How To Be “Amish” and Make Your Kids Mad at You This Halloween. If the Amish Celebrated Halloween to Begin With

This article appeared on the Chicago Parent website two years ago where I was a regular contributor.
It has been edited to fit with my blog. 

I have a secret.
I haven’t “bought” a Halloween costume in almost 11 years.
Don’t let this get out or I will be disbanded from the ‘Mother of the Year’ club.
I am kidding. No such club exists. I think.
If you don’t know much about me, know this: I am cheap.
Well, in certain areas of my life, I am cheap. No, actually, I am cheap in all areas.
And one of the areas I hate spending money on the most is Halloween costumes. I mean, they wear them for one or two occasions a year and then done.
If we are lucky, they can use them to play dress up or to go to school in when laundry day was busy.
KIDDING! A little.
But I am here to let you in on how you too can save money. No more $50 costumes that come in a package, no sirree. Here is how you can be a costume hero without having to skip paying the gas bill this month!
I have girls but you could use similar ideas for boys’ costumes.
The idea is to use as much as what you have around the house as you can and then just buy a few accessories.
homemade cat costume



1- Black Cat

Basically you need black leggings (most of you have this), a black top (long sleeve since we live in Chicago).
Shoes don’t count as I tell them to wear those of the broken in variety because they will be doing a lot of walking.
handmade cat costume


All I needed to buy were the ears and the tail (the tail actually was her request. Had it been just cheap me, I would have skipped it). I did find an ear and tail set at a Joann Fabrics for under five dollars.
Add black face paint (one dollar at the dollar store) to make whiskers and you are done!

Cost: Six bucks total.

Anna as Hannah Montana 2007

2- Pop Star

When my now 13-year-old was 7, she wanted to be Hannah Montana for trick or treating. Back then, Hannah Montana in a bag was everywhere in stores for only $29.99.
So we went to the local kids’ resale shop and found a cool funky top and pants.

When she was 9, she wanted to be Lady Gaga. We went to the same shop, found a cool funky dress, a red beret and used some old funky sunglasses.


Lady Gaga costume
Looking back, it wasn’t much but we used our creative juices. And I love that.
Lady Gaga
Oh and the cast was from a soccer injury. AND OMG SHE IS SO LITTLE HERE SNIFF SNIFF.


For both outfits, we only spent $5 each!
Add a cool wig (usually around five dollars or less at discount stores), some fun makeup (mom’s makeup is fun when they are still little) and what we call “church shoes” and you have yourself a pop star!

Cost: Less than a lunch at McDonald’s.

Thing 1 and 2 and Jessie from Toy Story
Thing 1 was a creation of my daughter’s as well. See, the cheap apple doesn’t fall far from the cheap apple tree. She had the red top, red leggings. All we did is buy the wig and glued some white felt onto the red top.


3- Jessie from Toy Story/Cowgirl

Ellie was into all the Toy Story movies BIG TIME from the age of 3 until kindergarten. In preschool, she wanted to be Jessie and saw a costume from the store that was pretty expensive.
I said, “let’s try to make it on our own!” Which is code for “mommy is cheap!”
All I did was use a pair of jeans she already had and bought some cow print fabric at the craft store for less than three dollars.
I had Rebecca help me sew the cow print “patches” onto the jeans which took five minutes.
Then I took a white long sleeve top she already had in her closet and used fabric paint to add the little embellishments that Jessie has on her top. Add a cowboy hat I got at the party store for two dollars and we had Jessie!
Cost: Eight dollars!

4- Police officer

Two years ago, my 13-year-old wanted to dress up like the po-po. Only she didn’t want a “Goodwill costume” like “every year.”
Heh heh.
Suuuure, hon.
So this is the thing, my father-in-law was a police officer his whole life so he has a garage FULL of crap (I’m sorry, “memorabilia”) that he can share with her.
This was the vision I had in my head: One of his old uniform tops with badge used as a dress (since she is small) tied around the waist with a belt and black leggings underneath?
Doesn’t that sound cute??
She didn’t buy it. Oh well.

It’s OK. I got off the hook for 11 years.