Finding a Halloween costume that meets your expectations and your budget can be tough to come by. The good news is, you can create the best Halloween costumes at home for a fraction of the price.
To help you plan the ultimate guise, GOBankingRates made a list of DIY Halloween costumes including materials needed and cost. Prices were not included for things you probably have around the house, like scissors, tape, thumbtacks, printer paper, food coloring or basic clothing items. Also, expect to shell out more money if you’re also looking for a Halloween costume for your dog.
Read on to find men’s, women’s and even couples’ Halloween costumes you can make for cheap.
1. Ghost: $4.08
Looking to step up your ghost game beyond a sheet with two eyeholes? You can spend $34.99 at Party City for a ghost costume, or you can DIY by getting cheesecloth at Walmart for $1.08, sheer black fabric for less than $2 a yard and solid black fabric for about $1 from a craft store.
Wrap your clothes in the solid fabric and cut a hood and face mask from the sheer fabric. Finally, steep your cheesecloth in tea for about 20 minutes to make it look spooky and worn. Wait until it dries, drape it around your black silhouette and head out to terrify the neighborhood.
2. Couples Emoji: $16.30
If you and your boo want to hop on the emoji costume bandwagon, you can drop $29.99 at Spirit Halloween for a costume. Or you can DIY and pick up some yellow tag board for $5.83 at OfficeSupply.com, poster board for $2.79 at Michaels, red and brown felt for 99 cents a yard, a hot glue gun for $6.69 at Target, heavy-duty string, scissors and a craft knife.
Cut two large circles out of the yellow tag board, glue them to two pieces of poster board. Next, cut emoji faces out of the felt and use the gun to glue them onto the circles. Finally, glue the heavy-duty string to the board for shoulder straps for the best DIY couples costume this Halloween.
3. Scary Scarecrow: $16.42
A scarecrow is a classic Halloween getup, but how often is it a legitimately scary Halloween costume? With this DIY masterpiece, the costume matches the name.
To make the costume, get a sheet of yellow card stock at the price of $4.65 for 25 from Cards & Pockets, yellow construction paper for $2.99 at Staples, a hot glue gun for $6.69 at Target, some burlap at the price of $2.09 for 40 inches at Michaels, thumbtacks, duct tape and scissors. The “how-to” website Instructables offers a guide to cutting out a moveable jaw from the card stock, and even some creepy teeth, if you’re feeling ambitious. Then, glue the burlap around the mask and go scare some crows.
The alternative: Spending $39.99 at Party City for a ready-made scarecrow costume.
4. Where’s Waldo: $19
All you need to bring the iconic search game character to life is a white T-shirt, an old hat, some red and white fleece cloth ($4 per yard each), some circle Harry Potter-style glasses ($7 at Party City), a hot glue gun ($3 to $5 at Target) and about one hour of your time. Simply cut the fleece into even strips and hot glue them evenly spaced in horizontal stripes on your white T-shirt and across your wool hat. Pop on the glasses and prepare to be found. Blue jeans will do for your bottom. This costume is perfect for kids and adults alike.
5. Movie Night Popcorn: $19.42
You can spend $38.99 on the most memorable movie concession costume at the party from Oriental Trading. Or you could DIY for less.
You’ll need a vertical red-and-white striped bottom — Amazon has leggings for $10.99, a hot glue gun for $6.69 at Target, printer paper and yellow spray paint, which costs $1.74 at True Value. Tear some printer paper in half and crumple the pieces into little popcorn-y balls. Next, spray paint the paper yellow, but be sure to leave some white showing. Finally, glue the paper popcorn to any shirt you can afford to ruin and you’re ready to masquerade as a delicious, crunchy snack food.
6. Zombie: $3 to $5
There’s never a year when zombies don’t trend big on Halloween, which might be why you’ll pay nearly $120 for a zombie costume at Spirit Halloween. You can do it at home, however, for next to nothing.
Zombify your clothes by tearing them and using food coloring or tea to make them look worn and dirty. Make fake blood with red food coloring, chocolate sauce and corn syrup. Make droopy, tearing skin by applying liquid latex at the cost of $1.54. Add a few drops of black food coloring in your mouthwash to make your tongue look dead and black. Apply gray Halloween makeup to your face, only 89 cents, and black makeup, also 89 cents, around your eyes to make them look sunken.
7. Sheep: $9.01 to $19.01
You can spend nearly $40 on a sheep costume at Spirit Halloween that’s somewhat underwhelming. Or, you can make a better one yourself for far less.
You’ll need a throwaway black or white shirt and pants, depending on what color sheep you want to be. You can get a shirt and pair of pants for less than $5 apiece from a discount store if you don’t already have them — or even less at a thrift store. Then comes the money-saving, yet incredibly tedious work of using a glue gun that costs $6.69 at Target to glue lots of large cotton balls — 100 for $2.32 — to the majority of your shirt and the top of your pants.
8. Jailbird: 80 cents to $10.80
Don’t pay $25 from Spirit Halloween for this costume. Make it, instead. Use black duct tape — which costs 80 cents or so, for the cheap stuff — to make evenly-spaced horizontal stripes on the arms, legs and body of white sweatpants and a sweatshirt — both of which you can get for around $5 each from major retailers. Use a marker to write your inmate number on the chest of the shirt, and you’re a jailbird.
If you’re ambitious, twist some paper into links, duct tape that into a chain and connect it to an old soccer ball wrapped in duct tape. Now, you’re hobbled with a ball and chain.
9. Hula Girl: $15.24
When it comes to Halloween costumes for women, the traditional hula girl look is one of the few classics you can pick up for just under $20 at Walmart. But you can make your own Halloween costume for less — and make it your own.
You’ll need some brown air-dry modeling clay for $3.55 from a craft store, which you’ll mold into semi-spheres using a bowl and connect with twine for $1 from a dollar store. They’ll become your coconut bikini top. You can make a grass skirt — HGTV has a simple tutorial — by folding green and white crepe paper — $4 for about $1 a roll — into a layered skirt, gluing it together with a glue gun, for $6.69 at Target, and cutting into a fringe design with scissors.
10. Bumblebee: About $8.25
To be a bee, get a bee bobble headband for $3 in a costume shop. Thread a simple bumblebee necklace using string and black and yellow threadable beads (99 cents a pack). Finally, get an elastic strap to go around your waist — $2.95 if you don’t have one at home — and tie alternating black and gold strands of tulle to make a bee skirt. Tulle costs about 65 cents a roll in any craft shop.
Underneath, wear any black pants and shirt from your closet. In Party City, a grown-up bee costume costs about $25.
11. Ninja: Free
The best cheap Halloween costume ideas are free. Timeless, awesome and really hard for cars to see if you’re trick-or-treating, the ninja costume is all about the mask.
All you need is a black, long-sleeve shirt from your closet. Pull it halfway over your head, stopping above the nose and ears. Pull the back of the shirt over the top of your head leaving room for your eyes, and tie the sleeves in the back to create a ninja mask. From there, dress in all black and consider tucking some weapons into your waistband like throwing stars cut out of cardboard and wrapped in duct tape.
At a party store, a ready-made ninja costume costs about $35.
12. Soldier: $12.50
Sure, the soldier is one of the most classic men’s Halloween costume ideas, but it’s not just for guys. Either gender can play Army this Halloween, and you won’t have to spend $30 to $35 like you would in the store.
You’ll need some military fatigues, which you can get for $12.50 online or at a military supply store, including the cap, pants and shirt. For the totally free finishing touch use makeup to draw black stripes on your face to mimic commando camouflage. Now, you’re a Halloween soldier.
13. Referee: Up to $8.40
If you’re sick of people not getting your nuanced costumes, referees are instantly identifiable by their vertical black-and-white stripes. Take a white T-shirt and make evenly spaced vertical lines with black electrical tape. If you don’t have electrical tape, pick some up for about 40 cents.
You can find other clothing items for cheap if you don’t have them. You can find black shorts for less than $4 and a white cap for about $3 at a discount store. Stripe the hat with electrical tape, as well. Finally, no ref is complete without a whistle around the neck, and that costs about $1.
Now, prepare to be booed. You’d pay more than $31 for a ready-made costume from Walmart for that privilege.
14. Priest: Up to $3.25
Priests need three things to be recognized as men of the cloth: black clothing, a cross and the trademark collar. The first part is easy. You have black clothes. Put them on.
For the cross, simply cut one out of cardboard and turn it into a necklace with thread or twine. The clerical collar requires little more than a strip of elastic for $2.95 from a fabric store if you don’t already have any, a small piece of white poster board for about 27 cents and some staples. If you’ve got a red or white scarf, drape it over your shoulders. If not, don’t worry — at least you didn’t pay $25 for the store version.
15. Chef: About $1
A ready-made chef’s costume costs about $36 at Party City. But you can rule the kitchen this Halloween by making it yourself. Start by putting on a white button-down shirt and drawing a second, parallel set of dots in black marker to make it appear that the shirt is double-breasted, like a chef’s coat.
Now for the hat. Wrap a strip of white card stock, about 25 cents, into a band that fits around your head and staple the band closed. Next, fluff some white tissue paper, which will set you back 78 cents, up and away from the base of the hat, stapling or taping along the way. Bunch it up and attach it in the center, filling in any gaps with extra tissue paper. You officially have a chef’s hat and coat. Now all you need is a prop like a rolling pin or wooden spoon.
16. Rey From ‘Star Wars’: $7 to $10
Rey from “The Force Awakens” is a hot costume this year. So hot, in fact, that an adult version can run you $50 at Party City. It’s a good thing you can make your own. DIY blog Maflingo has a helpful guide to put it together.
You’ll need a pair of old brown boots. Don’t have them? Wrap some brown felt, which costs 40 cents per square, around any boots you have. You’ll also need a gray T-shirt and gray pajama bottoms or sweatpants. Also, pick up some Ace-style compression bandages at about $4 per roll at drugstores, an elastic band at $2.95, a thin leather belt or a strap from an old pocketbook and a tan sheet from the linen closet. Wrap a broomstick in electrical tape for the staff.
17. Pirate: About $4.50
You won’t need much money to be a great pirate, but you will have to destroy some clothes. Cut jaggedly across the bottom and sleeves of a plain white shirt. Then, use craft paint for 99 cents at Home Depot or electrical tape, just 40 cents, to create horizontal stripes.
Wear dark pants and use masking tape to create vertical stripes down your legs. Wear a belt with a big buckle and tie a red bandana for about 90 cents around your neck. You’ll need a pirate hat and an eye patch, of course, and you can buy both for about $2 combined from a discount party store. Otherwise, look to pay $20 and up for a pirate costume from Party City.
18. Mad Scientist: $9.90
If you’re going for the mad scientist look, it’ll cost you $26.50 at Walmart. Or you can DIY for a fraction of the cost.
You’ll need goggles to place on your forehead. Steampunk goth glasses will do, and you can get them for $2 online. A disposable white lab coat with front closures, which are perfect for mad scientists, can be bought at any safety equipment company for $2.
Regular black or yellow cleaning gloves are next, and you can get them for 90 cents at just about any big box store. Pick up a zany, white Einstein-style wig for $5 at a costume shop, and you’re all set.
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19. Doctor: $13.60
This Halloween, you can be a doctor without the hassle of going to school. Start by getting a pair of unisex doctor scrubs for $11 online, which brings you most of the way to being a Halloween MD. Walmart sells fake stethoscopes for about $2.50 and you can get a single surgical mask for about 10 cents.
Now you’re a doctor, but a boring doctor. Add some excitement by dousing yourself in fake blood. You can make your own gore at home with corn syrup, chocolate sauce and red food coloring. Doctor costumes that are half as much fun cost $50 at online store HalloweenCostumes.
20. Twister: $4
One of the most classic Halloween costumes of all time is Twister. And you don’t need much more than a few basic clothing items — pants and shirt, dress, whatever — that you’re willing to part with. The closer to white the clothes are, the better.
Get four tubes of brightly colored paint for $1 a pop. Cut out a circle stencil and paint even circles in classic Twister colors like blue, yellow, green and red up and down the front and back of your clothing. A store-bought adult women’s Twister dress will run you $50.
Prices current as of Sept. 12, 2017.