Here's the good news: You've still got two weekends to gather materials for a creative costume without spending a fortune. And Consuming Interests is hosting a contest to reward the best cheap costumes!

Check the site for more details in the days to come, but you'll be able to upload an image of your best cheap costume from Halloweens past or present, right from your hard drive or via email, Twitter, Facebook and more.

If you're in need of inspiration, check out the Baltimore Sun's Halloween guide for ideas about what might be popular costumes this year. You can use those as a starting point or as a way to avoid costumes that will be overdone.

Charm City Mom blogger and business reporter Hanah Cho pointed me to fashion blogger Jessica Quirk's homemade costume ideas, and I love the way she gathered images and then found items in her closet to execute the theme. Rosie the Riveter and the Hamburglar are especially successful --- and attractive! I also enjoy browsing through Instructables's Halloween pages, which offer plenty of cheap homemade ideas. MarthaStewart.com has a load of interesting homemade costumes, including a matador that could be completed with little work.

Once you have an idea, here are some ways to cut down on the Halloween costume costs:

--- Raid your closet, and your friends' closets: When you need a specific item, ask around before you head to a store. You never know what clothing might be available for borrowing.

--- Host a Halloween costume swap: Collectively, your circle of friends, neighbors or office mates probably have elements of various Halloween costumes that survived much celebrating. Why not ask one or more of these groups to bring any unwanted masks, wigs, hats, props or outfits in their possession to a central location to exchange? Any items left unclaimed after the gathering can be donated, freeing up all the closet space those Afro wigs took up. 

--- Hit thrift stores. Not only do thrift stores often carry the basic elements for costumes as varied as construction worker, nurse or clown, they often stock the same types of costumes on sale at local party stores. Of course, selection is much more limited, but it never hurts to check.

--- Find props at dollar stores. Need kitchen gadgets for a Top Chef costume or stuffed animals for a lion tamer? Dollar stores often have many items that could complete a costume.

--- Check the recycling bin. Large cardboard boxes and plastic tubs can easily be transmogrified into exciting costumes. 

Still looking for the perfect costume? You might check the headlines to find scary things, like ousted Arab dictators or bankers demanding debit fees. And the entertainment world is always rife with options to emulate. It seems like only minutes ago that Charlie Sheen was dominating the Twittersphere. Anyone want to be a Real Housewife, if only for one night? How about Pregnant Beyonce?

I've got to admit, my favorite costumes play off puns. A friend mentioned attending a party with a “Phantom of the Opry” -- essentially a cowboy with a Phantom of the Opera mask --- which cracks me up every time I think about it.