If you’ve got children or know children of have seen children briefly from a distance, you know that they love to dress up. There are the obvious occasions, Halloween and trips to Walt Disney World. But there are the not so obvious occasions that call for an elaborate outfit. You won’t be surprised to learn that the elder B daughter insisted on wearing full Elsa of Arendelle couture to her recent dentist’s appointment.
But just like real clothes, costumes have a limited shelf life. They get ripped, they get stained, and because of the materials used they’re often trickier to mend or clean. If you are anything like the B family, you go through a few costumes each year. So what is a mom to do? You can’t spend all your dough on costumes. You need to eat, save for Disney vacations, buy Christmas presents. You’ve got a lot going on. The best plan is to know where and when you can grab the hottest costumes at the best prices. Lucky for us, we’re on the other side of Halloween, so the time is now. Here’s the plan.
Hit the Halloween Clearance. Every store that sells costumes is going to be clearancing them out. Stores like Target, Kohl’s, Walgreens, Walmart, that don’t carry costumes year round will clearance fast and furious. You’ve got about a week at these places to grab what’s left to grab. If there is something you need to have, don’t want for further markdowns. Things will fly off the shelves, because there will be a lot of parents looking to score next year’s costume at a steal. I find it’s best to focus your efforts on one store and visit back often, like every other day often, to make sure you are staying on top of the markdowns. For me, it’s always Target, but go with whichever store is your favorite. You’ll know the layout better, and be able to find merchandise more easily.
For stores that sell costumes year round, like the Disney Store, the strategy is a little different. Because of the costumes sales in the parks as well as retail stores, there isn’t as great of a need to move merchandise quickly. Best practices is to keep an eye on the Disney Store throughout the year, as there will be occasional flash sales on costumes. You’ll usually see them marked down to at least 50% once or twice. They tend to do their heaviest discounts in the spring, as they are getting ready to introduce the new editions of the same character outfits in the fall. This is when you’ll find some of the best deals. This one is a marathon, not a sprint.
Buy second hand. This is an old favorite of the Bs. It goes like this. Someone (Grandmas are usually the culprit) purchased an elaborate princess dress that cost $75. The child who wore the outfit fit approximately once, and now the parents have this monstrosity of sparkles taking up room in the closet. What do they do? They list in on Ebay or in a local garage sale group on Facebook. And they usually list it at a very reasonable price because it’s a) in great condition and b) taking up valuable storage space. We’ve gotten great Disney Store dresses this way. Like the stores purging their old costumes, you’re likely to see an influx of these instances post Halloween. Now if a perfect time for some online browsing.
Consider Pajamas. Hear me out on this one. Many stores sell pajamas that are pretty close to costumes themselves. Nightgowns that look like princess dresses, two piece sets that look like a favorite superhero. These are some great costume options, as they tend to have a little more life in them. Because they started life as pajamas, they are usually made of more durable materials and are washing machine friendly. These are items that tend to be clearance by season, not by holiday, though I have seen one or two sneak into the holiday clearance depending on character. While you might find some in the post Halloween clearance, keep your eyes open for these deals all year long.
If all else fails, there is always my secret weapon: Grandma. This is the number one costume source for the B girls. Grandmas love to buy dress up clothes. It’s hardwired into their DNA. Share this blog post with Grandma and a hint like, “Wow, Sophia sure does love those PJ Masks….” and the next thing you know, an Owlette outfit is on its way to your house!
Do you have any great tips for scoring costumes? Will you be hitting the post Halloween clearance sales? Does your mother love to buy costumes as much as my mother? Tell me all about it in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!