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DIY costumes aren’t always cheap


Last week, I told you all about my epic Halloween mistake: bringing both kids into a Halloween store when I had a headache and caving to their pleas for ridiculously overpriced, cheap costumes.

This year, I was determined to do things differently. I wasn’t going to spend $100 again on pieces of junk and I wasn’t going to set foot in that annoying Halloween store again.

All I needed, I decided, was organization. As soon as they said they wanted to be Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, I hopped online to look for the one prop they each really needed: wands.

It wasn’t as straightforward as I’d thought. Apparently, Potter and Granger have very differentlooking wands. These aren’t your standard white-tipped magician wands. They’re more like knobby twigs?

I wasn’t interested in the super- expensive cosplay options or the ones the size of key chains.

But after a lot of Amazon searching, I found reasonably priced wands for each of them: $18.99 each with free shipping. Done!

As soon as I’d placed the order, I realized I was safe. The props were on their way, which meant the kids couldn’t change their minds. For the perfectly acceptable price of $37.98, I’d guaranteed I wouldn’t be schlepping into that horrible Halloween pop-up store to spend $100 on cheap costumes. Oh, happy day!

I was pretty smug for a few days. I’d already sewn them simple Gryffindor ties — maroon and gold stripes — to wear to a Harry Potter event at the library over the summer. Our son had worn an over-sized black cardigan of mine as Potter’s robes, and it had looked great. Our daughter owned a grey sweater and black tweed skirt that looked like something Granger would wear.

We were golden ... or so I thought. Then we started to think about the rest of their costume requirements. One robe (my cardigan) and two children. There was a flurry of arguing over who would get a “real” robe and who would wear the one we already had. I did a quick search and discovered a real robe would be about $40.

Yikes. I decided to wait.

Then they insisted our daughter needed Granger’s Time Turner — a special necklace she wears in the third book to turn back time. I thought about crafting one, but eventually caved and ordered one online (on sale for $7.73).

At some point, our son decided he was going to be “Harry Potter, the Quidditch player” rather than just plain old Harry Potter. Except now he would need maroon robes, not black, because Potter wears maroon when he’s on the Quidditch pitch. Well, alright, I can pick up some maroon fabric and throw something together, I guess. A broomstick! He couldn’t be Harry Potter, the Quidditch player, if he didn’t have Potter’s famous Nimbus 2000 or his Firebolt. I checked online and choked when I saw a full-sized replica was close to $400. Hey, how about that big stick that’s been on the porch for a while? It’s crooked, like the Firebolt? What if we covered it with paper mache and painted it?

I think you can guess by this point how my plan for a frugal Halloween worked out? I spent the last year feeling silly about the fast $100 I dropped at that costume store, only to come to the realization that sometimes DIY costumes aren’t any cheaper.

It wasn’t a total loss, though.

At least I didn’t have rubber clowns and zombies jumping out at me while I ordered stuff on Amazon.

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at

As frugal as DIY Halloween costumes may sound, that isn’t always the case.

Heather Laura Clarke

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