Inexpensive Halloween Costumes
Face facts, Mom and Dad: You can't just cut eyeholes in a white sheet and expect your child to call herself a ghost. No way. And the robot costume made out of the TV box? That's tired. In fact, those ideas have about as much currency as a Jell-O salad mold or a game of jacks.
But hold on to your witch hats, because the store-bought solution to your worst trick-or-treat nightmare comes at a scary price. Halloween has become the second biggest holiday after Christmas in terms of dollars spent: $6 billion a year, and growing. The average family will spend $35 per child for costumes, analysts say.
Don't have a fortune to spend on a get-up your child will wear once, and then outgrow? Join the party! Gary Foreman, editor of the frugal website, Stretcher.com, offers these ideas for simple, affordable costumes for kids.
1. Harry Potter
Use a long black T-shirt or dress to create an under-robe. Add a black cape (buy material from a fabric store or simply use a cape that came with an earlier costume). A fun touch is to glue glitter under the cape to make it sparkle when your child spreads his arms. Harry Potter's circular glasses can be made by taking an old pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses and mounting cardboard rings, colored black, to the front. The wizard hat can be made out of poster board shaped like a cone and then decorated with moons and stars. A wand can be fashioned from a chopstick or long pencil, with a star cut from cardboard and glued or taped on the end. Finally, the lightening bolt scar on Harry's forehead -- placed there by the evil Lord Voldemort -- can be made with dark lipstick or washable paint.
2. Rock Star (*NSYNC)
This may get the award for easiest outfit: To dress like a member of *NSYNC, all you need to do is spike a kid's hair with gel, then dress him in a T-shirt, jean jacket, and pair of jeans or tight black pants. Add a cordless microphone made of an aluminum foil-wrapped paper towel tube, with a ball of crushed foil at the top.
3. Table Set with Food
Find a piece of cardboard at least as large as a pizza box. Cover with an old vinyl tablecloth; glue or staple to the box. Cut a hole for the child's head in the rear center of the box. Then "set" the table by gluing play dishes, utensils, cups, and plastic (or real) food to the top.
4. Bunch of Grapes
Attach 18-20 small purple balloons to your child's clothing, using safety pins. Take a cone-shaped birthday party hat and cover it with a small brown paper bag, taping it into place. Twist the top to resemble a stem. Paint your child's face purple, or draw a few green leaves on the cheeks.
This is both easy and visually impressive. Simply dress a child in black sweatpants and a black turtleneck. Then, using white or day-glo contact paper, trace three or four "bones" for each side of the rib cage. Cut and stick on clothing. Trace longer bones for arms and legs, and then apply. Add a skeleton mask, or paint face white and apply dark smudges around the eyes, noses and mouth. Add white gloves for hands, or paint hands white.
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