Frugal Halloween Costume Ideas

by Kelly · 11 comments

in A Frugal Family

Halloween is right around the corner and that means one more thing for me to add to my to do list. Luckily my kids are at that golden age of young enough so that their costume choices can still be influenced and not yet old enough to be past the Halloween experience. So I get to ‘suggest’ costume ideas to them and they just get excited about dressing up.

Halloween isn’t really big in France- there’s a school holiday right about then and it is seen as more of an adult holiday. But our local English-speaking organization has a party every year, and I love to go to it.

The first few years, their Halloween costumes were limited to what I could make: a pumpkin, a ladybug and Yoda. This year is no different- I feel like my time, financial and creative resources are limited to cutting eye holes in a white sheet. But I’m determined to make at least a little more of an effort and so this year we’re going to have Harry Potter, a pirate and a robin red-breast.

My oldest son has his heart set on Harry Potter. He already has dark pants, and a collared polo shirt. I just need to find him a tie and some glasses. Then I’ll make him a simple robe out of felt (no hemming required); we’ll use a chopstick for a wand and some eyeliner for the scar. I’ll try to dig up an owl beanie baby from somewhere.

A pirate is equally simple (I hope!). A black felt eye patch, a red bandanna, a scarf for a belt. We have dark sweat pants and a white t shirt already, and I’ll draw on a wickedly curling mustache with some mascara. He has his heart set on a sword, so I’ll get out some cardboard and aluminum foil. A stuffed parrot will complete the look!

I saw some directions for a cute baby bird costume on Martha Stewart, although I can’t find them now. But my daughter already has a red t shirt and brown pants so I’ll just make her wings and a beaked hat using red and brown felt.

Do you have any great, frugal Halloween costume ideas? Something easy to make is a bonus! What was your favorite Halloween costume from your childhood? (Mine was a cowgirl outfit.)


1 Dana September 29, 2008

I bought the kids costumes last year at Kmart for 90% after halloween. My son is going to be a fireman for $1.99 yeah! When kids are very little get them a costume that they will also have fun with for dress up. I hate to use some just once.

One great place to find costume ideas too is at a thrift store.

2 penguinlady September 29, 2008

Some of my favorite costumes as a child were made out of paper grocery bags! One year I was an owl – painted paper bag body, a bag cut in half for the wings, a third trimmed for the head. The next year was Cookie Monster, much in the same way. My mother would NEVER spend money on a pre-made costume, but I had so much fun coming up with creative costumes, they were usually better than anything you could buy, anyway!

3 Shevy September 29, 2008

For us it`s Purim costumes (in the spring) but one of my grown sons is actually born on Halloween, so we`ve had a bunch of costume themed birthday parties too.

Being a princess or a bride has always been fun for the little girls in the family and I still remember being a princess myself when I was about 7 or 8. An adult`s fancy dress pinned to fit, lots of costume jewellery and a dollar store tiara. Fast and inexpensive.

When my Elder Daughter was in her late teens I discovered that her old school tunic fit *me* although she`d outgrown it (she`s about 6 inches taller than I am), so I went to the Megillah reading (when we read the Book of Esther, for those who don`t know what I`m talking about) dressed as a school girl in navy tights, white long sleeved shirt and navy pleated tunic. I was even totally modest because the tunic ended at least 4 inches below my knees. I liked that costume because it was totally different and completely free.

4 Vintage Mommy September 30, 2008

Vintage Girl wants to be a fairy and has fashioned herself a costume by festooning herself with some of my old scarves and wearing some fairy wings given to her by a cousin . . . can’t get cheaper than that!

5 lenno_cornish September 30, 2008

Halloween is such a funny holidays. Luckily the variety of costumes is huge and you are free to be whom you like.

6 Kelly October 1, 2008

@ Dana, that’s a great idea. We actually have some Superman and Spiderman costumes, and some cowboy outfits that they use for dressing up with. The costumes that they have each year are just incorporated into the dress-up box.

7 Staci October 1, 2008

My daughter used to love playing dress up with her old Hallowwen costumes. Now with the twins I have been asking my friends if they have any Halloween costumes for sale. Most kids only wear them once then donate to thrift stores.

8 Crystal October 1, 2008

I’m a big fan of reusable costume parts. The week of Halloween seems to be when my weather realizes it’s fall and I’ve finally wised up enough to plan for cold-night costumes even if we’re wearing shorts and tank tops a week earlier. My favorite way to do this is by buying the kids new pajamas/long underwear to incorporate into their costumes. I find that it’s something they need this time of year anyway since they’ve inevitably outgrown last year’s warm sleepwear.

This year Miss Divatude wants to be a pop star so I bought cute pink leopard print PJs which will dominate the costume and I’m filling out the look with part of a funky witch costume I bought on sale (and a few other cheap accessories). Mudpie has decided to be a scarecrow with a pumpkin head, so I got him classic red long underwear that he can wear with the overalls and flannel shirt he already owns. His father picked up a nice fake pumpkin at a craft store that he’s carved with a jack-o-lantern face and a hole in the bottom so the boy can slide his big ol’ noggin into it. The pajama plan also makes it easier to peel them down for sleep when they’re too tired to properly change. I think I spend more on costumes than I have to, but when November 1st comes around all of the elements are bound for either the dress-up dresser or the kid’s wardrobes. There’s nothing disposable and that feels frugal enough for me. When I can manage the difference I choose value over price tag.

I can’t predict my kid’s sizes well enough to buy costumes in advance but last year in November I bought a kit for making calaveras (sugar skulls) at like 60% off and I’m so excited to get to make them with the kids this month. Fall crafts and hot spiced cider, I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of October.

9 Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice) October 2, 2008

Frugal Halloween is so easy to do, and it really helps (forces) you to bring out your creativity! The internet can be such a great resource for those of us who aren’t as creative and could use some ideas to work from.

Homemaker Barbi (Danelle Ice)

10 MamaBird/SurelyYouNest October 2, 2008

My daughter wants to be a butterfly again this year – score! Meaning: leotard, wings from dress up chest. Possibly feelers if I can rig some pipe cleaners off of a headband. Don’t get me wrong; I love Halloween and dress-up, but I am thrilled silly to have easy and zero cost. The little guy is wearing a frog or giraffe costume that has made the round of the cousins. He will be thrilled! I 2nd looking for dress up at thrift stores and rummage sales. That is how we filled our dress up boxes for $1 each.

11 Shawna October 2, 2008

Some frugal costume ideas from my kids (well, my girl mostly…the boy always wants to be some sort of superhero, so that’s a little tougher):

1. This year, the girl will be a black cat. Take last years black gymnastic leotard, some black tights and black shoes, and then stuff a leg of an old pair of black tights, and pin it to her butt for a tail. A $4 set of cat ears and some eyeliner whiskers completes the look.

2. Last year, she was Rapunzel. She wore her fancy Christmas dress from the year before, and I bought a blonde wig for $7.

3. A scarecrow: I took Jeans and a plaid shirt, sewed some yellow, fringed felt to the sleeves, the bottom of the pants, and the pockets, added a few fabric patches here and there, and a straw hat from the dress up drawer.

I usually get the superhero costumes on the cheap at thrift stores or garage sales, but I might have to spring for batman this year. I’ll buy it big so it can be used in the dress up drawer or maybe even next year!

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