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How to make a cheap, last-minute Halloween costume

It’s Oct. 31, you don’t have a costume and Halloween parties are only a few hours away.

But don't panic. There's still time to come up with the perfect costume using items found around the house or at the thrift store.

Here are a few ideas from local costume makers and shop owners.
1.  Raid Grandma’s closet.

Dressing as someone from the ‘70s is easy when you have a whole closet full of grandma and grandpa’s clothes to pick from, York Little Theatre artistic director Rene Staub said. Popular styles from the ‘70s include fitted tops, mini-skirts, bell-bottoms, Mary Janes and platform shoes. Once you’ve picked out your outfit, look up a ‘70s hairstyle online or run to the store and grab a wig, and you’re good to go.

If that doesn’t work, you can raid parents’, siblings’ and friends’ too. Know anyone who has been in a wedding recently? Bridesmaid dresses (or flower girl dresses for the little ones) can make for a great princess gown, Staub said. Or, if your dress is a little dated, pick up a satin sash and fabric marker from the store and go as an ‘80s prom queen. Either look won’t be complete without a crown. If you don’t already have one, make it at home by cutting it out of cardboard, wrapping it with foil and adding beads and gems.

2. Pick through the thrift stores.

If you have no idea what you want to be, a thrift store might be a good place to start. Goodwill in York has two racks and several bins full of items that could give you some inspiration for a Halloween costume, store manager Josh Caudill said.

For example, if you find some scrubs, you could go as a nurse. Or, if that isn’t enough, pick up some brown, white and red face paint and go as a zombie nurse.
The nerd look is also popular this year, Caudill said.  Several female customers created nerd outfits with mismatched skirts and button-down shirts, messed-up hair and sunglasses with the lenses popped out. Or, guys will often come in the store looking for button-down shirts, pants that are a little too short, suspenders and tube socks.
“If you can think of it, a lot of times we can help you accommodate it,” Caudill said.
3. Search your closet.
“It’s amazing what you can find in the back of your closet,” Debbi Reck, owner of Make Believin’ Costumes, said.
Maybe you’ll find dad’s old flannel shirt that can be made into a scarecrow costume. Just add some baggy pants, a rope belt and stuff yourself with straw.
Or, maybe you’ll find an old pair of overalls. Add a yellow t-shirt and some goggles cut out of cardboard and you have a minion costume.
“Just make use of what you have,” Reck said.
4. Find something vintage.

A vintage hat or dress can help complete a retro costume this Halloween, Redeux manager Allison Given said. Redeux, a vintage and handmade marketplace in York, sells 1950’s dresses that make for a perfect 1950’s housewife costume when paired with barrel curls and red lipstick.
The store also time-period hats like fedoras and bowler hats, Given said. Pair that with a black and white suit from home, cover your face with gray and white makeup and you’ll look like a silent film star.