Halloween is great fun! I remember how exciting it was going around town in my Halloween costume, getting candy from all of the neighbors. I still get to enjoy that now through my kids!
Do you remember those old Halloween costumes? You know the ones that came in a box and it was made up of a thin plastic mask with eye holes that hurt and it was held onto your head with an elastic piece that usually didn’t last the night and the body of the costume was a plastic sack-like piece you climbed into which also didn’t make it through the night? Those were great! I remember one year I was Chewbacca and another I was Yoda ( I remember terrorizing my younger sister with those masks too; I was such a stinker!). I’m sure I was Superman and Batman as well.
But have you seen the price of Halloween costumes these days?!?
You can easily spend $25 and up on a kids’ costume (adults even more)! That’s a lot for a couple hours walking through the neighborhood trick or treating!
Here are some suggestions to think about before you go and buy a costume:
See what Halloween costumes you can cook up with items around the house. I know one year I was a hobo made up of old clothes around the house. Look around and see what you can come up with. You may be surprised what you find in the back of your closet or in the garage.
Use last year’s costume
If the kids are young it can be easy to do this. If they are older then maybe you can revise the Halloween costume in some way to make it new? Our daughter was the Corpse Bride last year (yes we bought the costume). This year she’ll be a zombie. Not a big difference but with a little makeup change we can re-use the costume!
Look for hand me downs
Most times these costumes are worn one night and that’s it. Then the kids grow out of them. If you have friends or family with kids they may have something you can use. Remember the previous two suggestions: be creative and find a way to use that old costume in a new way!
Don’t get the latest fad
One sure way to make sure your costume won’t be used again is if it’s this year’s fad. Whereas, a costume like a vampire, princess, or a pirate can be worn any year! In fact, when we bought a pirate costume for our son, he loved playing pirate so much he wore it at times throughout the year. We definitely got our money’s worth on that one!
Wait until the last minute to buy
This can be tough, but if you are willing to compromise on the costumes that are still available at the last minute then you can find some great deals. See, Halloween costumes are seasonal and stores don’t want to be stuck with them in inventory. As a result, they tend to offer better discounts the closer you get to October 31st. In fact you could…
Buy next year’s costumes this year
Know when costumes are the cheapest? The day after Halloween! If you can, buy next year’s costume this year to save.
As I mentioned our daughter will be a zombie using her costume from last year. Our son will probably be a monkey. We bought his costume for last year and we’re shocked and pleased to find out that he still fits it (it was real big last year).
Any other suggestions for inexpensive Halloween costumes?
photo credit: juhansonin
Great ideas! When I was growing up, my mom always made our costumes. She was a whiz with the face paint as well.
@ Miranda – Yeah, mom made a bunch of mine. But today it’s a huuuge consumer market. At least in NYC, stores pop up all over the place to sell Halloween products.
Great ideas. All of our holidays have become shopping days. my daughter is very creative with making costumes for her kids. I don’t know how much she spends but they are always so cute..
Well for adult females I think throwing together a Sarah Palin costume would be a snap and VERY inexpensive. There are so many diferent types of ‘Palin’s’ you can be: Soccer Mom Palin, NRA loving Palin, Naughty Librarian looking Palin…
@ BloggerNewbie – Isn’t it interesting how holidays have turned into shopping days? It’s nice to hear your daughter is so creative.
@ cheapsuits – That’s a funny one! Bet it will be real popular too!
Fabulously Broke says
OMG that little baby “monkey” is so cute :)…
Look for themed pajamas that can double as a Halloween outfit: think Superman with a big S on the chest, a pink and pretty princess gown for the girls, etc. You may be surprised how many themed pajamas you can find that will work for a costume when you add some accessories! Then they can wear them later as nightwear!
Look to your children’s hobbies and interests as a springboard to their Halloween costumes. Do they play baseball or T-ball, take karate or judo, play peewee football or cheer for a team, play rec basketball, or take dance lessons that use a leotard or have recitals with costumes? If so, you already have 90% of a “costume” that matches their current interest. If desired, add a little face paint and an accessory or two, and they are fully costumed for free or almost free!
You can use the “gather the costume” at home activity for a fun parent-child time. Look at what you already have with a new eye and you can probably dream up several costumes. You may want to use other family member’s cast off clothing – cut up and/or trimmed to size as a costume base. For example daddy’s worn white undershirt could be the start of many costumes. One of the cutest Halloween costumes I created was for when my son was about 2. If memory serves right, he wore a jagged pair of old shorts (cut into pirate jags at the bottom) , a striped shirt, and a bandana tied pirate style on his head. I also fashioned a bandolier wide webbing strap that went across one should like a sash. On the top of the sash on his shoulder, I attached a soft fabric bird as his “parrot”. I posed him for a picture with one pirate foot up on a pumpkin- it was precious! The costume didn’t cost 1 cent – we had everything required to make it!
Are you out of ideas for making/ creating a costume? Go to your favorite parenting/ family websites and I bet you will find enought costume ideas and instruction for the entire neighborhood!
Here’s one way to get a double use out of one costume creation. Many schools have a book character or book parade day sometime in the school year to celebrate books, authors, and reading. While you’re at it, you may want to make a costume that would serve both needs! Your child could be Max or one of the wild things from Where the Wild Things Are, Madeline, Mike Mulligan, Laura from the Little House books, etc. Make a costume once and use it twice!
If you must buy a costume, check garage sales and children’s consignment shops where you can buy costumes at much cheaper prices compaired to full retail. I once bought a vintage spangled twirler outfit for about 50 cents or $1. at a garage sale that my daughter later wore as a Halloween costume. If you like garage sale shopping, be on the lookout year-round for costume possibilities! You may find a true play-worthy costumes that you can use over the full year instead of one of the flimsier make-just-for- Halloween costumes. Happy hunting!
When your child outgrows a particular costume and you have no one in your circle of friends or family to pass it down to, sell it in your garage sale or consign it to a children’s resale shop in September or early October. You’ll have some money you can use for this year’s costume, if you choose!
Check out Real Simple’s website for some no cost, simple Halloween costume ideas: “Jay Crew”, fallen angel, etc!
@ Nancy – Great suggestions all!
On Halloween says
I have distinct and wonderful memories of being able to rummage through all my dad’s old work clothes from the past year. From those clothes alone my brother and I were able to create Mario brothers, a wolfman, zombies, and many other assorted spooks.
@ On Halloween – Sounds like good times.
Great list! Having two children, we recycle our oldest son’s costume’s for our youngest son. He is at the age where he doesn’t have an opinion yet. We also shop the day after Halloween to buy costume’s for next year. Luckily our oldest son isn’t into the latest fads yet and wants to be pirates and police men.
@ Passiveincomefamily – Keeping the kids away from the latest fads indeed helps to keep costs down. Gotta love the classic costumes!
Mike Ostery says
Wow those Star Wars costumes are classic, I’d bet if we brought those back they’d sell like hot cakes!
Short Sleeve Leotard Girl says
My mom was never very creative. One year I was a pillowcase. Another year I was a refrigerator box, and the worst year, I was Santa. Most years I just got made fun of, but there were some years where the lamest of costumes ended up being the most popular.
I’m not the creative mom so my kids have usually had bought costumes…more expensive but nice ones! When my daughter was14 months old (she is now 12 yrs old!), she was a hula girl (we live in southeast Texas so Halloween can sometimes be pretty warm!). I bought a rafia grass skirt; made leis for her ankles, wrists, and hair; and she wore a swimsuit top that was a gift. She was still in diapers so I dyed a pair of the ruffle panties in tea so they were “flesh” color…she was the HIT of the night! People wanted to take pictures of her all night and I was quite proud of my “creativity”, if you want to call it that.
Great suggestions. I love reusing costumes, and I also scour garage sales during the summer. I’ll buy them a size or two too big and hold onto them, especially for girl’s tutu type outfits as our girls will also use them for dress up during the rest of the year. Thanks for the link. 🙂
Jon -- Free Money Wisdom says
My personal favorite for a cheap costume is a “bag lady” — may not be too popular…but hey…it’s cheap and you can always find an excess of bags lying around! 🙂
Cherleen @ The College Investor says
My son wore a Spiderman costume on his first birthday. The pajama/pants was too long he was able to wear it for Halloween the following year. He enjoyed the costume so much we decided it could be used as a sleepwear, which he loved until he turned 4 and did not fit him anymore.