5 Easy and Cheap DIY Halloween Costumes

Check out these easy DIY Halloween costume ideas when don’t have a fortune to waste on expensive pre-made costumes. Which will be yours?


I enjoy Halloween, but I don’t like spending ridiculous amounts of money on ready-made (and cheaply made) costumes from the Halloween store. I mean, have you seen those prices? It’s like every year people are willing to forego common sense to dress up for a single evening.

If you look through your house and make some small, clever purchases, you can come up with a few great ideas and have a great DIY Halloween costume on a budget that’ll take you through any party/trick-or-treating you have planned. Here are some of my favorites, from my own experience and from around the Web.

1. Crazy Cat Lady

The Crazy Cat Lady is what I went by last Halloween. I love my cat and always show pictures of her to anyone new I meet, and so I thought it would be funny to, well, make fun of myself. Here are the things I got to make this costume:

What you need:

  • An ’80s-looking dress
  • Two or three (or more!) cat plushies
DIY Halloween Costume ideas
(image: greyloch)

The whole cost me about $20 at the closest Value Village/thrift store.

The process:

The first thing I did was to sew two of the plushies to my dress–one on each shoulder. I used heavy thread and a large needle so I could cover a large enough area for the plushie to look stable.

That’s all, really. I put on the dress, adjusted the plushies and made my hair look crazy by using a lot of hair spray and messing it up. You can find a picture of the results here.

2. A bag of jelly beans

This is a clever one I saw around on the internet researching this article. The idea is simple, and the execution cheap. The result is funny and clever and will take you through a party with lots of “ooh, what a good idea!”

What you need:

  • Transparent garbage bags
  • Balloons
  • A black marker
  • A ribbon
DIY Halloween Costume ideas
(image: bnpositive)

Most of us have at least a few of these items on hand, and getting the rest will cost under $20.

The process:

Open the bag and cut two holes at the bottom where you will slip your legs through. Write out a “Nutritional Facts” box, like you would see on real candy. (Feel free to have fun with that one!) Fill up the bag with balloons (fully blown, of course), put them in the bag, slip the bag on and tie it shut with the piece of ribbon.

Voilà! You’re a bag of delicious sweetness.

3. Rosie the Riveter

A classic American and feminist icon, Rosie the Riveter is easy, strong and even sexy. You probably have everything you need already available.

What you need:

  • A pair of high waisted skinny jeans
  • A denim shirt
  • A red bandana
  • A “we can do it” mock tattoo
DIY Halloween Costume ideas
(image: Kim Kruse)

That’s it. You can certainly get away with a different pair of jeans if you need to, but a skinny, high-waisted style will be the most authentic.

The process:

Put on your clothes. Dress your hair and do your make-up in ’40s style. Be awesome.

Check out this tutorial if you need help.

4. The Son of Man painting

This iconic René Magritte painting is easy to replicate as a costume. Show off your art knowledge to your friends and have a costume that no one will be able to ignore.

What you need:

  • A black suit
  • A red tie
  • A black bowler hat
  • A printed photo of a green apple, or a wax apple on a toothpick
DIY Halloween Costume ideas
(image: Jennifer Murawski)

You can buy a cheap costume or thrift store bowler hat and pay a few dollars for a high-quality printout of an apple, but otherwise it’s likely you have those items on hand.

The process:

Pin the photo to the edge of the hat so that it falls over your face. Get dressed. Look mysteriously arsty.

If going as a couple, ladies can do something similar with The Great War on Façades painting. The items are a bit harder to find (a 1910s-style white dress, hat and umbrella), but easy for someone who is good at thrifting and sewing.

5. Error 404

If you’re out of money and/or ideas, or if you hate Halloween but like going to parties anyway, this costume is perfect for you.

What you need:

  • A plain white t-shirt
  • A black marker
Error 404 costume
(image: slworking2)

The process:

On the t-shirt, write “Error 404: Costume not found”. Wear t-shirt. Make people cackle.

Halloween Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

There you go! Here are some diy Halloween costume ideas for cheap. These clever homemade costumes will still impress people (or at least make them laugh).

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