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Make frugal Halloween costumes

By on October 1, 2009


Halloween costumes can be pricey. If you have more than one child, you can end up paying a small fortune. Kids wear them for a day and then hang them in the closet. Savvy shoppers buy costumes on clearance for the following year. Some costumes can be passed on to another child, swapped with friends or family, or used for dress-up boxes. But you can make unique and easy homemade costumes, too. It’ll cost much less than you’ll pay in retail stores. You might have some of the supplies already, and any remaining won’t break the bank. Sweat suits make a great foundation for a variety of fun costumes, so you don’t have to resort to a white-sheet ghost costume. One reader, Cheryl in North Carolina, shares: “Make a simple bunny costume: pink sweats with bought bunny ears. Paint whiskers on the face, and attach a cotton puff for the tail. Or a sheep costume: black or white sweats with cotton balls attached.”

What types of homemade costumes can you think of made from sweatpants and hoodies?

Here are a few ideas.

KERMIT THE FROG: Use a green sweat suit as the base for the costume. Use a set that has a hooded sweatshirt. Buy white and lime-green felt and peel-and-stick Velcro. Refer to a picture of Kermit for inspiration. Form rounded circles from the white felt. Stuff with batting. Using a permanent marker, draw eyes (circle with two lines extending out from both sides). Attach with Velcro onto the top of the hood. Cut triangles from the lime felt, and using Velcro, attach them around the neck of the hoodie.

CUPCAKE: Use a pink sweat suit (hooded top). You’ll need aluminum foil, a large red pompom or a Styrofoam ball and red spray paint (cherry), brown pipe cleaner (cherry stem), assorted colored felt and pompoms (sprinkles), pink ribbon (suspenders), batting and pink spray paint (frosting). Glue or peel and stick Velcro to attach cupcake decorations and a roundish laundry hamper (cupcake liner). Cut a hole into the bottom of the hamper. This is so it can be worn. Cover the hamper with aluminum foil. Tie the ribbon onto the hamper to make suspenders, and adjust to fit the child. Spray-paint the batting. Once dry, glue the batting around the top of the hamper. Attach pompoms and felt, cut to look like sprinkles. Attach the large red pompom or painted Styrofoam ball onto the top of the hood. Glue the pipe cleaner to it to form a stem. If you can’t find a hoodie, use a winter hat.

BUTTERFLY: Use a black sweat suit (hooded top). You’ll need a headband, black pipe cleaners and two small pompoms or Styrofoam balls painted black. You can buy the wings separately. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the headband. Glue one pompom to each pipe cleaner to form antennae. Or you can use a black winter hat and simply coil the pipe cleaners, poke through the hat, and bend to attach. Along the same lines, you can create a fairy costume by buying fairy wings instead of butterfly wings. Then make a no-sew tutu by using the directions at

GRAPES: Use a purple sweat suit (hooded top). Attach purple balloons with safety pins to sweat suit (top and bottom). Cut a couple of grape-leaf shapes from green felt, and glue a couple of green pipe cleaners coiled to look like grapevine to the underside of the leaves. You can use small pieces of brown felt rolled to form a stem, too.

AUTUMN LEAVES: Use a red, brown or orange sweat suit (hooded top). Buy silk fall leaves. Glue (or attach using safety pins) leaves to entire sweat suit. Child can carry a small toy rake.

photo by zephyrbunny


  1. Liz

    10/2/2009 at 9:23 pm

    Some spray paint will eat away at styrofoam, so check the label first.

  2. Polly

    10/4/2009 at 11:24 pm

    We always made our own costumes as kids, with stuff just lying around. That was part of the fun of it all. Never under estimate the thrill of being a ghost, I spent a couple of Halloweens trick or treating with an old sheet with eye holes, neighbors trying to guess who I was, me giggling under the sheet. What fun! I also went as a grandmom, put my hair in curlers and wore a bathrobe and slippers. The boys in our neighborhood ofen went dressed as hobos, smearing their faces with mascara like beards and mustaches, wearing their father’s too big sport jacket and carrying and stick with a bandana on the end. Sometimes they dressed as women wearing their mothers clothing and makeup, What a hoot!!! You really don’t need anything more then what you all ready have in your closets and make-up drawers to make the night special.

  3. Pingback: Monroe on a Budget » Sara Noel’s frugal Halloween costume ideas

  4. No Lean Times

    10/5/2009 at 1:34 pm

    Many common “costumes” are frequently overlooked such as being ready for bed or going as a group slumber party dressed in pajamas, slippers, night caps and holding a teddy beat or pillow. Toys that little girls have are baby dolls and toy strollers – so they can dress up as a mommy with a baby. Little girls with costume jewelry can go as celebrities with all their necklaces and bracelets. A princess is easy with a toy tiara and Easter dress. Boys are just as easy with jeans, cowboy boots and a little cowboy hat. What little boy doesn’t have a cowboy hat somewhere in his closet? And a policeman these days can be a casual dress with a badge clipped on his belt.

  5. Sara Noel

    10/8/2009 at 1:14 am

    Liz, Thank you for adding your advice. 🙂

    Polly and No lean times, all great frugal homemade costumes!

  6. Kenneth Elliott

    10/13/2009 at 10:13 am

    My mother never brought a costume for me. She always made the costumes. I remember one year she made a Dracula costume for me that included the vest, cape and I word a old pair of dress pants and my dress shoes. We purchased some makeup and we had the costume.
    .-= Kenneth Elliott´s last blog ..MC Hammer Costume =-.

  7. Dee

    10/30/2011 at 4:28 pm

    One year my sister and I used a black leotard and tights, laid them out, traced a skeloton on them with glue, and made the outline of the bones in silver glitter. People admired that all night!

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