National Retail Federation predicts that American consumers will spend a total of $2.6 billion on costumes this year (split roughly even between kids’ and adults’ costumes). Even if you’re not spooked by goblins or witches, you may find that number a little scary.Halloween is just around the corner, and the
Fortunately, it’s possible to trim your costume budget without cutting out the fun. Here’s a look at ways to do just that.
Wear what you have. Jody Mace, who runs the blog Charlotte on the Cheap, says when her kids were younger, they kept a dress-up box for year-round fun and put together Halloween costumes from there instead of shopping for Halloween. If you must buy a costume, look for something you could wear in everyday life. Last year, my fiancé and I dressed up as a gangster and flapper for a Halloween party. He tried on a gangster costume in the store but instead bought a black pinstriped suit and added a fedora he already owned. The pinstriped suit cost more than the one in the costume shop but it was nice enough for business meetings and a relative’s wedding, which meant he got more wear out of it.
Attend a costume swap. Take costumes you’ve outgrown to a costume swap and trade them for new-to-you items. If your community doesn’t have a costume swap, consider organizing your own. “I think it’s a great idea to organize one,” Mace says. “It could be a school event for kids if parents organized a costume swap one weekend as part of a fall festival.”
Get creative. If you already know how to sew or craft, then you’re well on your way to a budget-friendly costume. But even those who aren’t super crafty can make these DIY costumes at Buzzfeed and eHow. Or consider repurposing last year’s costume. Adding wings to a ball gown, for instance, could turn a princess into a fairy.
Troll thrift stores. Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of costume ideas, and not just in the costume section. Large swathes of fabric could be used for a cape or a toga. “I’m not much of a sewer but we would make things out of that fabric like a cape,” Mace says. “It’s ridiculous how much money it can cost if you buy a cape as part of an official costume, but it’s very easy to throw that together yourself.” Keep your eyes peeled for unusual thrift store finds throughout the year and use those pieces to create a more original costume. My flapper costume from last year came from adding fringe to a shift dress I bought secondhand.
Shop on November 1. The day after Halloween is a great time to scoop up costumes on clearance, according to DealNews. Mace says she’d buy items like scarves, coats, wands, and hats for her kids’ dress-up box when they were on sale. Then the kids could enjoy them all year long and wear them the following Halloween.