I still love to dress up for Halloween. But since there are only so many consecutive years I can go as a "moth to a flame," (reason being, I have finally run out of friends who are willing to be the "flame") this year it’s time for something different. If thrift store scrounging doesn't yield anything interesting, the next step on my list is to hit up a costume swap. Luckily, costume swaps have become quite popular in recent years. Here, learn how to attend (or host) a costume swap—and also get other tips to save on costumes for your whole family!

About National Costume Swap Day

Green Halloween & EcoMom Alliance launched National Costume Swap Day in 2010. The actual date always falls on the second Saturday in October—which means this year it’s on Saturday, October 11th.

  • 2014 National Costume Swap Day: Register now!
  • Sign up for more information: GreenHalloween.com (Look for the green button on the left-hand side of the page.)

Tips to find a swap 

The best way to find a swap is to search locally using "Halloween costume swap + 2014 + your city, state." As the date draws closer, you can also check this link to find nationally registered swap events:

Tips to host a swap

If you’re not finding a swap in your area (or you just love hosting parties) you may decide to host your own! Of course, you can make your swap as simple or complex, small or large, as you like. Whatever you decide, these tips may help.

  • Find & reserve a location (libraries often have free rooms, as do churches, grocery stores, and community rec centers).
  • Specify any requirements for swap costumes. For instance, you may want to state the costumes must be in good condition—free of tears, holes or visible wear.
  • Specify whether you just want costumes or also accessories, shoes, etc. You may want only all-inclusive costumes, or perhaps you want masks, shoes, accessories and other gear.
  • Specify RSVP-by date. This is so you will know by a certain date how many to expect so you can prepare.
  • Create some flyers. List the age groups (for instance: kids only; teens and kids; adults, teens and kids, etc.), the date, time, address and any requirements to attend.
  • Post the flyers in mom-friendly areas (your gym or rec center, local YMCA/YWCA, grocery stores, daycare, school, etc).
  • Decide how costumes and any accessories/shoes/etc. will be displayed. You may want to reserve tables at the facility and lay out the costumes, or find a vendor partner who can donate some clothing racks.
  • Designate a "dressing room" area. This might be your bedroom (if you are hosting in your home) or a certain corner of the room (if you are hosting at a facility).
  • Create a plan for the swap itself. Here, you want to determine who gets first dibs and how long they have to decide—for instance, you may say "first come, first serve," and give every attendee 5 minutes to decide after they try on a costume.
  • Have a plan for un-claimed costumes and accessories. You may send them home with their owners, donate them to a local charity, or hang on to them for next year's swap.
  • If you want to plan a bigger event, including charity and/or sponsor involvement: This link from EcoMom Alliance has all kinds of great tips!
  • Once you have your swap planned, be sure to register it! http://www.ecomomalliance.org/page/register-a-2014-swap (Click "Register a Swap.")

5 Ways to get costumes for cheap or free 

If a costume swap is not an option for one reason or another, here are some additional ideas for how to score cheap or free Halloween costumes.

  1. Wait until the week right before Halloween to shop: This will give you the best opportunity to score discounts and sale prices on costumes. Joanie & Heather share more about this strategy in this great KCL video.
  2. Borrow a costume: Did your child admire a friend's costume from last year? Ask if you can borrow it for your child. (As a perk, offer to dry clean it for free before you return it!)
  3. Coupon for it!: Be sure you’re signed up for newsletters and coupons from Target, Party City, Walmart and other places you have previously scored great costumes. (Don't forget to watch KCL's coupons page for lots of specials near Halloween!)
  4. Google "DIY free costumes": There are so many great ideas that cost pennies (if that). One year my best friend stuck a big wad of pink gum to the bottom of a tennis shoe, then wore it on her head and dressed all in pink. She was "bubblegum under a shoe." Guess where she got that idea? (Yup, an Internet search!)
  5. Go as yourself: If your budget won't permit, don't be shy to go as yourself. You can even go as your whole family if you like! What is most important is not that you find the perfect costume(s), but that you are out and celebrating on such a fun holiday!





Swap Costumes to Save During National Costume Swap Day!