I am not particularly crafty.
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: I am not like a friend of mine with four children whom I spotted last October at Jo-Ann Fabrics. She was getting patterns and fabrics to whip up four darling ensembles for the kids and a sexy little number for herself. Just last week, I went to a costume party dressed as Bea Arthur. I think you've got the picture.
I encourage my kids to start thinking about costumes months before Halloween. They generally come up with a couple right away. We have a lot of dress-up stuff and we think about what we can utilize. I encourage them to think outside the box of characters, although one year my son was Luigi from Super Mario Brothers (he was Luigi because he had a green long-sleeve shirt and not a red one like Mario has). It is amazing what can be whipped up from the stuff you probably already have. One white men's T-shirt and a kooky wig (or a lot of hairspray) can be the base for a great mad scientist. Just cut out a giant beaker from card stock and you're good to go. Or make it a mad doctor and add stuff from play doctor kits at home. Add some infant medicine squirters to look like syringes -- just ask for a couple at the Target pharmacy. A yard or so of animal print fabric will make a great caveperson with no sewing required; raggedy edges are what you're going for here anyway. Cut out some bone shapes out of card stock and put in your kid's hair (like Pebbles from the Flintstones) or string together the bones for a necklace.
Also, we've had quite a few vampires here over the years. A kid's cape from the 99-cent store or a black fabric remnant for a cape is a good base. Add black pants, a white shirt (boy's dress shirt if you can get it), and a red ribbon with any sort of pendant or medallion you have (or can make with cardboard and markers) at the throat. Slick hair back with gel and add fangs (I can't be the only one with vampire teeth all over the house). Last year, a pack of 10 glow-in-the-dark teeth sold for $2.00 at Walmart. Let them experiment to make fake blood. Ketchup, tomato paste, and red icing are all good possibilities. Don't worry about your kids changing their mind -- putting the costume together is a lot of fun, and if you're only spending a couple of bucks, it's no big deal if they switch.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!