3 sisters. 2 states. 1 story.


Halloween Costumes on the Cheap

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We are a little excited about Halloween. (Read that: I am a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about Halloween.) So, I thought I'd talk a little about how to save on Halloween costumes without scrimping on quality.


Costumes that you purchase outright are often very expensive. Sometimes it's cheaper to make your own. (And sometimes if you've chosen something obscure, you have no choice.)

In our case, we have a very tall person in our midst. And for some reason, costume makers do not take that into account. So many times, I have had to make Ryan Barrett Walkush's costumes with clothes that will actually fit him.

The year we went as Elvis, I made his costume from black pants and a black jacket purchased from Ross Dress for Less. (Tip: Buy from the cheapest places you can for Halloween attire.) I painted the stitching and jail numbers on with glitter puff paint and sewed the striped shirt myself. The total cost for the costume couldn't have been more than $30 (certainly less than a licensed costume from Elvis Presley Enterprises, and it fit him perfectly!).

Ryan's Freddie from Scooby Doo costume was simply a purchased white sweater from Hamricks (el cheapo grande!), a piece of orange chiffon fabric tied into a scarf, and a blonde wig. We owned the blue collared shirt and jeans. Total cost: $30.

That year, we also made Aidyn's costume because he wanted to be Shaggy. That was a purchase of a lime green t-shirt from AC Moore. We already owned the white undershirt and the corduroy pants. We drew on the soul patch with a makeup pencil and let him grow his hair out. Total cost: $2.50 for green t-shirt. (My agonizing over the extra weeks of unkempt hair = FREE.)

The year we went as SuperFamily - nearly the entire family's costume was DIY. We had just had a baby and pretty much needed to work with what we had. Ryan had the Superman t-shirt and of course, we both had business attire. We popped the lenses out of a pair of old sunglasses for Clark Kent's glasses and designed and printed the Daily Planet press passes ourselves. The baby-sized Superman costume was a gift. We purchased two SuperDog bandannas for our dogs. Total cost: $10 for two dog bandannas.


You might have heard me say before that you should try to repurpose your Halloween costume items when you can. If you can invest in pieces that you can use from year to year, then you can amortize the cost of them over more than just one costume and lower the price per use. You'll extend the life of the purchase.

I would like to think Martha would say, "It's a good thing." I would also like to think Snoop would concur, "Fo Shizzle." And in my head, it's a way to get Ryan Barrett Walkush to stop saying, "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you honey" every time he finds out how much Halloween costumes cost.

Shoes will usually be your biggest investment. And I do believe in making sure your footwear matches your costume when you can. So, if you can get a few different costumes out of your purchase, that's where you can stretch your dollars.

Ryan has a pair of costume boots that have seen quite a bit of use. They cost about $60 when we bought them, but we've used them three times thus far - Han Solo, Pirate, and Wolverine (because he is so tall that the costume looked like capri pants on him - and the knee boots covered that nicely). So that averages to $20 per use.

I have a pair of white go-go boots that I've also used three times - Princess Leia, Vegas Elvis, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Go-Go Dancer). About $20 per use at this point.

Hair Extensions and Wigs can also be repurposed if they're not too "out there." For example, the bright orange Daphne wig I purchased when we were the Scooby Doo gang has probably one use. However, when I purchased hair extensions that were the color of my own hair to go with my Wonder Woman costume, I knew that those might be repurposed some day.

And, I was able to reuse those again the year we went as Movie Monsters. I was a mummy and I figured I needed some extra oomph since the costume wrapped around my head and enveloped my own hair without them. They looked great!


Of course, make sure your friends and family know to save any costume-worthy clothes, accessories, and shoes for you to build your costume closet. Hey, over the years, I've racked up:

  • some vintage red shoes that I've used as Dorothy's slippers
  • the red Candies that happen to be dead ringers for the shoes Sandy wore in final scene of Grease
  • a cool flower print go-go dress (show above)
  • some strappy shoes that were perfect match for a mummy dress
  • a vintage gold 1970s jumpsuit
  • a beaded bohemian "hippie" top (show accessorized here)
  • a 3/4 sleeve black maxi dress and black witch's boots (shown accessorized here)
  • a short-sleeved red dress with white trim that makes the perfect Little Orphan Annie Dress (show accessorized here)
So, the moral of this story is to save where you can, splurge where you need to, and keep an eye out for hand-me-downs that have potential.
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