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Budget Friendly Halloween Costumes
by: Cheryl Johnson

By Cheryl Johnson observing you, children learn how to create and they learn craft. These powerful memories imprint a more important message. They come to understand the superiority of the creative tightwad method. - Amy Dacyczyn, a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot

Halloween costumes are so different today. Super heroes, wizards, and cartoon characters rule the trick or treat. It was not too long ago.....ok it was maybe a while ago......when I was a small trick or treater that costumes were much more original.

You were not likely to bump into three or four other characters that looked exactly like you. Oh, you might run into a costume of the same theme, but it would be totally unique by comparison. Of course my mom created our Halloween costumes. You can create unique Halloween costumes and save money by recycling items.

Create your own unique costumes. Remember that Halloween costumes exaggerate to be most effective. So the more accessories, the better. Some easy to make costumes using items around the house, borrowed from friends and/or relatives, or purchased for next to nothing at your local thrift store include:

The little old lady or man - dress accordingly in an older man's (a suit is great) or woman's clothing. A hat is a nice touch. If you don't have a real walking cane you can substitute an appropriate size stick. Add some creative face painting with lots of wrinkles of course. Be sure to add the cracking voice and a prominent limp.

The Hobo - Recycle some unwanted clothing. Paint on or put on patches, rip some areas (especially around the bottoms of pants, ends of sleeves, elbows and knees, since these areas show wear first). Use black or brown makeup to smudge the face a little to look un-kept. Blush the nose to look a little reddish. (hobos get cold outside) Sport the oldest pair of worn looking shoes you can find (or even better, two different shoes) and a tattered hat and you're good to go!

Princess - This is a timeless costume. I think every little girl wants to be a princess at least once. But don't rush out and buy the frilliest costume you see. The princess is merely an expression of elegance. As long as your little girl feels elegant she is a princess. If you don't already have a full length fancy party dress, check the thrift store for a low cost floor length party dress. Just pick one that looks "princessy." Even better, borrow one if possible.

A princess wand can be easily made with a dowel or stick and a cardboard star covered with foil. Add frills with duster feathers or ribbons if desired. Make a crown. You can easily make one using a headband and craft materials. Here's a great tip: Recycle a Burger King Crown. You know the crowns they give out to all the little kiddies at Burger King. You can cover with foil or paint and add beads or gemstones to decorate. They also make a great pattern for a crown if you want to create it out of some other material you have.

Animals: For toddlers: Use one piece pajamas as a starting point. An extra bonus: the pajamas are warm clothing for what is typically a cool weather night in many areas. For example.. a fuzzy white, brown, black, or even pink footed pajama can easily become a kitten, rabbit, or dog. Add a home made tail using scrap fabrics (attach with safety pin), a headband with the appropriate ears attached, or if you use a hooded outfit attach ears directly to hood), some creative face painting using home made face paint (below), and you've got a cute little costume that can be used as a comfy outfit after trick or treat!

For older children use tights or stretch pants, and turtleneck shirts, sweaters, hooded sweatshirts all in the desired color instead of the pajamas. Use desired color of mittens or gloves for paws. Bats, lions, tigers, even a skunk can be created in much the same way as the above animals!

Halloween Costume Recycling Tip: Remove the stuffing from an unwanted large stuffed animal (through a cut slit down back), launder, and use sections of fabic for costume. Or, cut a hole for the face and your toddler may be small enough to fit right in and use for hooded costume.

The Big Baby: This is an amusing costume for an older child. Return to the diaper zone! A bottle or pacifier, a bib, a homemade cloth diaper (over tights or pants of course), and a rattle. Add some rosy cheeks and your youngster will be ready to laugh (or cry) his/her way through trick or treat.

The Graduate - Have an old graduation cap and gown? If it doesn't hold too much sentimental value, you can use it to create a very simple, easy, costume. Create a fake diploma and drape it from the waist tied by a string or yarn of same color or wear like a necklace. You don't want the trick or treater to have to carry it. I've discovered these types of accessories usually end up in Mom's or Dad's hands to carry after a short time.

Halloween Costume Recycling Tip: Any discarded or unwanted work uniform (nursing, military, fireman, policeman) can be used as a Halloween costume.

The Witch - A long black dress or all over black pants with black top can be combined with a witch hat and black cape(make your own if you're crafty). Add black boots and make up face to suit.

Scarecrow - cut up some old jeans and a flannel shirt in scarecrow fashion. Cut sleeve ends and pants leg ends in strips to look tattered. Use straw or an old straw broom's bristles and glue or tape along inside edges of sleeves, pants legs, along bottom of shirt to appear as if bursting out of the scarecrow. Add a straw hat.

These are all good halloween costume ideas and I'm sure you get the picture by now. The idea is to use as many items as you have on hand to create these timeless Halloween costumes. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Don't let that little girl cry because you can't find her the purrrrrrrrrrr-fect cat costume. You can create a much nicer one from everyday items and a few craft materials. Chances are it will look more realistic than that store bought costume. As a bonus, many of the costume pieces (i.e. shirts, pants, tights, gloves/mittens) are reusable after Halloween!

A few other Halloween tips:

1. Use spray paints or craft paints. fabric dye, fabric paints and/or pens, to color recycled items to desired color. One year I used silver spray paint to color and entire outfit for my son's tin man costume. We recycled aluminum foil to use in making the hat and the axe. Some silver body glitter on the hands and face put the finishing touches on this costume!

2. Use regular clothing to create an all-over color effect as with the animal costumes.

3. Consider mittens or gloves when you need hand color

4. A gallon ice cream bucket w/handle makes a perfect trick or treat bucket. I save these throughout the year and recycle for hundreds of other uses. Use neon paint or stickers to add bright decorations. This is a good safety technique to make kids more visible while trick or treating

5. Make your own face paint: You will need Corn starch, Water, Cold cream, and Food coloring.

Use several different cups (custard cups, recycled single serve yogurt or Jell-O containers, a foam egg carton) Prepare 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon each of cold cream and water. Mix different color food coloring in each cup for desired colors

Make your own cream make up:

2 tsp white shortening

5 tsp corn starch

1 tsp white all purpose flour

glycerin (get at drug store)

Food coloring as desired

To make enough for one child's face - Use a rubber spatula, blend the first three ingredients until a smooth paste forms. Add 3/4 drops glycerin for a creamier consistency. Add coloring if desired one drop at a time blending after each drop until you have the desired shade. For easy removal use shortening, cold cream or baby oil.

Remember your Halloween safety. Here are a few, but certainly not all inclusive, reminders of safe trick or treat rules.

1. Small children should always be accompanied by an adult.

2. Use flashlights, bright costumes or decorations to make trick or treaters more visible.

3. Try to frequent the same limited area each year or limit visits to friends and families.

4. Remind children not to eat candy until they get home and have moms and dads check and approve.

5. A safe costume should not block or restrict a child's vision or interfere with mobility. Make sure costumes are of a safe length so as not to trip the child.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

About the author:
Cheryl Johnson is a mother of four helping herself and others become and remain debt free. Publisher of Simple Debt Free Living at a self-help plan, ideas, and resources for a simple proven debt elimination strategy, household budget planning, frugal living, and practical home business ideas. Money saving tips for monthly bills, home decorating, gifts, holidays, weddings, groceries, clothing and much more save money every day.

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