What To Do With Used Halloween Costumes

halloween costumes

As halloween looms upon us, more and more stores have set up their halloween aisles. Orange and black permeate and pumpkins line storefronts. My son has noticed the change, too. In fact, he has listed about five different characters/professions that he wants to dress up as for halloween. Halloween costumes are not cheap. It’s a novelty item used once and then hidden in the closet thereafter. If it’s lucky, it will get some playtime during pretend play or get handed down to a sibling, cousin, or friend to enjoy the adoration and limelight for another year.

So, what do you do if you can’t use the same halloween costume again and/or don’t have much of a budget for it this year? Enter National Costume Swap Day™. National Costume Swap Day™? Yes, National Costume Swap Day is a day when parents can swap their children’s used halloween costume for a “new” one. Parents/organizers are hosting this event at select cities all across the country to make halloween a little greener and more affordable.

How is swapping an old halloween costume eco-friendly? According to Green Halloween®, if even half of children swapped costumes instead of buying new ones, approximately 6,250 tons of landfill waste can be averted; that is equivalent to 2,500 midsize cars saved from disposal. Wow! We have a box of hand-me down costumes from family and friends that we keep in the garage. I am already looking forward to finding a new home for those used halloween costumes once Little B is done with them. I cannot even begin to fathom just how many costumes 6,250 tons amounts to.

Can’t make the costume swap this year? Here are some other ways of making halloween a little greener:

  • Purchase secondhand costumes at thrift stores. If you don’t mind sorting through crammed racks for the correct size, then a thrift store is a good place to start. Costumes need to be washed and some may need a little repair, but a little time and effort can be rewarding.
  • Find secondhand costumes for free at freecycle.org. This is a great way to get free stuff. Again, patience is needed because even if you post a costume wanted ad, it may take a while until someone gets back to you. I actually look for stuff here before going to craigslist.
  • Make costumes from items found at home. You don’t have to be too crafty to create something recognizable. There are many websites, boards (Pinterest), and online magazines that have instructions on how to make halloween costumes from scratch. The hard part is picking which costume to make.
  • Donate old costumes to shelters, hospitals, charities. Once you and the kids are done with the costumes (whether you purchased it or not), pay it forward and donate them. Shelters that cater to women and children and children’s hospitals are a great place to start. Charities such as Salvation Army®, Goodwill®, AmVets will gladly receive clothing for their stores.Sell used costumes instead of throwing them away. If your costume is well loved but still in good condition, you can get at least a fraction of the cost back by selling it. Craigslist and PennySaver are two places for local listings. eBay classifieds is also another way to go if you don’t mind shipping the costumes.
  • Trade costumes using swap sites. There are many online swap sites where you trade your old items for someone else’s. You don’t have to live in the same city to trade with them. Of course, you do have to pay for shipping, but getting a box full of used costumes for the price of a new one my be worth it. I’ve compiled a list of swaps sites here and here.

If you can’t find a swap location near you and have time on your hands, you can always organize a costume swap yourself. Check out Green Halloween® for tips on organizing your own swap and for more ideas on how to make your halloween eco-friendlier.

What do you do with your children’s used halloween costumes? What are your tips for making halloween a little greener?

16 comments

    • Romina says:

      I wish I were somewhat crafty enough to make costumes, or maybe it’s the patience I lack. Fair Trade candy kits sound great. I’ll be publishing a post on organic candy as an alternative to regular store-bought ones in a couple of days. I’ll definitely look into them. Thanks.

  1. Amanda McMahon says:

    what a great idea! many times costumes can be dress up clothes later, but really, even that only goes so far!

  2. Jamie says:

    This was a great post, and some great ideas shared here.

    I had a friend who was always so creative with her halloween costumes, and she was crafty as can be too.. wish I had some of that talent! lol

  3. Barb says:

    I’ve done the costume swap a few times. We also put the old ones into the dress up box to give them more life during the year. Next fall, I’m going to sell the last of my younger kid costumes at a consignment sale.

  4. Shai Smith says:

    Love this! We made the toddler’s costume this year and the 8 year old picked a superhero costume that will be used again and again during ‘dress up’. Normally, though, it just goes in the donate pile. ♥

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