From candy to costumes, Americans spend an insane amount of money on Halloween each year: a whopping $6.9 billion in 2015, according to National Retail Federation estimates. That includes more than $2 billion on candy and $2.5 billion on costumes — with an astonishing $350 million of that going to pet costumes alone.
While the pressure is on to scare and entertain, it’s not worth breaking your budget for one night. We’ve scoured the Web for our favorite cheap, do-it-yourself costume ideas that are sure to be a hit at your Halloween haunt of choice this year.
DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids
Source: Our House of Paint
- Brown hooded sweatshirt: $12 or less
- White gloves: $3 at Target
- Cotton balls/stuffing: Can be easily found at the dollar store if you don’t have any at home.
- Needle and thread
This cheap and cute DIY costume is easy to make, will keep your child warm on a chilly October evening, and looks adorable… what more could you want?! Simply stuff a pair of white gloves and sew them onto the hood of a brown hoodie — instamoose!
Have a pair of swimming goggles? Wear gray and keep them on your head for a DIY Rocky and Bullwinkle duo.
Cost: $11 or less
- Cardboard box: Find a cardboard box that your child can fit comfortably in. If you don’t have any laying around, home improvement stores sell them for $1 apiece.
- Plastic cups: You can use Solo cups or slightly smaller rounded cups — check your local dollar store for these.
- Acrylic paint: If you can’t find paint for cheap at a dollar store or craft shop near you, try ordering this set from Amazon for $6.
- Wood glue: $3 at any craft or hardware store or online.
This incredibly easy-to-make Lego piece costume is perfect for kids (and adults too, if you have a large enough box!) All you have to do is remove the bottom part of any cardboard shipping box and cut out holes for your child’s arms and head. Next, adhere plastic cups in a Lego-brick pattern, paint the whole thing whatever color you prefer, and voila! Everything is awesome when you’re a Lego brick.
If you’re looking to go all out, take a look at this video tutorial for Lego face-paint, as told by a six year old.
- An oversized blue sweater (or any other color, really): If you don’t already have one at home, check Goodwill or any other nearby thrift or consignment shop. As a last resort, you can find one on Amazon for about $8-$12.
- A pair of rubber boots: A great item to own for autumn anyway. Check out Walmart for a cheap pair.
- Big buttons: You can find these at pretty much any craft store for under $3.
- Belt: Use any old belt laying around the house (you might just have to punch an additional hole or wrap it around twice).
- Red and white felt: Another simple craft store find, typically about $4 per yard.
This adorable lawn gnome costume can be made with easy to find items, many of which you likely already have, and is perfect for kids of any age! For a complete tutorial, including how to make the all-important cone-shaped hat, visit Adventures in a Box.
- Clear plastic garbage bag: Approximately $0.19 per bag, or about $6 for a whole box on Amazon.
- Multi-colored balloons: Any party store should have 100-count pack of balloons for $3 or less. If there’s no party store near you, order them from Amazon for the same price.
- Ribbon: Visit a craft store like Michael’s to find a spool of ribbon for $2.99.
- Black permanent marker
Where has this cheap and creative costume bean all your life? To make this bag-o-beans, all you need to do is strategically cut holes for your arms and legs into a clear plastic garbage bag, fill it with partially blown-up balloons, and tie the top with ribbon! For added authenticity, print nutrition facts on the back of the bag.
Source: Real Simple
- Double-sided carpet tape: $5 for a 15-foot roll like this one found at Home Depot.
- Brown and white felt: $4 per yard at any craft store.
- Two square cardboard boxes (one small, one medium): $1 apiece if you don’t have these around the house.
This simple and delicious costume from Real Simple is sure to be a crowd favorite this Halloween. Here’s how to pull it off:
For the marshmallow: Cut off the bottom of the small cardboard box and make appropriate-sized holes for the head and arms. Use white felt and double-sided carpet tape to cover the box around the holes.
For the chocolate squares: Cut one inch around two sides of the medium-sized box and cover with brown felt.
For the graham crackers: Poke holes in the other two pieces of the medium cardboard box using scissors. Combine all ingredients using double sided tape, and serve.
Serving suggestion: Trick or treat holding a marshmallow on a stick for an added touch.
DIY Halloween Costumes for Adults
- Clown nose: $2 at any party store
- Multicolor foam paper: $9 for a pack at Walmart
- Red shorts: If you don’t already have a pair, check consignment shops near you. You can also find a pair on Amazon for as little as $3.
- Kitchen tongs
Recreate this classic game on a budget with just a little bit of tracing, cutting, and pasting! A simple Google search of “Operation game pieces” will yield countless pictures of your ‘ailments’ — just print them, cut them out, and stick them all over you. It’s totally up to you whether you want to use foam or regular paper depending on time, budget, and artistic ability.
Assuming you don’t have red-and-white polka dot shorts handy, adhere white circles to a pair of red shorts, wear a nude-colored top (full bodysuit not required) and a clown nose, and you’re ready for the operating table! The great thing about this costume is that it works across ages and genders — all for less than the game itself costs!
For an added effect, pick up this $6 fail-sound button to to make the game’s famous jarring buzzing sound whenever someone tries to touch your costume.
Source: Evil Mad Scientist
- Black umbrella: Check Goodwill or your local pharmacy for a nice cheap one (around $5) that’s easy to take apart.
- Black hoodie: If you don’t already have one, check Walmart. And… that’s it!
For complete instructions on how to assemble your bat wings, check out Evil Mad Scientist’s tutorial. There’s even a more anatomically correct version if you’re feeling extra crafty!
Add some flare to your costume by looking up a bat face makeup tutorial on YouTube or print out the Batman logo and pin it to your chest for a simple superhero transformation!
- Clear or light umbrella: Check the dollar store for a cheap version or buy one from Walmart for less than $10.
- Furry yarn: $5 at a craft store or on Amazon.
To put together this costume, simply poke holes around the edge of your umbrella and thread long strands of furry yarn through. Not only does this costume require minimal prep time, it’s creative and protects you from the rain!
Take this costume to the next level by adding LED lights or glow sticks under the bottom of the umbrella, like this one, for just a few dollars more.
- Camera: If you don’t have a digital camera, go disposable for just $6 at Walmart.
- Hat: A beach hat works best, but any hat will do — the goofier, the better.
- Hawaiian shirt and fanny pack: Check thrift or dollar stores for cheap options if you don’t have these in the back of your closet somewhere.
- Socks and sandals
Turn trick-or-treating into a family vacation by dressing up as a tourist! Be the most annoying person on the block by asking for directions and taking pictures of everything (a great way to remember the evening). This is one of the easiest costumes to put together with items you likely already have in the house, and you can tweak it in any number of ways — add some zinc oxide sunblock to your nose, for instance, or carry sunglasses in your shirt collar.
- Suit and tie: Only do this if you already own formalwear!
- Piece of paper
- Marker or pen
- String or dental floss
Whip out that tuxedo or pinstripe suit you haven’t thought about in years, write the words “I’m Sorry” on a piece of paper, hang it around your neck and you’re instantly the most formally apologetic person at the party. You can create another variation of the costume with the box cover of the Sorry! board game if you happen to have one around the house.
For more creative and inexpensive DIY Halloween costume ideas, visit our Pinterest board! Have some great ideas of your own? E-mailand request to be a pinner for our Pinterest board.