Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids: Make, Swap, Find or Buy Frugal Family Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and parents are scrambling to get costumes together for their kids. Even if it’s too late to construct a life-sized foam tyrannosaurus rex costume, it is possible to create fun, cheap and easy costumes for kids from things that are already in the closet, dressing up box, gym bag or neighborhood.

Raid the Closet

Great costumes for kids don’t take a lot of expensive materials or time spent hunched over the sewing machine, although for those who love sewing Halloween is a great excuse to get creative. Many last minute Halloween costumes can be put together with things that already exist at the bottom of the closet or dressing-up box: sparkly scarves, twinkly beads, clip-on earrings, an old wig, an eyepatch, a battered old hat.

Easy costumes to make from old clothes include a pirate (use a bandanna, eyepatch, plastic or wooden sword, a frayed vest and boots) and a fairy or princess (use sparkly scarves, a tiara, wand and floaty skirt, and wings made by stretching pantyhose over a wire coat hanger, use two tied together to make a pair)

Use Sports Equipment

Many sports and activities that kids enjoy use equipment that makes a good costume. A kid who plays hockey will probably have everything she needs to be her favorite hockey player for Halloween. The same goes for horse riding, gymnastics and dance. Add a few specific details to transform a generic costume into a specific character. If the child doesn’t want to dress up in her own equipment for Halloween, consider trading with a friend or neighbor so she can try out a different role than the one she usually plays after school and on weekends.

Swap With Friends and Neighbors

Last year’s outgrown costume might not be useful to the same child who wore it last year, but a younger friend, neighbor or sibling might be just the right size. Swapping costumes within the community is a great way to minimize the amount of effort put into creating brand new costumes from scratch every year. Check Craigslist, Freecycle and Kijiji for second-hand costumes to buy or swap, and consider posting a costume size wish list on community email lists.

Hit the Shops

Shopping for a costume at the last minute can be frustrating and expensive, but it is possible to find a passable costume for a kid at the mall or thrift shop even a couple of days before Halloween. For good deals, shop for a costume on November 1st and keep it in storage until next year.

Remember, there is no rule against wearing the same costume for more than one year. If last year’s cat costume still fits and the child is happy to be a cat again, go for it. Halloween is also a great opportunity to put a child’s creativity to use, so help them get involved in putting their costume together. Whether a costume is put together from clothes at the back of the closet, a child’s sports equipment, the neighbor’s costume from last year or something picked up on the sale rack, remember to stay safe while trick or treating and have a Happy Halloween!

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