Money-saving tricks for Halloween - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Money-saving tricks for Halloween

Dress your child in a white T-shirt and wrap him in white gauze for that fresh-from-the-tomb look. (© Sonnenberg) Dress your child in a white T-shirt and wrap him in white gauze for that fresh-from-the-tomb look. (© Sonnenberg)

By Aviva Patz

You don't have to spend big bucks to have a ghostly good Halloween -- you just have to get a little crafty. It's simple to scare up spooky, kooky, memorable costumes and enchanting decorations using basic craft supplies and household items you probably have lying around. Making them can be a fun family project, and you'll save your pennies for the important stuff: candy! Check out these super-simple, wallet-friendly costume and decor ideas:

Creepy or Cute Costumes

  • Mummy Dress your child in a white T-shirt and shorts and wrap her in white gauze, streamers or toilet paper. Leave some ends dangling for that fresh-from-the-tomb look. Apply white makeup to her face and draw "age lines" with eyeliner.

  • Zombie Use scissors or a razor blade to rip and fray an oversized shirt and pants. Rub them in dirt and grass, and splatter them with brown or red paint, especially around the collar, to evoke bloodstains. Apply gray face paint to your child's face, neck and hands, and create black rings under his eyes. Don't forget the mussed-up hair: Use gel and add crushed leaves.

  • Skeleton Using white masking tape, "draw" a skeleton onto a simple black sweat suit or shirt and pants. (Look online for an illustration to copy.) Paint your child's entire face white. Use black shadow and eyeliner to create the effect of hollow eyes.

  • Fried egg Cut a hole in a white sheet for your child's head. Apply yellow face paint to her face, and top it off with a yellow beret (or cover any hat in yellow felt).

  • Spaghetti and meatballs Buy yellow yarn (cut into varying lengths) and brown pom-poms or brown felt (cut into circles). Glue or sew them randomly all over a red shirt or sweatshirt. Use a colander as a hat.

  • Wrapped gift Grab a large cardboard box and cut out arm and leg holes. Paint the box or wrap it in wrapping paper (can be pretty or scary). Glue a wide ribbon vertically down the middle of each side. (For a girl, use another length of the same ribbon to create a giant bow and attach it to her head with barrettes.) Make a large gift tag out of construction paper and write something funny... or frightening.

Devilish Decor

  • Macabre mood Spook the senses, both inside your house and out. Dim the lights. Add black candles to a silver candelabra, or drape a chandelier with cobwebs and spiders hanging down by nylon thread. Boil water with cloves, cinnamon and a lemon wedge to perfume the air. Add your own Halloween soundtrack by downloading classic horror movie theme songs or creepy sound effects.

  • Spooky centerpiece Collect fallen branches from your yard or a nearby park. Stick them in a sturdy vase and drape them with faux spiderwebs and a few rubber or plastic spiders. Sprinkle glitter on top.

  • Creepy cauldron Take a large plastic planter and spray paint it black. Fill it with fresh dirt (you can stack crumpled newspaper underneath to keep it light), and add the arms and legs from old dolls (buy a few cheap ones if your kids can't part with any from their collection), making them stick up at odd angles. Add plastic spiders, bugs and bats, fake eyeballs, and other ghoulish props into the mix. On the rim, perch a sinister-looking bird from the craft store. Place a broom nearby.

  • Ghostly gallery Wad up tissues or white tissue paper into little balls, then place each ball inside a larger piece of white tissue paper, gauzy white cloth or a white dinner napkin. (You can slip a mini glow stick inside for extra oomph). Wrap a string or rubber band around the ball to make the ghost's head. Draw eyes with a black marker. Hang your ghosts with clear nylon thread.

  • Pumpkin garland Take red, orange or green tissue paper, cut a strip about 5 inches wide and fold it into accordion-style squares. On the top square, draw a pumpkin with the edges reaching all the way out to the sides and jack-o'-lantern features. Cut out the eyes, nose and mouth -- cutting through the whole stack of folded tissue paper -- leaving the pumpkin sides intact. Unfold and hang.

Aviva Patz has written for many national publications, such as Parents, Parenting, Health, Self, Redbook and Marie Claire.

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