By Sheryl Smolkin
In October 2014, Hollie Shaw at the Financial Post reported on the $1-billion fright economy. Apparently Canadians have become so wild about Halloween we now spend more per capita on costumes, candy and décor than our U.S. counterparts do, with holiday-related spending that is second only to Christmas.
“In the past three years, the Halloween holiday has just gone viral in Canada — we have just seen it shoot up,” said Diane Brisebois, the Retail Council’s president and CEO told Shaw. “Adults have really, really gotten into it. Now it’s adults and their pets. In Canada, it has become so popular that people are pretty much decorating anything.
Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade, but if you are having trouble making ends meet, or if you are trying to come up with ways to better afford a retirement savings plan, minimizing your expenditures at Halloween might be a good start.
Here are some helpful hints on some cheap, clever costumes, whether you and/or your children are planning to trick or treat close to home or attend a Halloween party.
- Princess costume: A sparkly crown from the dollar store, last year’s Christmas dress, make up and costume jewelry will go a long way to turn your pre-schooler into a princess. You don’t have to spring for the last Disney confection that in late October weather will probably be covered by a coat
- Doctor, lawyer: I am a lawyer and still have my court gowns, tabs and shirt. I can’t tell you over the years how many times I or my children have appeared as lawyers or judges on Halloween. The tools and “uniforms” of any other profession or trade can become a costume.
- Orange is the new black: If you can get your hands on orange scrubs (or dye some) and lots of fake tattoos you can masquerade as this hit Netflix show. A group can also select different characters in the show and add hairdos, make up or cheap wigs to enhance their look.
- Bag of jelly beans: I love this kooky costume. All you need is a bunch of colourful balloons, a piece of ribbon, a clear garbage bag and the ingredients list to write on the back. You cut two holes in the bottom of the bag, fill it with balloons and tie a bow around your neck. Voilà, you are a bag of jelly beans.
- Rubik’s cube: This costume requires that you be a bit crafty. The raw materials are a square cardboard box, coloured squares of construction paper and black electrical tape. The completed box is worn over a black top and pants or leggings.
- Superhero Underoos: I remember when my kids were little, superhero underoos were a highly coveted reward when they finally left diapers behind. Guess what – new superhero underoos for adults are not only functional, they can form the basis of a great costume for the comic book geek in your life.
- Sports: Whatever sports equipment and typical garb you have on hand can be used to dress you or your child as an athlete. For example, a tennis player will wear all white and carry a racket. A yoga instructor will wear yoga pants, a headband and carry a rolled up yoga mat. A golf pro will have plaid pants, a golf shirt, golf shoes, a sun visor and a putter.
- Olympic/Pan Am medalist: Did you buy sweats or other outfits from The Bay after the last Olympics or Pan Am games? Well get them out of the bottom drawer. Then fashion as many gold, silver and bronze medals as you like and hang them on ribbons around your neck. You can even put the name of your favourite world class athlete on the back of your jacket.
- Second-hand stores: If you have a good imagination, Value Village or other second-hand stores can be a great place to pick up costume components. An oversized sports jacket and a used fedora can turn your child into a detective or an investigative reporter. Old wedding or prom dresses are the stuff from which fantasies are made.
- Freebies and deals: The day after Halloween is over, stores bring out the Christmas paraphernalia. That means they need to free up floor space fast. If you have storage space and can guess-timate what size your kids will wear next year, you may be able to pick up ready-made costumes at greatly-reduced prices.