Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frugal Halloween Costumes: What's your degree of frugality?

M Gustafson Gervasi, 2013

"What are you doing on a web site called Craft Passion dot Com?" said my husband with a hint of annoyance and concern in his voice.  "Looking at patterns to make a skeleton costume....." was my reply, for which I could hardly garner any enthusiasm.  Yes, it is the time of year when the children want to purchase Halloween outfits, and this frugal Mama wants to save pennies when and where we can.  My husband's question helped me center on the fact that there are degrees of frugality, and not all suit me.

When it comes to costumes one has options:

  1. Homemade.  This require time, patience, skill, tools and supplies.  For someone who crafts regularly and can whip something up in no time, this is likely a good frugal fit.  I am not that person. There are no sewing supplies in my closet, and even less patience in myself for crafting.  My husband knew better than I did that while homemade outfits save money for some households, they would not save money here.  I lack skill, the tools, and the supplies.
  2. Purchase New at a Halloween Store.  Direct and quick, one trip to the mall would yield immediate outfits, but we'd pay for the efforts of others.  And risk all that comes with a trip to the mall: temptation from other stores, tasty snacks, and the expense of driving there.  Plus, I detest the mall, so it would have a negative impact on my mood for at least a few hours, if not days.
  3. Purchase New On-Line.  Readers of my blog know I am a fan of Amazon Prime.  Click and ship for free within 2 days.  This was the option I used last year, purchasing an owl and pirate outfit from the comfort of my kitchen table at 3am one night when I had insomnia.  But the price was close to $50, and days before the big day my kids changed their minds on what they wanted to be on Halloween.
  4. Buy Used. That was the frugal method for this year.  It was an email from SAVERS telling me that all purchases on Columbus Day were 50% off.  After pre-school pick-up the kids and I bee-lined for our local savers.  And there we found a skeleton outfit for our son, plus a purple dinosaur costume. Two for $10, one suited for a cold night outdoors, the other better for the church and school parties. Our daughter selected a ladybug outfit that will work both inside and out, and will provide hours of twirling fun (she loves, just loves to dance, and an outfit makes it all the more fun).  Total time, 1 hour. Total spent was less than $15.  The store supports Easter Seals, and is less than 2 miles from our home -- all a bonus to my frugal mindset.
As we launch into the holiday madness months, I urge you to use caution -- homemade may not always be frugal if you are like me and do not have the time, tools, and vision to pull of a homemade item.  Frugal, it's a matter of degree.  Select the one you can sustain for a lifetime and it will yield far more savings than a brief and intense tango with fabric patterns, glue and goodness knows what else.


  1. Hooray for Savers! The other thing I think about for Halloween is how long are they going to be wearing it. I don't want to spend a ton of time making a costume for 3 hours of wearing, even if I already have the exact supplies needed. I have bought low-price costumes some years and some years we've cobbled things together. It's a bit easier with older kids because you can give them a deadline for their decision and then no changing of minds after (because there will not be a different costume)!

    1. Cindy -- Yes, multiple wears is key for us too. The kids have a dress up basket, so I prefer to buy larger costumes, knowing they can wear them throughout the year for make believe! Thanks again for the apples, you are the best! -M