Did you know that, according to an article published on USA Today, the expected spending for Halloween of 2017 was $9.1 billion dollars in the United States? The numbers for Halloween of 2016 were $8.4 billion, which is not shabby in the least.
To simplify this number, this breaks down to $83.16 per person. Yep. Let that number sink in for a bit. And that’s just Halloween. The number doesn’t include cosplay costumes, dance recitals, plays, or any other school functions.
For someone with no family, or kids of their own, spending $83 on a costume might not be a lot. But for the average American family, this can definitely make a huge hole in their budget.
My husband and I don’t ever wear costumes for Halloween, but our kids do. Obviously, we don’t even spend $83 on ALL three kids. We are super frugal like that :D. And we have found ways to be super creative when our little Miss Emma needs a costume.
Last year, I shared how her and I put together a nice, last minute, no-cost Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games) costume for “Dress as your favorite book character day” at school. When the same activity came along this year, we were on the same boat. We wanted to put something together, without spending any money.
While we contemplated several options, we finally decided on Mary Poppins because it was the simplest. And Miss Emma was extremely excited to wear the black hat to school haha). The most important thing to remember is that a costume doesn’t have to be perfect. All you need is some imagination, and creativity to make good use of your existing resources.
Choosing the right costume
When choosing the right costume, make sure you make it about creativity, and resourcefulness, and not about perfection. If you are like our family, you have a million things (despite our constant decluttering process). And I am sure you too can put together a cute little outfit for each member of your family.
What I have found to be incredibly useful is to do some digging around on Pinterest. The amount of ideas, tutorials, and tricks you can find there are simply unbelievable! Another thing I do is, I create specific boards for specific things (on my personal Pinterest account), like birthday parties, costumes, holidays, DIY, etc. and then pin everything I can find to the right board. That makes it very easy to come back to, if like me, you find yourself looking for yet another costume idea, etc.
Miss Emma owns this cute little blue dress that her Grandma got for her a while back, which would have been perfect for a Madeline costume. However, she didn’t have the right type of hat, so we scratched the idea.
The Paperbag Princess
This is another excellent, low cost option. We had the brown paper to make it, but it required much more work, since we would have had to actually make the paper dress. And I didn’t want to do that (I had little time, and I try to be very careful with how I spend my time)
After digging around a bit (Including looking into my oldest daughter’s closet), we found that we had everything Miss Emma needed. While the pieces of her outfit are not a perfect match for the Mary Poppins portrayed in the movie, it did convey the idea perfectly.
Easy, and budget friendly DIY Mary Poppins Costume
What you need
White long sleeve blouse
This could be a plain one, or even one that has some design elements. We went for a long sleeve, but if all you have is a short sleeve shirt, by all means, go right ahead, and use that!
Black knee-length skirt
Miss Emma’s skirt has a full zipper right in the front, from the waist to the hem, but it didn’t really impact how the costume looks overall. You could go for a longer skirt, if that’s what you have on hand.
Black or white tights
Since this is sort of the bread and butter of every girl’s wardrobe, this shouldn’t be too hard to find. Of course, you could go for nude tights, if that’s what you have, or you could go to the Goodwill to get a pair. I have found that most Goodwill stores carry new, unopened tights, both for girls, and women.
Other types of shoes are of course, an option, but I feel like short, black boots do the trick. If you don’t have any available, go for black flats, or even Mary Janes. For an older girl, who owns a pair with a small heel, that’s perfect as well.
I feel like a black hat is a must when impersonating Mary Poppins. The one Miss Emma wore is her sister’s. I got that for her from a Goodwill near me. Some Goodwills in our area often carry new, unused items that Target donates to them, and sell them for a fraction of the cost. This black hat cost me $.25!
I decided to use one of Miss Emma’s hair clips, which I easily attached to the hat by pushing it thru a small hole in the weaving of the hat. You could either use a hair piece you already have, or grab a fake flower, and pin it to the hat, using a safety pin.
We didn’t exactly do a bow for this, but merely put a length of red ribbon around the blouse’s collar. It isn’t fancy, but it does the trick nicely, and makes the whole outfit come together.
Hair style – I am notoriously bad with hair styling, so I kept it simple. All I did was put Miss Emma’s hair in a low bun, close to her neck, using bobby pins, and a hairnet (We have tons of those, as Miss Emma is a ballet dancer, and we use them all the time). To keep the crazy hairs from escaping her bun, we also used quite a bit of hairspray, but this is not required.
Umbrella (Optional) – We live in the PNW, and think an umbrella is for outsiders (kidding!). No, but seriously, we don’t even own an umbrella, so we didn’t use one, but if you do, then that would be a great addition to the outfit, even if your umbrella doesn’t have the head of a bird on the handle 😉
The end result
Here is my dear Miss Emma in her Mary Poppins outfit! She was extremely happy with it, and very excited to be able to put it together with things we already owned.
She also got compliments from teachers, and classmates. I guess they were able to tell which character she was going for at a glance.
Easy, and budget friendly DIY Mary Poppins Costume
Putting together a nice, cute costume should not be hard, or expensive. I know many of us are super busy, and because of it, we just run out to the store to buy something, rather than spending a bit of time creating it.
Trust me, I totally get it. I have found myself in the same position, more times than I care to count. However, I have found that planning for it a bit ahead of time can be a huge time, and money saver. You could get the ball rolling by starting the Halloween/school play/spirit day conversation as early as possible.
By doing this, you can get a feel for what your kids want to dress as, what the school is putting up for Spirit Week, etc. Then, start doing a bit of research on Pinterest. Trust me, there is no shortage of ideas, tutorials, etc. out there to help you out.
And if your kids are old enough, you can even make it a fun project to do together!