Mrs. Tako and I recently took a trip to our local Costco to stock up on household goods. We make a Costco run a couple times a month, depending upon what’s needed.
The store had Halloween costumes on display and decorations out for sale. Our kids (of course) are terribly interested in all this Halloween stuff…so I was practically required to pilot the shopping cart down the Halloween aisle for a look at all of it.
As luck would have it, by the end of the shopping trip we managed to exit the store without buying any Halloween stuff! Small victories, right?
Later, I remarked to Mrs. Tako, “Hey, did you notice how nearly every single costume in that store was a branded character?” It was shockingly true — nearly every single costume was a licensed character of some sort. Many were characters from Disney, Time Warner, and other large media corporations.
There was plenty of Disney Marvel characters like Spiderman, The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and various X-men. Superheroes are very popular right now, so I can understand why Costco had so many of them.
Time Warner DC Comics characters also had a good showing this year — Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. Heck, even Lego was in the branded costume business with Ninjago costumes!
Then, of course there’s the Disney Star Wars costumes — Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Jedi, and others. It is a Star Wars year after all.
I can’t forget the Disney Princess costumes either! — Elsa and Anna from Frozen are still ridiculously popular.
And the list of characters just keeps going and going…but you must get the idea by now. Nearly every costume sold was a licensed character of some sort!
Halloween = Profits?
When did wearing a Halloween costume become just another method to fatten the profit margins of giant corporations? Consumerism is everywhere and in every holiday!
The Costco costumes (for children) typically retailed for around $15-$40, with branded costumes being on the higher end of that spectrum. Certainly not terribly cheap for a single night’s entertainment, but not unaffordable either.
Back when I was a kid, we didn’t buy costumes. We didn’t have a lot of money for unnecessary things, so I always ended up making my own costumes….and frequently my costumes were pretty terrible.
But half the fun was in the making of them! The creative process, and the knowledge that the costume was uniquely my own, was very rewarding. They didn’t need to be sturdy either….the costume only had to last one night after all!
No or Low Cost Costumes!
With Halloween right around the corner, the Tako family needed to come up with costumes for the kids (without breaking the bank). I wasn’t about to spend $30 on a costume for one night, so we decided to come up with some frugal options and show them off for some fun!
In the spirit of my terrible Halloween costumes from the past, I give you Five (Nearly) Free Halloween Costumes:
1. The Bloody Blueberry Vampire
OK, first off we have the Bloody Blueberry Vampire. It’s a pretty simple costume — Dress your kid in black clothes, and then feed them previously frozen blueberries. The blueberries tend to be extremely juicy and they work perfect for fake blood! Use any excess juice for painting on ‘blood’. It looks pretty frightening in person….especially if your child has any acting ability.
2. The Pillowcase Ghost
Got a spare pillowcase or bedsheet? Back when I was a kid, that was more than enough to make a ghost costume! Sometimes the classics never die — You too can dress your kids in the classic “pillowcase ghost” costume!
The eye-holes might require some cutting, so be sure to use an old pillowcase or bedsheet. Unless you don’t mind a few holes in your bed sheets…
3. The Toilet Paper Mummy
Mummies are great Halloween classics, and mummy costumes couldn’t be any simpler (or cheaper). Instead of buying a mummy costume, or using lots of expensive medical bandages, just grab a roll of toilet paper! Some toilet paper, and tape are all you need to get started wrapping!
4. The DIY/Up-cycle Costume
Do you have any skill with a sewing machine? It turns out Mrs. Tako is a genius behind the sewing machine. She sews at least one Halloween costume every year for our boys, using only thrift store T-shirts and small scraps of fabric.
Usually she completes them in just a couple nights, and they don’t cost more than a couple dollars because she uses fabric scraps.
This year she made a Spiderman costume:
5. The Freecycle or Buy Nothing Costume
Kids grow like weeds, and if your kids are anything like mine they WILL NOT be able to fit into this year’s Halloween costumes next year. Talk about single use!
Most commercially made costumes will actually last decently long time with a little care. Like-minded frugal parents know this, and frequently contribute kids costumes from previous years into the sharing economy. Freecycle and a local Buy Nothing group are the ones we use.
This year, from our local Buy Nothing group we generously received a spiderman and batman costume! Yes, we ended up with two spiderman costumes this year! It was completely accidental!
At least one (or more) of them is going to make its way back into our local Buy Nothing group.
It’s About Fun, Not Being Fancy
I hope you got a little laugh from this post. My boys certainly had fun dressing up and taking all the pictures for you guys. Some of our frugal Halloween costume ideas were pretty terrible…but making bad costumes can actually be a lot of fun for the kids!
Despite what retailers like to promote, Halloween isn’t a competition! Costumes don’t need to cost more than a couple dollars for kids to enjoy the holiday!
Halloween is about having fun, not spending money to impress others! Kids grow up so fast anyway, most Halloween costumes won’t get worn more than once or twice anyway! Instead, focus on the fun, not the spending!
Spending money on a better costume certainly isn’t going to make my kids any happier. They have tons of fun just being silly!
So, I ask you, why waste a whole bunch of money fattening the profit margins of giant corporations?
[Image Credit: Flickr]