Halloween is the scariest of all the holidays, but the freaks and shrieks heard on this spooky night of horrific ensembles and candy collection aren't just from kids getting a fright over a creepy trick-or-treater, they are from parents and party-goers who look at the price tags on some of the most wanted Halloween costumes. (For more ways to stay on your Halloween budget, read How To Escape Halloween Budget Killers.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Costumes as Collectibles
As many super fans already know, it can be ridiculously expensive to dress up like your favorite comic book character. From conventions to parties to movie release events, some people spend a lot of time beyond Halloween walking around in character. For them, the investment in a realistic costume is a worthy expense. Just ask anyone who bought the DC Comics Collector's Edition Superman and Batman costumes for $999.99. At such a high price point, obviously the costume has to have something more than just a polyester suit. These collector's costumes have highly detailed muscles, and include boots, capes and hairpieces or, in the case of Batman, his bat mask and headpiece. Women can get in on the comic book character game with a $400 Batgirl costume. For all that dough they get a corset, leotards, boot tops, gloves, mask and cape.
If comic book heroes aren't your thing but movies are, there are plenty of costume choices that can wipe out a significant portion of your savings. You can be a Spartan with the $1,200 costume designed based on the movie "300." You also have the option of being almost any character from "Star Wars" from a $500 Chewbacca to a $1,200 Storm Trooper. You can also stretch your powers of feminine persuasion in the $220 Scarlett O'Hara dress, but the matching shoes to help you dance the night away with all your competitive beaus? Those will set you back another $43. (To help you create a memorable Halloween, check out Top 4 Affordable Halloween Decor Ideas.)
Now for Something … Different
Not every expensive costume has to turn you into a famous fictional character. Some can turn you into an insect, snowman or historical figure. A $200, 16-legged caterpillar suit could be a great way to show your irreverent side, while a $250 snowman suit can make you Frosty incarnate.
Life as a real serving wench might have been low-income and unfancy, but to dress as a serving wench now requires a generous budget with an extra $260. You can bring a matching pirate date for $180. You'll each get a nifty hat but while you're stuck in the corset, he'll be sporting a simple eye patch.
Wait, Isn't This a Holiday for Kids?
Kids aren't left out of the expensive Halloween costume loop. For a mere $80 you can dress your child up as Tony the Tiger. For a spookier option, you can choose the Ghost Lady or Ghost Gent for $100 or $120, respectively. In general, possibly because of their limited use, children's costumes are less expensive than adult costumes. For example, an adult costume for Optimus Prime runs about $300, while kids can dress like the leader of the Autobots for just $50. Of course, you always have the option of spending the majority of your kid's costume budget on accessories they won't outgrow, like a $40 Captain America shield.
The Bottom Line
In 2006, the average American spent $59.06 on Halloween, an amount that included costuming purchases as well as candy, cards and decorations. Buying the super-expensive costumes highlighted above could skew that average for this year, but if that expense means you get a costume built for life, it could mean you're just making a big, upfront investment on a quality disguise that will last you through many Halloweens, conventions and costume parties to come. (To help you save for Halloween, read 6 Simple Ways To Save This Halloween.)