5 Steps to a Cooler Halloween Costume That Saves You Money, Too!

Steer clear of marketing mania and gender stereotypes and still have fun. By Sierra Filucci
5 Steps to a Cooler Halloween Costume That Saves You Money, Too!

Books, TV, and pop culture are great places to get inspiration for Halloween costumes. But something strange happens every Halloween: Costume manufacturers promote "sexy" versions of pop culture characters for girls (not only sexy princesses but sexy snowmen and turtles!). Boys don't get treated much better with gory costumes from TV shows that are in no way age-appropriate (Walter from Breaking Bad for kids?). This kind of off-target marketing to kids seems to work, though, since folks are expected to spend more than $8 billion on costumes and decorations for the holiday.

If you want to escape from the marketing madness and instead embrace creativity and age-appropriate fun this Halloween, take back control from marketers and retailers with a little DIY. It doesn't need to take more time than grabbing something off the rack, and it's a chance to get kids' creative juices flowing, save some money, and maybe even express your own values.

1. Foster creativity. If a kid wants to dress up like a character from a TV show or a movie, ask her to create the costume out of stuff in the house. A Big Bird costume takes no more than a paper grocery bag and some leftover yellow party streamers.

2. Shop your closet. You'll be amazed at what kids can construct themselves (Ramona the Pest, Daddy Warbucks, even Cinderella!) if you avoid the costume aisles at big-box stores.

3. Think thrift. Thrift stores are great resources for costumes and a way to sidestep consumerism in a quick and easy way. Many second-hand shops are filled with almost-new costumes you can buy off the rack or embellish with a few special touches. What used to be a giant yellow M&M becomes a cute bumblebee with some black stripes and fairy wings.

4. Let go. Halloween is about letting kids experiment with dressing up. Kids don't need to look perfect -- if they like their costumes, that's all that matters.

5. Be brainy. Here's something you won't see at the costume store: puns. Pom-poms and a football jersey rooting for "ceiling" = a ceiling fan! An egg costume with devil horns = deviled eggs! Google "pun costumes" or "wordplay costumes" for lots of fun ideas. Kids love the looks on people's face when they reveal their puns -- and this approach challenges kids' imaginations more than your wallet.

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About Sierra Filucci

Sierra has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade, with a special interest in women's and family subjects. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.... Read more

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Comments (13)

Parent written by MrsMoneySaver

Thanks for these ideas.. I am excited for the halloween party especially for our costumes. I just ordered online at discount coupon site (Mamma.com - Claire's shopping) it is very nice because I saved money for our costumes. Happy Halloween!!
Adult written by Steve S.

Very Nice Ideas...The Countdown to Halloween has begun. Find the best Halloween stores to get ready for the big celebration with the ultimate collection of Halloween costumes, masks, wigs and animated props. Have a safe & happy Halloween!
Parent written by smurraynarb

Encourage and embrace your kids' own creativity! My daughter (age 9) made her costume 6 months ago out of a box from a small shelf I ordered online. She cut out arm and eye holes, used scraps to create antennae and "rocket boosters", and used markers to draw various buttons, knobs and displays. It looks a little ridiculous, but she absolutely loves it and is hoping to win "Best Homemade Costume" in her class Halloween parade. I really hope she does!
Teen, 14 years old written by Strategist101

Cardboard, duct tape, khaki cargo pants, black knee-pads, faux leather jacket (thrift shop, zipper removed), an old leather 1911 holster (check your nearby military surplus store), get a "Jango Fett Blaster" (walmart, online) and spray paint it black or silver. Cut the cardboard into fett-style upper chest plates, and wrap them in duct tape. Spray paint them gray or silver to keep a smooth tone. Attach them to a tea-stained undershirt with nylon straps, velcro, buttons, or cloth. Instant "STAR WARS" rebel smuggler.
Adult written by Senser123

I feel Halloween should not be about the costumes you wear when trick or treating it should be more about getting a fun scare from a kid in costume especially since consumerism has gone more hand in hand with holidays than in the past but these money saving Costume ideas are cool like a cucumber.
Educator and Parent of a 4 and 8 year old written by Amanda Bindel

Great ideas! My girls found their inspiration in favorite books and programs -- I have a Moaning Myrtle and a Lt. Saavik (from The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek TOS)...a little more work to put together but unique and fun without being "licensed."
Teen, 14 years old written by GhirahimIsFabulous

What I am doing is taking my old Camp Half Blood shirt and get a sweatshirt I got for my birthday (that says Athena Cabin on it) then a blonde wig, dagger, and bam! I am "Annabeth Chase".
Educator written by CSM Screen name...

This is a great article. I read alot of Yahoo articles and it's really refreshing to see a well-written article with some actual meat to it. Great ideas--especially the pun costumes. Thanks!
Teen, 13 years old written by smartkitty

this is why I useily dress up as a animal . this year I'm going as a racoon with a garbage can trick or treat bucket:)


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