Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but did you know that the average person spends close to $70 on their costume, candy, and decorations each year? When you multiply by the number of people in your household, the expense can almost be as frightening as the holiday itself!

With Halloween quickly approaching, it's time to put together your plan of action. If you have kids who plan to dress up (or you like to dress up yourself), wouldn't it be great to save some money this year vs. spending too much on something you’ll never wear again?

Here are a few ideas on how to save money on Halloween costumes:

Ditch the full costume, go for the accent piece. You can save more than 50% of your costume expense by only getting an accent piece and coordinating it with something you already have.

  • For a black cat costume: Buy the ears and tail. Find something solid black to wear and use eye liner to draw in a nose and whiskers.
  • For a Star Wars themed costume: Get the light saber and make your tunic at home by using a paper grocery sack or pillow case and scarf.
  • For a princess/fairy costume: Buy the wand or crown, wear a dress you already own and add some glitter for a little "bling."
  • For a scarecrow: Buy the straw hat. Wear a plaid shirt and blue jeans. Stuff your clothes with shredded paper from grocery sacks.

Visit your local thrift store. You would be amazed at how many creative, one-of-a-kind costumes you can assemble by hitting up the good ole thrift store!

  • Dress from another era. Many stores tend to carry items from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, etc. So get retro!
  • Be a Hippie. Find some bell bottoms and a flowered shirt.
  • Be a Greaser. Search for a leather jacket. Roll up a pair of blue jeans, wear a white t-shirt, and slick you hair back. Put a comb in your pocket. Instant John Travolta!
  • Be a Punk Rocker. Look for black combat boots, pleather, red plaid or neon colors. Apply lots of eye liner, spike your hair, and borrow your dog's collar. (Just kidding…sort of!)
  • Look for used costumes. Some thrift stores, such as Goodwill, carry seasonal items and sell used costumes. It's definitely worth checking out!

Check to see if your community offers a free Halloween costume exchange. With more people wanting to be kind to the environment by going green, Halloween costume exchanges are becoming a popular idea. The concept behind the exchange is to swap your gently used costumes with others. By becoming a participant, you’re not only saving money but also protecting our resources.

The YMCA, consignment stores, and recreation centers are good places to check if this option is available in your area. You can also try greenhalloween.org. Every year, they host a National Costume Swap Day. You can search by city and state for parties or organizations who have registered with their website.

If there are no options available where you live, why not start your own? The exchange can be small, involving just close neighbors, friends, and family; or huge, bringing together the entire town!

Ways to organize a costume swap:

  • Start a Facebook or Yahoo group. Plan a date, location and time and invite your friends. Encourage them to invite their friends too.
  • Organize a block party and invite all the neighbors!
  • Check with your child's school or daycare to see if they would be interested in hosting one for the students.
  • For a larger costume exchange, try your church, library, recreation center or any other organization in which you’re involved to see if they would allow a swap on their property. Then, recruit members and volunteers to help put it together.
  • greenhalloween.org has a great costume swap ‘How-To’ article with more information, ideas and suggestions for coordinating a swap.

Look around the house for inspiration. Just about ANYTHING can be used to make or inspire a costume: household appliances, cleaning tools, duct tape, old socks, and t-shirts. Think of a celebrity, a famous person in the news, or even a character out of a book. Check your closets and see if you have anything that would resemble them. You might be surprised! Also, you can re-use uniforms from your kid's extra-curricular activities. Be a soccer player, football player, cheerleader, etc.

D-I-Y costumes.  Here are some fun ideas I found on-line that can be put together easily and quickly, costing almost nothing:

  • Gang Green – Have everyone in your group dress in green.
  • God's Gift to Women (for men, boys) – Wrap yourself in wrapping paper, include a tag that says "From: God, To: Women"
  • Quarterback – Print out an enlarged copy of a quarter and place it on your back.
  • Lost TV Remote – Wear black, affix one couch cushion to the front of yourself and one to the back.
  • Chipotle Burrito – Wrap yourself in aluminum foil, draw or print out a chipotle logo and attach it.
  • Pull Toy – Wear roller skates and tie a rope around your waist.
  • Sugar Daddy (or Momma) – Attach sugar cubes or sugar packets to yourself.
  • Green Thumb – Color your thumb green and dress like a gardener (apron, wide hat, gardening gloves, rubber shoes). Carry a plant, shovel or watering can.
  • Stick in the Mud – Wear all brown and attach a stick to your chest.

Good luck! Be creative! Have a safe & Happy Halloween!

This has been a guest post by Amanda from Palmer, TX
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