Halloween By Hand

By Lesley Sauls

August 7, 2009 4 min read

In the quest for the most imaginative Halloween costume, the convenience of a ready-made one can be tempting. But the pride that comes with creating your own is impressive, and the price can't be beat.

Charlene Sarmiento of Goodwill Industries International Inc. said Goodwill's highest retail sales of the year occur in October.

"Buying and even renting Halloween costumes can be expensive," she said. "Goodwill stores offer gently worn costumes and clothing at affordable prices. All you need is a little imagination to build a unique costume."

Another consideration is your own level of creative comfort. Are you better with sewing, glue guns or duct tape? This will determine how far your idea can go.

Scour your closet and drawers for the gems that will take your outfit to new heights. "Start with something from another year and accessorize it in a different way to create an entirely new costume without the expense of a whole new one," suggested Aimee Weber, special events specialist for Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts Stores. A cape can be the foundation of a wizard, witch or queen costume, and the right cocktail dress can adorn a movie star, Cleopatra or the bride of Frankenstein.

Creative craft additions also add zip to otherwise mundane closet items. A pair of old bell-bottom pants is transformed into Elvis duds with sparkly jewels. A can of gold spray paint, a tasseled drapery tieback and a wreath of silk ivy can transform a tired white sheet and flip-flops into a Greek god or goddess.

Attach green or purple balloons to similarly colored clothes and become a bunch of grapes. Use fewer "grapes" at the bottom of the outfit to make the "bunch" appear naturally tapered. If you feel more inspired, dangle white balloons and a small shower curtain from a hula hoop. Attach the entire contraption to a stick tied around the waist of a shower-capped and bubble-filled bather. Multicolored balloons affixed to a wearer carefully wrapped in clear plastic become a bag of jelly beans.

Couples dressing up together are able to pull off witty costume tricks. A flowered dress from Goodwill and military fatigues from a surplus store celebrate Halloween as "War and Peace." Or divide fatigues between two wearers to become "Upper and Lower GIs."

A waiter's outfit partnered with someone in a jogging suit unites to "Hurry Up and Wait." Throw on jammies and head out with a red-spotted thermometer-bearing friend as "Sick and Tired." Tie rocks onto one old shirt and empty paper towel rolls onto another and you'll be ready to "Rock and Roll." Wear a shirt with the number 3.14 on it and stick with someone dressed as a pumpkin to be as cute as "Pumpkin Pi." Don boxing gloves and go with a hula-skirted buddy to give a "Hawaiian Punch" to the evening.

If you're going out as a family or a group, surround one smock- and beret-wearing painter with his "works of art," who sport paint-splattered T-shirts. Attach felt P's to the shirts of your gang and blacken their eyes to create a bunch of black-eyed peas. Parents with small children can dress as farmers who trick-or-treat with kids in second-hand animal costumes and collect their treats in milk pails.

If you need more help in making costumes, plenty of supplies, how-to sheets and ideas for all capability levels are available at craft stores. Whether you are ready to sew up a storm or prefer to glue your costume together, you can find plenty of inspiration and materials. A pink sparkly robot and a no-sew owl are just two of the costumes available for busy parents at Jo-Ann Fabrics this year.

No matter what your level of artistry, there is a costume out there for you. If all else fails, grab a quarter and a hammer. When asked what your costume is, just put the quarter on the table, give it a whack and say, "I'm a quarter pounder."

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