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Purple and white ghosts
Purple and white ghosts
Purple and white ghosts

Published October 19, 2017.

Use cardboard! And other money-saving tricks for your next Halloween costume.

Inspiration awaits in your recycling bin and friends' closets.

The only thing more terrifying than a 7-year-old werewolf-princess is the price tag you'll find on a 7-year-old's werewolf-princess costume.

Never fear. It doesn't take a lot of money to put together a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume that you — or your loved one — can be proud of, says Ashley Riley, an STCU deposit operations specialist.

Riley lives in Spokane now, but she grew up in a neighborhood in Lewiston, Idaho, known for its elaborate holiday décor. She's a product of her early environment, known among friends and colleagues for her creative get-ups. She's been a steam-punk Joker; an Ursula, complete with a skirt of hand-stuffed tentacles; and a blue-haired Coraline, among other characters.

Ashley shared some of her tricks.

Get inspired at the thrift shop.

Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to find gently used costumes and fixings, Riley says. Keep an open mind: Maybe you'll find a bridesmaid's dress for a princess gown or a creaky old man's suit for zombie wear.

"They also get discounted stuff from the pop-up Halloween stores from the previous year — unopened packages like wigs and other items," Riley says.

Thrift shops often display sample outfits put together by employees — a big help when you're stuck for ideas.

Recycling is boo-tiful.

Team up with other people to reuse and recycle costumes. Try a community costume swap for more choices, or organize a swap with friends, neighbors, or coworkers.

"They can always be recycled for other events, like kids' birthday parties," Riley says.

Sew your own.

Creating a costume from scratch might sound intimidating, but Riley says there are plenty of beginner-friendly costume patterns.

Look for patterns with easy-to-follow instructions, she advises. Also, your pattern should outline all the supplies you'll need up front, so you're not making return trips to the craft store.

Many sewing and craft stores also hold classes before Halloween to help you create a finished costume under expert guidance.

Duct tape!

Not everybody sews, and not everybody has to. You can construct memorable costumes from household items such as tape, cardboard, foam from old cushions, and even old shoes. (Paint them!)

Your daughter as a pizza box? Your son as a cell phone? The internet is awash with photos and clever ideas.

Don't worry, be scary.

  • Browse thrift stores for employee recommendations or costumes that others have made and donated.
  • Do the sewing yourself: Beginner-friendly patterns can help you achieve surprising results.
  • Look around the house for accessories and materials to repurpose.
  • Search the web for inspiration and inexpensive costume ideas.

Shop at the last minute.

If you're just not up to making a costume, you may be able to save a lot of cash by shopping for one on or just before Halloween, when stores are eager to shrink their inventories.

And prices will fall again in early November. Why not shop ahead for next Halloween? In the meantime, you might be surprised at how much use you can get out of a Halloween costume.

"They can always be recycled for other events, like kids' birthday parties," Riley says. "My nieces have found uses for their costumes during some school functions as well. And especially at New Year's and Mardi Gras, you'll have a lot of people do costume-themed parties."

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