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6 tips for simple, affordable kids’ Halloween costumes

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This story is sponsored by IHC Riverton Hospital. Learn more about IHC Riverton Hospital.

With Halloween lurking just around the corner, busy parents may be starting to feel the pressure of the impending candy-induced frenzy. And a frenzy it will be: Halloween spending in the U.S. is anticipated to reach $9 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual study.

The average American will spend $86.79 this Halloween, most of which is unnecessary. Save easily with an affordable, crafty do-it-yourself costume for your kids — all you need is a little felt and inspiration.

These six tips will help you make an easy, cheap costume that’ll keep your little monsters smiling and safe this Halloween.

Grab a hot glue gun (or fabric glue) and some felt

Paired with clothes from discount retailers, you can create any costume your children desire! A hot glue gun makes things easy, but just be sure to do your gluing away from the little ones’ reach so they won’t touch the hot nozzle and be sure not to leave the gun plugged in between uses.

Use items you have lying around your house

From coffee filters to paper plates to cotton balls, you probably have more tools in your home than you’d expect. Cotton balls are perfect for a sheep costume: Glue them to a black or white hoodie, cut its sleeves out, cut slits and glue in some felt ears, and you’ll have an easy sheep costume that’ll ensure some extra cushion in case of a fall. For babies and toddlers, you can also glue cotton balls onto a hat for an elderly person's wig — pair with some fake glasses and a cardigan, and you’ve got yourself a grandma baby.


The lighter and brighter colors, the better!

Make sure you can’t lose sight of your kids, even if they run far in their excitement. Whatever costume you choose to design, ensure visibility at night with light, vivid colors.

If you’re a parent with smaller children who go really crazy around Halloween, a reflective treat bag can also be useful to make sure your little ones can’t stray too far, or you can put glow sticks in typical jack-o'-lantern candy buckets for an accessible alternative.

Cut up some T-shirts

No glue needed! The possibilities are endless here. Just visit a cheap store nearby and pick up the colors you need. You can start with a white shirt, match it with a brown scarf and pants, and create an ice cream sundae costume, suggests Chelsea Faulkner in an article for HGTV.com.

Or try cutting a black T-shirt into a vest and layering it over a white one for a pirate costume — and it’s easy to cut a belt and bandanna from a red T-shirt; just be sure not to cut yourself! If you’re running low on time, PartyDelights has a quick skeleton costume that only requires some cardboard, tape and scissors.

You can add ears and a tail to pretty much any outfit

Craft a pair of ears by cutting and gluing cardboard, cardstock or paper plates to a plain black headband. For a quick tail, there are also many options. Stuff a knee sock with cotton and glue appropriately colored felt to it; go more complex with a long pipe cleaner wrapped in felt, or just cut out and use the felt in a pinch.

Pair these with a solid-toned shirt and sweatpants, and you can cut and glue felt elsewhere as needed. You can go simple with a mouse or get more creative with a pig and elephant costume.

Use face paint to accessorize and enhance

If you need an easy way to finish off that pirate costume, use black face paint to draw an eye patch and facial hair on your child’s face. In general, it’s a good idea to draw on eye-related accessories, such as superhero masks, for smaller children so a mask won’t block their vision. Other common face painting ideas include transforming your child into a doe, a butterfly or a superhero. Just be sure to check for allergies and irritation by testing a tiny bit on your child’s arm for 30 minutes a couple of days beforehand.