Scoring a Halloween Costume Without Going Retail

by Guest Writer

I love the autumn season and all of the festivities that come along with it. One of my favorite things about this time of year is Halloween. I love decorating my home and I love helping my children decide on costumes to wear for Halloween. Unfortunately, if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, Halloween can become an extremely wasteful holiday. There’s the chance that costumes will only be worn once and then tossed to the back of a closet, or worse—in the garbage. Since costumes are one of those must-have items early on, that’s what I want to focus on—getting a great costume without negatively impacting the environment.

I so enjoy getting my children dressed up for Halloween, but the idea of spending tons of money on a costume they’ll only wear once seems ridiculous. Of course, the reality is that my children will likely wear their costumes multiple times because playing dress-up is a favorite in our home. That said, we try to choose costumes that will lend themselves to playing dress-up. My son, who’s easily two years into a Captain Hook obsession, will be dressing up as Captain Hook this year. My daughter who loves princesses and mermaids will be sporting a Little Mermaid costume.

I try not to make it a habit of buying new costumes. There are a number of places where you can go to pick up a second-hand costume in new, or like-new condition. Facebook is one of my favorite resources. There is even a group dedicated to Halloween costumes and decorations. It’s a closed group (meaning you must ask to join) with nearly 1,500 members. You can easily pick up a second-hand costume from someone else in this group. You can also look into buy/sell groups that are local to where you live (think keeping things local, thereby minimizing your carbon footprint), and I’ve noticed that the groups in my area have had a lot more Halloween costumes being offered for sale. Another website that is offering Halloween costumes right now is ThredUp. At the time that I’m writing this, I’m a little disappointed in the selection, but am hopeful that they’ll have more costumes to offer in time for Halloween.

October 13th is National Costume Swap Day, which is sponsored by The site offers a list of swap sites, with the details of their swaps. These costume swaps are free. How it works is you donate a costume and then you get a costume for free. Most of the swaps take place on October 13th, but it’s important to note, that some take place as early as October 2nd.

There’s also something to be said for homemade costumes. My mom used to make our costumes when we were kids and she really did a fabulous job. In fact, she still has the angel wings she made for me one year—the year that I won for best costume. The plan is that in a few years, my daughter can dress as an angel and wear the same wings I wore. I digress, though. Making a costume does not have to be a huge undertaking. It can actually be a lot of fun. All you need is an idea, and some out-of-the-box thinking. You can get some good ideas (and instructions) from Martha Stewart, The Daily Green, and Parenting to name just a few. What I love about homemade costumes is that not only are they unique, and sentimental, but you can also make them with whatever materials you choose. So, if you want to make sure that chemically-treated fabrics don’t touch your little one’s skin, then you can choose to use organic fabric. In all fairness, I think homemade costumes stand out against the rest, and I hope one day to be as good as my mom and start making costumes. But, until then, I’ll keep using the secondhand costumes that are so much easier for a working mom.

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