Thriftilicious Thursday—Cheap (or FREE) Halloween Costumes

Halloween is right around the corner. Do you know what your children will be dressing up as yet? If you don’t know yet, just walk through Target or WalMart, and I bet your kids will provide you with about 10 ideas of costumes that they really, really want! It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype. I mean, how cute would your 3-year-old look in that Dora the Explorer costume, complete with Backpack?! However, if you’re like me, you must take a deep breath and remember that Halloween is one day, and most of the time your child will wear that $30 costume for only about two hours. And if you’re in the Midwest like me, it will probably be covered up with a winter coat, hat, and gloves. I’ve collected some great ideas from around the Interweb about how to help your kids have a fun Halloween without blowing your clothing budget for three months in the process. (After all, you’ll be spending enough on the candy to hand out to other trick-or-treaters!)

I remember Halloweens growing up when we wouldn’t decide what we were going to wear until we got off the bus after school, usually about 1 hour before we had to leave to trick-or-treat. (We lived in the country, so our mom drove us all over the county to visit friends. Because of that, though, we were usually gone for about an hour and a half and probably visited only 10 houses. Much different than the dense neighborhood we live in today!) The last-minute Halloween scramble usually left us with about three options: 1) wearing our mom’s bath robe and curlers in our hair; 2) wearing our dad’s coveralls and farm cap; or 3) wearing one of our mom’s old wacky dresses and lots of jewelry and going as a gypsy (pretty sure that’s not PC today). But no matter what hodge-podge of clothing and accessories we threw on, we always had fun and got enough candy to successfully rot our teeth.

Before I link to some great lists of alternatives to store-bought costumes, I just want to say that I’m not anti-costume at all. In fact, my kids have always been big into dressing up. We have a huge tub full of costumes that they wear all year long, year after year, as well as silly hats, my husband’s old coaching shirts, and other random clothes and accessories we’ve collected over the years. For a few years I stalked Target and Toys R Us after Halloween and picked up great costumes for 75% and 90% off. The boys wore them throughout the rest of the year for play and then could choose to wear it for Halloween the next fall. If it’s something your child will have a lot of fun wearing time after time (and it’s fairly comfortable), go for it! Just make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Right now you can win a costume for year-round play from 5 Minutes for Mom.
Boys #2 and #3 would love this Jr. Knight costume.


And I think it would be so fun to play “post office” with this Jr. Mail Courier costume.

Family Education has a great list of Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas, including an e-mail and a pile of laundry (We could DEFINITELY pull off this costume!).

Want 57 Ideas Using Recycled Cardboard Boxes, Junk and Found Stuff? You’re in luck. And just think, you won’t only be saving money but you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood. Your neighbors will be whispering, “She thinks she’s soooo green, doesn’t she?” No one needs to know whether you did it out of your love for the environment or your love for your bank account.

Here are some great ideas for Costumes From the Closet or Second-Hand Store. I’m all about the Goodwill, and I’ve put together an old man costume, a Captain Cook costume for a biography presentation, and an unfortunate ghost costume that will forevermore be known as the “white trash ghost.” Poor Boy #2. I’m not sure he’ll ever live it down.

This article from WalletPop describes how to look at your local Dollar Store with a Halloween-costume state of mind.

How about dressing up little Junior as a Junk Drawer or a Sticky Note? Find out how to put together some creative costumes without spending a dime here.

My final piece of advice is to just let your kids have fun putting together their own costume. You might have to stick your pride in your back pocket for a while because you’re not going to win the prize for having the “best-dressed child” if he’s wearing an old Power Rangers mask, a baseball jersey, football pants, a superhero cape, a cowboy hat, and snowboots. But one of his best memories someday may just be the year he trick-or-treated as “Super Sports Cowboy Guy.” And after all, that’s what it’s all about, right?

If you’re a Gen-Xer like me, you have to check out these photos from Halloweens past at Are You There God, It’s Me Generation X. I guarantee they’ll take you right back!

Do you have a thriftilicious costume idea? Share, why don’t you?

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