Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2013. This year Purim starts the evening of March 4, 2015.
Tovah Ehrlich, a sophomore at Maor High School in Livingston, N.J., is known for her bubbly personality. A personality, according to her mother, similar to a popular TV spokesperson: Flo, from the Progressive insurance company.
“I got an apron and wrote Progressive on it and I made a name tag,” Ehrlich wrote in an email. “I wore red lipstick and I teased my hair.” She made her costume from items found in her home. See? No buying necessary. “Lots of people stopped me and told me that they loved my costume.”
Compliments aren’t exclusively for the most elaborate costumes; they extend to the most creative ones too. Homemade costumes aren’t hard to make either. “It was overall a really fun costume to make,” wrote Ehrlich, so it’s a win-win, have fun making your costume and save money, too.
On Purim it is customary to dress up in a costume. Esther, from Megilat Esther, kept her identity hidden throughout the Purim story. She never told her husband, King Ahasuerus, that she was Jewish. In fact, Esther, which means hidden, was not her real name. Her real name was Hadassah. Since Esther kept her Jewish identity a secret in order to marry the king, we dress up to “hide” our real identity under the guise of someone else such as Frankenstein or the Statue of Liberty.
Purim is Saturday night and instead of spending tons of cash on overpriced costumes at Party City, here are some inexpensive costume ideas that are easy, low-budget and fun.
My friend Ayala Ahdoot, a student at The Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., is Wonder Woman this Purim. Her entire costume is homemade. She’s wearing a red shirt, a blue skirt, a cape and sneakers. “I am putting things I own together,” she said. “Things at home come in handy.”
If you want to go with something culinary, whipping up a chef costume is no problem. All you need is an apron and for an authentic spin, puff some flour on it (if it’s not already dirty) and on your cheeks. Some accessories include a mixing bowl and wooden spoon. You can splurge on a chef’s hat; I found one online for as low as $1.48.
Maybe cooking isn’t your thing, so serve instead. To be a waiter or waitress all you need is a black skirt or pants and a white, button-down shirt. Carry a notepad and pen to write down all the compliments you’ll receive and hold a tray of mishloach manot ready to hand out. For a sophisticated effect, drape a napkin or a bath towel over your arm.
And for those in the performing arts, be a rock star and wear neon leggings or a shirt with eye-catching sequins or sparkles. For accessories grab a plastic microphone from your playroom or wear a hands-free headset. Don’t own a microphone? Make your own — all you need is an empty toilet paper roll, some paint and an aluminum foil ball secured to the top of the roll.
Since this is aimed towards girls, make sure you wear sparkly eye shadow and stunning lip gloss or if you can’t wear makeup, try cheap sunglasses. Wear your hair wacky, such as uneven pigtails. Feeling rebellious? Dye the tips an unnatural color.
Anyone willing to work hard doesn’t have to for this costume. To be a construction worker all you need are denim overalls, a dirty shirt, dad’s boots, a hardhat (or fake one) and a tool box. Strap on a tool belt and go ahead, rub some dirt on your face to give the illusion that you’re working.
Bed sheets are useful not only for sleeping. Bed sheets and pillowcases come to the rescue as capes for a silly, superhero look. An easy idea that’s a big hit is the Statue of Liberty. Just wrap a mint green bed sheet across you, tie it at the shoulder (wear a white shirt underneath) and carry a book. If you’re dressed up in school, your textbooks will suffice.
The bed sheet look also works for the Greek god. Fashion a white sheet into a toga, wear a loosely tied belt and sport gladiator sandals regardless of the frigid weather. For girls, braid hair across your head like a headband.
“You can really make any costume cheaper if you make it homemade especially if you already have some of the stuff at home,” said Rachel Meier, a sophomore at Frisch. Rachel and her friends are dressing as ballerinas.
Throw on a shirt and tights. Wear some glitter around your face and wrap your hair into a tight bun. To make your own tutu, buy some tulle and elastic at a fabric store. Attach the tulle to the elastic and slip on proudly. Wear ballet flats and if you don’t have a pair, house slippers will do.
Some of my friends are putting a spin on the ballerina theme; they’re dressing as beauty pageant queens from the TV show, “Toddlers in Tiaras.” They’re wearing the same ballet outfit but with pacifiers around their necks.
For hippies or hipsters, wear a long flowy skirt (something vintage looking) or bell bottom jeans. On top, wear a tie-dyed T-shirt, poncho or anything big and flowy. Accesorize with long earrings, sunglasses, a bandana or braids.
For a creepy theme, a witch is the way to go. A long black dress and a broom stick are essential. With some makeup, draw an ugly mole on your nose. Don’t bother brushing your hair in the morning and for less than $5, purchase a pointy witch hat.
Zombies are popular monsters. Wear worn out shirts, ripped jeans and color dark circles around your eyes. Insert those cheap, plastic teeth into your mouth and try not to frighten the neighbors.
Be a remote control, suggests Tova Ehrlich. Find an empty box, cut a hole for your head and print or draw remote buttons and glue them to your shirt. In the same style, get a bunch of candy wrappers and tape them to your shirt. Cut a box to fit over your head and voilà, you’re a vending machine!
These homemade costumes are easy and you’ll earn extra hamantashen for your creativity.