JFF: Halloween Costumes! Make or Buy?

Updated on September 24, 2013
C.W. asks from Torrance, CA
33 answers

For those of you mamas and papas on here, do you prefer to make your kids costumes or buy your kids costumes and why or why not?
It counts as buying if more than half of the costume pieces are bought, okay?

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answers from Grand Forks on

I either buy second hand from the thrift shop, or buy new when they are clearing out costumes after H'ween. Where I live we need two costumes. One costume for indoors and one for trick-or-treating. The trick-or-treating costume either needs to be plush and warm, or big enough to fit over a winter jacket. I do not have the time or the skill to make a H'ween costume, nevermind two!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I prefer to 'put them together' from other items. Mainly from op shops and stuff lying around the house. My boys recently dressed up as Harry Potter and Hagrid and I managed to make really great costumes from bits and pieces. I did buy Hagrid's beard though!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

It has been so much cheaper to buy the costume.

Some of my more creative friends have made them and they do mention the cost is more, yet it is a labor of love. Also they are more original.

I recall seeing a Waste Management garbage truck that was home made. I was tempted to copy it, yet ended up buying a super hero for my son.

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answers from Tampa on

I would prefer to have been born with creative skills and talent to make something. However, I am time and talent challenged so I always splurge and buy costumes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Well I would prefer a homemade costume because they are clearly a far superior product than the cheaply made but expensive costumes bought in costume stores.
Since I don't sew however I have to buy😊

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

we buy them. It's just easier. I don't have time to make them and I don't know how to sew either

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter has made her costume each year since she was about 8, with some help from me or her dad. Non of them required sewing. She's got a great imagination (as does her dad) and I have "how-to" YouTube videos!

She's been a mummy (old sheet, tea for dye, tear into strips, glue onto old clothes) a vampire (mostly makeup and black clothes) a robot (cardboard boxes painted silver and clothes dryer vent tubing - completely her idea) and a clown on stilts (yes, she walked our whole neighborhood on stilts). I don't know how she's going to top that this year.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Make. I have more control over what the costume looks like. No cheap, skimpy, questionable costumes. Have you seen the "naughty little leopard" costume they are selling for 3T-4T at Walmart!?!? Unbelievable!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well, we are a bit of both. Last year, Kiddo was "tyrannosaurus dracula" which I could never even wrap my head around. A Tyrannosaurus hat (which is awesome, it's like a hood with felt teeth), a sparkly silver piece of fabric from my own costume collection was a cape and a few glow-sticks.

People had NO idea what was going on with him, but he had a great time!

He's already got a 'zombie' costume in mind for this year. Old olive green hoodie of mine, worn backward so that the hood covers his face. We've cut out eye and mouth holes and he wants that to be his 'zombie' costume. This was entirely his idea by the way, I'm just the seamstress. It's actually a cross between a zombie and a mummy in his mind, so at some point I'm going to cut strips of cheesecloth and sew them on as 'bandages'. Silly but very economic. Wouldn't be surprised if it ended up being Tyranno-zombie, tho.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I have no sewing or seamstress skills whatsoever - my best "sewing" is suturing pets' tissues closing up in surgery! And since I let DD decide what she wants to be for Halloween, it involves me looking on-line for the cheapest deal out there.

I did see a cute idea for a home-made Lego block costume - cardboard box, bottom halves of plastic Solo cups glued on it in rows, and then spray-painted one solid color. If DD could agree to be a Lego block for Halloween, I could do that! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I usually don't dress up but have on occasion. My 2 best costumes were 1) dressed up in all pink and put a child's plastic chair on my head -- what was I? A peice of bubble gum on the bottom of a chair.
2) dressed all in black and took a big box wrapped it in Christmas paper with a big bow on the front, stapled straps for across my shoulders and I was a Christmas present. The only problem was too many guys wanted to unwrap me. LOL

For my kids I usually made their costumes the ones at the stores are expensive but cheaply made.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I don't really have a preference. It really depends on what the girls decide they want to dress up as. Last year I made both costumes. This year I'm making one (a crow) and buying one (vampire).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Make your own. Why? Much better quality, costs less. I hate the cheap costumes that cost a small fortune. When the girls were younger, we were on a strict budget, I would make something using sweat suits, true I usually had to purchase the sweat suit, but they could wear it all fall and winter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I prefer to make them, but my carpal tunnel has gotten worse so my sewing projects have gotten less and less. :(

My daughter wanted to be Daphne this year so we bought her a costume, she's most excited about the orange wig. I've been peacemealing Velma and Shaggy costumes for me and my husband with things from the thrift store.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I love making my DDs costumes!

I had to pay for the materials for the first one... Then, I sold it and used that money to buy materials for last year's. I sold that one for a tidy profit, so now I get a bigger budget for this year's pirate costume. :)

I'm hoping I can continue to make/sell the way I have been, until my DD decides she would like to do something different.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Make it or put it together with stuff you own already, or go to Value World and make an assemble. Halloween is an opportunity to be creative. Creativity is a quality I want to encourage.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

What I prefer and what happens are very often 2 different things.
I am a costumer so making costumes is what I prefer.
Second would be to buy pre-made actual clothing items and put a costume together.
Third is buying a package of something.

My time is no longer my own and I have 3 kids so all preferences go out the window and we end up with a hodge podge. So far this year my daughter will be wearing a Princess Aurora costume dress we bought her at Disneyland (it is at least from their higher end line so I don't feel too bad). My youngest son will be wearing a hoodie and pants we bought that I will be painting and embellishing to make his Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians. My oldest son..well..we're having some issues. He decided he wanted a store bought Lone Ranger Costume, only it doesn't fit him. We're now scrambling to see if we can throw together enough of the basics (shirt, pants, vest) and find a dress up set for the hat, mask, badge and gun holster. Who knows what we'll end up with. He may have to pick something else.

I have no time to sew Halloween costumes because the kids need new garb for the renaissance faire coming up as they out grew their old garb. That's not as easy to just go out and buy so that takes the priority of my time.

Each year I have no idea who will end up with what. At least they are all happy in the end so that's what's most important :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I go to the thrift store to see what they have. We make what we can. I buy what I have to (new). It's fun to try to piece things together and get creative.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

So far my kids costumes have been recycled ones that my MIL made for my younger BIL (he is now 16l)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I really depends on their ages. If they are younger then they want the ideal, the theme, the actual costume.

As they age they'll want to be unique and different. They'll want to build their own.

One thing to consider when going either way is the cost of the ready made verses they burden of finding items that will make the costume complete. For instance, if they want to be Cleopatra the cost of the makeup, wig, dress/harem outfit, and the extras like foot decorations, arm bands, and a collar...well those items can really really really add up.

I find it less costly to buy a costume rather than make them. The kids do like the uniqueness of a built one sometimes though...lol.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We do both! My kids are costume fanatics, so I don't mind buying them because they use them multiple times. This year, I bought both of theirs, but will be making mine.

Each year, we do our best to be a family theme (usually chosen by the kids). This year it's Zombies/Zombie Hunter, but we've also done Superheroes, Star Wars, Monsters, etc.

Also, my husband and I dress up often for concerts, holidays and other events. We think it's good fun to make our costumes (husband sews!), put them together from thrift store items, or order them. But we use them repeatedly, so don't stress too much over the cost.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Roanoke on

I used to think that making costumes would save money, but I found that buying used ones is cheaper and saves a lot of time. When I go to Good Will or another thrift store throughout the year, I will glance at the costume section. I've been able to find great costumes for my kids for only a few dollars by doing this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Make them - always. Thank Martha Stewart for making me aware of the glue gun - an absolutely essential tool. I refuse to buy 'character' costumes and the cheesy fabric most 'store bought' costumes are made of is just gross.



answers from Raleigh on

For some reason, my oldest thinks I should always make his costumes. Usually, in the past, I made them because he wants to be something that I can't find a reasonably priced bought costume. I have made Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, a Carolina Panther, and an Angry Bird. I do have to say they turned out great each year, but it's a real time suck sometimes.
This year, both kiddos received dress up costumes as part of their birthday presents. So, I don't have to worry about it this year. Hooray!!



answers from Minneapolis on

I usually make them or buy most pieces and alter them to fit the costume. I enjoy doing it and most of the times I don't like the store bought costume or can't find it. I usually get an idea of what my kids want to be in August so I can start planning what I need to buy or need to make. This year I really don't have much to make since both kids have decided to be Minions. My son will be a normal minion, just got him some overalls (I'll have to put the Gru logo on them) and have to get him a yellow hoodie (sew some hair on it) and also make some goggles for them. My daughter will be a purple minion so instead of yellow she needs purple hoodie and I'm spraying her hair purple. It's fun to do and I usually have the kids help make things and I show them how to do things.


answers from Washington DC on

making is ALWAYS better.
unless you're me, and completely incompetent at it.
so despite being the Queen of Halloween, i and my poor kids are always in sad store costumes.
:) khairete



answers from Washington DC on

I made about half of the older kid's costumes. I'm wracking my brain whether I made even a single one for the younger kid. Chickpea received handmedown costumes from 0-3. By 4 she always seemed to want to be something beyond my meager sewing and hot glue gunning skills.

My mother sewed all of my costumes so I felt quite a bit of motherguilt over the years whenever I bought costumes. One benefit of developing a chronic illness is that I focus on the end result. If I get a happy kid from store-bought, I buy.


answers from Dallas on

I always bought our daughter's costume from Lillian Vernon. They have the cutest costumes for babies on up!



answers from Washington DC on

I prefer to make them aka put them together. I see no difference between finding the pieces at a thrift store and finding the pieces at a costume shop. And, frankly, I don't go around on Halloween evaluating the parenting based on whose costume is the best or most hand made.

One year my DD wanted to be a tea pot. You cannot find a tea pot costume. So I used poster board. I will continue to encourage this creativity as long as I can.



answers from Los Angeles on

Both. However, I can't sew so I "put costumes" together for the kids like I did for myself when I was a kid.

I love doing it. They look cute & it saves a lot of money. Plus the ones you buy sometimes are so thin they are so cold that night as they walk



answers from Seattle on

I have done both many times each.

Our favorite though is going to the Thrift Stores and assembling something from their huge selection. Last year my son bought a great over-size trench coat, we cut it up, put blood on it, bought a fake machete and long pistol and Australian hat at Value Village. He looked great.

I have made capes and some costumes. It really depends what your kid(s) want to be. One year, my youngest daughter wanted to be a figure skater, and we bought that outfit at a garage sale.



answers from Colorado Springs on

No, I take exception: if more than half the costume pieces are bought, it can still be a "made" costume. It's a matter of how much your use your mind and your hands as well as your purchases. A "made" costume doesn't have to be hand-designed and hand-sewn.

I do vote for making. It's not just the price; it's the creativity. It's the imagination.

If you have good thrift stores in your area, please know that they're pulling out all their craziest and most dated items right now for Hallowe'eners. So go there early. Take your children and ask them to wait to decide what they want to be until you've all looked around. I would recommend this for, I guess, any child over two years old. (I say that with prejudice - I just like the cute things for babies that are in the stores! But those you can find second-hand.)

Have your children ever put together their own costumes? They may love it! One of mine (one of the boys) got so good at it he was getting fabric pieces at the thrift store and making outfits he fastened with safety pins or very rudimentary sewing. It wouldn't have made a magazine cover, but it was an indication of the creativity that he has demonstrated ever since, and is now encouraging in his daughters.

My mama used to do this with us. I remember the year I went as a ballot box. It was her very timely idea; I didn't even know what a school bond issue was, but she did, and all the neighbors loved my costume (she did have to explain it to me).

When my older grandson (the son of one of my daughters) was about nine months old, he was dressed as a bag of money (fake bills stuck on him all over), and his daddy dressed up as the burglar - all thrift-store or homemade items except for the play money.

If you need ideas to start your imaginations going, look in your library for easy-to-make costume ideas (and look through the book first to make sure the ideas are really EASY). Look on the internet, too.



answers from Los Angeles on

We always made costumes based on what the kids wanted to be. The elementary school always insisted on literary characters for their event, and I had no intention of making more than one costume/kid, so they got into the habit of requesting interesting characters (only a few of which came from Harry Potter over the years!). As they got older (7, 8ish), the kids helped with the costume creation and loved it. One year, my son decided to be Zaphod Beeblebrox (sp?) from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." The creature had two head and 3 arms, which posed quite a challenge! My son and I had a great time engineering a working prosthetic arm from K'nex. He hung his Trick-or-treat bag from it (we always made those, too, to match the costume) and used a pulley system to raise the arm and bag -- it was a hit! We usually started with thrift-store items as a base, and then crafted the rest with odd and ends from around the house and fabric remnants.

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