Purchasing Halloween costumes for children can put a large dent in the family budget. But there are ways to save and still enjoy the excitement of the October holiday.
Shop Early and Shop Around
As soon as the kids are back in school, start discussing what they may want to be for Halloween. Many online costume shops offer discounts if you purchase Halloween gear before the end of September. Compare prices in stores and online, as well as on auction sites.
If you need to buy a costume which has many pieces, consider buying one or two key pieces. When my daughter wanted to be Hermione from the Harry Potter series, I just purchased the black cape and a wand. She wore her own white shirt and pants underneath it instead of getting the special shirt, tie, and sweater too.
Many children’s consignment shops set up a costume section before the holiday, providing affordable choices for an outfit rarely worn more than once. Consider consigning your older costumes early to earn a few dollars to fund your current Halloween budget.
If you have a lot of kids, or several kids in your extended family, set up a hand-me-down system or swap night. Very small children usually don’t have their heart set on a particular costume, which makes it easy to get them excited about an outfit worn previously by a big brother or favorite cousin.
Last year, I recycled my older daughter’s toddler ladybug costume for my younger daughter. The costume was just as cute on the little one, and it’s a great memory to see photos of both children in the same costume years apart.
Use What You Have
Look around the house first. See if you can fashion an original costume from items in your kids’ closets. Cowboys wear jeans; sport stars dress in uniforms; ballerinas don tights and bodysuits. Hippies, hobos and clowns can easily be crafted with a little face paint and clothes from around the house.
A scary costume likely focuses on a horrific mask, so put basic black clothes on your child to draw attention to their frightening masked face. Or create your own unique creature with clothes, accessories, and craft supplies.
When my daughter wanted to be Jessie from the “Toy Story” movies, we took out her jeans and white shirt as the basis for her costume. It didn’t cost much to add some cow-print fabric as chaps pinned on her jeans and cuffs at her wrists, a red cowboy hat and a long braid made from red yarn.
Don’t Forget the Dress-Up Bin
Dress-up clothes are more affordable than traditional Halloween costumes. Search your own collection first, then check out the toy store’s pretend play aisle for everything from princesses and fairies to cooks, doctors and police uniforms.
One year my daughter wanted to be a fairy, and with a few simple items from her closet and the dress-up stash, we were able to make a costume without spending one dime.
Build excitement for being unique. If you craft your own costume from things you have, remind your child how original her costume will be. No one will be wearing the same costume at the Halloween party! Remind him that he will stand-out in the crowd, and in the costume contest.
Remember that Halloween is one night. A special, creative costume doesn’t have to break the bank and will make a memory that will last forever.