Last-minute Halloween costumes are stressful to throw together — and expensive. Considering the average man drops $96 on a costume and women typically spend about $77, you could end up shedding serious coin if your day or night of celebration will also include food, drinks and a ride.
Yes, you could throw on ears or a hat and be a “sexy cat” or “construction worker” — but maybe you want to be a little less pedestrian this year? If you’re determined to be unpredictable, there’s good news: Cleverness can often take you even further than cash when it comes to a costume you love — leaving plenty of spending money for the holiday fun (and shopping) to come.
One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to DIY — or at least partly DIY — your costume with household objects or crafts. You can easily assemble a fun, offbeat look for $50 or less. Here are 50 ideas to inspire you in your search.
Play with puns
If you love a good play on words, or a little irony with your costume, create something that will get people talking and asking questions — genius can come cheap. If you’re single, you could carry around a bicycle wheel and crash couples costume photos as “the third wheel.” You could be a “sugar mama” or daddy, a Freudian slip or a social butterfly. Or you might grab a plastic garbage bag and print out some photos of Marshall Mathers and be...
1. A “bag of Eminems”
4. Facebook (for the ultra lazy)
5. A black-eyed pea
How do you make these? Using number 5 as an example: All you’ll need to do is grab a white t-shirt and glue a single pea smack dab in the middle. It might be a good idea to go with a dried pea and try to find the largest in the bag. Consider using super glue for a strong hold. (Alternatively, you could use a big letter “P.”) Next for the black eye! Purchase black Halloween makeup and give yourself a “black eye.” Bam! You are a “black-eyed” pea!
Lean into the couples costume
Love the idea of a tandem costume with your significant other but don’t want to resort to the predictable superhero or celebrity duo? Think Ouija Board and game piece or...
6. A Double Stuffed Oreo
10. Cross-cultural mashup costume
Here’s how you do the cross-cultural costume: Let’s say you are from New York and your partner is from California... Why not pull a Freaky Friday and swap “cultures” for the night? For the New York to Cali mashup, have one partner become Lady Liberty and your other half can transform into a cool surfer. For Statue of Liberty, find a light green dress or a green bodysuit and an old white sheet to spray paint light green. Use a poster board, along with glitter and glue to compete Lady Liberty’s look.
The surfer look may be something you have in your closet but if not, grab some cheap board shorts and a floral shirt, which you can partner with your favorite pair of sunglasses and a dab of zinc oxide for your nose. Use foam board to create your surfboard, which you can paint or cover with glitter.
This can be adapted to fit couples from different countries — or even just different neighborhoods.
Revive a classic movie or TV character
So many characters, not enough nights of Halloween — so choosing may be the toughest part of this costume. First, consider some popular current TV characters from shows like Big Little Lies, Stranger Things or one of the infamous Bravo Housewives, as Mic has suggested — or choose a simple getup like the protagonist’s look from the film Baby Driver. With a buddy, you could be Toni and Candace from Portlandia.
But if your tastes are more “classic” than 2017, there’s always the frozen Jack and Rose from Titanic or Derek Zoolander from Zoolander. You could also explore the massive character library from Saturday Night Live, including Stefon, the team from Delicious Dish (aka Pete Schweddy) or motivational speaker, Matt Foley. Or, you could get a little naughty and do:
11. The D*ck in a Box duo
15. E.T. and Elliott
For E.T., all you’ll need to become Elliott is a red hoodie and black pants or leggings. For E.T., you’ll need a standard milk crate and a set of bike handlebars. Use heavy craft wire to attach the milk crate to the handlebars. You can download an image of E.T. online and print and put it in the milk crate. A sheet of foam board can help reinforce E.T.’s face. Cut the foam board to match the E.T. image and mount using standard glue or a glue stick. Prop E.T.’s head inside the milk crate and then cover with white fabric.
Meme it up
To get an iconic poster-character look, one of the most classic options is Rosie the Riveter: Think jeans, a red polka dot headscarf, short sleeve or sleeveless denim shirt and a pair of red shoes. Rosie’s like a proto-meme in a way, but if you want to make your look more 2017 meme, you’ve got tons of options, like:
16. Salt Bae
Who wouldn’t want to transform into “Salt Bae”? All you need is a white t-shirt, some sweet sunglasses and a little “salt” (or glitter). Even Leonardo DiCaprio found this dude to be downright amazing. As for other looks, there’s...
18. Beyonce and twins
19. The super viral “stock photo trio”
This can be done as a group — or solo.
Finally, although it’s not exactly a meme, the reverse trick or treat costume is just downright hilarious:
Have a favorite artist you’d like to transform into for a day (or two)? A number of artists can be easily recreated with just a bit of makeup and a few fun accessories. Go for the elusive street artist, Banksy or the outrageous Andy Warhol. And don’t forget your can of Campbell’s soup.
Other artists and works of art to try:
21. The Scream
23. Salvador Dali Parton (fusion costume between Dolly Parton and Salvador Dali)
25. Frida Kahlo
You can nail Frida Kahlo’s look by starting with her well known uni-brow. You can easily use eyeliner or even eye shadow to recreate the brows. Add a fun flower crown and any colorful clothing you have in your closet. Kahlo typically wore her hair pulled back, so use a little hair gel to get that slicked look.
Be an inanimate object
Who said you have to be someone when you can just be something for Halloween? You can go out dressed as every New Yorker’s least favorite form of transportation, otherwise known as the “L” train. Just pin an “L” to your shirt and then glue or sew a bunch of old Barbie & Ken dolls to your body — the more, the better. And this idea can be adapted to whatever other public transit (or airline) you hate most: Just print out their logo. A few more ideas?
27. A Rubix cube
28. A toilet
29. Junk mail
30. Jelly Bellies
If you love Jelly Belly candy (and who doesn’t?) then grab as many colorful balloons as you can and grab a large clear trash bag. Blow up the balloons part ways: About six or seven different colored balloons should be fine (but you can do more). Next print the Jelly Belly logo on a standard 8 x 11 sheet of paper. Cut a hole at the bottom of the bag for your head to fit through — or cut leg holes and just tie the bag to tie around your neck. Slip the bag over your head and fill with balloons. Affix the Jelly Belly logo to the inside so it faces outward.
Other fun food costume ideas include hot sauce and mac n’ cheese — or go as a set of assorted spices with your squad: and you’re the “Spice Girls.”
Revert to your childhood
Travel back in time to when the worst thing you had to worry about was missing It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when it came on cable. Kick adulting to the curb for just one night and actually become one of your favorite childhood toys instead. Plenty of toys can be transformed into Halloween costumes on the cheap such as Barbie or Ken, Beanie Babies and even some of the characters from Toy Story. Other ideas include:
32. Pac Man & ghosts (or any other favorite video game character)
33. LEGO Ninjago
34. Raggedy Ann
35. Troll dolls
Always cute and easy to make, Troll costumes mainly just require big hair — perhaps with a wig in an array of shades and colors. Next, you’ll need a tan bodysuit and colorful pants or a skirt to complete your transformation. No time to buy a wig? Use some temporary hair dye and hairspray.
Go meta with social media
Can’t enough of Snapchat filters and want to wear one for Halloween? There are plenty of ways you can become some toast or a even a little rainbow vomit with some makeup and maybe a few extra accessories.
For more of a conversation starter, try the Snapchat face finder using a white eyeliner pencil. Want more?
36. Human hashtag
38. Twitter bird
39. Instagram post
40. Pinterest board
Simply print your favorite photos and recipes and pin them to a cork board. Use a piece of ribbon to hang it from your neck.
Bring nature to the party
You’re never too old to show some love for the environment by becoming a tree, flower and even Mother Earth. Just use a few found items in your closet and accessories. Some ideas include:
41. A glacier
42. Mother Nature
43. A bat
44. A bee keeper (and bees)
45. A tree!
Wear a long brown coat (if you have one) or purchase brown leggings and a brown shirt to create the trunk. Make your own leaves from green pipe cleaner and green felt, which you can attach to a brown hat with a brim. Or you can cover yourself in brown paper and use branches & leaves. Don’t forget to add some resident squirrels or flowers to really add authenticity to your look.
Lean into Halloween
It’s Halloween and you are allowed to get a little scary or gross. In most cases some fake blood and and errant body part will do the trick. Some quick, inexpensive (and amusing) ideas include:
46. Sexy ghosts
47. The Grady Sisters (from The Shining)
48. Cereal killer
49. Vampire (who just had dinner)
50. Alien abductee
A handy alien “chestburster” toy will be the main focus of this disgusting costume — plus fake blood. Grab a white t-shirt that you don't love and cut out a hole in the middle that will allow for your “chestburster” to bust out of you. Don’t make a perfect cut because you want to create the look of an alien emerging from your body. Splatter fake blood or red paint around the hole and allow it to dry before you get dressed. Once you have your t-shirt on, slide the “chestburster” critter through the hole. You want the alien’s head to be on the outside of the shirt. To attach the alien, wind a craft wire around the tail and then wrap it around your waist. All you’ll see is this glorious beast emerging from your stomach, which can look pretty gross.
Sign up for the Payoff— your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life.