With Halloween and costume parties right around the corner, many students are looking forward to dressing up and showing off. But on a student’s budget, it’s difficult to find the money to pay for a great costume. With this in mind, here are some tips for the frugal student.
Finding the materials
While specialty stores like Spirit or PartyCity seem the obvious choices for a Halloween costume, most of their selection is massively overpriced. Try thrift stores like Value Village or Goodwill. For accessories, dollar stores are a treasure trove of materials. Finally, if all else fails, cardboard and duct tape are cheap and plentiful materials that you can use to fashion almost anything you can imagine.
Creating the effects
Instead of buying overpriced fake blood, just make your own. Combine one part water with three parts corn syrup, slowly mix in red food coloring, and then add a thickener such as flour, corn starch, or syrup until it reaches the consistency you want. If the color looks off, you can add one or two drops of blue or green food coloring, but be careful. Too much and you will have to start all over again.
If you’re feeling ambitious you can create your own fake flesh made out of liquid latex. Start by mixing two tablespoons of cornstarch with two teaspoons of water. Then stir in one or two drops of food coloring, depending on what color you want the flesh. Stir in two more teaspoons of water and continue stirring until the mixture feels rubbery. Finish it off by mixing in one-fourth teaspoon of cocoa powder and blend well.
You can also make your own colored face paint by mixing cheap foundation with crumbled up solid watercolor pigment.
Perfecting the costume
Really great costumes often rely on one of two things: extravagance or originality. When making a costume for cheap, originality is going to be your best bet. Try to avoid common costume clichés (vampires, witches, ghosts, etc.) and costumes that rely on cheap laughs (stereotypes, puns, etc.). With a bit of creativity, you can put a personalized spin on overused costumes. Instead of simply dressing as a generic teacher, try adding a kick-me sign and some chalk dust to turn yourself into a substitute teacher or dress as one of South Puget Sound Community College’s own professors.
Gumball Machine: Fill a clear-plastic bag with balloons and attach it to a cardboard headband. Wear all red for added effect.
Black and White Photo: Find a set of black and white clothes that look like they are from the 40’s or 50’s. Apply grey makeup sparingly to all exposed skin, while using a black eyebrow pencil for highlights. Voila, you now look like you’ve stepped straight out of a vintage photo.
Zombified-Celebrity: Combine a standard celebrity costume (Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, etc.) with zombie makeup to turn two tired costume ideas into a fresh new one. Remember to be respectful of the recently deceased and err on the side of caution.
The Work of Art: Find a local copy store that does screen printing. Print out a famous portrait onto a large sheet of cardboard, cut out the head, and you instantly have a costume. This can also be done by hand if you have the supplies.
The Cardboard Anything: You can’t go wrong with making a costume entirely with cardboard and duct tape. Cardboard werewolves, cardboard knights, cardboard robots, everything is better (and much cheaper) with cardboard.