Halloween costumes can be an expensive investment for one night of fun. Fortunately, there are a number of easy resources to help families craft boo-tiful, easy and unique costumes on a families trying to keep to a budget.

A creative mom, Juliana Clarkson believes homemade Halloween costumes are the best and she frequently makes outfits for her son, daughter and other family members.

“I'm a very visual person,” Clarkson says. “I'll think of an idea and then go online to sites like Pinterest or others that feature Halloween costume ideas and then modify the ideas.”

One of Clarkson's most recent costume creations is a Thomas the Tank Engine outfit she made for her toddler nephew.

“I made the 'train' out of a red apron so it could easily be taken on and off,” Clarkson says. “I used a paper plate and found a copy of Thomas' face online, laminated it, cut holes in the plate and stitched it on the apron. I used buttons for the wheels and eyes and felt for the blue backing.”

Looking for more original Halloween costume ideas that can help you save time and money? We asked some savvy parents to share their budget-friendly costume ideas:

Sponsor a Costume Swap

Many families have Halloween costumes in their closets that are in good condition but no longer fit their children. Consider inviting friends from your child's school, church or playgroup to have a Halloween costume swap. For each costume donated, you get one in return. Also check your local library since many library locations throughout Canada hold Halloween costume swaps.

Use Items You Already Own

Leah Ingram, a lifestyle blogger at leahingram.com, turned a Twister game mat into a poncho and wore it as a Halloween costume.

“I took the spinner and wore it around my neck as a medallion,” Ingram says. “It was super inexpensive and it kept me warm on a chilly night of taking my children out trick or treating.”

Lisa Harrington Munley also became inspired looking at some of the cardboard boxes she had in her home.

“By spray painting them silver and adding some cute inexpensive gadgets from the local hardware store, I had a robot costume for my daughter,” she says.

Katie Leighton had a slightly different take on boxes. By gift wrapping a box for her daughter to wear and adding a bow and white shirt, her daughter became a “Wedding Gift” for Halloween.

Turn to Dollar Stores for Deals

Many basic items that can be used to make do-it-yourself (DIY) costumes can be found at discount stores like Dollarama.

To turn her son into a mad scientist for Halloween, Terresa Clark dressed him in an adult-sized white shirt, put some plastic test tubes in his pocket and had him don black plastic glasses.

“We gelled his hair and put some black powder on his face as though he had been in a laboratory explosion,” Clark says. “His costume was a hit at school.”

Lindsey Palmer used a hot glue gun to attach pom-poms to a beanie cap, dressed her daughter in a red shirt and sweatpants and added an adhesive “25 cents” patch to her shirt.

“And boom – just like that my daughter was a gumball machine!” Palmer says.

Get Thrifty

Secondhand stores area a treasure trove of possible costumes. If you need ideas, head to Goodwill's online costume generator for easy costume ideas including a cowboy, lumberjack, mob boss, pet detective and more.

Jeanette Leach helped her friend craft a “little old lady” costume for her toddler using a dress found at a used-clothing store, a beanie with white cotton balls glued on and a pair of glasses with string that she purchased at the dollar store.

And sometimes the most unique costumes are the easiest of all. Emily Gill Gray bought a t-shirt at a thrift store and she and her son painted the words, “Go Ceilings” on it late one night when he needed a last-minute costume idea.

“That was the year he dressed as a 'Ceiling Fan,” Gray says with a smile.