polka dots with a glue gun or two-sided tape. Add some face makeup and voila! Remember, clowns come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t worry if you can't find the perfect red boots.
Photo credit: qwrrty
DIY Costume: Super Hero
Dress your child in the color of their favorite super hero. Cut a cape out of an old bed sheet and dye it along with four socks (cut finger holes in one pair to act as gloves) and oversized underwear to wear on top of the outfit. Add details (like the letter "s") with felt or cardboard and attach with two-sided tape or a glue gun. Add face paint and you’ve got a super super hero!
Next we take a look at a few ways to save money on premade costumes.
Photo credit: Digital Sextant
Re-Purpose an Old Costume
Before ditching old costumes or refusing a hand-me-down, think about what you could do with that costume. For instance, last year a friend gave us a furry pink pig costume. We loved the pig, but our daughter wanted to be the King of All Wild Things from Maurice Sendak’s famous children’s story Where the Wild Things Are.
We made a furry tail with fake fur sewn around floral wire that we bent and then sewed it to the costume. We then spray painted some cardboard silver, cut a crown out of it, added a little fur on the bottom and bingo: King of All Wild Things. The whole thing cost about $8 and took very little time.
Photo Credit: Trae Bodge
Swap Used Costumes
ThredUP, a popular online swap meet for children’s clothing, has extended its platform to Halloween costumes. Children outgrow clothes every three to six months. Needless to say, kids’ costly Halloween costumes won’t fit the next year, and even if they did, kids rarely want to be the same thing they were last year. So costumes are often tossed after minimal use. This fall, recycle your kids’ outgrown costumes and get ones that fit in return!
ThredUP's Halloween costume swap works just like the regular service:
- Find a box with a costume you like, and pay $5 plus shipping to have it delivered to your door.
- In exchange, put together a box of your kids’ outgrown clothes and list it on ThredUP.com. Include a costume if you want to flag it as a "Halloween box."
- When someone picks your box, you send it free of charge. ThredUP gives you empty flat rate boxes when you register and will also schedule home pick-up.
- Remember you have to send a box for every one you receive, so if you see another costume you like but still “owe” a box of your own, you might miss out.
Photo credit: stevendepolo
Cheap Options for Premade Costumes
If you have neither the time nor the inclination to make your own costumes, there are some inexpensive pre-made options.
Costume Super Center is one of the world’s largest online costume retailers, and they are holding a Cutest Baby Costume Contest that could pay for your children’s costumes for the rest of their lives. Kids up to 4 years old wearing one of the qualifying costumes are eligible for the $1,000 grand prize and nine other prizes.
The Children’s Place is also a good resource for premade costumes at reasonable prices. Many of their costumes are already on sale, some up to 50% off.
Oriental Trading is another great Halloween destination. They have costumes, accessories and even candy in bulk!
Finally, visit MOMFinds for a range of easy options that any kid would like.
Photo credit: onlinedesign
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