With the economy sitting in the ditch, this is not the time to spend megabucks on a costume the kid will wear once in his or her lifetime. Now is the time to challenge the kids to improvise with what is found in the old clothes bin, in a thrift store or purchased at a yard sale for 50 cents.

A princess outfit can be made from an old prom dress, cut off with scissors to length so the kids don’t trip.  I used the trimmings for the sash to hold the dress on the kid. (it was a little big!) We made a magic wand with a piece of dowel covered with foil and glued on a glittery cardboard star
The boys wore their own blue jeans, a cowboy shirt and one of Dad’s old hats, and tied on some old spurs for clink effect.
A ghost costume was made for a 3-year-old out of an old pillowcase. Eye holes were cut with scissors and outlined with a black marker. Arm holes were cut and decorated the same, and a piece of clothesline rope held the thing in place.
Give the kids some plastic trash bags, a roll of cheap foil, some cardboard tubes from wrapping paper, some recycled wrapping paper, a roll of tape and see what they can come up with.
A ten year old made a ghost costume from an old sheet and tied tin cans to a piece of rope tied around his waist. It clanked along beautifully, and woke up every dog and cat in the neighborhood, which only added to the din!

One of the gals in a group I belong to had the neatest idea several years ago and I think it’s worth repeating: She has a HALLOWEEN FAIRY that secretly comes to her house after her kids come home from trick or treating.  The kids are allowed to pick out 5 or 6 treats from their goodie bags and the rest of the candy goes on the dining room table just before bedtime.
During the night, the Halloween Fairy comes and takes all that extra candy away, and gives it to kids who never get any candy at all. (The excess candy is donated to a homeless shelter.)

She says this eliminates crabby kids from too much sugar, and a crabby Mom!