Easy (and cheap) Halloween costumes, dollar store style

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween's bloody masks, plastic severed limbs or fake knives that simulate the results of having been plunged into flesh, all of which I've seen at my local dollar store.

That being said, there's no denying that it's enormous fun playing dress-up, even for adults and, if you feel the way I do, dollar stores also have a lot less gruesome options available. Please check prices and availability in your area.

Start with a hat. When I was a kid, cowboys were the heroes. Today the big thing seems to be the anti-hero, the pirate.

I was surprised to find well-made cowboy hats in adult sizes at my local dollar store, some with a sheriff''s badge and there are also a variety of pirate hats, including a bandanna style and a pirate captain hat. There were also top hats and fedoras in adult sizes for $2 each. Other hats include kid-sized fedoras, bowler and top hats for a buck each and I also saw a hat that a small Zorro could wear.

Accessorize. Along with your Roy Rogers hat, wear your favorite pair of blue jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and tie a dollar store handkerchief around your neck. Voila! you're a cowboy and you've only spent $3. (The hat cost $2.) If you wish, add a toy rifle or hand gun for another buck.

Add a cape and a wand to the top hat and you've created a magician. Wear a white shirt and dark pants. You could even carry a stuffed rabbit, for effect. This costume will only cost you three or four bucks. The same cape, paired with the Zorro hat, a plain black mask and a plastic sword, re-creates the famous Spanish hero for your child.

To pirate headgear, add an accessory set that includes a curved sword, an eye patch and a gold or silver earring for $1. There's an assortment of jewelry for the well-dressed pirate, like a bracelet of skulls or a skull necklace. In the toy section, you can also find plastic or foam pirate swords for a buck.

Outfit your little girl in an appropriately colored leotard and add wings. Sets include angel wings with a hallow and a star wand, honey bee, lady bug and different colored fairy wings. Each set comes with a wand and costs $1.25.

The toy section can be mined for hats and accessories, as well. I saw a Robin Hood style hat for $1.25 that could be paired with a plastic bow and arrow set that also costs $1.25. Just add a green tunic shirt and leotards. Or how about a grass skirt and fabric lei to turn your little girl into a hula dancer?

Also, check out Dollar General's complete children's costumes for only $8.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. So, instead of spending $30 or $40 for one costume from a specialty shop, head to the dollar store and outfit the whole family for a whole lot less.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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