Halloween costumes! When you have six children, you get a lot of experience coming up with ideas, some very simple, some more elaborate, but all them budget friendly. Here are just some of the many costumes our children have worn over the years. See if you can figure out which ones they had help with, and which they created all on their own.

As I’ve mentioned previously (see here), toddlers don’t have much say in their choice of costume. Those first years we kept it fairly simple, with clown collars created from leftover wedding reception fabric, pompoms made from the yarn stash, and balloons attached to hats we had in the closet. For a year or two, there was even a plastic clown coverall picked up at a clearance sale.

Eventually they started choosing what to wear, and then we had some fun. Most years it required some advance planning and sewing and/or craft skills, but the effort was definitely worth it. Creating something yourself helps to save money, and working together is a great memory maker. (You can read more about some of these creations here and here.)

Knight, Wizard, Black Wolf, Astronaut, Link from Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Cinderella, A 70’s Girl

Another way to save money is to have costumes do double-duty. This five-headed monster was originally created for a Cub Scout skit before being used as a Halloween costume. The One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater was made for the first grade spring program, and then saved for Halloween later that year.

Sometimes the budget-friendly route means going to the store and purchasing a costume, and that’s just fine, particularly if your child’s heart is set on something specific that would be difficult to recreate. Time is worth money, and the resulting memories can still be awesome and priceless.

Lion-O (from Thunder Cats), a black cat, the blue-caped pirate, Leonardo (again), Darth Vader (with a hand-painted piece of felt attached to his sweatshirt)

Over the years we also discovered that capes – which are simple to make and to store – really add a lot to a Halloween costume.

Have I mentioned that one way to help your budget is to use things more than once? Here’s my favorite example of a frugal costume which lasted for years – a painted paper bag (reinforcing it with packing tape helped the longevity). Find more of the story here.

Multiple uses don’t have to be related to Halloween. Often we would create costumes using sweat pants and shirts. (See here.) While I thought it was cheating, and so discouraged it, several times our boys decided to use their soccer uniforms, and that’s fine. We don’t have to be original every year. Many times they raided their Dad’s hat collection when choosing a costume.

Painter, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Ninjas, Soccer Players, Cowboys, Witch with a broken leg, Mario

Home Star Runner, Cowboy, Mario, Magician

If you have children, you know that costumes aren’t only for Halloween. Schools have Spirit Week and other special occasions (like living book reports) when you need to rummage through your costume bin or closet and get creative.

Pilgrim Boy and Girl, Nerds, 80’s Day

Our last Spirit Week had a Disney theme!

So, did you figure out which costumes were totally kid-created and which we worked on together? I’m not sure I know the answer myself. Once we got past the “clown” stage, even the costumes I created without little hands helping had input from the children. That’s the way it should be. Have fun creating the perfect Halloween costume!

Bonus! I have one picture of when I was a girl, although I have no idea what I was supposed to be!

Ghost, Princess, Nurse (?), Batman