Halloween costumesWhen I was a kid, families didn’t buy many Halloween costumes. They were either sewn or assembled by moms. Even if you’re a busy parent, you can still make a cheap Halloween costume, but you have to start planning now to avoid the last-minute, usually costly, costume rush.

Creative thinking is the key to making Halloween costumes. Look at what you already have and see how it can be repurposed for the costume you or your kid wants. As long as it’s close, most kids will complete the look with their own imagination and a proud announcement of their identity come Halloween night.

5 Cheap Kids’ Halloween Costume Ideas
Alien or Spaceperson
The same costume does double duty, depending on your kid’s mood. All you need are black pants and a black turtleneck. Now get a piece of cardboard and cut it out into two large triangles. One side of each should be a few inches wider than your child’s shoulders and they should end just below the waist. Paint the triangles silver or cover them in aluminum foil. Now either cut out the middles or create a fun design for the center glitter, glue, and construction paper. Use two more pieces of cardboard or wide elastic to create straps. Complete the look with a helmet made from coat hangers and cardboard wrapped in foil or painted silver.

Roll of Lifesavers
This one requires sewing, but it’s still easy. You’ll need two side strips of silver fabric and five wide strips of fabric in red, yellow, blue, green, and purple. Sew or glue the colored strips together lengthwise. Add the silver strips at either end. Cut out letters from white fabric and glue or sew to the middle. Sew or Velcro the two sides together to the silver is at the top and bottom and the stripes are horizontal. Attach wide elastic straps. Cut arm slits in the side. Complete the look with black pants and a black turtleneck.

Princess or Fairy
If you don’t already have a princess dress, head down to the thrift store to buy a fancy child’s dress. Make wings from wire and chiffon or fashion a crown from cardstock painted gold and jewels.

Cowboy or Soldier
Most likely your child already has jeans and a button-down shirt to make a cowboy Halloween costume. Add a bandana, a cheap hat, and a watergun and the look is complete. To create a soldier, head to Target or Wal-Mart for cheap camo pants and a green t-shirt. Both can be worn again later.

Yes, you can buy a superhero costume at the store, but you can probably make one for less. Ask your child which superhero, first. If he or she doesn’t have one in mind, ask him or her to make one up. You can pull together a costume with colored pants, a plain turtleneck, and iron-on transfers. If you have a photo program, download the superhero logo and reverse it, then print it on iron-on transfer sheets. For girls, use tights, a leotard, and iron-on transfers. If the costume requires a cape or other accessories, pick up remnant fabric or hit the 99-cent store for toy accessories.

5 Cheap Adult Halloween Costume Ideas
Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter has been my go-to Halloween costume for several years. I did invest in a Hatter hat from Disneyland, but you can make one with a tall thrift store hat and a 10/6 label. Complete the look with mismatched pants, button-down shirt, scarf or oversized tie, vest, and/or coat. If you’ve got a pocket watch or a tea cup, even better, but you don’t need it for the full effect.

Dead Prom Guest
If you have a hideous bridesmaids dress or a suit that is way out of style tucked in the closet, you’ve got everything you need except fake blood. Otherwise hit the thrift store for dirt cheap clothes from the 70s. Add fake blood to your face and costume and you’re set.

It is an election year, so why not go as an overzealous gladhander. All you need is a suit and some campaign buttons. If you don’t have campaign buttons, print some on large address labels and stick them to the suit. Make up whatever slogan you want. The more outrageous the better.

Slutty Anything/Hugh Hefner/Pimp
This one’s easy for the ladies. Go deep into your closet and pull out any skirt or dress that’s just a little too short or tight. Add too much makeup and then you’re a slutty waitress, secretary, actress, whatever you want. For the men, hit the thrift store for a dinner jacket or satin robe. Accessorize with an ugly hat (to be a pimp) or pajama pants (for Hef.) Done.

White Trash
White pants will complete the look, but you really just need a cheap white shirt. Now collect trash for about a week beforehand. Glue clean tuna and soup cans and lids, gum and candy wrappers, and used envelopes to the shirt. If necessary, poke holes in the cans and lids and secure them with sturdy thread or fishing line. People will have a hard time guessing your costume, but they’ll groan with appreciation when you reveal it.

If you set your mind to it, you can come up with lots of cheap Halloween costume ideas without setting foot inside a costume store or resorting to one from the Halloween aisle at the local drug store. All of the above can be created for $20 or less, depending on what you already have on hand. Do you have any ideas for cheap costumes? Share them in the comments.


8 Responses to “10 Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas for Adults and Kids”

  1. Shamelle - TheEnhanceLife on October 2nd, 2008 9:10 pm

    Great ideas…. thanks.. the word cheap in the post caught my eye ;-0)

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  3. Green Cheap Halloween on October 20th, 2008 12:04 pm

    I’m proud to say that I’ve dressed up as a cowboy AND white trash. The cheapest I ever did was borrow my friend’s clothes (he was in design school) and I dressed like a design student.

    There are some other good cheap Halloween idears here:

  4. Katherine on October 28th, 2008 7:20 pm

    Hello i agree with you but anything you wannna make is nothing to my style red jordans a red jordan shirt and red acccessories and mostly clearly everything red . this is my syle i know you need help

  5. Ashley on October 7th, 2009 8:06 pm

    I dressed up as an old lady last year. I scrunched up my face and used brow eye liner to define my “wrinkles”, put face powder over it to make it look natural, went to the dollar store for some hair curlers, got some white hair spray, and just used very old ladyish pajamas. All of which from the dollar store and thrift store you can get for $5 or less, or should have already. I looked pretty good considering I spent less than $5 total for my version of the costume. Some people were actually double taking me!

  6. Warren on October 14th, 2009 4:47 pm


    Were all black. Take a large sheet of bubble wrap big enough to were like a poncho. Cut a hole in the center big enough for your head to fit through. Put a belt around your waste. Paint your face green and hair green or white.
    Were green gloves.

  7. Feli @ Halloween on September 24th, 2010 10:42 am

    Halloween costumes never lose their popular every year. Why? First of all, Halloween parties have always been a part of almost all countries’ tradition and secondly, when you take a look at these costumes, you will understand why. This Halloween, it is quite clear what most Halloween partygoers would want to wear – black costumes! So come one and go costume shopping and to help you with your Halloween costume ideas, here are the top black costumes for this Halloween.

  8. Rory on September 28th, 2010 3:17 pm

    The only issue I find with fanciful halloween costumes is that they seem to be so expensive. I find it more beneficial to go to a inexpensive clothing shop and fabricate my own. Creating your costume yourself makes it a lot more authentic.

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