This may be the one time of the year when Americans really get excited about wearing masks. But many consumers are less enthused about spending a small fortune on a costume for an event or a couple of hours of trick-or-treating.
Americans spend a lot during Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach a new record this year: $10.14 billion, considerably more than the $8.05 billion spent in 2020 when trick-or-treating was much more subdued as the pandemic raged on, with nary a vaccine in sight.
Still, it’s more than possible to be creative and have a lot of fun with a costume without spending much. If you’re looking for cheap Halloween costume ideas, all of these could be purchased or put together for about $50 or less.
[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]
Kids Halloween Costumes
“My wife once made my son into a mummy with some cheap gauze and face makeup from the dollar store,” says Chaz Wyland, an Evergreen, Colorado, blogger who runs SnowmobileHow.com.
If a mummy doesn’t grab you, here are a few other costumes your kids might be interested in:
— Ballerina. Maybe your child takes a dance class, and they already have an outfit complete with tights. For a spooky version, buy some face makeup at a dollar store to create a zombie ballerina.
— Sports athlete or cheerleader. Similarly, if your kid is already on a soccer or sports team or is a cheerleader, he or she might find this idea super cheap and lame. But we’re putting the idea out there, since it’s both affordable and accessible.
— Traditional ghost. Complete with holes cut out for eyes. Not the most original idea, but cheap. You just need an old bed sheet.
— Farmer. Grab some overalls, a flannel shirt, and maybe an ear of corn to suggest that it’s harvest time.
— Store-bought costumes. Of course, Walmart, Amazon.com, Target, dollar stores and drugstores will likely have cheap costumes for kids, from Disney princesses to superheroes, usually under $20.
Couples Halloween Costumes
The trick here, of course, is coming up with two different costumes that pair well together, and usually they’re iconic and perhaps historic. Some of these may be hard to pull off, but if you can find or make costumes for these couples, you’ll likely get some nods of approval:
— Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
— Homer and Marge Simpson.
— Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
— Barack and Michelle Obama.
— Men in Black. As in from the movie. That’s a pretty easy one, especially if you already have the wardrobe. You both wear all-black suits, ties and sunglasses.
— Prince William and Kate Middleton.
— Popeye and Olive Oyl.
— Bonnie and Clyde.
— Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
— Gomez and Morticia Adams.
There are a lot of couples costumes out there. For instance, Amazon.com has a couples costume for just under $30. You just need to decide who will be the bread with peanut butter on it, and who will be the jelly. Or you could opt to dress up as a toothpaste tube and toothbrush for $39.99.
Sibling Halloween Costumes
There are plenty of famous siblings, but unlike many famous couples throughout history, siblings don’t always lend themselves to costumes. Your kids could dress up as Barbara and Jenna Bush or Malia and Sasha Obama, but odds are, nobody would recognize what your children were trying to achieve.
But your kids might look ridiculously cute in these costumes:
— Two or more superheroes.
— Two or more dinosaurs.
— Two or more pirates.
— Two or more princesses.
— Two or more singers. Maybe your kids are into Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift? Or they’re more old-school and into Elton John, Freddie Mercury or Prince? The latter three performers were pretty famous for wearing outlandish costumes.
— Characters from the same TV cartoon or movie, like the two sisters from “Frozen” or Bart and Lisa Simpson. Walmart.com, for instance, has children’s costumes from the movie “The Incredibles.” If you don’t want to make costumes, Walmart.com sells costumes for Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack for around $20 each. There are costumes for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible as well, which are more expensive but also under $50 per costume.
Group Halloween Costumes
There are a lot of opportunities for fun costumes in groups. A few cheap Halloween costume ideas for groups include:
— Characters from a popular TV show or a movie. “Ted Lasso” is popular right now, but one could imagine easily and cheaply dressing up as iconic characters from “The A-Team,” “Star Trek” or “Star Wars.”
— Rock, paper and scissors costumes. You could make these costumes yourselves, or Amazon has a rock, paper and scissors group costume for just under $50.
— Fries, cheeseburger and soda. This is a a combo costume of a combo meal sold by Walmart.com for $69.99, but split three ways, that would be well under $50.
DIY Halloween Costumes
This is where you can have a lot of fun. Andre Kazimierski, Chicago-based CEO of Improovy.com, a home improvement service platform, says the best and cheapest Halloween costume he has ever seen was recently when a kid showed up wearing pajamas and carrying a stuffed animal.
“She was abducted by aliens,” Kazimierski says.
That’s the thing: If you have a clever punchline, your imagination does the rest.
And you can always go for a hybrid approach, where you buy some things and use items you already have.
Alexander Reeves is a Brooklyn, New York, resident who runs DiceCove.com, a Dungeons & Dragons resource website, and as you might imagine, he’s very into Halloween.
He admits he’s gone overboard on costumes in the past. He routinely spends about $200 on Halloween costumes and once spent around $1,000 for an “authentic-enough looking full-plate suit of knight armor, including a two-handed broadsword that I found on eBay. It was heavy (and) overpriced given it wasn’t even made out of steel and really hot, but totally worth it.”
Still, if you want cheap DIY Halloween costume ideas, Reeves suggests thinking about makeup.
“If you are very good at doing your own makeup, or maybe have a friend who is a makeup artist, you can amp up your costume by having an amazing piece of art going on in your face. You don’t need a lot of expensive stuff. Drugstore makeup works pretty well to do some spooky, fancy or fun makeup,” Reeves says.
He adds that YouTube has a lot of makeup tutorials that might offer inspiration.
He also suggests checking out thrift stores and your own closet.
“You’ll need some creative juices to make this work, but you can surely find some basic pieces in your own closet that can help you build a costume,” Reeves says.
Another tip from Wyland, who dresses up every year when passing out candy: “Find something that goes with your physical features and then add some relatively cheap items to enhance it. For example, I currently have long hair and a long beard. I can get a cheap hooded cape for about $10 and I am a wizard. I could make an eye patch, get a bandana and a toy sword, and I am a pirate.”
In any case, some DIY cheap Halloween costume ideas might include:
— Smarty pants. This is a popular Halloween costume that you’ll find on Pinterest and other websites. You buy the candy, Smarties, and you tape them to a pair of jeans. And when people ask what you’re dressed as, you say you’re going as…
— Cookie Monster. You don’t need to buy a Sesame Street costume. You could get some monster makeup, which Walmart has for about $13, and then you put a bunch of homemade cookies in a basket, and tell people who you are.
— Green with envy. This one has made the rounds on a lot of cheap Halloween costume ideas articles and websites. One person wears a green outfit, like maybe a green T-shirt. The other person wears a T-shirt with the word, “Envy.” And now you two have your costume.
— Dogwalker. You could take your dog with you, on a leash, and wear your regular clothing and tell people you’re going as a dogwalker. If you go the extra mile and tie some helium balloons to your dog’s collar, you can say that your pet is dressed as a balloon animal.
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Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids, Couples and Groups originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 10/06/21: This story was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.