Finding costume ideas both your child and wallet will love

Kids' Halloween Costumes

by Merlene Paynter Blacha

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Halloween is heading our way and at this time many of us are thinking "what am I going to do for costumes for the kids this year?" Traditionally, halloween started out with kids dressing in disguises from things they found around their homes but the last few decades costumes have become more elaborate and more costly. These are the times with the "most popular cartoon character costumes", those of you who paid out large amounts of money a couple of years ago for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers costumes, with the plan that your child or one of his siblings could wear it for a few years, justifying the price, only to hear that "I'm not wearing that! It's not cool!" know what I mean. We've all gone through it at some time I'm sure.

Every year I've made my daughter's costumes myself, saving myself a lot of money in the process and she likes being the only one with that costume. I'll tell you right now... I do not sew. Never have. These costumes are put together using staples, glues, a very rough sewing by hand on a few spots and even at times masking tape and paper clips! Remember, usually your child will only need to wear the costume one time. At the very most, a handful of times (you know... club halloween parties, etc that might not actually be on October 31) so these will serve the purpose, look great for the time they're needed.

All you need is a little bit of imagination and you're off. Here's some examples of costumes I've made for Maddy over the years. Her first halloween she was only a year old so she only went to visit some relatives... more of a photo opportunity than anything! She wore her snowsuit and I used some gold chenille stems (I called them pipe cleaners as a kid and that's how I think of them) that I picked up for a few cents at the crafts store. Made a gold halo with one, used another to hold up the halo and used masking tape on the inside of her collar to hold it on. I bent a wire coathanger into rough wing shapes and used some white tissue paper I had lying around and Presto! We have an angel! Cost = maybe a dollar or two.

Second year, used some of her own clothes plus some of mine, all very colourful, to make her into a backwards kid. Put her hat backwards, coat, etc... she even had on a pair of my shoes, with a heavy pair of her dad's socks, on backwards, and sunglasses on the back of her head. Cost = nothing.

Third year, Barney was all the rage with her age group and I refused to buy a Baby Bop costume for $30. So, I made her a green dino costume myself. First I went to a discount store and found a large adult's green hooded sweatshirt for $3, then I went to the craft store and picked up two yards of purple felt. I cut the felt into triangles, about 1 1/2 inches per side. I stapled the triangles down an old piece of rope garland from the Christmas tree until I had enough length to go from the top of her head to the floor and be able to drag a bit as she walked. I then stapled this from the top of the hood down the center of the back of the sweatshirt, creating the body. With the leftover felt I stapled it in spots around the front of the shirt. The shirt was nice and big so it came down over her knees and she could wear a heavy coat underneath to be warm. We finished the look with her own purple pants and purple mittens. At the last minute I added a white ghost shaped bell to the end of the tail (picked it up for 50 cents on halloween afternoon) so that she could make some noise as she walked. Instant Dino. Cost = under $8. And 3 years later I'm still wearing the sweatshirt... staples came out and left no noticeable holes or marks!

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Year four, she was a spider. I saw a really nice spider costume for $60 at a craft fair and thought I could make it myself and I did for under $10! I went to the fabric shop and found some shiny black coat lining in the bargain bin because it's colour wasn't even. Picked up 3 yards for $4. Got some thin, black, elastic cord (2 yards) for $3.50. Got a package of fibre fill for $2. Using the shiny fabric I cut out 4 rectangles of equal size, about the size of my daughter's torso (I used a shirt as a guide). I sewed each pair of two together, leaving a space of three inches unsewn. I just sewed it by hand using a running stitch, but it would be faster if you have a machine. Turned them inside out, filled with some fibre fill, not too full and closed. I sewed the two filled rectangles together on one side from the corner, in about 2 inches. This left enough room for her head to fit through. The remaining black fabric was cut into 6 equal lengths, sewn up like arms and filled with fibre fill. Once the arms were finished I just attached them to the sides of the body. I threaded the black elastic cord onto a large needle and through each arm leaving about 1 foot of cord between the arms. My daughter wore a black turtleneck of mine with this overtop. I tied some black cord to her wrists and again, leaving about a foot of cord attached it to the top arm of the costume. Every time she moved her own arm, all three arms along the side moved and jiggled along with it. So far that's still her favourite costume.

Every year I try to create something different for her with the same basic idea... look around to see what you already have then add to it. In the end you'll both have more fun and create more memories and save money too!

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