It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, and the family is gearing up for Halloween festivities. Part of Halloween’s popularity is that can be an affordable holiday, at least if you don’t go all out. While many spend on candy, costumes are another aspect of the cost of Halloween. Getting the kids, or yourself, outfitted for the spooky night doesn’t have to cost much. With a few items from home, some accessories and creativity, do-it-yourself costumes are fun and inexpensive.

Face paint is easy and affordable while adding to any costume. It is also a safer alternative to masks, which can reduce vision. Go as the dead and get spooky with fake blood and wounds. Turn any outfit into a costume with horror movie-style gore. This is perfect for teens and so fun for parties.

Get creative with boxes. LEGO bricks are an easy costume to create from a large box with some plastic lids glued on and painted a primary color. Cut holes for the head and arms. Let the kids make their own robot costume with boxes covered in tin foil and fun stickers.

Tulle Halloween Costume
Know how to sew or someone who does? Have a kiddo asking for a costume way out of budget? Create a one of a kind costume using recycled fabric from other projects and fun decorations. Photo credit: Angela Naillon

Paper mâché is another fun and versatile medium to make Halloween costumes. A huge balloon or ball is the perfect base to create a jack-o’-lantern costume. Or create a mask with a smaller base for a one-of-a-kind look.

A little tulle and a flower crown can turn anyone into an adorable fairy. Fake flowers and colorful rolls of tulle are available at craft and dollar stores. Create a magic wand with leftover materials and a stick from the yard for a custom accessory.

Be a superhero! Create a cape out of leftover fabric and let the kids come up with their own superhero costume. Choose a favorite character or dream up a new one that fits your child’s personality.

Use a feather boa. With a simple sweatsuit as a base, the possibilities are endless to create adorable bird costumes. Use pink for a flamingo, white for a chicken or yellow for a cute canary. Add hand cut felt accessories to complete the look.

Glow sticks are cheap, fun and help with safety. Add them to any costume for better visibility trick-or-treating at night. Add some to a black outfit to make a glowing skeleton. Glow sticks also come in fun shapes. Add a glowing crown to a pretty dress and it’s an instant princess.

Granny Halloween Costume
A granny or grandpa is sure to get a few laughs! Thrift stores are a great place to find old clothes perfect for this costume. Borrow a cane or make a walker out of plastic pipe for a complete look. Photo credit: Tonya Christen

A classic witch costume is easy with a basic black top and skirt. Green face paint adds to the scary factor. Make a homemade broom with a large stick and dried grass tied or glued to the end.

What’s a witch without a black cat? Again, use clothes already in the kid’s closets and don a black top and leggings. Add ears made from pipe cleaners and draw on a few whiskers with eyeliner.

Be a baby. Use a younger sibling’s things as accessories to a baby costume. Tie a pacifier around their neck, make a cute bonnet and add a diaper out of a white pillowcase.

Older sibling’s clothes also work for great costumes. Use big sister’s cheerleading uniform and face paint to become a zombie cheerleader. Put on a football jersey and add a scary mask or a fake sword for a one of a kind horrifying linebacker.

Dress up as mom or dad. Parents, have a uniform for work? Let the kids dress up as you! Scrubs work perfectly for a doctor or nurse costume. Safety pins help if clothes are too baggy.

Get creative with food! Have the kids pick their favorite food and recreate it as a costume. Love mac and cheese? Make a costume with a cardboard base for a bowl and add toilet paper rolls painted yellow as noodles. Use purple balloons tied to a matching colored outfit to create a bunch of grapes. Use a large clear plastic bag and add various colored balloons to make a bag of jellybeans.

Steve Jobs Halloween Costume
Let the kids pick an outfit from someone who is their inspiration. This Steve Jobs costume is really clever, easy and affordable. Photo credit: Lynn Pacheco

Babies won’t tolerate a fussy costume. Dress them up as a cute bunny with fuzzy footed pajamas and some simple face paint. Add cute headband ears and the look is complete.

Toddlers love to play dress up. Put them in adorable denim overalls and a warm flannel shirt. Stuff the legs and arms with shredded fall colored paper and add a straw hat for an instant scarecrow.

Group costumes are fun for families. Be your favorite emoji with yellow poster board cut in a circle. Simply add a string and wear it around your neck or wear it sandwich board style and have a front and back with opposing moods.

The kids only stay young enough for trick-or-treating for so long. Dressing up for Halloween is one of the holiday’s unique aspects. It is a chance for kids and adults to pretend to be something different for one night. It’s also an opportunity for some creative fun while saving on buying a costume.

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