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Making Versus Buying Halloween Costumes

Which is the right choice?

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Making Versus Buying Halloween Costumes
© Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis
Halloween is just around the corner. For parents, the holiday can be a sneaky one, coming up on the heels of back-to-school and preceding thanksgiving. So as stores begin to bring out their ghastly and ghostly costumes, you start to realize that the kids are in desperate need of a costume too.

But should you just give in and buy those expensive costumes, or make them to save a little money? Here are a few things to consider to help you decide.

Skill Level Are you handy with a sewing machine or lucky enough to have a serger? Making the costumes from scratch can save you a lot of money. But, even if you have no sewing machine experience and you're not entirely sure what a serger even is, this does not mean that a good Halloween costume can't be made. A little creative thrift shopping and some scissors can lead to pirates, princesses, and ninjas. Even some face paint and Spirit Gum can turn a black pant and shirt into a spooky zombie.

Decide on Your Character What you or your kids decide to be this year can go a long way toward helping you decide on whether to buy or make this year's costumes. Generic costumes like vampires or cheerleaders can be easier to make than costumes based on licensed characters. However, licensed character costume prices can be the most expensive. Is your little guy set on being Mario for Halloween? A red cap with a little white paint, a red shirt, and overalls are all you need for this character. Does he want to be Buzz Lightyear? That costume might be too complicated to make.

Pros for Making Costumes
  • Durability- if you have the skill set to make a good costume from scratch, the investment in materials and time will pay off beyond Halloween night. Many store bought costumes are thin and easily torn. One you make can go in the dress up bin for later play.
  • Memories- Some handmade costumes can be handed down. My grandmother made me this silly bear costume when I was two. Thirty years later, all my kids have worn that costume for their second Halloweens.
  • Can Save Money- Last year my son desperately wanted to be Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon. Since the movie based off the cartoon had just been released, there were a lot of costumes out. Ranging from 30 to even 60 dollars. I grabbed some tan cotton fabric and a ninja costume pattern for eight dollars. In two days I put together a costume that was kid approved, saving us a nice chunk of change.
  • A Unique Costume- Making costumes also allows your child to have something unique and special, not the store bought costume that a dozen other kids will be wearing too.
Cons for Making Costumes
  • Time- It takes time to make a costume from scratch. If you are extremely pressed for time this year, you may want to save yourself the aggravation and just buy those costumes.
  • Cost of Materials- For the most part, making a costume is less expensive than buying one. However, if you're not careful the cost of materials can add up quickly. Keep an eye on those sale bins for fabric!
  • Not Looking Quite Right- This is more of a danger with licensed character costumes. Costume building can take some practice, be sure to make only what your skill level allows you to. No Robin Hood wants to traverse the neighborhood streets in tights that bunch in all the wrong places, and in a tunic that is as long as a dress.

Remember, Halloween is fun for everybody, and it's a great way to build memories for everyone. Whether it's picking out the right costume pieces or sewing the seams on a costume you are creating, include your child in the process. This way they can have pride in their costume too.

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