DIY Finding Nemo Costumes! Plus the 6 tricks to getting Halloween costumes for dirt cheap.

Oct 31, 2019 | Baby and Kids, DIY, Holidays, Lifestyle

We all know I'm obsessed with Halloween. Not that I'm into the icky uber creepy stuff, but more that I LOVE to dress up, LOVE to throw themed parties, and LOVE candy…so basically modern-day Halloween was made just for me.
Jordaween. Has a nice ring to it…

Each year I insist on doing family theme costumes. I hope to milk it for as many years as possible until my kids realize how embarrassing, uncool, and wacko I am.   So, what were we this year? Ready for it…Finding Nemo!

  We had Nemo and Dory,

  Cute baby Squirt, Duuuuuude…

    P.Sherman and Darla,

And of course, Ollie as Bruce:

Yes, he was as miserable as he looked. #poorchubbyollie    

Here's how we pulled it off for cheap…  

1. Mix store-bought costumes with DIY pieces. I am no crafter and could never pull off sewing a costume from scratch.  Plus, with how expensive fabric is now days, buying (the right way) is often cheaper than a complete DIY! My method is: DIY where I can, then buy store-bought pieces to complete the outfit. Take “squirt” for example… I saw the frog costume at a consignment sale for $2 and decided to make it work as a turtle. I found some remnant fleece fabric, also $2.

I eyeballed a “shell” shape, cut strips and tied them together, stuffed with the stuffing from a $0.99 thrift store pillow. I loosely hand-sewed the shell onto the frog costume (so it's easily removed), and voila!   Same with Dory… I couldn't for the LIFE OF ME find a Dory costume online. I found a monster costume from Costco for $12 that was Dory colors(ish) and decided to make it work. Next year, guess what Beck will be for Halloween? Yes, probably a monster. (No harm in that!)

I bought some cheap fleece, eyeballed some “fins”, stuffed with the same $0.99 pillow stuffing, loosely sewed them to the costume (so they can easily be removed), folded back the monster eyes and horns on her hood, and POOF! Insta-Dory.   The DIY for both costumes took me a whopping 12 minutes – TOTAL – and the store-bought pieces can be reused.  Now THAT's what I'm talkin' bout!

2. Buy off season. Believe it or not, right NOW is the best time to buy costumes! Once Halloween is over, rush to the nearest costume shop and start shopping for next year! Online is a great place to buy costumes too, because the selection is WAY better. Check out stores like Mr. Costumes and pre-plan for next year. Oh, and whenever you buy, be sure to look for a coupon or discount first! Like “Bruce”… Months ago I saw this costume at TJ Maxx for $14.99, about 1/2 what it would cost this time of year. I snatched it up and held onto it until now.

…hoping Ollie would lose some weight and fit into it by now. #fail  

3. Buy used.  There was a consignment sale near my house recently where I found a Nemo costume in perfect condition, for just $10! Earlier that week I almost bought the same one online for $20 – so glad I didn't! It was meant for a 24mo old (my son is 3) but it was open on the bottom and top (like an inner tube) so I figured we could make it work.

4. Use what you have, and borrow.  My hubby is a packrat like me, and still has his wetsuit from High School (for the record…yes, we are in Utah, and yes, we are land-locked so no, there is no logical reason to own a wetsuit or surfboard… yet still we do.) We borrowed the goggles from a neighbor and BAM. P.Sherman. Easiest costume EVER.

P.S…we're looking for 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. Anyone know the way?

Can I get on my soap box about borrowing for a sec?
This year I got all my neighborhood ladies on a group chat app called GroupMe. All month long we've been messaging the group asking for things…”does anyone have a Cleopatra costume I can borrow?” “Snorkel goggles?” “A top-hat?” You rarely wear the same costume more than once, so why not swap?! It'll save you mucho dinero, folks. Oh, and be sure to check out renting a costume! High School drama departments and local theater companies do this to help subsidize their costs. Great way to get professional costumes for cheap!

5. Set a budget per-person. This is the most important step. Figure out what you can afford for Halloween this year, divide it by the people in your family, and work backwards that way. For us, my goal was $20 or less per person (not counting Ollie). This is more than I normally pay, but I've been so busy I decided to use part of my “other” budget each week for the last few weeks to cover the cost and make my life easier. The good news? Here's how it played out:

  • Bubba – $0
  • Jordan – $7 (skirt and top, $1 nemo fish toy, the headgear was a bent wire hanger = free)
  • Beck – $4 (frog costume + fleece)
  • Hutch – $10 (Nemo costume)
  • Priya – $14 (Monster costume + fleece)
  • Ollie – $15 (Shark costume. Total splurge, but I couldn't help myself!)
    • Total = $48, rather than $100!

6. Think up your costume idea FIRST. …rather than go to a store at random and paying full-price for something on a whim. Trust me, it's easier this way! It forces you to get more creative (which means you'll love your costumes more), and it will save your wallet from some major pain.   These 6 simple philosophies work every year for us! Check out our past costumes (and tons of other DIY costumes HERE):     3 Years ago we were bank robbers:

    2 Years ago we were a basketball team:

(On Halloween night Bubba wore the basketball shirt AND the hoop and it was way funnier, just FYI)   Last year we were Toy Story characters:

So, what will we be next year? Unfortunately you'll have to wait 12 long months to see. BUT… Let's just say that yes, I already have a plan, but it involves 6 people. Looks like we will just need to have another baby by then so I can make my vision happen! 😉

Happy Halloweening!

1 Comment

  1. Ginny

    This is a long-shot, but do you still have that turtle costume?? For Halloween this year, my dolphin-crazed 5 year old daughter is going to be (duh) a dolphin, my 2.5 year old son is going to be a crab, and I want my 8 month old to be a sea turtle… Of course this will only happen if their mom gets on the ball. But I’m having a heck of a time finding a green onesie sleeper/costume/anything(!) that will work for it. :/



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