5 Steps to a Cooler Halloween Costume That Saves You Money, Too!

Steer clear of marketing mania and gender stereotypes and still have fun.

Common Sense Media logoSierra Filucci
Common Sense Media
Executive Editor, Parenting Content | Mom of Two

Books, TV, and pop culture are great places to get inspiration for Halloween costumes. But something strange happens every Halloween: Costume manufacturers promote “sexy” versions of pop culture characters for girls (not only sexy princesses but sexy snowmen and turtles!). Boys don’t get treated much better with gory costumes from TV shows that are in no way age-appropriate (Walter from Breaking Bad for kids?). This kind of off-target marketing to kids seems to work, though, since folks are expected to spend more than $8 billion on costumes and decorations for the holiday.

halloween-blogIf you want to escape from the marketing madness and instead embrace creativity and age-appropriate fun this Halloween, take back control from marketers and retailers with a little DIY. It doesn’t need to take more time than grabbing something off the rack, and it’s a chance to get kids’ creative juices flowing, save some money, and maybe even express your own values.

1. Foster creativity. If a kid wants to dress up like a character from a TV show or a movie, ask her to create the costume out of stuff in the house. A Big Bird costume takes no more than a paper grocery bag and some leftover yellow party streamers.

2. Shop your closet. You’ll be amazed at what kids can construct themselves (Ramona the Pest, Daddy Warbucks, even Cinderella!) if you avoid the costume aisles at big-box stores.

3. Think thrift. Thrift stores are great resources for costumes and a way to sidestep consumerism in a quick and easy way. Many second-hand shops are filled with almost-new costumes you can buy off the rack or embellish with a few special touches. What used to be a giant yellow M&M becomes a cute bumblebee with some black stripes and fairy wings.

4. Let go. Halloween is about letting kids experiment with dressing up. Kids don’t need to look perfect — if they like their costumes, that’s all that matters.

5. Be brainy. Here’s something you won’t see at the costume store: puns. Pom-poms and a football jersey rooting for “ceiling” = a ceiling fan! An egg costume with devil horns = deviled eggs! Google “pun costumes” or “wordplay costumes” for lots of fun ideas. Kids love the looks on people’s face when they reveal their puns — and this approach challenges kids’ imaginations more than your wallet.


SierraFilucciAbout Sierra Filucci

Sierra has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade, with a special interest in women’s and family subjects. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley,… Read more

View all posts by Sierra Filucci here.

This post was originally posted by Common Sense Media on 10/1/15.

Common Sense MediaAbout Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, visit us at www.commonsense.org.

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