Five Halloween kids' costumes you can make at home

If you hear bloodcurdling screams and ghastly groaning this Halloween, it's coming from retailers. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) consumer spending for the holiday is expected to drop from the average of $66.54 spent last year to a recession rocked $56.31 for 2009. In 2008, revelers shelled out a spooky $2.1 billion dollars on costumes alone. Eeeek!

This year we've been scared straight. Halloween costumes will not only be judged on their cuteness or creep factor but also their cost.

With this in mind, it's time to get creative. Think Project Runway: the home version. The challenge: Create children's costumes utilizing household items to assemble a Halloween ensemble that won't haunt the budget til Christmas. Oh, and your kid has to be willing to wear it. Although, free candy is a terrific motivator...

Obvious answers include a neighborhood costume swap, or the time-honored tradition of sibling sharing. Borrowed sports or cheerleading uniforms, re-purposed bridesmaid dresses (see, it really can be worn again!) or sleepwalker-style pajamas are also fun, easy and most importantly free(!) options. The hobo look hits a little close to the nerve this year, it would be more fanciful to dress up like someone with eighteen months of living expenses in savings and flowing credit at zero percent interest...but I digress.

If you've already mined familiar themes for hauntings past, following are five fabulous costume tricks that treat your wallet right.

When Laundry Attacks!
(girl/boy ages 6 and up)

Put your "dirty" laundry on the scary cycle and air in public! Halloween horror! A mountain of laundry with no help in sight!

Cut a hole in the bottom of a laundry basket big enough to allow your child to step into and pull up to hips.

Create suspenders from wide ribbon or cotton rope and tie tightly to the basket in front, criss-crossing in the back. Bunch up a few pieces of newspaper and cover with lightweight clothing, tablecloths or sheets for inside the basket (note, if the hole is too big on the bottom the "stuffing" tries to fall out, use duct tape to create a lightweight bottom to prevent this if necessary). Wooden clothespins look cute clipped on to suspenders, laundry, pigtails, or shoelaces. Pin single socks to child's sleeves. Empty detergent box with stapled ribbon handle works great as treat bag. Accessorize with empty dryer sheet boxes or small "laundry" items inside basket.

Items you probably already have around the house:

* Cheap, lightweight laundry basket
* Heavy scissors or box cutter
* Wide ribbon, cotton rope, or clothesline
* Clothes pins
* Empty detergent box with strap for candy collection (could also use a pillow case)
* Safety pins
* Some lightweight clothing items to have draping out of the basket
* Crumpled up newspaper sheets to stuff inside the basket
* Small bounce box or clean, empty bleach bottle for hat
* Mismatched socks to pin onto pants and sleeves
* Two small signs -- dirty laundry -- or wash .25 cents

*Note: Child should be tall enough to "wear" the laundry basket without tripping over it.

Princess Shop-A-Lot
(girl age toddler -- 6)

Not everyone is waiting out this recession! Create your own shopping stimulus package!

Cut out the bottom of a gift bag. Use wide tape to attach tissue paper inside the top of the bag so it looks like it is decoratively coming out of the bag. Have your child slip the bag over their head so the bag covers as much of the torso as possible. Next staple two ribbon "suspenders" (go over the middle of the child's shoulders) onto the front and back of the bag. Accessorize your super shopper with lots of costume jewelry and a tiara (if you or a friend happen to have one in the dress up box!). Carry a smaller gift bag to hold the loot!

Items you probably already have around the house:

* Extra large gift bag
* Tissue paper
* Ribbon for head
* Ribbon for big bows on shoes and bag suspenders
* Lots of glittery, pretty costume jewelry
* Glamor makeup
* Play money stuck on tissue paper
* Scotch tape
* Wide masking or duct tape
* Scissors

Picnic on-the-Go!
(girl/boy ages 3 and up)

Create a picnic "poncho" by cutting a head-sized hole in the center of a checkered tablecloth. You may need to cut the edges of the cloth to allow the child to walk easily and avoid tripping. Use a glue gun to glue on paper plates, plastic utensils, empty juice boxes or soda cans, plastic toy 'food," and plastic ants onto the cloth.
Carry a picnic basket to hold the treats!

* Old red and white checked table cloth
* Paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic utensils
* Plastic ants
* Glue gun
* Scissors (with pinking shear edge if possible)
* Picnic basket to carry

Yee-Haw Halloween!
(girl/boy ages 2-6)

Go Farm Fresh! Organic and all natural!

Here's what you'll need to round up:

* Wagon (a friendly "farm hand" to pull it!)
* Stuffed animals (to join your trickster in the wagon!)
* Cowboy hat
* Overalls –
* Plaid shirt
* Bandanna
* Tin pail for treats
* Carrots with tops on them to tuck in front pocket of overalls
* Hay if you have it, if not, maybe a little raffia to tie onto the handle, etc.
* Checkered table cloth, or cute cloth to put inside the wagon
* Boots if you have them
* Rope belt to knot around the waist
* Braids (for girls)

Not-So-Standard Poodle!
(girl age 2-8)

Wear long sleeved, white leotard and tights. Attach duct tape sticky-side out on forearms and calves; completely cover tape with cotton balls. Use construction paper to cut out floppy ears. Cover one side of each ear with duct tape sticky-side out, and then cover those completely with cotton balls. Glue gun the ears to a headband. Accessorize with a glittery, choker necklace or satiny ribbon bow, and a tutu. Draw little black nose and a few whiskers with eyeliner. Cut off 6 inches from the toe/foot part of a white nylon stocking to create a tail, stuff to create a thin tube with cotton balls and glue some more cotton balls to create a puff on one end. Carefully attach tail. (Warning: although a "leash" might sound cute, it would be very dangerous for the child and could lead to choking, neck injuries or worse. No leashes!).

* Long sleeved white leotard
* White tights
* Lots of cotton balls
* Duct tape
* Glue gun
* Headband
* Safety pins
* Choker necklace
* Satin ribbon bow (top of head)
* Tutu
* White nylon stocking
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