Frugal Halloween Costumes for Children and Adults

Halloween is fast approaching! Here are some easy and inexpensive Halloween costumes for adults and children alike, using sweat suits and stuff you have laying around the house. Our family has dressed in these costumes over the years with great success, winning contests and receiving many compliments!

Skeleton Costume

Using a black sweat suit (or only the top if you prefer) cut "bones" from white fabric to which you've attached iron on adhesive. Paint your face white and then, using an eyeliner pen and black Halloween makeup, create a skeleton like face as scary or not as you prefer.

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Bat Costume

Use a black hooded sweatshirt. Cut an umbrella apart (purchase several from the dollar store). Pin umbrella to sleeve and side of sweatshirt using ZIG-ZAG stitch, secure the umbrella to make wings. Use black felt to make "bat ears" (triangles) and sew to hood. Decorate your face using white paint and a bit of red "blood" for a vampire look.

Devil

Decorate a red sweatshirt with glitter paint and boa for a more elaborate look or just leave plain or write "the devil makes you do it" to the front/back of shirt. Add devil horns, tail and pitchfork. For a sexy look, use a skirt and red fishnets.

Pussy Cat

I used a black costume but you could use all white of you prefer. Sew a boa around the neck. Create "paws" using gloves (add pink felt "pads" if you desire or fake nails glued on for "claws"). Using an old headband, glue felt "ears" to top (Pointy). Add a tail made of an old sock and a wire or use the leftover boa. Paint the face to resemble a cat. Pair with a stuffed mouse to complete the look (we used a rubber band to secure the mouse to the child's wrist).

Dalmatian (Dog)

Use white sweat suit painted with black spots. Create "paws" using gloves (add pink felt "pads" if you desire). Make a tail using an old sock. Using an old headband, glue felt "ears" to top (floppy). Paint face to resemble a puppy.

One daughter went as a ShihTzu (little pony tail at forehead, dressed in brown, with a dog collar) Cute!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Dress in a red sweat suit. Add "hanks" of yarn or an old mop strings for spaghetti. Add large brown pompoms for meatballs. Top head with an old colander. Carry a jar of Parmesan cheese.

Bubble Bath

Paint an old oblong box to resemble a bath tub (you could cut the bottom out of an old tub to resemble a wash basin). Dress in pink or skin color. Add white balloons (blown up) as bubbles. Top head with shower cap. Carry a bar of soap and a scrub brush.

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Ima Floozy

Dress your husband up in a wig and nightgown or an old cocktail dress. Make up face and don't forget to add the beauty mark!

This one REALLY scared our young daughter. She refused to kiss her dad goodbye!

Ready for bed! (ADULT)

Find your old flannel PJs or ratty bathrobe. Put curlers in your hair. Rub face cream on your face. Carry your old teddy bear. Complain to everyone at the party that you can't understand why your love life is so pathetic. This is really a fun one if your husband can't attend with you.

Pair of Dice

Paint a box white. Add black circles cut from construction paper or painted onto resemble a pair of dice, cut holes in side for arms. Wear a black shirt. Paint face to resemble a mime, if desired.

Scarecrow

Dress in old flannel shirts and jeans. Add a rope belt. Use yarn, fake or real straw (itch advisory) to cuffs. Add a straw hat to which you've secured a fake crow. Paint freckles on your face. Carry a pitchfork or corn shocks.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (suitable for book character)

This requires a green sweatshirt and brown pants. Using a sponge cut in the shape of leaves, paint leaves on shirt front and arms. You can paint legs to resemble trunk or leave plain. Sew magnetic letters on the shirt front. Our daughter wore this to school for "Book Character Day" and was very well received. Use this costume if you are an adult. You could do this as a tree only and hang a few fake coconuts on you. Wife could go as Hula Girl.

Fairy

This is cute if you a little "plus sized". Tiny Fairy wings and halo. Add a skirt made of chiffon, if you want. Painted face.

For the "Blue Fairy", use a blue suit and blue makeup. Have your husband dress up as Pinocchio. Container of glitter (fairy dust) to sprinkle liberally as you grant wishes and a magic wand, of course!

Super Hero

With the right face painting, you can turn into Spiderman or the Hulk, paired with a sweat suit of the right color combo, trimmed with some felt scraps and a glue gun.

Pirate

Black pants cut ragged on bottom. Grey sweatshirt cut ragged on bottom. Red fabrics scrap for belt. Bandanna for head covering. Large gold hoop earring. Tooth black. Eye patch (purchased or made from black felt scrap). Mardi Gras necklaces as fake jewels (carry in an old shoebox to fake as a treasure chest. Toy sword and toy parrot (secure to shoulder). Practice saying "Arrrrrgghhhhggg Matey, give me all yer candy" or "I'll make you walk the plank". Walk with a swagger

Face painting

Scan the web for pictures of painted faces to give you a template of how to apply the Halloween makeup. Makeup is MUCH SAFER than a Halloween mask. And more comfortable too!

Face painting photo galleries websites

Or make your own Halloween face paint (I prefer to use commercially available products purchased AFTER the holiday, however)

  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cold cream (supposedly this keeps the food coloring from permanently coloring the skin)
  • 1 to 2 drops food coloring

In a small bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Mix in cold cream. Add food coloring.

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By Diana from Prospect, KY

Editor's Note: If you have an easy and inexpensive Halloween costume idea, share it below.

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August 22, 20041 found this helpful

Wrap the kid in aluminum foil and send him out as a baked potato.

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August 23, 20040 found this helpful

Matching sweatshirts and sweatpants combined with a little bit of felt are great for making animal costumes - just make the ears/tails/other features out of the felt and safety pin them to the sweats. Afterwards they can still wear the clothes. Hooded sweatshirts are great for cats and dogs - just attach the ears to the hood and use a little makeup for the nose & whiskers. Tiger or Zebra stripes can be attached with double stick tape - although an extra safety pin from the inside is a good idea.

The other nice thing about the sweats is that they are warm and can be layered over turtlenecks or other warm clothes if you live in a colder climate like I do.

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August 23, 20040 found this helpful

There are lots of books in the library on costumes. Also the fall women's magazines usually have ideas. Gypsies, hobos, clowns can usually be attired from your closet or thrift store. A cardboard box with arm and head holes can be wrapped in gift paper and pop a bow on your kids head and they are a present, wrap box in foil, put a metal colander with pipe cleaner antenna on it upside down on head and add details of choice and its an alien, or robot, or, using a funnel spayed silver on the head and you have the basis for a tin man.

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August 23, 20040 found this helpful

If you have a little one, buy an inexpensive yellow or tan hooded sweatsuit or pajamas and a matching feather boa from the craft store. Cut the boa into lengths and sew around hood, down arms and leave a little for the "tail." If you can find a duck's "bill" at the thrift store or toy store you'll have a cute duck. Buy the clothing large and it will last for several years. Also, hit the stores after Halloween and you'll get huge savings on costumes for next year.

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September 23, 20040 found this helpful

Lego's are very easy and fun to make - they can even all fit together - If you e-mail me on my other account I will send you more detailed instructions along with pictures. All you need is a box - a stack of plastic cups (dollar store, or walmart) and also a can of spray paint. - can make it for $5.00 or less. Me e-mail is danielle.howard (at) plattsburgh (dot) edu if you want to contact me!

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September 12, 20050 found this helpful

I designed a costume for my neice one year. A bunch of grapes...! We used purple sweats and sweatshirt. Blew up purple balloons, and attached all over the sweats with safety pins. We also painted her face with purple face paint (this is optional). Was very adorable. Can do red, white..etc. Have fun with it!

By Renee

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October 26, 20050 found this helpful

Bath Lady - Won 1st prize

This is definitely an inside costume.

Sewed two large bath towels together, made a knot over one shoulder and secured with rubber band (wore a straples top under it), used quilt batting to make soap bubbles attached to double faced tape & pasted on arms & face, and shower cap with soap bubbles also and carried a bath brush and soap on rope and wore flip flops.

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October 26, 20050 found this helpful

Well this year I refused to buy a costume for any of my 3 kids so this year may 2 year old is a black cat: we took apart a stretch velvet dress that doesn't fit me and made a long sleeved body suit with a hat with ears, a tail me made with a wire coat hanger wrapped in egg crate and balck velvet. Draw a couple whiskers and she is sooo cute. My 9 year old is Elvis, we bought a pattern and is using fabric that I picked up sometime in the past on a really good sale. My 8 year old is a spider, black sweats and a piece of cardboard upholstered with two extra legs on each side between his arm and leg. The legs can be made the same as the cats tail. top off with a black hat and you have one big spider.

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January 14, 20060 found this helpful

For an older child who likes something tongue-in-cheek, you can make him a black eye with black face paint and put a big "P" on his shirt. He will be a black eyed "P"!

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January 14, 20060 found this helpful

One year we waited until the last minute to come up with an idea for my daughter's Halloween costume. We decided on a scarecrow.

We began with the usual, an oversized pair of jeans and a flannel shirt. We stuffed that a little, and used a piece of rope for the belt. We put a pair of my husband's old work boots on her. There was this quirky old hat hanging around that worked great, and we put her hair up inside of that. She put work gloves on to cover her hands.

Next, we painted her face with yellow face paint, and then drew on her mouth and eyes that were done like they had been stitched on. Just a straight black line that went from one cheek to the other over her mouth, and then we crossed down over that on the cheeks to look like big stitches. Her eyes had triangles drawn around them (also in black) with a stitch on each leg of the triangle. Perfect.... but something was missing.....

Well, we decided to put pinestraw coming out of her sleeves and the bottom of her pants and around her neck and out of her hat ( I will have to say that rafia would have worked better as it would not have been scratchy, but remember this was last minute and I didn't have any). But the crowning touch was the cut off broom handle that we ran through the sleeves to hold her arms out.

Well, she won the first place ribbon for the entire school and was quite proud of herself. All of this was done for free with stuff we already had. Her dad and I were very proud of that, also!

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March 10, 20060 found this helpful

THis upcoming year is a big one, my boys will be 5 and over 18 months. They will be Thing One and Thing 2 (respectively) and I will be Cat in the Hat. The stroller being a big red wood box may be some trouble, but the outfits will be easy: red sweat shirts/pants, and a set of black for me! All I need are two blue wigs and a Hat!

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

A great "buckskin" Native American or "Daniel Boone"-explorer type costume is easily made with white clothing (cheap t-shirts and sweats) dyed in tea and then the bottom and sleeve edges cut into fringe with the scissors. Mix up about 6 family-size tea bags into a large sink or basin of hot water, and throw in your clothing. The longer you leave it in, the darker it will get, and it will be kind of streaky and very natural-looking. For a "dress" for a little girl who wants to be Pocahontas, just use a XXL-size men's t-shirt.

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

A great "buckskin" Native American or "Daniel Boone"-explorer type costume is easily made with white clothing (cheap t-shirts and sweats) dyed in tea and then the bottom and sleeve edges cut into fringe with the scissors. Mix up about 6 family-size tea bags into a large sink or basin of hot water, and throw in your clothing. The longer you leave it in, the darker it will get, and it will be kind of streaky and very natural-looking. For a "dress" for a little girl who wants to be Pocahontas, just use a XXL-size men's t-shirt.

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October 5, 20080 found this helpful

Take an old vinyl tablecloth and put a hole in the middle big enough to put your head through. Using a hot glue gun, glue plastic play food, paper cups, napkins, plates, plastic forks, spoons, knives, and fake bugs. Put on a big floppy hat, sunglasses and carry a picnic basket. You are now a PICNIC!

Another easy idea is wear a nice dress and put on a fake beard. Last year I was the bearded lady. The kids coming to my door didn't get it, but the parents got a chuckle.

To be a deviled egg take either white sweats or a white gown and tape a yellow circle in the middle. Put on devil horns, tail and carry a devils pitchfork thing.

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October 5, 20080 found this helpful

Take an old vinyl tablecloth and put a hole in the middle big enough to put your head through. Using a hot glue gun, glue plastic play food, paper cups, napkins, plates, plastic forks, spoons, knives, and fake bugs. Put on a big floppy hat, sunglasses and carry a picnic basket. You are now a PICNIC!

Another easy idea is wear a nice dress and put on a fake beard. Last year I was the bearded lady. The kids coming to my door didn't get it, but the parents got a chuckle.

To be a deviled egg take either white sweats or a white gown and tape a yellow circle in the middle. Put on devil horns, tail and carry a devils pitchfork thing.

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October 14, 20080 found this helpful

An easy and affordable costume for a girl or woman is Miss America. Just wear a nice dress that you already own. Buy some white ribbon or fabric or use something that you already own to make a sash. Write "Miss America" in black magic marker. You can also find an affordable tiara at a place like a toy store or a costume shop, even clairs boutique and Wal-Mart have barretts that are sparkly enough to qualify as a tiara. It does not have to be some fancy, expensive looking, huge tiara.

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

I go to thrift stores and buy hooded capes and turnmy grandkids into super heroes or witches, or vampires.

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