Need ideas for frugal or free Halloween costumes?

Every year in early October, I start to gather items for our Halloween costumes.  Sometimes the kids are easy and just want to wear the same costume as last year.  Sometimes one of them throws me a challenge, which is tough for a non-DIY Mom like me!  But we always find a way to work it out.

One thing I do not want to do is drop $20 per child (that’s $100 for my 5 kids!) on a flimsy paper thin costume that won’t hold up to children.  I’m not saying I haven’t done this before.  It’s just that I see that as a last resort.

So over the years I have come up with some more creative ways to get costumes for my little trick or treaters.  Here are 5 frugal ways to find cheap or free Halloween costumes.

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5 Frugal Ways to Find Cheap or Free Halloween Costumes If you need tips for free Halloween costume ideas, check out this post. Keep your Halloween frugal and fun!

1. Make a Swap.

Ask your Mom friends if anyone would like to trade costumes you already own from previous years.  Many times you’ll find that they have something that will fit your child great!  And younger kids often don’t care what they dress up as, so that makes it easier to find a good match among your friends.

Other ideas:  If you don’t know Moms who’s kids are the right size for the current Halloween, put out a plea on Facebook.  Sometimes people have an old costume in a closet somewhere, or they have a friend that would match up with what you have for the perfect trade.  And you might even make a new Mommy friend!

2. Shop Craigslist or Yard Sales.

If you keep your eyes open, you can find some really great deals on Craigslist or at a yard sale.  You can often buy a costume for just $2.  Thrift stores and secondhand shops can be another great resource.  And if you have a costume you no longer need, selling it to a secondhand shop will help pay for a new costume.

Be sure to bypass anyone who is asking for retail prices on a used costume.

And if you shop Craigslist, ALWAYS insist on meeting in a public location.  (That goes without saying, right?)

3. Get creative.  

One year my son decided he wanted to be Anakin Skywalker.  So we dug around and found some white clothes.  My shirt was a little big, but he wore it for such a short time that it didn’t matter.  We added a brown jacket.  Then we used a lightsaber toy he already owned and created a belt from some ribbon I had.

Well.  He wore that costume to one event and decided the next day that he didn’t want to wear it again.  Now he wanted to be a rock and roll star.  I had spent so much time putting together the Star Wars costume that I told him he’d have to figure it out himself.

Wouldn’t you know, he came downstairs with some clothes he’d pulled together and a bandanna around his head.  He was carrying a toy guitar.  We helped him put on a goatee with some face paint and he was good to go.  It’s amazing what a kid can do for himself when he really wants something!

4. Buy differently.

Sometimes it’s worth spending money to buy a costume if you know you’ll get many uses out of it.  You might have several different events to go to this year, or have other children that will wear the same costume in the future.

You can also purchase clothing that the kids can wear in their daily lives.  Maybe you need a gray sweatsuit to turn the child into an elephant.  That sweatsuit can be worn again (assuming you live in a cold climate!), at least for sledding and lounging around the house.

Maybe you need a black t-shirt as a base for your costume, but that child doesn’t own one.  Dig around a bit.  Is there a black t-shirt in the house?  Even if it doesn’t quite fit, it could probably work for one night.

If not, check out Goodwill.  They often divide their clothing by color which makes it easy to find what you need.  And many Goodwills only charge a small amount for a child’s t-shirt.

5. Plan ahead.

This tip might not help you this year, but it’s worth mentioning anyway.  We all love to shop clearance after a holiday.  This year, pick up a costume or two for a fraction of the cost.

I like to gift costumes to my child for Christmas or a birthday.  They wear them around the house and play pretend throughout the year.  (I can’t tell you how many times my backyard was safe from danger because a Transformer, a ninja, and Superman were usually running around.)

My daughter has received many princess costumes this way, and this year she can be almost any princess she wants to be.

Combine these tips to save a pretty penny on frugal or free Halloween costumes!

Save that $100 you would have spent on store bought costumes for something more fun.  Like buying clearance Halloween candy!


What frugal tips do you have to find cheap or free Halloween costumes for your family?

5 Frugal Ways to Find Cheap or Free Halloween Costumes
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5 Frugal Ways to Find Cheap or Free Halloween Costumes
Looking for ways to find cheap or free Halloween costumes for your family this year? Here are 5 ways to keep your Halloween frugal.