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Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Every kid wants the newest and coolest Halloween costumes, but they can be expensive. If you want to lower costume costs while keeping your kids happy, you may want to try making at least part of the costumes at home.

Scholastic Parent and Child magazine's Sara Sinek shared some ideas that combine homemade elements with small store-bought touches.

Supplemental materials for these costume looks are bought from Old Navy, Walmart, Target, or any other discount retailer.


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"Twilight"--Bella and Alice

Materials: Bella: jeans, sweater, jacket, sneakers, wig (optional), glitter, eyeliner/shadow
Alice: wig, jeans, dressy top, stylish jewelry, jacket, ballerina flats, white makeup, glitter, eyeliner, fangs (optional)

The Character: "Twilight" remains incredibly popular with teens right now (the next film in the series, "New Moon," hits theatres this Thanksgiving), and these costumes are very simple, comfortable, and age-appropriate. This is the perfect best-friends look for a Halloween party!

The How-To: Bella and Alice appear to be typical teenage girls so the basic costume look is going to be simple--jeans and casual wear--which your teens probably have in their closet already.

Bella is an average girl who doesn't place much emphasis on fashion--she's in jeans, a sweater (or a sweater over layers), and a casual jacket or coat. She's got long brown hair so if your daughter doesn't have long brown hair, she can use a wig. She wears sneakers. Her overall look is almost tomboyish, so the simpler the better--no girly outfits for her. Her skin is very pale and we've hinted at her involvement with the Cullen "family" by adding glitter to her pale skin and eyeliner/shadow around her eyes.

COST: Probably $0. You can use your own makeup to make her face paler, and everything she's wearing can likely be found in her/your closet.

Alice is a very fashionable girl with a modern haircut--spiky hair--so we've given her a wig and gelled it to spike it up. She wears jeans, a baby doll dress (or any kind of stylish top), and jewelry--a necklace and earrings. Add a stylish jacket and ballerina flats to complete the ensemble. Her skin is very pale and glitters in the sunlight so we've used makeup to achieve this effect, with a touch of red lipstick and dark eyeliner around her eyes. You can add little fangs for a real vampire look.

COST: $25 or less--Alice is more sophisticated, so her outfit can be found in mom's (and likely her own) closet.

Approximate Cost:
$15 wig
$5 choker
$2 makeup
$3 fangs

Where the Wild Things Are--Max

Materials: Oversized grey sweatpants/sweatshirt, old sweatshirt hood, oversized gloves, socks, felt, buttons, "fur" tail

The Character: Spike Jonze's retelling of the classic children's book has sparked a renewed interest in the story making Max one of this year's most in-demand costumes.

The How-To: For Max's costume, all you need is a hooded sweatshirt--grey, white, or fleece will do--a pair of the same color sweatpants, some big white gloves and either slipper socks or big oversized wool socks. Add a pair of large pointed ears made by cutting them out of white or grey felt and attaching them to the hood by either sewing them on, or attach them with a glue gun. Add felt claws--big ones--to the oversized grey or white gloves by cutting out the claw shapes and gluing these to the ends of the fingers. Do the same thing with the slipper socks or socks, by adding big felt claws (you can double the felt and glue this together in a pointed shape for to add dimension) to the feet. Don't be shy, make these claws large. Find some oversized buttons and sew them or glue them on to the front of the sweatshirt to complete the 'pajama' look, or glue on cut-out cardboard buttons if you can't locate the real thing. (Hint: cut off old buttons from coats no longer used). Add a tail to the back of the costume by using an old boa, a piece of fake fur from a fabric store or an old collar from a thrift shop coat. Pin, glue or sew this on to either the back of the sweatshirt or the pants and your 'Monster' is done.

COST: $30 or less

Approximate costs:
The Wild Thing plush can be purchased at The Scholastic Store for an additional cost.
$5 hat from Old Navy
$5 boa
$10 sweatsuit from Wal-Mart
$10 art supplies


Materials: Astronaut: costume available from online discount retailer, work gloves, American flag (optional prop)

Alien: brightly colored tights/stretch pants, fitted turtleneck/long sleeved shirt, overskirt, sweater/short jacket, belt, buttons, jewels, aluminum foil, cardboard, glue-backed foam, gloves, pipe cleaners, ski cap, fuzzy balls, boots, squirt gun (optional prop)

The Character: 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, and space-themed costumes are still as popular as ever! These make great costumes for a brother/sister duo, or again, to dress up two best friends trick or treating together.

The How-To: Astronaut: We purchased our astronaut costume from Costume Supercenter online, which gave us a far cheaper price than going through a traditional costume store. We added some of daddy's work gloves and a big watch to complete the look.

COST: $39--costume at Costume Super Center Online

Alien: Our alien costume consists of a pair of tights or stretch pants in a bright color -- green is traditional but any bright color will do - and a fitted turtleneck or long sleeved shirt to match. We added a frilly short pink overskirt picked up (available at Walmart). You can layer this with either a sweater or a short jacket for a military look--and a big wide 'power pack' belt from Mom's closet at the waist. We've decorated the belt with glued on buttons and jewels to make this look like it's from another world - you can also cover the belt with aluminum foil for a metallic look. You can add foil covered cardboard disks to the jacket by gluing them on, or any star or galaxy shapes as well. Metallic glue-backed foam (sold at craft stores) is great for this--cut out the shapes, stick them on, and that's it. Long gloves with balls, buttons, and pipe cleaners glued onto them finish off the alien hands, and a tight ski cap with glued-on antennae made out of pipe cleaners (we got the metallic bright colored kind, and glued metallic fuzzy balls to them -then, we glued these onto the hat with a glue gun). Grab a fun-shaped squirt gun from your closet or a novelty shop and decorate it with lightning bolts, or paint it to look like a ray gun. Add a pair of boots, which ideally are nice and pointy--if they're not, you can cut out pieces of felt shaped around the foot to make 'boot covers' and tie or glue these onto the top of the boot to make them look like they have a pointy toe.

COST: $30 or less--the other materials you can get from your closet.

Approximate Costs:
$ 20 boots (can also be reused for fall/winter)
$ 5 skirt
$ 5 art supplies

Princess and the Frog-- Princess Tiana

Materials: Princess Tiana dress (available at costume and discount stores nationwide), star wand, jewels, ribbons, tiara.

The Character: Disney's newest princess doesn't hit theatres until December, but Princess Tiana is already one of this year's most popular Halloween costumes. If you can't make a princess dress at home, you can find one wherever costumes are sold. It's the prop--a stuffed frog--that really makes this costume work.

The How-To: You can find a Princess Tiana dress from any costume store or discount store like Target, which carries the classic green petal dress with vines. This is a very recognizable costume so we are sticking to the commercial version for authenticity. Individualize the look by making or buying your own wand, or do as we did--purchase a basic star wand, and glue on jewels and sparkles, and ribbons, to make it your own masterpiece. Pick out a tiara from the costume or party store--there are many different kinds.

Princess Tiana has her hair swept up in a bun so do this with your daughters hair (hint: turn her head upside down and pull all the hair upwards, securing it with a clip, or pins). Add rhinestone barrettes or bobby pins for some added glamour. You can add a petticoat, or slip, if you have one around, to fill out the dress and give it an extra layer or two. Since the dress is sleeveless, and late October can be cold, you can give your Princess Tiana a cover for her shoulders - either a little cape or a pretty sweater will keep her warm. We gave our princess a pair of long white elegant gloves, too, which will keep her warm and in character. Add tights, and a pair of ballerina flats--you can decorate these by gluing on a colorful buckle or jewels, or even flowers--with a glue gun. Pick out your favorite stuffed frog and the Princess and her 'companion' are complete.

COST: $38--tights, ballet slippers, shawl, and petticoat can be taken from your closet, and you may have a stuffed frog at home already.

Approximate Costs:
$24 dress
$5 tiara and wand set
$5 gloves
$4 assorted jewels and ribbons

For iPhone and iPod costumes, go to Page 2.

iPhone and iPod

Materials: Black shirts/pants, two pieces of foam core for each costume, duct tape, aluminum foil, ribbons, colored paper or paint, black cap and gloves (optional)

The Character: The perfect parent and child costume for the techies in your family. These costumes are sure to turn heads, and they're easy to make at home.

The How-To: For the iPhone costume wear a black shirt and pants, and sneakers or shoes. To make the iPhone itself, get two large pieces of foam core board from the art supply store--they sell this in various sizes so you'll want pieces big enough to cover you from the chest to above your knee. Get one in black, and the other in silver--the front and back. Trim these by cutting with a razor knife to the size you want. You can edge them with duct tape of aluminum foil to create the silver border. For the apple on the back, enlarge the design by blowing up a paper copy on a Xerox machine, and cut this out in aluminum foil. For the face of the iPhone, you can either replicate the apps options by enlarging these with color Xeroxes at any Staples or Kinkos, or choose another screen you want--say, your photo--and enlarge that, cut it out, and glue onto the foam core. You can do this with any app or function you choose. Add straps made out of duct tape--cut two pieces for shoulder straps, tape them together, then attached on the inside of the foam board by stapling or taping so you don't see the edges. You can attach ribbons to the inside of the boards at waist height if need be to hold the boards together there. Add a black cap and some black gloves if you like and you're done.

For the iPod, get two pieces of foam core from the art store--the store may have these in colors, if so, you can choose a color--or you can glue paper to the board, or paint it in a color. Cut the boards to the right size for you. Add a cut-out circle from colored paper and add the arrows and 'menu' with marker or cut out letters. Add an enlarged image of your choice for the 'screen.' Make shoulder straps from duct tape, and ribbon ties at the waist if you need them, (like the iPod, above), and you're all set to go!

COST: $25 -- or less! -- for both looks

You probably have duct tape and construction paper at home.
Approximate Costs:
$20 foam core
$5 ribbon

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