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Pet Costume Costs Expected to Rise 19 Percent

More Disappointing: Survey Says It'll Be More of the Same

We knew it was bad.

We just didn't know it was this bad.

This Halloween, the National Retail Federation says Americans plan to spend $370 million on costumes for their pets, a 19 percent increase since last year.

This coming from someone who laughed out loud Friday at a Bulldog mix in a sweatshirt: what a collosal waste of money.

Was it buying a house this year that has made me more stingy with money? Or maybe it's my budgeting husband rubbing off on me. But knowing that amount of dough, if given to UNICEF, could bring 4.5 million malnourished children back to health — I'm sorry, your dog's just as cute without that plastic headband.

That aside, my other gripe with this record-breaking figure is the list of the top 10 more common costumes we're expecting: pumpkin, devil, hot dog, cat, bee, dog, ghost, action/super hero, witch, bowties/fancy collars/bandanas and Superman, in that order.

For the cash we're spending, where is our creativity?

How about skipping Walmart's costume aisle and doing some smarter, good ol' American DIY dress-up instead?

Just off the top of my head...

What can you find around the house that's red, white and blue, for instance? Remind your friends and neighbors of the 46 gold medals our country claimed in London this summer. (Even more fun: pick an event to feature; that slobbery tennis ball has never been less annoying.)

Same goes for our two major presidential candidates. Consider the four years these digs won't be popular after the six days between Halloween and Election Day. One of your red or blue neckties, fixed to your dog's back, will draw the party line.

Have a stool sitting around? Spend some time training your dog to bark at it. Now who's the Man With No Name?

Gently wrap a leg with gauze — you know, the stuff turning yellow from old age in your medicine cabinet — and make a statement about Obamacare.

Play on the plummeting stock of Facebook with some cheap puff paint and a shirt your kid has outgrown, or one from the local thrift shop. (If your pet has one of those naturally sarcastic-looking faces, take notes from those omnipresent someecards cartoons: “Sorry to hear that your Facebook stock is now as worthless as your Facebook posts.” I mean, come on — priceless.)

Or dress your dog in pretty much whatever you find around the house and call her Lady Gaga.

I don't know how Halloween manages to pry open our wallets and steals their contents year after year. What I do know is, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it can be much more fun than what retail tells us.

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