Reduce, Reuse and Make Halloween Costumes

Time for a yearly round-up of Halloween costumes. (Yes, we also participate in an All Saints party but these are the costumes I slave over and adore. If that makes me a bad Catholic, so be it!)

I thought this year I would actually break down how I made the costumes and the cost. I think buying brand new costumes every year for a large family can be daunting. Hand me downs are nice, but sometimes, kids are very particular. My experience has shown that, with a little ingenuity, it is possible to create costumes kids love without breaking the bank. (Some amounts are estimates because I’ve already lost all the receipts.)

Addie, Black Widow from ‘Age of Ultron’

Addie felt too old to trick or treat this year, so her and Byron, and their friends, held a party at our house while the younger siblings went out in a nearby neighborhood. The tweens and teens still dressed up; all for the benefit of sitting in our unfinished basement listening to pop music whilst eating candy.

Shirt: Goodwill, $4, Embellished with puff paint, Michael’s, $6
Leggings: Addie’s, embellished with puff paint.
Boots: Mine.
Arm gauntlets: Dollar Tree, spray painted black. I bought three cans of cheap, matte spray paint at Lowe’s for $1 a can. The red fabric under the gauntlets was found in our fabric bin.
Knee pads: Old knee pads, spray painted black, embellished with puff paint.
Gloves: Stretchy knit black winter gloves we all ready owned.
Belt and belt buckle: I spray painted an old belt of Addie’s black and made the belt buckle from cardboard.
Holster and gun: Spray painted an old water pistol, cardboard holster from cereal box spray painted black, attached to her leg with black electrical tape, $3.
Red hair spray: $8 Amazon. Expensive but so much better than the cheap stuff.
Glow sticks: Dollar Tree

Total: About $20 if you figure I used the same hairspray, electrical tape and black paint on several other costumes.



Byron, Mandalorian

When Byron finally decided on a costume, we had to do an image search because I had no idea what a Mandalorian was.  In the process we came across a cosplayer that Byron wanted to base his costume on. He and I were really pleased with how it turned out, but I think we’re going to add a few more pieces to it before ‘The Force Awakens’ premieres.

Helmet: I spray painted black a clone trooper mask we already owned then did detail work with red tempra paint.
Chest armor: I got a plastic space armor chest piece at Dollar Tree then added to it with cardboard using Gorilla Glue tape (which I had) and spray adhesive (also already in my crafting stockpile). Then I sprayed everything black and I hand-painted the Mandalorian logo on the front, from a free hand sketch, and yes I want a pat on the back and a gold star for my non-sucky result.
Arm gauntlets: Dollar Tree, spray painted black.
Cape: I cut up an old pair of sweatpants.
Gloves: Tony’s winter gloves.
Knee pads: Old, spray painted black.
Guns: Two of Byron’s Nerf guns, spray painted black.
Holsters: Made from cardboard, duct tape and black spray paint. Supported with my belt.
Byron wore a black sweatshirt and black pants under the costume, along with black shoes; all his own.

Total: $3 if you count a whole can of spray paint. Obviously, this would’ve been much higher if we didn’t already have a helmet and appropriate guns on hand. And while it was the cheapest, it was definitely the most labor intensive.


Edie, Mystique

Edie has wanted to be Mystique ever since we watched all the X-Men movies over the course of a month. I was not thrilled with this selection since Mystique is basically a naked chick covered in blue paint for a large portion of those movies. However, by using an oversized blue turtleneck and leggings, we created a believable character that left my daughter’s innocence intact.

Turtleneck: Amazon $11
Leggings: $8
The scales were made with a mix of puff paint, Michaels, $5 and black tempera paint that I had on hand. Covering everything with scales did take about four days, since I had to do small sections, let them dry, then flip over the garment.
Gloves: Stretchy blue winter gloves we already owned.
Blue makeup: Amazon $4
Red Hairspray: same as Addie (And we still have more for future costumes.)

Total: Around $30, but many of these items can be used for future costumes or crafts.

Fulton, Batman

Fulton just wanted to be batman. Not in a Batmobile, not in a super fancy suit with muscles and realistic belt, just plain, simple, Batman. The only work required by me was to cut some slits in the suit so his wheelchair straps would be hidden underneath. I would’ve gladly made him something, but it was nice to have at least one easy costume to free up time for the rest of the bunch.

Costume and mask: Goodwill, $10

Teddy, Skeleton with wings

Teddy changed his mind about a billion times and only got to be this skeleton dude because I really didn’t want to try to make him a Bolg the orc costume. (No seriously, that’s what he asked for.) But for some reaon, the $54 skeleton dragon costume in the Chasing Fireflies catalogue struck his fancy and I got to heave a sigh of relief.

Sweatshirt: Target, $18. I felt like this was a splurge but I know he’ll wear this sweatshirt for a couple of years. The mesh mask is attached to the hood.
Sweatpants with bones: Old pair I painted bones on with white tempra I already owned.
Glow in the dark skeleton gloves: Dollar Tree (Yay! Seriously!!! Dollar Tree saved my butt this year!!)
Wings: Cut out of cardboard, spray painted black and painted.

Total: About $20, but those gloves and sweatshirt are going to get some heavy-duty wear once the temperature drops.


All together, I guess I spent about $80. Not too shabby for five costumes, several which are one of a kind!

Certainly it would have been cheaper and easier to say “Pick something from the dress up bin!” Or “Make your own dang costume!” but I really enjoy the challenge of making costumes for the kids using what we have on hand. Sure, they’re not perfect, and over the years I’ve had a couple turn out downright bad but my kids never complained.  If I had more time, I’d only get more elaborate. All of the costumes above (except for Fulton’s obviously) were constructed over five days around an unusually hectic week. Already, the kids are thinking about next year. Fulton is considering an obscure Transformer from the 80’s. I think I need to start saving cardboard now.

For more pictures of previous year’s costumes:






  1. That darned Chasing Fireflies catalog! Sets totally unreasonable expectations, to the point where even *I* want to spend unreasonable amounts of money because those costumes are so beautiful!

  2. You are good. You are really, really good. Hashtag impressed.

  3. These costumes are amazing!!! I particularly love Edie’s Mystique costume-you figured out a great way to make it look fabulous while keeping her covered!! The Black Widow costume is also wonderful. Really, all of these are, and the geek in me is going crazy with delight 🙂

  4. Yeah… you’re Super Mom compared to me who just had her kiddo put on his soccer uniform for trick-or-treating.

  5. The skeleton one is really creepy! Great handiwork overall! They should have to wear these the rest of November to highlight your work! One night is too short!

  6. You are the costume queen!!! I salute you. This was the first year I had no trick or treaters needing costumes. I was doing an inner happy dance but I said sadly on the outside…too bad….no costumes this year. My son who is up on all his Mandalorians said your costumes are the bomb!!!!

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