Halloween Costumes On the Cheap

Beth Rozacky

     Halloween is a holiday full of nostalgic charm and endearing traditions. One of the most well loved and closely followed practices of All Hallows’ Eve involves dressing up in creative and eye-catching costumes. In yearly attempts to outdo each other, friends compete with increasingly exuberant outfits, spending fistfuls of dollars and dignity in the process. With the economy still not operating at full capacity, a cheap and inventive costume is a great way to cut down on expenses.

     Don’t want to spend any money at all? Not a problem. Wearing everyday clothes as a costume can be as effective as purchasing a complete Halloween ensemble. Throw on your favorite pair of jeans and a t-shirt and give yourself a background story. Instantly you’re transformed into a werewolf sans full moon, a nudist on strike, a superhero alter ego or a self portrait.  With this option there’s no need to worry about staining your pirate shirt or getting mud on your Catwoman boots. Spending the night in comfort is worth the hassle of spinning a creative tale (and the money saved by not purchasing a pre-made costume). However, pulling off the “normal clothes” look requires a certain amount of confidence and panache. With whatever character or background story you choose, be sure to sell it or your costume will ultimately fall flat.

     The idea of wearing normal clothes is very appealing but the risk of turning out a lackluster costume is fairly high. This risk can be mitigated by some artfully placed condiments. As every horror movie-maker worth their salt knows, ketchup is a great substitute for actual blood. The word “zombie” can be added to any costume by simply smearing this red confection over an outfit. A tasteful amount of ketchup can be applied to create the desired effect; a smear across the face for outfits like “zombie princess” or “zombie cheerleader,” a healthy dose for “last surviving victim of a teen slasher flick,” or a full dousing for “complete undead terror beast.” Halloween exudes a love for the terrifying and gory, so embrace the concept fully.

     If blood and gore is unappealing to your Halloween palate, there is a more whimsical option. It is well-known that glitter is the most universal and well loved of all craft supplies, being flashy as well as insanely cheap. As such, it is able to add an element of glitz and magic to any outfit and is integral to any sensible costume. Add glitter to an outfit and suddenly you’re a fairy or a vampire (or a fairy-vampire depending on your literary tastes). 

     Halloween costumes do not have to be costly but they do have to be fun. In whatever costume option you explore, be sure to allow personal style and good judgment to shine through.