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Last Minute Budget Friendly Costume

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Nothing like having to come up with a last minute budget friendly costume. This past Monday, Miss Emma came home from school with this small piece of paper:

Last minute budget friendly costume


To say that I went on panic mode is an understatement. I mean, I am all for celebrating cool stuff at school and for having special days where kids get to do something different. It certainly helps to take a little detour from the every day routine, right?


The problem was, I had exactly 2 days to pull this off, and one of those days was Valentine’s Day. So really, I had exactly 1 day to pull it off. Not an easy feat, considering I already had a ton of stuff to do, including spending Valentine’s Day morning hours taking my other daughter to a Dr.’s appointment.

Soooo, I did what all of us busy mommies do: I went to my trusty friend, Pinterest. Oh, how did I ever manage without you, my loyal problem solving friend? Honestly, I have a new found respect for Mommies who managed to raise a ton of kids, do all sorts of crafts, projects, etc., without Pinterest. Or Google, for that matter ha ha

Anyway, while desperately searching for ideas, I realized I could actually pull this off! Pinterest is usually my main source to hunt down ideas, but I also wanted to keep it as close to $0 as possible. Difficult yes, impossible, never!

My favorite ideas were these:

Princess Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess

Miss Emma and I love this book! It is the story of a princess who looses her castle and all her possessions but never, ever looses her spirit, and her wit.

Find the book here

Mary Poppins costume

Mary Poppins is a childhood favorite of mine. While I would’ve loved to dress Miss Emma as the beloved nanny, she is not that familiar with the character, plus it would’ve required a lot of digging in closets and drawers and yes, shopping!

Find the entire collection here
Find the DVD movie here

Professor Trelawney from the Harry Potter Series

Odd, colorful and often mocked Professor Trelawney. This costume idea is super neat! I am sure I could’ve found plenty of colorful items to complete the look, but I don’t think Little E would’ve been thrilled so I didn’t bother haha.

Find the entire book collection here

Find the entire movie collection on Blu-ray here


This one was also a great choice for us. Miss Emma already owns a super cute blue dress, similar to the one shown on the post linked above. She also owns the long white socks and the flat black slippers.

The problem was, I would’ve had to hunt for/buy a hat AND make/buy something red to tie around her collar. That’s why, even though we love the book, we didn’t go with Madeline.

Find the book here

Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games

Amazing story line, where the courage of a young girl/woman and her unwillingness to accept the unfair is her best trait. While Miss Emma is still a bit young to enjoy the books, she is already an avid fan of the movies, just like the rest of our family 🙂

Find the boxed book collection here

Find the 4-movie collection here

I talked to her and we both agreed we wanted something fierce, something that matches her fiery, empowered personality. That helped narrow it down even more. She is a first grader, and we definitely love many characters, Dr Seuss’ included. But we wanted to make it a bit unique, something that was unlikely to be done by any of her classmates.

We decided to go with something that we could manage with what we had on hand, as opposed to buying more stuff. While I loooveeed the Paper Bag Princess idea (she is pretty bad-a, in my opinion), I had just ran out of paper to make the paper bag dress. That meant a trip to the store AND spending money. Nope. Not cool.

Our choice?

I now proudly present my little Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games!

Last minute budget friendly costume

Isn’t she adorable? OK, maybe I am a tad biased but I am sure that’s to be expected, right?

Why we chose Katniss

Katniss Everdeen is one of those female characters that leaves an impression on you. While she certainly has a good, kind heart, she can be pretty ruthless when it comes to protect those she loves or the helpless.

And, being a 16-17 year old doesn’t stop her from doing everything in her power to put an end to the abuse and oppression that the people in the districts have suffered for many years.

That is exactly the kind of person I aspire my kids (and myself) to be. Strong and fair. Courageous and kind. I couldn’t feel any prouder of Miss Emma for choosing to portray Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire!

Here she is, doing the three-finger salute, an old tradition of District 12.

Last minute budget friendly costume


Miss Emma already owned the whole ensemble, which helped make the decision a total no brainer. She wore this:

Last minute budget friendly costume
-A black long sleeve shirt
-Dark, almost black jeans
-Black boots
-Brown corduroy jacket (I would’ve preferred black but I wasn’t volunteering to go shopping and spending extra money, so brown it was!)
-Mockinjay pin- This was originally my bracelet, that I purchased a long time ago. I just removed the cord from both sides and turned it into a pin for her.

Last minute budget friendly costume

Get this Mockinjay bracelet here

-I dug out a couple plastic sets of bow and arrows leftover from when she had her Brave themed birthday party a couple years, and which I was planning on painting black but then read the note sent from school more closely and realized they wanted “no accessories”. Bummer.

Last minute budget friendly costume


-The braid: Hmmm… I am terrible at all things hairstyling, unless you count pony tails or ballet buns, which I could do in my sleep 😀 I went ahead and did the best sideways braid I could manage. It doesn’t look too bad. Sort of. And she is happy with the end result, so I am happy.

Last minute budget friendly costume

And here is Ms Everdeen, eating her breakfast before going into the Arena. I mean, school 🙂

Last minute budget friendly costume

There you have it. A nice book character costume for $0. I’d say that’s pretty much on budget, just the way I like it 🙂 All it took was some research, imagination and digging for some “gold” items to complete the outfit!

How have you improvised for school activities on a tight budget?

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