Little Time or Money to Get Creative This Halloween? Try a Costume Swap

Costumes from a Halloween costume swapHalloween costume swaps open up a world of costumes for kids, while saving parents time and money. Image: Derek Avis/Flickr and Dave Baker/Flickr

Halloween costume swaps turn last year’s cowboys into this year’s ninjas at no cost.

Got your kids’ Halloween costumes yet? Don’t have the time to make one and hate the idea of spending money for a one-time use? A Halloween costume swap could solve your problem.

You can stage a swap, where you get together with other parents and kids to trade prior years’ costumes — at your kids’ school, your house of worship, or just among a group of friends.

Not only do you save money by swapping, you help save the planet because you’re not using resources to make new costumes that get worn once, then live in a box in the closet until they’re tossed in the landfill when your kids leave for college.

The official National Costume Swap Day was Oct. 8, but towns and community groups have swaps scheduled throughout October. If you want to hold your own swap, try these tips from the National Costume Swap and Green Halloween:

  • Match the location to the size of the group. If it’s a few friends, use your living room or garage. For the whole neighborhood, meet at the end of a cul-de-sac.
  • If you’re going big — sports club or house of worship — register your swap to boost attendance.
  • Figure out where kids can try on the costumes. If you’re hosting at home, set up a girls’ dressing room and a boys’ dressing room. If your costume swap is in a public place, ask parents to dress kids in swimsuits or leotards to make try-on easy.
  • Will you collect a fee to benefit your group or a charity? How about asking everyone to donate $5 to UNICEF?
  • Have a starter set of costumes so the first people who show up have something to get in trade for the costumes they bring. Check local thrift stores or ask friends to donate hand-me-downs before the event.
  • Set up racks or tables to hold the costumes and mirrors so the kids can see how they look.
  • Choose how your costume swap will run. Popular options include “leave one costume and you get one costume,” and “leave what you can and take what you need.” You can ask folks to bring costumes before the swap, then give them a chit for each costume they can exchange for another on swap day, or you can get the costumes at the door as people arrive for the swap.

Let us know if you’re planning on doing a swap or other solutions for low-cost, earth-friendly Halloween.