Halloween is coming, you know

By Mir
September 19, 2007

The lovely Heather writes:

So, Mir, what’s your take on Halloween costumes, and getting the best bargain on them?

The last couple of years I’ve gone through eBay and been pretty happy … This year, my 3.5-year-old wants to be a T-Rex. The eBay costumes are pretty expensive, especially with shipping, so I’m thinking about doing it myself. But I’m not a sewer and I’m wondering if, by the time I buy the materials and spend the time doing it, I’d be better off shelling out $25 or so on a used costume from eBay.

So, what do you do? Any bargain-hunting tips for costumes? Got a spare t-rex costume lying about?

I find myself feeling a bit of deja vu, because a lot of what I’m inclined to say can be lifted directly from yesterday’s post about buying boots. But let’s hit a few other points as well.

Assuming that you already know that buying ahead is the way to go, financially (although of course probably not logistically, both because of size concerns and because what kid makes a firm choice a year in advance?), and that wasn’t an option here, what do you do now?

Consignment stores (again) can be a great option if you have some local ones to check out. Borrowing from a friend with older kids is a great idea, too. But what if those aren’t options, either?

Now you’re left with two choices: Make a costume, or find one to buy on the cheap.

Let me tell you, I am not a crafty person. I can barely sew (and do so only under duress!) and have all the creativity of a box of newts. However, I have twice made Family Fun costumes in desperation, and both of them got tons of compliments. They have an entire catalog of choices, there, so don’t be afraid to check them out if you’re even slightly inclined to make your own. Depending on what you choose, it’s not expensive, either.

But if you’re going to buy, you need to find a bargain. I’ve gotten some really cute (and affordable) costumes from Lillian Vernon in the past. (Through the end of September, either ship your order for $2.99 with coupon code 757850100, or take $10 off your $60+ purchase with code 557850100.) They’re my go-to place for costumes that aren’t completely made of flimsy plastic but don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Old Navy carries some cute costumes, though I’m not sure I’d call them cheap (and I don’t see a T-Rex, but they do have a dragon). Those tend to get cheaper the closer to Halloween you get, but then you’re running the risk of not being able to find anything (of course).

Other than that, I think you’re looking at trolling your local Target and/or big box store of your choice. But hopefully you can find something one of the other ways mentioned, and I hope that after Halloween you’ll pick up a few costumes on clearance for next year.


  1. There’s a farmer’s market in my community and every year at the end of September a general announcement goes out that there will be a costume swap. You can either bring a costume and take a costume, or pay $5 for a donated one. If one of these swaps doesn’t exist in your neighborhood, maybe you can start one up.

  2. Thanks, Mir. I haven’t been called “lovely” in a while. (Maybe since you answered my last question …)

    Anyway, thanks for the tips. I think I’ll spend a little time looking at thrift stores in the area. I LOVE the idea of a costume swap. That’s just awesome. I wonder if I could get that going at my farmers’ market here.

    And, if anybody has a spare T-rex costume (size 4T or so), let me know …

    Thanks again, Mir!

  3. There is a T-rex costume on sale at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/buycostumes-com-T-Rex-Child-Costume/dp/B000HB20AA

    for $18.99

    We looked online first for a Ninja Turtle costume, but I found one for $16 at Target. You may want to check Target, Wal-mart, or Toys R Us or a Party City place first.

    Or check your local craigslist and see if someone in your town has one.

  4. My 3 year old was a t-rex last year. I didn’t want to spend the cash so I made my own. It was fairly simple and started from a hoodie. If you want me to send you a picture and instructions, just email me :0)

    boogiemum at boogiemum dot com

  5. If you are making a REALLY basic costume, you can make them cheaply, but if you are following a pattern or going all out, then I would say buy it. I have made costumes nearly every year and every year I say I will start it early and every year it’s a rush at the end. In the end I spend MORE making them than if I wanted to buy them.

    Do you know what my new strategy is? Buy off ebay or with a big sale from a Halloween online store, save it until next year and sell it for about the same price as you paid for it in the first place. I just did that with the two costumes from last year. One of them actually sold for more than I bought it for, so I don’t really lose out, just have to wait to reap the rewards. Oh, and that only works with higher quality costumes… cheapos are throwaways basically and won’t sell for anything on ebay.

  6. My mother’s group does a swap too, it’s really a great idea. Then there is always craigs list and freecycle to check out.

  7. If you can make it yourself (I second the Family Fun Magazine resource!!!!!), try to make it multi-purpose. For example, when my son was 3 years old, he wanted to be Buzz Lightyear. Instead of buying the elaborate, expensive costume, we got some pajamas that looked just like the costume. I found a purple hooded sweatshirt to wear underneath=AWESOME. We then got more mileage out of both the hoodie and the pjs afterwards. This year I’m making him the scuba diver costume (from Family Fun in 2005 but not online anywhere?!?!) and I’m doing the same concept with black sweats and zip hoodie. He will be able to wear them all winter long. Another thought is to check with older cousins who might have a hand-me-down or something in the dress-up pile to share.

    Just in the past week, I have seen costumes at Old Navy, The Children’s Place and Goodwill.

  8. Last year I bought a worn-once Gymboree bumble bee costume for my little girl for $35, which was the price of the sold-out one. I’m selling it this year (including shoes, tights, antennae headband) for the same price, to fund this year’s costume.

  9. I got the dragon at Old Navy this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised that the Halloween costumes were included in the 25% off kids sale! The costumes were regularly priced at $22, I got mine for $17.

  10. I found some great costumes for my kids at CostumeHub.com. I had never shopped there before, but their selection was fantastic and their prices were pretty good as well. I had to call them regarding sizing, and their customer service was top notch. I would highly recommend this site. Check them out at http://www.CostumeHub.com

  11. My mom found my girls the cutest costumes at Goodwill! She found a Snow White one, from the Disney Store, for .50 CENTS. (Originally $60.00) She also found a Tinkerbell one and a TCP Chick costume… each only .50 CENTS. Can’t beat that! You might not find a dinosaur one, but you might find an even cooler one and try to convince your little man to be that instead!!

  12. Heather,
    I just saw a dinasaur costume at our local thrift store for 5.00. It looks to be about a size 4 or 5. I can pick it up for you if you’d like 🙂

  13. Can I tell you how much I love this site? You all have been so nice and helpful …

    To Katie: Can you tell me a bit more about the costume? What color, if you remember? Did it look like it was in OK condition? That is so nice of you to think of me …

  14. Don’t know about T-Rex costume, but I just got my kids costumes at Kohls.com. They have a pretty big selection of kids costumes all for around $14.99 (I saw the exact same costume that I got my daughter at Target for $30!)
    Plus, you can use codes NEW6369 for an additional 10% off. Code MVC15SEP for 15% off with Kohl’s card.
    Kohl’s is having .99 shipping right now also.

    I got both of my kids costumes for under $30 – thought that was a pretty good deal.

Bargain Hunt





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