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15 Halloween Costume Hacks That Help You Save Money

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Here’s the problem with store-bought Halloween costumes. They are cheaply made and terribly expensive; and you or your child will look just like a whole bunch of other people at the party or walking the neighborhoods. Years ago, before this “buying a pre-made costume” became so popular and profitable for the costume industry, kids and parents spent time making their own costumes – they dressed as ghosts, hobos, and, if mom were a really talented seamstress, some pretty cool costumes were made.

No one seems to have the time today to put together homemade costumes. Very few homes have sewing machines, and teens are pretty happy buying makeup and wigs to emulate the latest hideous creatures from the latest TV series or horror flicks – nothing really too creative there. However, with a little ingenuity and creative thought, we could come up with some very unique costumes, the cost of which will easily beat even the best sale prices.

Other people have shared their creativity for all to see, with some of the most inexpensive, creative costuming hacks that are also super easy to put together, even if you are the least crafty person on the planet.

Here are some great ideas for you and your kids this Halloween:

1. Become a Human Lego with a Box and Some Styrofoam Cylinders

Image via Crystal & Co.

Legos are one of the most popular toys with elementary aged children today, probably because the company has created Lego sets that relate to every movie, superhero, and other famous character that is also popular. The latest Lego creations now relate to the new Star Wars movie soon to be released. So what could be more perfect than to go as a Lego? And how easy is this. A cardboard box painted one of the bright Lego-type colors and matching clothes is the first step. Then, buy a bunch of Styrofoam cylinders, paint them the same color, and glue them on the box. The entire costume may take an hour of work plus drying time. And the cost? $10 – $12 at the most.

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2. A Cardboard Cylinder, a Printer that Enlarges, and Some Cheap Gathered Cloth – Starbucks Latte

Image via Ever Blooming Originals

Here is a costume for any age, and how simple to make. Go to a big box home improvement center and buy a cardboard cylinder that is used to hold concrete pilings when posts must be secured into the ground. They come in different sizes, so pick the right one for the wearer. The Starbucks logo may be a bit trickier, but it is not that tough. Print out an enlarged copy of that logo and take it to your local office supply store to make it even bigger. Then, using it as a pattern, you can cut out green felt or construction paper and glue the logo on. The whipped cream topping? Buy a large amount of white fabric, glue a fold along one long edge, run a cord through that fold and pull – voila! Your topping is finished. If I were an adult and made this costume for myself, I would seriously consider showing up at Starbucks on Halloween morning – I’m sure it would be good for a free latte.

3. Strips of Felt or Ribbon, a Floppy Hat, Two Styrofoam Cones – Instant Piñata!

Image via The FW

Again, a costume for all ages. In this case, it appears that the underlayment for the costume may be a lightweight sleeper, but any adult could do this with leggings and a top. The strips? Depending upon how “sturdy” and maybe re-usable you want the costume to be, you can use strips of colored construction paper, felt, or ribbon – just staple them on to the underlayment. The hat? Get a floppy fishing hat, cover it with strips, and, if you want the two horns, roll up heavy duty paper.  Stapling all those strips will take some time, but if you do it over several days, not too bad! If you use ribbon or felt, the cost may be a bit higher, but certainly no more than $30. If you make one for yourself and attend a party, you may want to forego taking a stick – it’s just too tempting.

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4. Yellow Dress and Shoes and an Umbrella – the Unforgettable Morton Salt Girl

Image via Polyvore

Morton Salt, a company that has been around since 1848. Think about that. It began in Chicago, 12 years before the Civil War and is still the most prominent box of salt on grocery stores shelves today in 2015. Their original slogan was “When it rains, it pours,” and that is the reason, of course, for the Morton Salt girl on the package to be carrying an umbrella. The only thing that could make this costume better is if it actually rains on Halloween night when this kid goes trick or treating. Sure, you may not have such a cool yellow coat at home or those fancy shoes. However, it doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. Check out Coupofy or RetailMeNot for seasonal discounts and special promo codes. Those usually pop up in great variety a few weeks before Halloween as a lot of retailers issue special holiday discounts!

5. Turn Yourself into a Riddle with a Tee and Glue-on Letters

Image via Woman’s Day

So, this may take you a while to absorb. And if you use this as a costume, you will have many scratching their heads for at least a few moments. If you are also scratching your head, here is your explanation. The phrase itself is a cheer that might be given at a sports event, if you are an excited fan. The operative word here is “fan.” So, you are a “ceiling fan.” What a great creative idea when you are hard-pressed for a costume and you need one at the last minute. You can easily find the letters at a fabric/craft store and glue them on in minutes. And if that’s still too much work? Stay tuned!

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6. A Neutral-Colored Outfit and Packs of Post-Its Transform You into a Bulletin Board

Image via Woman’s Day

How easy is this? A package of different colored post-it notes, some quick note-making, a neutrally colored outfit and you are an instant bulletin board. Now, that is really simple, right? Not simple enough?

7. A Black Tee and Snack Trash Becomes a Movie Theater Floor

Image via Woman’s Day

We’ve all experienced this. We go the movie theater to see that brand new film that everyone is talking about, purchase our tickets and our snacks, and then as we walk down the aisle toward the best seats, our feet are sticking to the floor and crunching popcorn and candy wrappers. We know that when we go home, we will be taking those shoes off inside the front door, given what we have walked on in that theater, and that those soles will have to be washed. So why not depict that disgusting mess in a Halloween costume? Put on a black shirt and cover it with all of that stuff – you will not run into anyone else with this costume, to be sure!

8. The No-Costume that Becomes a Costume with a Black Magic Marker

Image via Pinterest

A black marking pen and a computer-related frustration make the perfect non-costume, if you are really stuck at the last minute – again, probably no one will have the same outfit!

9. Become a Minion Version with Cardboard, Poster Board and Markers

Image via Pinterest

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Okay. This is easily less than $5. A giant Popsicle stick can be made from cardboard – either pieces taped together and then covered with brown wrapping paper, or a single piece cut from a large appliance box. You’ve only got a couple of things left to do for this one – poster board cutouts for eyes and nose. The biggest problem? Make sure that those eyes line up with your own and have holes so that you can actually see.

10. Turn Baby Into a Snack Bag with Felt, Cap and Real Popcorn

Image via Rookie Moms

OMG – too cute. A mom with a red bow tie and a baby carrier is the beginning. A sack made of felt with red felt stripes and lettering. And the crowning? A cap with popcorn glued on top. For moms who have older children and are planning to walk the neighborhood with them, it would be perfect to dress up the baby too. And the future uses of this photo are too great to pass up!

11. Turn a “Dwarf” Human (Your Baby) into Little Dobby with a Rag, Scarf, and Felt

Image via SugarScape

What could be easier and cheaper than this? A large piece of cloth, a part of some pantyhose of scarf and stuffed felt ears. The head gear could easily be used for an older child with a different body covering – perhaps brown sleeper or pajamas, and a tale made of stuffed felt too! And even though this baby is too young for trick or treating, what a great photo to send to grandparents.

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12. A Rolled Up comforter, Headband, Brown Paper and Yellow Ping-Pong Balls – the perfect Snail

Image via Pinterest

The only thing that has to be made for this costume is the head gear, and even that is about as simple as it could get – a headband, brown wrapping paper or stiff cloth twisted up and two yellow ping pong balls. Under $10 dollars for sure, and unique enough that there won’t be another like it at the school Halloween party.

13. The Wisdom of an Owl through Leftover Fabric, a Pair of Glasses, and Some Felt

Image via Alpha Mom

A black long-sleeve tee, a pair of knit shorts, and the only thing left is pieces of fabric and a stapler or glue. You would hardly even need a pattern for the felt cutouts that are mounted on a large pair of sunglasses with the lenses removed. The cost for this very cool costume? If you had to buy the fabric, probably about $15.00, and if there are younger siblings, boys or girls this is a great hand-me-down. This would also make a great adult costume – easy and unique.

14. The Classic Rubik’s Cube Via Black Tape, a Box, and Poster Board

Image via Pinterest

Sometimes, these can turn out looking pretty messy, so here are some tips to make one that looks every bit as good as the one in this picture. Make the entire thing first before cutting holes for the head and arms. Measure very carefully and draw the lines for the tape. If you get off a little bit, it’s not a problem, because the squares will cover up your errors. Use card stock or poster board for the squares, and use a paper cutter for these – they really need to be all even and the same size. If you try to do it by hand, it will look sloppy. Measure off the length and width of each side and be sure that you subtract the black spaces in between before you decide on the size of the squares. A cardboard box, a large roll of black duct tape, and 6 large pieces of poster board – about $15.

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15. And The Totally Free Costume, with a bit of Makeup Added

Image via Pinterest

Free, that is, unless you count the cost of the make-up for the beard – maybe $4. Best to hang the placard around his neck so hands are free for carrying his sack. This is a modern version of the old hobo costume that was so popular with kids decades ago. The clothing was essentially the same, except a tree branch or broom handle with a stuffed cloth sack tied to it – holding, of course, all of the hobo’s worldly possessions.

Halloween is a holiday celebrated by all age groups, and that is what makes it so much fun. All of the costumes depicted here are really cheap to make, don’t take much time, and, from the standpoint of kids, safety trumps all. Except for the owl, these costumes leave the face exposed, allowing for good vision for youngsters who may be trick or treating as evening turns into night. Being able to have a full range of vision is really important, and these outfits take that into account. And as for you adults? Go lean or go unique. Happy costuming!

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Featured photo credit: John Althouse Cohenvia flickr.com

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