How to Create Affordable Halloween Costumes

My gravitation towards Halloween costumes that avoid the “off-the-rack” super hero variety and land more in the “work with what you’ve got” camp started prior to the arrival of kids. My husband and I responded to a last-minute costume party invite dressed in jumbo black garbage bags, carrying white canes fashioned out of PVC pipe and sunglasses, and arrived as “blind dates.” When I was 8-months pregnant, I found myself having to emcee a Halloween costume contest. A pair of green tights with matching turtleneck and stocking cap, a yard of orange fabric, a black sharpie, and voila! My baby bump was transformed into a cute pumpkin.

Working in the theater business and having a daughter, I’ve learned tips and tricks from professional costumers that have made creating Halloween costumes for girls an affordable, creative adventure. Before you think you have to be Martha Stewart reincarnated, let me say that as a busy executive who lacks the artistic gene, I was able to pull it off.

Shop Your Closet and Then the Thrift Storeaffordable bumblebee costume
In the theater business, this is known as “pulling” a costume, which means searching what you already have, taking a trip to the thrift store, and embellishing with accessories. For a baby, solid-colored onesies and leggings can be used long after Halloween. You can embellish your look with headbands, hats, or an iron-on design printed on transfer paper (available at most fabric stores or office supply stores). Thrift stores bring out all their donated costumes in the fall, so shop early and often for the best selection. Organizing costume swaps with other moms and family members can also be productive. We’re all in the same boat and swapping is shared creativity at its best.

For the Crafty and Artistic
Even though I don’t consider myself an artist, hot glue is a transformational miracle. When my daughter was an infant, I dressed her in green leggings, a onesie and an embellished snap hoodie with flower petals that I gleaned off a craft store floor for free. Parent Magazine is also a great resource for home made costume ideas. If you have been endowed with the artistic gene or know someone you can commandeer, downplay the costume with a fabulous face paint (recommended for toddlers and older). It may not offer the repetitive wearability factor that many kids love with a costume, but face paint can certainly create an affordable wow factor.

Keep it Simple, Comfortable, and Flexible
Finally, I’ve learned the best Halloween costumes for kids have three things in common. They’re simple, comfortable, and flexible. Kids change their minds at the last minute; I’ve had to deep-six the witch’s hat and replace it with a tiara and lots of Mardi Gras beads, transforming my little witch into the exotic Black Princess. Take it as a compliment if your little one wants to be the same thing multiple years in a row! I still thank the Halloween gods for the leopard costume that kept my daughter happy for three consecutive years. Happy Halloween!

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