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Halloween costumes that won’t scare your budget

October 11th, 2010

milk+cookiesCostumes are a big part of celebrating Halloween, and a little creativity can help your family enjoy getting dressed up without spending much money.  The most popular costume for kids this year is a princess, for the 6th year in a row, according to a recent poll by National Retail Federation. You’ll also see quite a few dressed as spider-man, witches and pirates. Pop culture costumes are the top picks for young adults, and they’re very easy to do.  More adults than kids plan to dress up this year, and they’re even going to dress up their pets!

There are plenty of high quality, affordable Do-It-Yourself ideas, and Wisebread has rounded up a huge collection of them. You can do a lot with old clothes (too small or too large), a little paint and cardboard boxes, or just an old sheet! There are some homemade costumes posted at Parenting and Parents.com. It only takes an exacto knife and a little felt, cardboard box, paper towel tube, and hot glue gun to make a milk and cookies costume pair that the kids can wear with regular clothes underneath. Don’t forget the milk mustache!

More Easy and Creative Ideas

  • Repurpose a Spongebob Squarepants cushion into an adorable toddler costume by opening the seams for arms, legs, and head as described here, and then stuff it after Halloween to restore it to a cushion.  You’d be amazed at how many things you can find in your own closet or from the dollar store. 
  • Browse magazines and online costume retailers for possible masks – cut out or print a face and make holes for the eyes and mouth. 
  • Box of tissues (for any age): Find a cardboard box that’s large enough to fit over your body and cut holes for your arms and legs. Paint it or cover it with wrapping paper. Add the logo of your favorite tissue company. Take a old hat and cut a slit into the top. Stuff some tissue underneath, with one sticking out, so people can pull tissues out of your head.
  • Q-Tip: Dress all in blue, and cover a cap and your shoes with cotton balls.
  • Beekeeper: Add netting all around a hat and wear khaki clothing. Glue fake bees all over the  hat and clothing. Decorate a container to look like a beehive, and use it as a candy collector.
  • Nerd: This is an easy one - wear slacks and a shirt buttoned up to the top, and add accessories like a pocket protector, calculator, and thick glasses (use old frames and wrap the bridge with tape).  Part hair in the middle and use gel to slick it down. 

Check out Disney Family World, All You, Real Simple, or Favecrafts for more easy costume ideas. Martha Stewart has directions for babies, adults, and even some that your kids can make themselves. It’s very easy to put together a cowboy costume using brown paper grocery bags for the chaps and vest, with a mop-maned horse to complete the outfit. Make a learning experience for younger kids by choosing storybook costumes and reading the books together.

Getting the Most for Your Money

Even if you end up having to buy costumes, you can still save some money and your budget won’t be haunted by high prices.

  1. Check out the sales and coupons for Halloween gear on Buxr, or buy something on sale after Halloween to use next year.
  2. If you have more than one child, pick gender-neutral costumes that all of the children can wear.  That way, you can save them for next year and use them more than once.
  3. Trade the costumes you’ve bought before with other families to get something “new” each year at no cost.
  4. Try to incorporate items that can be used again for another purpose.  For example, ordinary sweats can be temporarily decorated with tape and then used through the year. 
  5. Add accessories like superhero weapons that can be cut from cardboard and covered with aluminum foil.

With these suggestions, you can scare everyone (except your budget) and have a frightfully frugal good time!

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