Halloween is less than two weeks away and the mad dash to buy costumes has begun. Seasonal retailers like Halloween City (which sprout up everywhere in September and vanish on November 1st) offer convenience, but also high prices. The same is true of most party and costume stores you might find around town. When you buy new, you usually pay more.
So what’s a budget-savvy parent to do about buying a costume their kids will enjoy wearing — but will ultimately be worn just once, maybe twice, tops?
Here are some creative ways to trim your Halloween costume costs this year:
The most straightforward way to save is to buy used Halloween costumes. After all, Halloween costumes are, by definition, only worn once per year. That means most of the “used” costumes you find at the local Goodwill or on Ebay or Craigslist are probably in excellent, like-new condition.
In fact, if you buy the costume alone and tell your child that you “just threw the packaging away”, they may not even recognize the difference.
Make Your Own
Then there’s the old standby of generations past: DIY. Frugal (and creative) parents have been hand-making their own costumes for decades, and if you’re up for the job, there’s no surer way to save.
Just figure out what kind of costume your child is looking for. Then, simply search the web for “how to make a ___ costume.”
If the costume you’re trying to make is at all common (say, a superhero or a character from a recent movie) you will have more videos, instructional tutorials and illustrated walk-throughs than you know what to do with. Most of these will also include detailed lists of materials and suggestions on how to inexpensively obtain them.
Groupons are another creative and simple way to buy Halloween costumes for less. For those new to the Groupon concept, the company negotiates discounts of at least 50% (often more) with retailers and offer those deals to their daily email subscribers. A deal is activated only when a minimum number of people sign up to buy.
Groupon deals and offers are made available every day for virtually every conceivable product category: including Halloween costumes. Keep a close eye on Groupon and other group-buying website deals (LivingSocial.com, Tippr.com) for offers for costumes, costume-making supplies and even candy from local, brick-and-mortar businesses in your area.
Still another way to make Halloween happen on the cheap is to hold a costume swap. Chances are, other parents (including relatives) that you know have old costumes too. But remember: a costume is only “old” to the person who wore it the previous Halloween. Five or ten parents can easily meet up and swap their “old” costumes with those of others, and everyone goes home with something different for their kids to wear this year.
Admittedly, it may take some maneuvering to pull this off. The Barbie costume Aunt Suzie bought for her daughter last year is not going to fly with your 10 year old son. But if there are enough parents with sons and daughters of similar ages, swaps can work extremely well.
As usual, there are always a few good deals to be found on the Internet. Aside from Groupon, you always have the option of searching to see what the top online party stores have to offer. Two-for-one deals, free shipping offers and time sensitive “buy before Friday” type promotions are there for the taking right up until October 31st.
Of course, there are also plenty of online retailers selling for prices just as high as the store around the corner. It’s up to you to shop around by comparing the prices you find online to what’s available via Craigslist, used stores in the neighborhood and hand-me-down opportunities within the family.
Here are five websites to visit before you shop online that will help you find the best deals possible.