Posts Tagged ‘ kids ’

Halloween Costumes For Under $10

In recent years it seems that most Halloween costumes are purchased at stores. We’re spending more money every year buying vinyl cartoon characters or cheap remakes of movie figures for both adults and kids. The creativity that went along with celebrating Halloween has been lost. I still think the best Halloween costumes are the ones that my mom hand-made for me. They were original, they were thrifty, and they really showed me how much my parents cared for me.

If you’re trying to save money on a costume this year, follow these simple steps and make it a truly memorable Halloween.

  1. Plan Ahead. Don’t wait until the week of Halloween to decide on a costume and try to put it together. Think of something you (or your child) like and consider how you might be able to create it on your own without pre-made buying costume components from a specialty store. Think about sketching out a design, or looking online for ideas on how other people may have made a similar costume. Take your kids to the local public library. You can find lots of costume design books to h
  2. Skip the Costume Store. Prepackaged, store bought costumes are cheaply made, but can be hard on your wallet. They’re generally one-size-fits-most and the message they send is that you’re either not very creative or you spent no time planning.Instead, find cheaper alternatives  like materials from a hardware store, craft store, or items you have on hand at home.
  3. Be Realistic. Be honest about your crafty abilities.  How well can you sew? How much time do you have? Carefully consider a costume idea before embarking on a project. If it takes seamstress abilities and you can’t sew a button on, it’s probably not the right project for you. Also be realistic about how long it might take to complete the costume and try to set aside an entire day (or an entire weekend) to work on it – and always give yourself time a few days before Halloween for any last-minute adjustments or final touches.Remember to include drying time (for glue) in your time considerations. Consider enlisting the help of a talented friend or family member if your costume would need small touches that are outside the range of your abilities.
  4. Include your children. If your child is old enough to contribute, let him! Absolutely ask your kids what they want to be for Halloween. It’s a good idea to get a few discussions so that you can help them decide on one that will be “doable.” If they are able to help you paint, glue, decorate, the costume then enlist their help. It will be a fun activity that you can do with your child and will help them appreciate more the costume that they helped create.
  5. Take Photos! Document your masterpiece. You want to remember what your child looked like in your homemade Halloween costume – those pictures make great memories. It’s also a good idea to take photos during the creation process. Who knows, you might be able to help someone make a costume someday with step-by-step photos to boot!

Following is a resource of affordable home-made children’s Halloween costumes. Links to instructions/material lists are provided where available. Each costume is rated with a difficulty level between 1-5. Most of the costumes can be made for free using items you already have. Other items can be purchased cheaply at a thrift store, salvation army, dollar store, or craft store. Many costumes that instruct you to use a sewing machine can also be made using a needle & thread (sewn by hand) or by using fabric glue.

1=Limited crafting ability needed.

2=Moderate crafting ability needed.

3=Require basic sewing skills.

4=Require tools & experience with projects.

5=Seamstress skills or extreme craftiness needed.

Samurai made with recycled materials

Boy in Samurai costume

Recycle me a Samurai.

Skill Level: 1.5
Hi Creativity needed (to make it look as great as this photo!), but it’s a simple cut and paste job.

Cost: $0
You could easily have all the materials needed on hand already. Scissors, watercolor, tape, stapler. And you can find cardboard boxes or a discarded calendar for the “fabric” of the costume.

The armour (body, arms, legs, skirts) are made of cardboard boxes with one side peeled off to reveal corrugation. The cardboard (corrugated side out) is cut into shape to fit your little one and flair is added to the design by cutting shapes into the armour. Staple together pieces of the cardboard where it needs to fit together.Make sure the neckhole is big enough that it can easily be slipped on. You can use watercolors to give the cardboard the leathery color you need.

An old calendar was used to create a helmet using origami and to cut out decorative pieces for the body armour.  Colored tape also works well for this.

Do an internet search for “Samurai Hat Origami” instructions, or Use these Instructions.

*Optional: Attach pieces of braid or rope for more texture and to turn tennis shoes into “sandals.”

Newspaper Dress (various costumes)

The dress instructions are for an adult, but can be modified for many children’s costumes.
If your child is eco-conscious, she would love to have a princess dress made out of newspaper!

Pleated dress made out of newspaper.

Fairytale dress for an eco-loving girl.

Skill Level: 3

Cost: under $5

To make a newspaper dress you will need: a stack of newspaper (like the Sunday edition of the New York Times), 2 feet of velcro, a spool of white thread, a basic sewing machine (and basic sewing skills), straight pins, a ruler, a pencil, a pair of scissors, a belt.

Costume Ideas using this dress:

The Recycling Fairy: Add some wings and some glittery makeup and you are the perfect eco-fairy.

As the basis for any costume that requires a fancy dress: Add some paint and sequins and you could be an awesome, recycled rendition of any princess or queen.

Complete, very detailed instructions with photos can be found at Instructables.

Click here to see a color photo of the dress.

Human Lego Brick

Lego Brick Halloween Cotume

Build yourself a Lego Costume for Halloween.

Skill Level: 1

Cost: $10 or less

This is fairly easy to make even for those of us without sewing skills or loads of creativity genes. This costume can be cheaper if you have all the materials on hand. Otherwise, you can usually find round craft boxes on sale at a craft store and the other materials are relatively inexpensive.

Materials needed for this project: One cardboard box large enough to fit over the costumee’s torso; Six round craft boxes – We used 7″ boxes but depending on the size of the wearer or the type of brick you are replicating you could go smaller or larger; Box cutters, Spray paint, Hot glue gun and glue, Duct or packing tape, Pencil, Ruler.

Find a box large enough to fit your child, tape the sides securely, then cut head and arm holes. Find some round boxes (without the lids) and hot glue them in place to replicate the “pegs” on the logo blocks. After you let the glue dry, spraypaint with the color of your choice and you’re good to go! If you have more than one child, you can make the same costume in different colors and/or shapes for a family theme.

Complete instructions with photos can be found here.

Alternate instructions for Lego costume using paper bowls instead of round boxes.

Easy Trace & Paint Skeleton Costume

Skill Level: 1

Easy Skeleton Costume

Trace pattern, cut, paint, and wear!

Cost: $5 or less

Using materials you have at home or can easily buy, make a customized skeleton costume for your little one. Materials you need are: black long sleeve shirt and pants (or leggings or long johns), white fabric paint, freezer paper, pencil, iron, glow-in-the-dark fabric paint (optional).


Sketch bone shapes onto the papery side of freezer paper. Carefully cut out the bones from the paper and discard the bones. Keeping the paper (with bone-shaped holes in it), turn it plastic side down in place onto the fabric. Iron in place. These are your stencils. Now paint inside the stencils using the flat end of stiff brush. Allow the paint to dry completely before removing the stencil. If you like, you can trace inside the bone using a glow-in-the-dark ink or paint.

Full instructions with photos here.

Many more cheap and fun costume ideas can be found on

  • Octopus – Skill Level: 2, Materials needed: Hoodie, needle & thread, stuffing, suction cups or foam circles.
  • Garden Gnome – Skill Level: 3, Materials needed: Clothes from your closet or thrift store, red material for hat, felt, fake fur, sewing machine or needle & thread.
  • Make a Jem/Rockstar Wig – Skill Level: 1, Materials needed: 2 wigs (pink and purple/silver), scissors, wide-tooth wooden comb, hair elastics.
  • Super Mario Brothers – Skill Level: 1, Materials Needed: overalls, t-shirt, ball cap, felt pieces, black marker.
  • Star Trek Costume and Badge – Skill Level: 2.5; Materials needed: oversize t-shirt, black fabric, scissors, thread/sewing machine, cardstock, aluminum foil, printer, glue.
  • Darth Vader – Skill Level: 2, Materials Needed: cardboard boxes, paint, glue gun, scissors, decorating supplies.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine – Skill Level: 4-5; Materials needed: shopping cart, cardboard box, spray paint, painter’s tape, some other heavy duty tools & supplies.
  • Storm Trooper – Skill Level: 3-4; Materials Needed: Foam sheets, velcro, hot glue, helmet, scissors, decorations.
  • Football Jersey & Pads – Skill Level: 3, Materials Needed: Adult football jersey, foam, scissors, sewing machine.
  • Christmas Elf – Skill Level: 2, Materials Needed: Old Christmas Sweater, Scissors, pins, sewing machine or needle & thread, stuffing, yarn.
  • Spooky Bat – Skill Level: 2.5, Materials Needed: Black Hooded Sweatshirt, black umbrella, scissors, needle & thread, pins, pliers.
  • Learn to Sew: Halloween Costume Video
  • Videos Instructions for TinkerbellBetty Rubble, Alice in Wonderland, Batgirl – Skill Level 3-4; Materials needed: fabric or oversized t-shirts, chalk, pins, sewing machine or needle & thread.

Feel free to comment and share your ideas for inexpensive (or FREE!) Halloween Costumes.


Tax-Free Shopping – Find Back-to-School Deals Near You

Tax Free Shopping logo

Save Money - Shop Tax Free

It makes sense to try to save money every chance you get. Many states offer tax free shopping days with certain restrictions once or twice a year. Those who live in or near states that offer a tax free weekend (or week) can save considerably by planning their annual back-to-school shopping and large purchases around those dates. Click the name of your state below to find out when tax free weekend events are scheduled, and which items will qualify for the savings. Common items you can save on include clothing, shoes, school supplies, computers and software.

States That Offer A Tax Free Week or Tax Free Weekend*:

New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington D.C.
West Virginia

Tips for more Savings during Tax Free Shopping days

  • Keep an eye out for “Early Bird” shopping hours and special deals that can add to your savings during tax free weekend (many coupons are not allowed during these days).
  • Dollar limits usually apply to each item you buy, as opposed to your entire purchase having to fall under a certain amount. Know the rules & be prepared before you shop.
  • Layaway items may be tax-free if paid off before the holiday ends, or if put in layaway during the holiday. The rules on layaways, rain checks and special orders vary state by state. Know the conditions beforehand to save the most money.
  • Check neighboring states. Planning a trip to visit the grandparents out of state? Live near the border of another state? See if those states offer sales tax holidays.

How to Vacation When Your Budget doesn’t Allow Travel.

Vacation at Home without breaking the bank

Summer Fun can be Cheap

Everyone wants their family to have fun during the summer. If you can’t afford to take your kids on a week-long vacation to Disneyworld or the beach, you can still have a good time without overspending and make it a summer that they will remember.

For much less money than flying or driving your family cross-country for a summer getaway, you can explore your own backyard by becoming a tourist in your city. With a little effort you can get out of the rut of watching TV all summer and being immersed in your daily routine and instead see the adventures around you with new eyes.

Your town may have certain days during the summer that offer free admission to the zoo, museums, arboretum or botanical gardens. By doing things close to home, you can offer your family an entire summer’s worth of adventures instead of just a week away. Your kids will enjoy spending more time with you and being able to do many different things. When staying close to home, it is possibly to make every weekend a “staycation.”

If you have a camera, let your child take photos of the places you go. There are always coupons for photo processing that will let you print pictures for pennies. If you don’t own a camera, buy a disposable and let your child take a few photos at each place you visit. Give them a notebook that they can journal in. At the end of the summer, they can turn the journal entries and photos and create a scrapbook of their summer fun. They won’t feel left out when they go back to school and the teacher asks everyone, “what did you do for your summer vacation.”


  • Do an internet search for your city or county to find the official government website. On the website for your city, you should be able to find links to interesting events and free summer activities.
  • Do an internet search for “your city” + day trips. You can find interesting places to explore with your family that are a short drive (2-3 hours at the most) from your town.
  • Visit your public library and/or bookstore and ask if they have a “local” section. Many times there are books featuring day trips, hiking trails, outdoor excursions, and interesting locales that are near you.


  • Encourage your kids to help you plan where to go. Get them excited about vacationing close to home by getting them involved in the process.
  • Pack a lunch. If you’re taking a short drive for a day trip, or visit to the arboretum or park, pack a cooler with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. Eating out is expensive, and food kiosks at the zoo or other spots can be particularly pricey. Make it fun by having a picnic outdoors on a bench or under a tree. Don’t forget to pack plates, plasticware, and a trash bag!
  • Explain to your children why you can’t take a traveling vacation this summer. If they understand that money is tight they will be less likely to pout and more likely to get involved with the summer plans.