I have a secret.
I haven't "bought" a Halloween costume in almost 11 years.
Don't let this get out or I will be disbanded from the 'Mother
of the Year' club.
I am kidding. No such club exists. I think.
If you don't know much about me, know this: I am cheap.
Well, in certain areas of my life, I am cheap. No, actually, I
am cheap in all areas.
And one of the areas I hate spending money on the most is
Halloween costumes. I mean, they wear them for one or two occasions
a year and then done.
If we are lucky, they can use them to play dress up or to go to
school in when laundry day was busy.
KIDDING! A little.
But I am here to let you in on how you too can save money. No
more $50 costumes that come in a package, no sirree. Here is how
you can be a costume hero without having to skip paying the Nicor
bill this month!
I have girls but you could use similar ideas for boys'
The idea is to use as much as what you have around the house as
you can and then just buy a few accessories.
This is what my youngest is going to be this year.
Basically you need black leggings (most of you have this), a
black top (long sleeve since we live in Chicago).
Shoes don't count.
I tell them to wear broken in shoes because they will be doing a
lot of walking.
All I needed to buy was ears and the tail (the tail actually was
her request. Had it been just me I would have skipped it). I did
find an ear and tail set at a Joann Fabrics for under $5.
Add black face paint ($1 at a dime store) to make whiskers and
you are done!
Cost: $6 total!
OK, when my now 13-year-old was 7, she wanted to be Hannah
Montana for trick or treating. Back then, Hannah Montana in a bag
was everywhere in stores for only $29.99.
So we went to the local kids' resale shop and found a cool funky
top and pants.
When she was 9, she wanted to be Lady Gaga. We went to the same
shop, found a cool funky dress, a red beret and used some old funky
For both outfits, we only spent $5 each!
Add a cool wig (usually around $5 or less at discount stores),
some fun makeup (mom's makeup is fun when they are still little)
and what we call "church shoes" and you have yourself a pop
Cost: Less than a lunch at McDonald's!
My youngest was BIG TIME into all the Toy Story movies from the
age of 3 until...well, now. Last year she wanted to be Jessie and
saw a costume from the store that was expensive.
I said, "let's try to make it on our own!" Which is really code
for "mommy is cheap!"
All I did was use a pair of jeans she already had, bought some
cow print fabric at the craft store for less than $3.
I had a friend help me sew the cow print "patches" onto the
jeans. It took five minutes.
Then I took a white long sleeve top she already had in her
closet and used fabric paint to add the little embellishments that
Jessie has on her top. Add a cowboy hat I got at the party store
for $2 and we had Jessie!
Cost: Only $8 dollars!
This year my 13-year-old wants to dress up like the po-po. Only
this year she doesn't want a "Goodwill costume" like "every
So this is the thing, my father-in-law was a police officer his
whole life so he has a garage FULL of crap (I'm sorry,
"memorabilia") that he can share with her.
This is the vision I have in my head: One of his old uniform
tops with badge used as a dress (since he was/is big and she is
small) tied around the waist with a belt and black leggings
Doesn't that sound cute??
She isn't buying it. Oh well.
It's OK. I got off the hook for 11 years.
Kari Wagner is stay-at-home mom by day, superhero by night. She loves to write about her adventures in life, love and decorating.
See more of Kari's stories here.
Let us plan your weekend with the best family events and activities in Chicagoland.
Start the week right with deals, prizes, parent life hacks and more delivered straight to your inbox.
Need last-minute ideas for a weekend of family fun? No worries. We've got you.
Get the inside scoop on the people, places and things we are loving right now.
Resources, tips, inspiration and more for parents of children with special needs.
Score exclusive offers from our fabulous advertisers.