Spooky, unique, and cool Halloween costumes (in your budget!)

Halloween costumes don’t have to cost a bundle

We can all remember being kids and longing to have the coolest Halloween costume in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, over the years accomplishing has become a lot more expensive than it used to be.

But the good news is it’s still possible to give your child that cool costume they want without breaking the bank. Here are some tips, tricks and ideas for creating a spook-tacular Halloween costume on a budget.

While you may want to just throw in the towel and head over to your local chain party store to pick up a costume, the easiest option is not always the best, or most cost-effective.

While these stores may offer a large selection, these costumes are often over-priced and poorly made. And, why spend all that money on something that will most likely be worn once, then end up sitting in your attic or basement? Your best bet is to put together the costume itself on your own, using less expensive materials — many times, you may be able to use items you already have at home — and instead, utilize the party store for any small accessories or odds and ends you may need to complete the look.

Try stores like the Salvation Army for inexpensive costume materials, such as clothing items. If the idea of buying used clothing isn’t a problem, you’ll be saving yourself a whole lot of money in the end. Also, remind your child this costume will most likely only be worn once, so it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on it, but also reassure them that a great costume can still be created at home.

To really get your child to take to this idea, you can even turn it into a fun get-together for your child and his or her friends with an at-home costume-making party that includes Halloween snacks, games and crafts. If your child doesn’t feel like they are the only one who has to make their costume at home, they’re apt to be more cooperative, and their friends’ parents will likely be grateful for the idea and the opportunity to save some money, too.

Erin Cavanaugh of Rollinsford, mother of a six-month old and a four-year-old daughter, shared a few fun, do-it-yourself costume ideas for parents that surely won’t empty out your wallet.

Cavanaugh’s first suggestion: The gumball machine. This costume requires very few materials and it is fun to put together. Create head, arm and leg holes in a clear trash bag then fill it with small, blown-up balloons in different colors. This costume could cost as little as $3, she said.

And another inexpensive and fun idea shared by Cavanaugh: The crayon. Dress your child all in one color and create a construction paper tube to go around his or her torso with the “Crayola” logo and name of the crayon color — you can get creative here, or choose a simple color name — using safety pins to attach it to his or her shirt. Then, using more colored paper or felt, create a cone-shaped hat to match.

“The homemade costumes are always more fun,” Cavanaugh said, and certainly, more cost-effective.

Ami D’Amelio of Manchester has also made several costumes at home for her children over the years, mostly animal costumes such as a monkey, panda and mouse when her daughters were toddlers. She has passed these costumes down from her oldest daughter to her youngest, and this year may get even more use out of one of her homemade costumes by handing it down to her son.

Like Cavanaugh, D’Amelio said do-it-yourself costumes are more fun, and more unique.

“It is more fun to talk with them about what they want to be, and their costume is unique and made to fit them,” she said. “I had a blast learning how to sew, and the patterns were way easy. I don’t think in the end you save money necessarily, and definitely not time, but it is a one-of-a-kind costume that you have made just for them.”

D’Amelio also pointed out that making your children’s costumes yourself allows you to make them as insulated and warm as you want for that chilly fall weather, whereas many store-bought costumes are made of very thin material.

In addition to Cavanaugh and D’Amelio’s ideas, the website, The Dollar Stretcher (www.stretcher.com), a resource for frugal living, offers several similar costumes you can make at home that won’t scare you off your budget:

  • Ghost: This is always an inexpensive costume — just cut holes in an old sheet. If you don’t have an old one, you can most likely find a twin-sized one at a discount store. The mom who submitted this idea found one for $3. After cutting holes in the sheet, draw on some chains and spider webs with a permanent marker.
  • Angel: Use a sheet like for the ghost, spray it lightly with some clear spray paint and toss glitter on it before the paint has a chance to dry. Make a halo and the wings out of clothes hangers covered with aluminum foil.
  • Nerd: The mom who submitted this idea shared that her son once won first-place with this costume. She put together too-small pants, shirt buttoned up wrong, hair slicked back, old pair of glasses with tape, white socks, big book to carry under his arm. For this parent, thrift was the word because many of these items can be found at home, the cost of this costume was… ready? Nothing.
  • Ninja: For this costume, use black clothes, including baggy black pants. Make a ninja mask out of a small scrap of black cloth. Instead of buying make-believe weapons, make them out of cardboard and cover with aluminum foil — you can easily make ninja stars and a knife.
  • Other popular, do-it-yourself costumes include witch, clown, princess (Cavanaugh’s oldest daughter chose this costume in 2008) rock star and hippie — all inexpensive ideas that can be created using materials you may already have at home, or you can get without spending too much money.

“Having older children participate in creating their costumes is fun and inspires creativity,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s a rewarding activity that children and parents can work on together over the course of a few nights…Making your own costume with items from around the house saves money, and re-using things you already have helps save the planet a little bit, too.”

Julia K. Agresto graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May 2009 with a degree in English/Journalism.

Categories: Halloween