It’s that time of year again! Fall is here, pumpkin spice everything is in the store, and the countdown toward the perfect Halloween costume has begun. If you’ve played the Halloween costume game before, though, you know that that those “perfect” Halloween costumes aren’t always the most affordable Halloween costumes. This is also the time of year when parents can easily get suckered into paying high prices for Halloween costumes that can be less than the highest quality. So, why not avoid the high-priced Halloween costume trap this year with these Halloween costume ideas on a budget.
Hit Up the Thrift Store
Halloween costumes are like cars: they depreciate in value the moment you take them out of the store. Hit up your local Goodwill, Savers, or favorite thrift store this time of year and you’ll find that most have dedicated Halloween sections where they’ll sell you pre-worn Halloween costumes for a fraction of what you’d pay for a new one. When my son was a little guy, he decided he wanted to be a sushi chef. We went to the local thrift store and found a great martial arts uniform and a black bandana for only a few dollars. I printed out a picture of sushi to attach to the bandana (worn around his head) and he carried chopsticks. Voila!
Wade Through Garage Sales
Depreciation applies here too, and if you’re able to plan early, you’ll find that a lot of late summer/early fall garage salers are more desperate to get items out of their house than to turn a huge profit. Remember that Halloween costumes are often only worn once, so they’re easier to find in great condition than other used clothing items. (Garage sales and thrift stores are also great places to find accessories to jazz up a homemade Halloween costume too!) Many areas have garage sales and flea markets all year round, so it’s never too early or too late to start looking.
Raid Your Own Closets
Get creative here! You don’t need a store-bought costume to have a cool costume! Use an eyebrow pencil or eyeliner pencil you already own to draw on fake whiskers or a Harry Potter style scar rather than investing in a one-time-use Halloween makeup kit. Use a simple scarf to create everything from a skirt to a pirate sash to a ninja mask. Challenge your kids to get creative with finds from your closet, their own closet, and their existing dress-up or pretend play outfits. I dressed in my mom’s 60’s and 70’s clothes to be a hippie on Halloween and my kids have used pieces from my closet as well.
You don’t have to be a sewing expert or DIY maven to create your own excellent Halloween costume. Plus, this is a great way to get kids involved in helping create their own costumes! For littler ones, a cardboard box easily transforms into everything from a LEGO brick to a robot to a waffle to a Minecraft Creeper with just a pair of scissors and a little paint or tinfoil. Use duct tape and a plain colored t-shirt to create a new look ranging from Charlie Brown to a ladybug to a bumble bee. Just add an antenna headband from Dollar Tree or the Target One Spot, and your work is done! Add a little glow-in-the-dark or brightly colored duct tape for extra visibility if kids will be out after dark. Duct tape also works great to jazz up a plain cape or to create any accessories that you might be missing.
Look For Coupons
Target tends to put out 40-50% off Halloween costume coupons or Cartwheel offers every year, and you’ll even find coupons for Spirit Halloween and other seasonal pop-up stores on Coupons.com. Coupons aren’t just for groceries and household items; seasonal coupons help you save on everything holiday-related!
Buy a Signature Piece
If your child wants desperately to be a specific character for Halloween, buy the one thing that will make them stand out and make the rest. For Harry Potter’s Hermione or Harry, purchase just the tie and build around it. Puff up Hermione’s hair and eyeliner in Harry Potter’s scar. Use a chopstick or large stick for the wand (or borrow something wand-like from a friend) and you’re set! For Darth Vader, invest in only the mask and then attach some tin foil buttons to a black outfit. Good to go!
This won’t help you this season, but plan ahead for next Halloween by stalking the clearance aisles after the holiday this year. Clearance costumes make for great pretend-play fun all year round; they’re not just for Halloween!
These cheap Halloween costume ideas should help get you started, but I’d also love to hear your ideas for affordable Halloween costumes! And don’t forget to look into ways to save on Halloween candy before the day comes!