Last Minute Halloween Costume Tips

October 30, 2009

In all fairness, these tips are only last minute because I’m posting them last minute. Many of them actually revolve around planning to make your own costume. These tips can (dare I say, should?) be used every year. There really is one overarching theme for these tips: Think outside of the Halloween store box.

Halloween Costume 2009

Green Belt and Sewn Tunic-like shirt

Plan ahead.
The best part about planning ahead is that if you’re buying a costume you may well have more options to choose from. Also, Halloween stores will have sales toward the beginning of October every year and those stores will be jam packed with latecomers the closer you get to Halloween. That means you’ll waste a lot of time in line when you want to buy something. They also have huge sales right after Halloween. If you’re a perennial costume buyer and want a cheap one for next year you shoulder consider this option. If you’re building your own costume planning ahead will save you a lot of stress and probably time. There are invariably more things on store shelves at the beginning of October than at the end. Plus, if you can’t find what you need for your costume you have to time to go to plan B… or C… or D. Plan D being the plain white sheet ghost.

Build your own costume.
It’s really not that difficult. The first time you do it will probably be daunting, but with a little planning you can come out with a much better looking and more creative costume than you’ll find at your local Halloween store. And for less money! Full on costumes at stores will cost you at least $40-$50. That’s a lot of money considering they can be terribly uncomfortable and don’t look that great. You’re clearly paying a premium for convenience here.

Learn to sew or find a friend who does.
This directly follows-up on the “Build your own costume” idea. If you’re buying a costume, skip to the last item. Sewing really helps for building your own costume because then you don’t need to find the exact right piece of clothing for your outfit. For example, the tunic pictured above is a combination of two t-shirts; one of which is cut up to make the jagged ends. Amazingly, the t-shirts were the most expensive part of my costume aside from the shoes I bought, which can and already have been re-worn as real world shoes.

Look for costume items in smaller shops.
I needed a belt for my costume this year. Preferably a green belt. Do you know how much belts cost? In the tens of dollars, which doesn’t seem like a lot except depending on your fashion style the belt may or may not be re-wearable. On top of that, I’m trying to keep the cost of my costume under a retail store’s cost, so $10 would be a quarter of my imaginary budget. So where did I get the green belt in the picture? Daiso Marukai. For $1.69! Can you say, “WINNER?” Little shops can have surprising bargains and better selection for the more randomly colored and shaped items and accessories you might want to use this Halloween, so keep them in mind. I also recommend thrift stores, charity shops, and if you must shop in retail stores then Wal-Mart, Target, Marshall’s and Ross are good ideas. You know what you’re getting at the first two – namely, semi-cheap everyday stuff. At stores like Marshall’s and Ross it’s a complete toss up. You never know what you might find, like the women’s vest I turned inside out last year for my 80s Hair Band look because the inside of the too-tight vest had a leopard-ish print to it. And it was cheeeeap! (I forget the exact price, but I was pretty dang happy). So happy bargain hunting!

Your costume can be a take on a regular costume.
For example, almost any good character costume can be turned evil, and vice versa. Like an evil angel or evil [insert Disney character here]. Or you can be an off-color Where’s Waldo. This will allow you to pick different colors and kinds of clothing to still match what you want to be. For example, if your character normally wears bright colors, you can pick a darker shade that’s easier to find and then call that character Dark Halloween Character. It’s just that easy!

Lastly, and this is legitimately a last minute tip: Ask around and see if you can’t re-use a friend’s old costume, or even one of your own from 2+ years back. Who’s going to remember anyway?
If you’re really hard up for a costume at the last minute remember that this happens every year. Your friends must have dressed up in previous years and probably don’t want to dress up as the same thing again. So maybe you can borrow a costume or even swap old costumes with them.

Did I miss something? Have tips of your own? What ideas and tips do you have for buying or putting together your Halloween costumes? Happy All Hallow’s Eve!


Gardening Made Easy, in Any Space

October 29, 2009

One hobby I have taken up is gardening.  I live in a condo with no backyard so my “gardening” is limited to a small balcony.  Maintaining a garden may seem far from hassle free, however I have experimented with different ways to make it work, and have along the way learned some inexpensive ways to keep my plants healthy while helping the environment along the way.


Mint in the top left, Green Onion on the top right, Basil in the front

In the above picture I have mint, basil, and green onions; all of which are very easy to grow.  Here are some things I’ve learned about growing them.

1) On the bottom left corner you may see a basil stem in a jar.  That jar is filled with water, and since then has grown roots and I’ve successfully planted it as its own basil plant.  The cutting had originally come from the big plant and using cuttings is an easy way to grow basil.  I’ve also read you can do this with fresh basil bought from the store.

2) Pruning basil properly is essential to encourage growth.  Snipping basil leaves one by one will quickly diminish the basil plant to nothing.  Doing a little research on how to properly harvest basil goes a long way.

3) Mint grows like a weed.  Make sure to plant mint in a pot and not a backyard garden.  It is otherwise very easy to grow and it grows very plentifully.

4) Green onions are great plants.  After I used up a bunch of green onions I purchased for 50 cents at the grocery store, I stuck the ends in dirt and in the summer I watched it grow about an inch a day.  It grows so fast and it is so useful.  There are other things that can be planted using this method.  I believe chives are one of them.. anything that resembles scallions can probably be grown this way.  Leeks are another that comes to mind.

5) You may notice that the white containers that the green onions are in may not match the flower pots.  This is a great tip I learned.  Many bakeries, pool supply stores, restaurants, etc. often get various materials in these buckets and then throw them out.  All you have to do from saving them from going to waste is pop into your local bakery and ask them if they have any of these plastic buckets that they were going to otherwise throw out.  Oftentimes they have some to spare and it works great as a planter.  5 gallon buckets are perfect for tomatoes and if you want a fun DIY project,  you can make your own Self Watering Container out of some 5 gallon buckets.

6) Some of the best fertilizers for these plants are very accessible.  Coffee grounds, tea leaves, and egg shells are great fertilizers.  Starbucks is required to provide their used coffee grounds to anyone who asks for them, so it is easy to just pop into a Starbucks and get some (this comes in handy for me since I’m a non coffee drinker).


Arugula grown from seed

I have tried to take the easiest approach when it comes to gardening in my limited space.  If you have more time on your hands, you may find inspirations from things such as this “Salad Bar” or making your own self watering containers, both of which take a little more time but are good in small spaces.  Some have even taken on experimenting with maintaining a compost pile in their apartments.  I’m currently trying to grown a basil plant in a “Pop Bottle.”  Pop Bottles may be a quick and easy way to start up your herb plant.  Enjoy!