Halloween is a holiday that the kids love – but with the price of costumes these days and with multiple kids it can be expensive. I decided to try my hand at making some recycled Halloween costumes and was thrilled with the results.
This is an article by the original owners of EnviroMom dated from 2008.
Thankfully my kids are pretty flexible and open to ideas and when I mentioned skipping the annual trip to The Halloween Store, they were actually OK with it. I gave them free reign in their costumes creation and let them use their creativity to come up with ideas using things around the house and with a little help from mom – they were so proud of their final recycled costumes and could not wait to show their friends!
Save yourself some money this year and be kind to the environment by reusing items you already have. I will call this the EnviroMom “Buy Nothing New” Halloween Costume Challenge – think you are up for it?
We will start by shopping in our own closets looking for things that can be used or reused in creative ways. Definitely get the kids involved at this stage as they may be inspired by something they see!
We will then be reaching out to friends or visiting thrift stores to find those perfect accessories to finish off their looks.
After digging through our house my kids decided on the following for their costumes.
- Statue of Liberty for my 6.5 year old. I was thinking white sheet, some cardboard for a hat/crown and torch, dressed up with a bit of aluminum foil. But, my daughter had a different idea – since the real Statue of Liberty has that patina effect, she says the sheet has to be green. Amazingly, I actually have a patina green twin flat sheet still hanging around from my college days. Score!
- Little pink mouse for my 4 year old. We’re starting with the blue and pink mouse mask she claimed as a prize during the summer reading program. If we can’t find any pink t-shirts and leggings in our closets, I’ll probably die of shock and amazement. With two girly-girls, we have a fair amount of pink. Add a tail and a chunk of cardboard cheese.
Resources For Costume Items That Are No or Low Cost
- Check out kids’ clothing consignment stores. If they’re worth their salt, they should have racks and racks of last year’s costumes on display.
- Check out eBay and Craigslist. Most of the costume ads claim they’ve only been worn once which I hate seeing because that is such a waste of resources on the environment! Please make sure you are in fact purchasing a used costume so you do not contribute to the waste!
- Arrange for a costume swap among your friends. Just like a clothing swap — it’s super easy and costs nothing!
- Check freebie local groups on Facebook to see if anyone is giving away an goodies you can use!
Do you have any other strategies for saving money, being kind to the environment and making Halloween about reuse and precycling? We would love to hear them!
DIY Costume Inspiration
DIY Bat Costume
I found this online and loved the creativeness! The perfect example of what a Halloween costume from reused items should be. While this is a costume I would not use on little kids because they may hurt themselves, the big kids and adults should love it. As you can tell it is a bat costume but it is made almost entirely from a black umbrella. The complete instructions can be found at the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratory (don’t let the name scare you).
DIY Leopard Costume
From our reader Kristi:
“About 8 months ago my 3 yr old saw a child sporting a leopard costume (WITH A TAIL she reminded me frequently) and decided right then that she would be a leopard for Halloween. She’s stuck with that choice and I’ve had a nice amount of time to scout out the options.
While searching Craigslist and Ebay for costumes I found out that Gymboree had a “line” of leopard-themed clothing last year and many people started selling their outgrown outfits around back-to-school time. So we scored some great barely used things for not much $$: top, pants, tights (which I turned into a tail), sweater, raincoat, and rainboots all in this leopard print. And she loves it so much she’s getting MUCH more than 1 wear out of it, she has barely taken it off this week and now that the rain has started, the leopard rain coat is her go-to outerwear choice. It’s a bit much for my taste, but I guess if she loves it…”
DIY Diego Costume
From our reader Erin:
“Last year, our son wanted to be Diego. I used an old pair of kids cargo shorts and an old pair of Dad’s khaki pants, and made a vest. The kid sized cargo pockets created perfect ‘safari’ looking pockets on the vest. We downloaded the official Diego emblem from the Nick Jr website and made a badge for him. The rest of the costume was “diego-like” shorts and tshirt, complete with binoculars that our son already had from the dollar store. OK, it’s wasn’t anything too amazing, but our son was really comfortable, we didn’t spend any money, AND he was original and cool.”
DIY Penguin and Cupcake
From our reader Ingrid:
Check out the hat on this darling cupcake. It started out as a hat from Goodwill, and it looks like white felt with glitter was added for frosting, and the whole thing tied on with a filmy scarf. They already had the pj’s (which probably inspired the whole costume).
The adorable penguin costume was made from an old black velour sweater and a chunk of white fabric from an art supply reuse shop.
The sabre-toothed tiger on the right is wearing an old lion’s costume, but made his mask out of paper-mache.
And face paint goes a long way, doesn’t it?
Below are a few images of my daughter from years past! As you can see I was always a fan of recycled costumes and hope this is trend that stays with my kids forever!
This witch costume (and yes, that boa is a bit much, but she insisted) was made using two adult-sized black skirts from a resale shop. For the dress, I used an elastic-waist skirt and just cut two armholes on the side. It just pulled on right over her head, and she wore a black shirt underneath. The cape is made from a velour skirt, just cut apart, and I added a ribbon to tie it on. The hat, I’ll admit, is store-bought.
One year she wanted to be a cow girl after seeing Toy Story 2 and falling in love with Jesse. This skirt was a hand-me-down, but any brown skirt would do. I cut out the cow-patterned vest from a remnant of non-fray fabric (no sewing involved!). We had the hat, boots and bandanna.
So are you feeling inspired? Visit your local thrift and resale stores and scrounge around your closets to see what you already have! You can do this, and your kids will love it!