Ways to save on Halloween costumes

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Elsa from Disney's Frozen promises to be one of the popular costumes this year. This one is $34.95 at BuyCostumes.com. Another version is $26.99.

This year, a record number of Americans will dress up for Halloween. According to a National Retail Federation survey, 67.4 percent of respondents said they would buy Halloween costumes. Total Halloween spending will reach $7.4 billion this year, with the average person spending $77.52.

Maybe we’re all looking for an escape, but NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says consumer demand for adult, child and pet costumes has helped make Halloween one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays.

As with all holidays, Halloween shopping season has crept up on the calendar. Orange Tuesday, a Black Friday-esque shopping day for Halloween costumes launched by BuyCostumes.com, took place Sept. 2. And the 28 percent of shoppers who said they planned to hit stores in September may have been surprised to already find markdowns around 20 percent. If you’re just starting your costume shopping, here are some ways to roll back the cost.

Thrift stores: It’s always a good idea to scan thrift stores for affordable costumes. While you won’t find the year’s most popular outfits — which this year include Disney’s “Frozen” characters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for kids — you may find more traditional costumes such as a princess or witch. Thrift stores can be great sources for adult costumes, which likely have limited wear. I recently saw an unworn adult flapper outfit (it had tags attached) at a local thrift store. You can also use thrift stores to help you find materials for a do-it-yourself costume (see below).

Elsa from Disney's Frozen promises to be one of the popular costumes this year. This one is $34.95 at BuyCostumes.com. Another version is $26.99.

Elsa from Disney’s Frozen promises to be one of the popular costumes this year. This one is $34.95 at BuyCostumes.com. Another version is $26.99.

Costume exchanges: Though the official National Costume Swap Day has been discontinued, you can still check with neighbors, schools and churches to see whether anyone is hosting a costume exchange. The Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford hosts a swap each Saturday in October beginning this week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can donate or swap costumes on any of those days.

Shop the week before Halloween (or a full year before): If your child is not particular about the costume, then wait until at least 10 days before Halloween and see what’s out there. If you can’t find that Queen Elsa costume in the store, you will still have time to order it from an online retailer. You can also try to buy next year’s costume the day after Halloween, but be warned, the pickings may be slim.

Coupons/Codes: Always look for discount codes before buying a costume. Many popular costume retailers, including BuyCostumes.com and CostumeExpress, are already offering 20 percent to 25 percent off with no minimum. Other retailers such as PartyCity, Spirit Halloween and big-box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart will also discount costumes — some up to 75 percent off — as Halloween nears, says Trae Bodge of RetailMeNot.com.

Do-it-yourself: Search the Web for inspiration and you’re sure to come up with a DIY costume that fits your crafting skills, your time and your budget. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Makeup can make your entire costume. How cute are the pint-size Harry Potters with big round glasses drawn on their faces with black eyeliner?
  • Hit the thrift store. Denim overalls, a yellow shirt and goggles makes you a “Despicable Me” minion. A puffy prom dress can be reformed into a princess or queen outfit.
  • Use what you’ve got. Kids’ pajamas can be turned into any number of costumes from animals to super heroes. Pipe cleaners can make Pippi Longstocking braids.
  • Go literal. When you’re pressed for time, literal is the way to go. Some old favorites are a buccaneer (a dollar bill taped to your ear) or a mail-order bride (a white dress with shipping labels attached).

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