One of my pet peeves is spending a lot of money on something that you only wear once, like a wedding dress or a graduation cap and gown. These events are important occasions in our lives, so I do understand why we spend money on what we wear to our weddings and graduations. However, Halloween can be an event where you don’t spend a lot of money (or time) to create fun and memorable costumes for you or your kids.
Work with what you have
When Jude was seven months old, Anna and I wanted to dress him up but didn’t want to buy him a new outfit for an occasion that just the grandparents would experience. We brainstormed during the weeks leading up to Halloween and were able to piece a costume together with items that we already had at home. Jude didn’t have any hair at the time, and the hair that he did have was light blond and very fine. I had the idea to dress him up as Mr. Clean, so my mother-in-law saved an empty box of Mr. Clean magic erasers for us, and we propped the box next to Jude for a picture. Anna had a small magnetic hoop earring in her jewelry box, and we cut two small white eyebrows out of a scrap piece of white felt. Jude wore a white onesie, gray sweatpants, and Mr. Clean was born. We snapped a few pictures of him on my parents’ couch, and his first Halloween was a wrap. Jude was inside and warm with a comfortable costume, and Anna and I had the picture to prove we’d celebrated.
It was a magical night because now there’s nothing that Jude loves to do more than clean. He wipes down walls and countertops and would use our Dyson every day if we let him. His preschool teacher said that he’ll run a cleaning business someday. Hopefully his love of cleaning sticks around into his teenage years.
Dollar store accessories
Our local dollar store comes to the rescue for our family on many fronts: greeting cards, seasonal decorations, sidewalk chalk, and more. Halloween is no different. For Jude’s second Halloween, we bought a kids’ cowboy hat for one dollar and pieced together the rest of the costume. We had a flannel shirt, cowboy boots, and a bandana. We’d raised our budget from $0 from the previous year to $1 for the cowboy costume.
We didn’t go outside to trick-or-treat that year either and went to my brother’s house for dinner instead. We snapped pictures of Jude in his costume after dinner, ate some candy, and celebrated Halloween together while handing out candy to trick or treaters. Jude was 2 and didn’t know the difference. He was happy to be with family and to eat candy.
The next year, we bought $1 worth of black face paint at the dollar store and made Jude into a Chicago Bears’ football player. We had a kids’ Bears’ jersey that had been handed down to us from family, so we put that on Jude the night of Halloween, painted his face, and handed out candy. Dollar store to the rescue again.
Buy used costumes online
Last year was our first year with two kiddos to dress up for Halloween. Anna found a $3 used pumpkin costume from a local sell and swap Facebook group she’s in, and the costume worked out perfectly for Adelaide. We put Adelaide in a footie sleeper underneath the pumpkin costume, so she was warm and happy and cute. $3 was the most we’d ever paid for a Halloween costume, so we can’t complain.
Last September, Jude and Anna were outside talking with our neighbors, and Jude randomly mentioned to our neighbor, as 3 year-olds do, that he wanted to be a firefighter for Halloween. It turns out that our neighbor had a firefighter costume that fit Jude that she no longer needed. They generously gifted us the costume, and Jude was so proud.
Last Halloween was also when Jude discovered his love of yelling at trick or treaters. He was so excited to hand out candy and began yelling to people as they approached our house: “WE’VE GOT CANDY! COME HERE! WANT CANDY?!” On any other day of the year, this message might have come across the wrong way, but kids and their parents thought Jude was cute, so it all worked out. Anna and I got a good laugh and enjoyed Jude’s enthusiasm.
Plan ahead for next year
The pumpkin costume for Adelaide was big for her last year, but we bought it anyway because we knew she’d be able to wear it two years in a row. Halloween is here again already, and the same costume will work well this year – and we don’t have to spend time or energy this year hunting down a costume for her.
For Jude’s costume this year, he had his pick of play costumes that he got for Christmas last year from Anna’s parents: a doctor, a fireman, a police officer, and a construction worker. A few weeks ago, Anna got the box of costumes out and let Jude have his pick. He went for the firefighter again this year, so last year’s Christmas present doubled as his Halloween costume. Win, win.
New works, too
I’m not shaming you if you like to buy new costumes every year. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s fun to peruse the aisles to see what the popular costumes are every year. What works for our family is to find low cost and low maintenance options.
What are you or your kids dressing up as for Halloween this year? Share your ideas below. I’d love to hear about your plans to celebrate Halloween.