My kids and I love Halloween. There’s just something fun about dressing up, but costumes from the store are not cheap (they’re typically not good quality either). While a store bought costume can give you a lot of options and is certainly the fastest way to get a costume, with a little preplanning you can create something cool and fun.
Some of the best costumes can be make from clothes you already have or inexpensively from thrift stores. Because I sew, over the years I’ve had some extravagant costumes (that weren’t very cheap but made a huge impact), to fun costumes that cost under $10.
Thrift stores typically have a rack of costumes near the front of the store right now, although I find most are for younger children where I’ve shopped.
Red Riding Hood (just need a red cape and just about any “little girl” clothes and a wicker basket. I made my cape, but you can check thrift stores or halloween shops for an inexpensive one. Everything else I already owned.
Dorothy from the wizard of oz. Red shoes, a denim skirt, plain blouse and a basket with a small stuffed dog inside, you’re set to go. I had long hair at the time that was perfect for pigtails. If you don’t a simple wig from the halloween shop would create the perfect look. I didn’t glitter my red shoes or anything crazy. I already owned a pair of red pumps, my kids had plenty of stuff puppies to use, so there was no cost to this one.
“Biker Chick”. I already owned a black leather jacket that I no longer wore regularly but stuffed in the back of my closet for just these occassions. I found some fake full arm tattoos at the halloween shop (like a nylon for you arm.. they pulled up.. nothing to paste on or wash off). I also found some fake lip piercings that just hook on. I did buy a black punk-type wig, but these were my only purchases. Worn with jeans, a t-shirt, leather vest (which I also already owned from long ago), worn with some boots.
80’s rock/punk girl (aka, my madonna look). I found a pleated plaid skirt in the discount rack at walmart, worm with a regular black tank top and I bought a $2 pick t-shirt which I cut and ripped for that one shoulder punk look. I bit a tulle purchased from the fabric store (very inexpensive) make a “belt” and hair tie up. High heel black boots (already owned), bangle bracelets (left over from my teenage years in the 80’s) and some blue eyeshadow round out my “Desparately Seeking Susan”. Every teenage girl recognized me as an 80’s punk girl 🙂
When my children were young, we made costumes. About this time I would ask them what they wanted to be. Most of the time, they wanted to be something silly. If you sew, it’s amazing what you can create from a simple sweatshirt pattern.
A “candy bat”. Wings sewn into a sweatshirt. Even if you don’t sew, it’s pretty easy just to cut wings (search for patterns online for the general shape), and tack them to the sleeves.
The “Bad Humour Man”. My son wanted to be the ice cream man one year. I white shirt and white pants with a painters cap was all we needed for this one. I glued a felt patch over the paint stores logo that said “Bad Humour Man” (written in fabric paint). We made a custom trick or treat bag, also written in fabric paint with flavors like “Rocky Roach” and “Bloody Sunday”. Be creative.
Witch. You can get a pointy hat and small broom just about anywhere. A dark long dress and some accessories make a costume and can be reused. My daughter was a witch for several of the past years, but never looked quite the same.
Some other simple ideas… Hobo, Hippy, Clown, Ghost, Zombie, Vampire. You can find a lot of ideas online, and youtube is full of how-to videos for makeup tips for costumes.
Just a few websites with costume ideas
Gypsy, Farmer, FBI agent, nerd, chef
Cardboard Box costumes, Sweatsuit costumes
Last minute costumes
(10 pages of ideas)
If you have some crafting skills, Martha Stewart has about 4 dozen suggestions
If you’re going trick or treating with children, and have a dark costume, make sure there’s something bright on or near them. Either a glow in the dark bag, or something reflective on the costume itself (my son’s bat costume had reflective orange “veins” in the wings and he flapped while he ran (gotta love them when they’re little and full of energy).
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