Trick or Treat: Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Trick or Treat

Trick-or-Treat! Trick-or-Treat!Trick or Treat?  Halloween Sign
Give me something good to eat
Or I'll scare you!

I'm a witch; She's a ghost.
Which one of us scares you most?
On your doorstep,
Calling “Trick-or-Treat!”?


From Year-Round Read-Aloud, Read-Along Rhymes: Celebrating Holidays and Seasons  


Halloween Costumes on a budget.

Way back when my girls were little, I had two problems to solve at Halloween:

  • Cold weather gear (needed for Trick-or-Treat night) couldn’t spoil the costume
  • Money was tight.

I solved them both using nylon tricot. You know, the light stretchy knit material used to make slips and lingerie.

I bought several yards of the cheap, flimsy stuff in Black, White, and Red.

The Costumes:

Wicked Witch

Wicked Witch

My younger daughter wanted to be a witch.  

  • I measured from her shoulders to the floor to get how long the costume would be.
  • I cut a length of tricot (jersey or even fleece would work well, too) twice that length.
  • I folded it in half, and cut a neck hole in the center.
  • No Sewing! How great is that? I didn’t have to hem, though I suppose I could have.
  • We just draped the cloth OVER the cold weather clothes, tied it up with a “witch colored” belt (we chose red) and plopped a hat on her head.

The broom was made by opening up a couple of brown paper grocery bags, cutting them in 3/4 inch strips (I didn’t cut all the way to the end of the paper, so they stayed connected to each other) and attached them to a cut tree branch. I think we used duct tape.

The great thing was that she could wear it over play clothes indoors, and over her coat outside. It was “expandable” because I didn’t sew the sides together. There was enough material to drape around and hide everything underneath.

Cleopatra's Ghost

Cleopatra’s Ghost

My older daughter wanted to be Cleopatra. I wouldn’t let her dye her pale blonde hair black. So we came up with the idea of “Cleopatra’s Ghost.”

  • Using the same basic costume design in white this time, we used two layers of material so the double thickness would better hide her clothes underneath.
  • Little touches of gold added to the royal theme, while keeping it ghostly.
  • (I did let her wear heavy black make-up, a compromise mom and daughter could both live with.)
  • We fastened a gold-colored medallion to the center of her forehead with a headband for her Egyptian “crown”. That and the eye make-up were enough to convey the idea of Cleopatra.
  • We used a white belt with a metalic clasp.

And voila!  She had a costume she could wear over school clothes indoors and over her coat for Trick or Treat night.

If I had to do it over again, I would make her a long scarf of the same material to keep her even warmer outdoors. I know she would have draped it stylishly!

"Which one of us scares you more?"  Grammatical, but it doesn't rhyme with ghost…

That was 1988, and the inspiration for the song,“Trick or Treat,” I wrote for them that year.  Maybe I'll have the church mice sing it soon, so you can hear the spooky tune.

Let me know if this has given you any ideas you can use for your own Happy Halloween when you Trick or Treat.  

In fact, I never used that red material I bought….How would you have used it?



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Trick or Treat: Halloween Costumes on a Budget — 3 Comments

  1. The costumes look great!  Love that they can be worn over their clothes when it's cold.  I always just wore a jacket over my costume and then felt sad that no one could see my princess gown underneath.   As for the red material…..hrmmm… Flamenco dancer?  :)

    • Thank you, Leslie.  I always HATED having to wear a coat over my costume.  My littlest one became a very chubby witch with her coat underneath the costume!  The older daughter went with a lot of layers (i.e. her skiing clothes) and stayed a fairly slim ghost.  I can imagine a nice red and black motif for a flamenco dancer!

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