I am 200% a holiday mom. I love the celebration and surprises and fun of holidays! Some of them are incredibly meaningful to us as a family because of our religious beliefs, and some of them are just super fun! Halloween is one of the holidays we enjoy most and it definitely falls in the “just for fun” holiday for our family.
We have three small children so Halloween is not at all about spooky or scary, but about dress up, sweet treats and fall festivals. We love dressing up as a family, but I’m a mama on a budget, so DIY costumes are the only way we make it happen in our house. Here are my top 5 tips for budget-friendly, (NO SEW!) family costumes!
1. Plan Ahead
You’ll want to plan at least a month in advance depending on how many costumes you’ll be making. This gives you time for crafting but more importantly, time for keeping an eye out for sales for supplies! Never pay full price for anything at your favorite craft store (You know the one…it rhymes with schmobby schlobby.) Almost their entire store goes on sale at least once per month, and you can always find a 40% off coupon online.
2. Be Creative with Your Materials
Buying the perfect fabric and exact replicas of your character’s accessories can get pricey fast! Instead, try to get creative with the supplies you may already have. For an Ursula costume, I knew I wanted shiny purple fabric for the lining of my tentacles, but I happened upon a giant comforter at a neighbors garage sale that I got for $1! It was more than enough material for all 8 tentacles!
I use TONS of felt every year because is easy to cut, doesn’t fray and it’s CHEAP! I’ve also used cardboard, poster board and plastic cups and bowls almost every year. Again, it doesn’t have to hold up for forever, and using unconventional materials makes me feel like I’m crushing a challenge on Project Runway!
3. Accessories can MAKE the Costume
I don’t mind buying an actual costume for my daughter because she will get our money’s worth playing dress up all year. However, for toddlers, babies and my husband and I, I refuse to spend more than about $10 per costume.
Almost all of our DIY costumes start with a solid color piece of clothing. I keep an eye out at thrift stores and on clearance racks once I know our theme for pieces I can build on to make a costume.
After that, adding on a few homemade accessories or some character makeup and hairstyles can sometimes completely make an outfit, especially when you have an entire family on a theme! Lower the bar for individual costumes and trust that the overall effect will be sufficient!
4. Your Glue Gun is Your Bestie!
I learned to sew during my first pregnancy, and then I gave birth and have hardly had two hands free at the same time since! My hot glue gun is a trusty alternative for all of the sewing Pinterest ideas “SEAM” to require. (Bad sewing pun, anyone? Anyone…? Moving on…)
When hot gluing fabric in place of sewing, you still want to glue the seam inside-out so when you turn it right side out, you won’t see messy seams or hot glue strings. You also want to use a high heat gun and glue sticks for extra staying power! It’s important to pre-wash your fabric because once you’ve hot glued it, it becomes spot clean only! You obviously won’t be able to wear your costume over and over again, but that’s not what Halloween requires! It just needs to hold up for a few wears!
5. Dye What You Can’t Buy
Every Halloween there is a basic piece of someone’s costume that I just can’t find for a reasonable price! For example, when my son was a newborn Gus Gus, I had looked EVERYWHERE for a yellow onesie I could turn into a crop top. It FINALLY occurred to me to dye one of his many plain onesies yellow. There are tons of Pinterest ideas for organic/plant based dyes or you can pick up any color at the craft store for just a couple of dollars. (The same trick applies to hair! Don’t bother spending $10+ on a wig, hair spray paint is usually about $2!)
If you’re thinking of tackling family Halloween costumes this year, I hope you’re encouraged to take the leap! The most important takeaway should be to HAVE FUN. If you DON’T enjoy thrifting and you hate the thought of spending weeks on costumes that only last a night or two, totally skip these ideas and proudly purchase whatever costumes your family desires! BUT if you’re a little creative and don’t mind a few minor hot glue gun burns, GO FOR IT!