There’s no question about it – Halloween is a lot of fun. Silly costumes, spooky food, ghoulish pumpkins and haunted houses? What’s not to love?!
Um, the price tag?
Halloween is one of those holidays that I enjoy celebrating, but don’t want to spend money on.
Like St. Patrick’s Day.
At the same time, there’s no way I’m going to a party without a costume. This is perhaps the only time of year you can wear the most outrageous clothes that ever existed and totally fit in. You don’t even have to match! Not wearing a costume is what makes you stand out. Going to a party to be the odd man (or woman) out is no fun in my book.
And my poor kids. They have two former band nerds as parents. I studied math in college and Mr. Crumbs studied economics. Neither of those scream “popular” and making my kids go sans costumes will not help grow their friend base.
So we’ll do the next best thing: use what you already have on hand. This goes for both costumes and food.
We were recently handed down a few play clothes from some friends (thanks Stacie and Julie!). I pulled out the tub of clothes and asked them both – what do you want to dress up as for Halloween?
They each chose an outfit, no questions asked.
Certainly this would not have been so easy if I asked them the same question in the costume isle at Walmart.
This may become more difficult as the years go by, but we can save money right off the top by eliminating options. Tell the kids (and ourselves) that no money will be spent on costumes and they must use what’s in the house. Watch their creativity flourish!
Need some help getting started? I rounded up 22 fun and super-easy costumes that you can make using things you already have at home. Most (if not all) are no-sew, mainly because I don’t sew and I wouldn’t offer anything that I couldn’t do myself. But if you can sew, make whatever you want!
Some can be turned into a husband/wife or sibling effort, just look for the “tip” underneath the idea. Most of these were originally written for adults, but they can be used for kids too.
** Tip: Pair up with someone dressed liked a doctor and you can be two of the seven dwarfs.
2. Pregnant Woman / Man: Put on an oversized shirt and strap a pillow to your belly. Walk with a waddle.
3. Mr. or Ms. Vain: Put on something nice, do your hair and makeup and grab the biggest hand-mirror you own. Stare at yourself as often as possible.
4. Trash: Cut leg and arm holes out of a large black garbage bag and add balled up newspaper.
5. Ventriloquist. Wearing whatever is comfortable, grab the biggest dummy or stuffed animal you own. Let the “dummy” do all the talking.
6. Detective: Put on a nice pants suit, and borrow your kids cops/robbers gear (handcuffs, toy gun, badge, etc.) Don’t forget to bring the keys!
7. Granny. Put on a mis-matched and “old” outfit, grab a nice quilt and wrap it around your shoulders. Skip your contacts and wearing your galsses on the end of your nose, adding baby powder to your hear. Pretend to not hear well and pick one story (“when I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to school, uphill, in the snow, both ways…”) and retell it over and over.
8. Lounge Singer: Put on a nice yet cheesy suit, bring a microphone and break into song whenever possible.
9. Elf on a Shelf: Put on a red shirt, red pants and a red Santa hat. Tie a red handkerchief around the neck and randomly sit in weird places throughout the night.
10. Russell from the movie “Up”: Put on a scouts uniform (or shorts and a button down shirt), neckerchief, backpack, ball cap and a sash with merit badges (or various pins). Tie a 3-4 helium balloons to the backpack.
11. Bag of Jelly Bellies: Blow up many mini-balloons (25-30). Using a sharpie, write the nutritional information and ingredients on the back of a large clear plastic recycling bag. Cut two small holes for legs and step carefully into the bag. Fill the bag with balloons and cinch the top loosely around the neck.
13. Deviled Egg: Follow #12 and add devil ears (cape and pitchfork optional).
14. Bacon: Cut two large pieces of cardboard into the shape of bacon (think wiggly lines). Paint it red and allow it to dry. Randomly paint long white wiggly lines to be the fat. Hot-glue (or duct tape) straps to the back of each piece.
** Tip: Husband and wife can become bacon and eggs!
15. Napolean Dynamite: Put on a pair of jeans. On a plain white shirt, write with red marker “vote for pedro.”
16. Lego: Put on comfortable clothes. Cut holes for arms and head out of a cardboard box and paint it one solid color. Paint circle Styrofoam pieces and glue to the front and back of the box.
** Tip: Husband and wife can become building blocks!
17. Tom Cruise a la Risky Business: Put on an oversized button down white long-sleeve shirt (and a pair of short shorts) with blue socks. Flip up the collar, carry a microphone and slide all over the floors.
18. Hawaiian Punch: Put on a Hawaiian-style shirt with khaki shorts. Wear red oven mitts, taped to the wrist with masking tape.
19. Mixed Greens: Make sure everything you wear is green. All sorts of shades are welcome and encouraged!
20. BP Oil Spill: Smear black paint on any skin that would be showing and wear a black shirt with black pants.
21. Twister: Paint red, blue, yellow and green dots on a white shirt. Carry around the Twister spinner.
22. Bunch of Grapes: Wear a green or purple shirt. Blow up many mini-balloons in a coordinating color and pin them to your shirt (pin at the balloon ends).
What about the food?
If you’re able to (meaning if there are no rules against it), go homemade. Homemade treats always trump store-bought. Bake cookies (bust out those cute cutters!), bars or cupcakes and use fall colors (red, orange, brown and dark green) in the recipe and decorations to make them more Halloween-ish. Take your favorite healthy recipe and turn it into a treat by dipping one end into caramel, chocolate or royal icing.
- Dehydrated fruit and/or homemade gummies using blackberries or blueberries (spooky!)
- Snack-sized apples dipped in homemade caramel
- Strawberries dipped in white chocolate with ghost faces
- Draw pumpkin faces on clementines or oranges
- Peanuts in the shell
If you’re a traditionalist and there must be candy involved, adorn each serving with a single piece. If the single piece is large, consider halving or even quartering it before placing it on top. Not only will you reduce the candy aspect, but you’ll use less candy overall (and therefore pay for less).
If you’re not able to go homemade and it must be sealed, try all natural gummies or crackers – like the Annie’s bunnies. Or draw pumpkin faces on packaged sugar-free fruit cups (think peaches) instead of clementine’s.
There’s the non-food route too. Temporary tattoos and stickers, themed pencils and erasers, bouncy balls, spider rings and glow stick jewelry can all be found at your local dollar store for cheap.
However you celebrate the holiday, there’s plenty of options without having to break the bank.
How do you save on Halloween?