Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween on a "Boo"-dget

Reused firefighter costume + cardboard box = super cute!
Even though it is last minute, it isn't too late to avoid spending a frighteningly lot of money and do Halloween on a "boo"-dget. 

Search your house for parts of costumes. For children, a well stocked dress-up box may be a treasure trove of parts of costumes.  There might even be costumes from previous years that could be reused by a different sibling or adapted for use again.  Even without a dress-up box, other articles of clothing you already have laying around may give you some opportunities for great costumes without spending a lot, or maybe even any, money.  Dance leotards and skirts may be the beginning of a fairy costume, fancy dresses from special occasions may be perfect for a princess or angel.  Jeans and flannel shirts could be for a cowboy or miner.  Sheets can become togas or ghosts.  I saw a news clip about "Occupy Wall Street" being a "hot" costume this year, so you may find some inspiration there, possibly with a 99%-er sign covering most of you, or as one of the corporate "bad guys" in a suit.  Old clothes you may have been meaning to get rid of could be easily turned into a zombie costume as well.

A princess, wearing a dress from her dress-up (originally made by Renaissance Costumes and More by Lady Elizabeth, a friend of mine) and a cowboy, wearing clothes he had, a bandana from the dress-up box, and a foam cowboy hat from a dollar store)
If you don't have anything at home, check with friends.  Maybe their kids or themselves have something that could be transformed into a great costume or they might even have complete costumes from previous years that you could get for free, cheap, or trade.

The next place you'll want to try is second-hand stores.  Here you're looking for the same sorts of treasures, but with more opportunity for greater variety.  Of course this may be pretty picked over so late in the game, but more stuff may be brought in every day, so there still is a chance.  Same thing with Freecycle or Craigslist--you might find treasures, but it is awfully late in the game for finding something fantastic without a fair amount of luck.

Dollar or discount stores may present opportunities to find the crucial missing pieces to make your costume perfect for very little funds.  You can probably find makeup, vampire teeth, foam accessories like swords or cowboy hats, fairy wings, and many other finishing touches that make it look like you put a lot more money and/or effort into your costume than you really did.

An oak tree (felt applied to regular clothes), a Tootsie Roll (fabric, foam, and ribbon glued together), and Tinkerbell (dress up box treasure + discount store accessories)
As a last resort, you could actually put a lot of time and effort into a costume.  Cardboard boxes and a little paint or aluminum foil offer many opportunities, from robots, to spacemen, to fire trucks, to pizza.  Felt is another possible treasure trove; last year I turned one of my sons into a Tootsie Roll and another into an oak tree with a lot of brown felt, a little green felt, and a little foam, ribbon, and glue.  If you are good at sewing, you might be able to find a quick pattern that could be turned into a last minute costume idea as well, but that is probably your most expensive and most stressful option, so that idea might be better saved for another year, when you have more time.


  1. As the youngest of 6 kids, I don't think I ever wore a store bought costume! I remember several cardboard box costumes-from a Rubix Cube to a Kissing Booth and everything in between. We did mummies a lot, too-mom had rolls of gauze in the Halloween box we'd reuse year after year. One year my brother was the Fruit of the Loom grapes-all it took was some purple balloons (don't blow them all the way up or they will pop too easily!). Mom attached them to his rain slicker with duct tape.

  2. little girl looking very cut in a butterfly dress.