What are your budget-friendly costume ideas?

If necessity is the mother of invention, then a sour economy is the mother of creative Halloween costumes. Am I right, or am I right? It’s t-minus 26 days until Fright Night and not a day too early to start thinking about how you’re planning to dress up, fake out, and disguise yourself and your crew this year. Store-bought costumes can be so pricey, especially if you’re outfitting an entire family. So, I’d love to know: What are your best budget-friendly costume ideas for Halloween? 

Share your thoughts in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a $15 gift certificate to spend at Mrs. Fields Gifts! (How’s that for budget-friendly?) 

(One entry per person, please. Comments must be received before midnight, Friday, October 9th. Winner(s) will be selected randomly.)

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35 responses to “What are your budget-friendly costume ideas?

  1. Cynthia Curtiss

    As a mom of six, I have found some of the best costumes I have gotten for the kids comes right out of the closet. My son wanted to be the Joker. He wore his own black jeans, white turtleneck, and I had an old purple blazer. I put some of Mary Kay white base on his face with red lipstick on his lips,blacked out his eyes and he looked great.

    Many times you can pick up costumes at yard sells. One time I bought a box full of costumes for a dollar. Costumes for Halloween should not be a stressful experience. Just look in your closets!

  2. Jesse

    I agree with Cynthia, you can do a lot with clothes that you already have. Usually the store bought costumes don’t fit well anyway and you are really just paying for flimsy props and accessories that tip people off as to what you or your kid is dressed up as.

    Some of the best costumes I’ve seen were constructed of cardboard, duct tape and spray paint.

    Rather than paying for accessories and props at an expensive Halloween boutique, ask parents and older siblings first. They’ve been around longer and have accumulated more stuff. Next option is the thrift store. Sure, the store is probably stinky, but with a little creativity, you can usually find a good solution.

    Grocery stores usually have a decent selection of makeup, wigs, and props at a decent price if you just can’t find that last item to send your costume over the top.

  3. Paulette

    One year my son went as a Christmas present. We found an empty cardboard box and wrapped it with Christmas paper. We cut a hole in it for his head and arms to poke through, and most of the bottom missing for his legs to stick out. We placed a large bow (or ribbons) on his head. We put red rouge on his cheeks. Underneath, he had on a red sleaper/PJ’s for warmth and color. Then, he carried his Christmas stocking for his goodie/loot bag. No cost as we had everything…

  4. Kristina

    I either go with the Goodwill/thrift store option to create an inexpensive look or I trade costumes with friends from previous years (everyone gets a new look!).

  5. Jen

    last year I was home bound and had yarn laying around the house. I crocheted a candy corn outfit complete with white hat. The hat was able to be used during the winter, and the “dress” (the bottom part of the candy corn) was turned into a jumper. My little girl still wears them

  6. Malissa

    For the last two years, I have waited until after Halloween and purchased a Halloween costume on sale (usually 75% off). I let my daughter wear it all year long and then wear it on Halloween. It was less expensive and she gets more use out of it. Last year I bought her a Snow White dress and she wears it at least once a week when playing in the house. She is so excited to be wearing it for Halloween and Disney on Ice which is coming to town.

  7. Melanie

    One of the coolest costumes we ever had was made from an old thrift store Fur coat. We made a gorilla costume out of it. It was passed around year after year and was great for the cold Halloweens that we often have. Not unusual for there to be snow on the ground here before and during Halloween!
    Thrift stores are a great source for costumes ready made and not.

  8. Rebecca

    One year, I purchased sets of white hoodies and sweat pants for about $3 each at an overstock store, then used a craft sponge to paint zebra stripes with fabric paint. For the manes and tails, I simply glue-gunned on loops of black yarn. I made three sets for under $25, and the crafting took less than an hour total. Another year, I did the same with yellow sweatsuits to make tiger costumes. I just glued triangles of foam onto headbands for the ears and painted whiskers on my kids’ faces. The sweats were the perfect weight for the weather (mid-South), and they were able to play in them all year afterward.

  9. Heidi

    I remember my mom buying me some sweats and a sweatshirt. She made dots out of different fabric and whala! I was a clown for halloween after some makeup to go with it of course. It was also very warm!
    The best costumes are made from creativity!

  10. Elise

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 Halloweens and always attend a halloween party. The one year we didn’t, we both worked at Sea World where all the employees dress up. We have never bought a costume at the store… we find everything in our closets, or a borrow a few things from friends.. For example… we were “greasers” from the 50′s last year.. jeans, white t shirt, black jacket greased hair for him, and tight black pants and a pink jacket and scarf around my neck for me.. Another year we were greek gods.. I had a white dress and wore gladiator sandals.. he wore a white pajama suit with a red scarf around and some sandals.. (people thought he was jesus though!) and topped it off with some gold spray painted plastic leaves on a branch from the craft store.. this year were thinking of Al and Peggy Bundy… just a shirt tie and pants for him… and leggings, and animal print shirt and big hair for me!! You just gotta be creative!!

  11. Crystal Zhou

    You can always make good mummies with toilet paper! Or one year, I was a tree by wearing a green tshirt and brown pants and putting some leaves in my hair. My friends ended up folding a paper crane to sit in my hair as a bird.
    Another easy costume would be to put on a dress and wear a crown as a princess.

  12. Shirley

    Costumes bought at a store are expensive. When growing up my costume was what I could find around the house. My Grandma lived with us. Most years I went as a old lady. I would wear one of my Grandma’s old dress, put flour in the hair, grab old purse and sometimes a cane. If I wasn’t an old lady I would go as a ho bo. Old worn out clothes and dirty face.

  13. Stefanie

    I love halloween, but I hate spending a fortune on costumes. One of my best costumes was an M&M where I took a garbage bag and just cut a big M out of white cardstock and it looked great. I have also been a chocolate chip cookie where you cut a big circle out of cardboard and glue on black buttons for the chocolate chips. The dollar store is a great way to find cheap costumes and be creative. I wore white with devil ears and went as a deviled egg.

  14. Pat

    We had a friend that made a witch costume out of two large black trash bags with draw strings. Open the bottom and use the top draw string and you have a skirt and again for the top. Cut a strip off the bottom of one of the trash bags and use it for a belt. All you have to buy is a witch hat and find some makeup.

  15. Darcy B

    A great inexpensive costume I saw last year at a party–they took a laundry basket from the dollar store and cut a whole in the bottom and wore it around their waist took some old clothes and towels in the basket –dirtied their face with charcoal –and put a pair of underwear on their head—and went as “dirty clothes” it was very funny.

  16. Sandi T

    There are so many good ideas. We never had alot of money but always found something. The dollar stores are the best you can really use your imagination and come up with some great costumes.

  17. John

    Visit the thrift store, lots of ideas for less money.

  18. Loreice Knight

    My daughter performs with a dance ensemble that performs a Winter and a Spring Recital. Since we still have her dance customes from last year’s recitals, she is going to wear one those.

  19. Kelley

    I have one that is extremely easy AND budget-friendly … dress your child in grey sweatpant and a grey hooded sweatshirt. Buy a bag of regular wooden spring-clip-style clothes pins (you can even get these at the dollar store) and spray paint those grey/silver. Then (when dry, of course) clip the clothes pins to the hood and back of the sweatshirt on your child and wah-lah! A cute little porcupine! :)

  20. Marcie

    I dress the kids up in my husband’s old work uniforms, just a little sewing to make them fit and I have instant (and free) costumes!

  21. Lucy

    I always save old sheets to create ghost and mummy costumes for my son, it’s a great way to recycle what you already have, and he likes the costume!

  22. Carol

    I dress my daughter in a black sheet with black leggings and then top off the costume with a broom and witch hat from the dollar store. She decorates the sheet with glow in the dark paint–it’s a great way to allow her to express herself while keeping costs down!

  23. Bill

    One of my favorite tricks is to allow each child to visit the dollar store with me and pick 3 items each with which to embellish their favorite color sheet from my stash. The kids get to personalize the costume while I keep costs down!

  24. Jennifer

    One year my son wanted to dress up like Steve Urkle. We went to the thrift store and found everything he needed, even the suspenders for right about $10.00. This year he is going as Peter Pan. We went to the craft store bought some green felt, red feather, and a green over-sized tee for right about $6.00. He already had green leggings, brown slippers, and brown belt. We measured his head and made his hat. Then we just cut the sleeves and instantly he was Peter Pan. It looks awesome.

  25. Noel

    Each Nov 1, my children and I hit up the local Halloween Super Store and pick out costumes for the following year–they get top quality costumes and I get 75-90% off the original price!

  26. Don

    One of my favorite stories is the year we dressed my daughter as a ninja–she dressed in all black with a simple red belt and her shield was the top of a Mrs. Fields gift tin…it was adorable and a practical way to use everday items!

  27. Lauralee Hensley

    A bumble bee: If your little one has yellow footed pajama’s, just add onto it with black duct tape strips. Cut out of white paper two wings and tape them on to the back. Add a headband that has two glued on taped on sticks for antenna’s, and glue black pom poms onto the ends of the sticks, or make aluminion foil balls and stick onto the sticks and spray paint black.
    A Zebra: If your little one has white pajama’s or white jeans and a white turtle neck long sleeves shirt, just add onto it with black duct tape black stripes. Use a headband and tape or glue to it ears cut out of white cardstock or white or black felt. Attach to the behind portion of the costume a tail made out of cardstock, or cording, and glue some yarn at the end of the tail. You could attach this with a slip stitch or a safety pin.

  28. Karen

    The costume my two children loved was a pair of their grandfather’s overalls. He was a rather large man and they fit just perfectly one in each leg then they fastened them over there uneven shoulders and with a hat on each head. They got a ton of laughs that year. They said the only drawback was everyone that answered the door had to call for everyone in the house to view their costume and that slowed them down getting to the good candy before it was all gone.

  29. Marti

    Go as a gypsy / fortune teller. We do this a lot. We dig out old long flowy skirts or look at the local thrift store for one. Add a fitted white t shirt, lots of necklaces, hoop earrings, a scarf around the head, dark eye makeup and voila!

  30. Nikki

    I was always a person from a certain decade that my parents were alive for. I would just steal their old clothes and go out with a poodle skirt and sweater or something like that!

  31. mary white

    a good quick costume for anyone to use is to go as dirty laundry–cut (slice) an x in the bottom of an old laundry basket-the bigger the waist size the larger the x –fill with dirty socks, rags, old soiled clothes, an empty laundry soap bottle, empty stain remover, and clip some clothes pins to the side…easy
    a good couple one is good witch/bad witch–works best with the fella being the good witch-use toile or stiff netting for a tutu make some wings use gold/siver star garland on the wire for a halo and a magic/wand.
    another quick one is grocho–dark suit jacket- cigar-glasses with nose prop and a hat with black hair around the edges

  32. Jocelyn

    There are so many good ideas in the comments so far! We have a box of Halloween costumes that my Mom has passed on to us. We try to look for something that will work in there or borrow from friends and family. We also have several dance costumes and dress-ups. I guess it is time to get that box out and start deciding on this years costumes!

  33. Christy Christensen

    You can do what I’m doing this year, convince your kids that they looked SO GREAT last year & recycle from the year before. Ok, so only one of my kids bought it but hey, that’s one less costume to purchase this year. Yea!

  34. beth

    we love the thrift store, and of course we save every coustume we’ve ever used and recycle or trade them. after halloween i buy next years stuff on clearance, tatoos, nail polish, that sort of thing.
    another thing i did when the kids were little, was go thru thier bags and take some candy to put away for thier xmas stockings.

  35. Martha Hudson

    Actually, I get a kick out of dressing up myself. Every year, when my children were small, I would dress up as something scary..loved it ! My costume was usually just an over-sized pair of bib overalls, flannel shirt..scraggly old wig..and make-up to make my face look like a really old hag..oh, and my husbands old work boots ! Most of the time, my children…as they got older..would just pretend not to know me !