skeleton costumes

Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Halloween is a sneakily expensive holiday. Because it doesn’t involve gifts, many of us may not remember to budget for it, but the fact of the matter is that between candy, costumes, and parties, establishing a Halloween budget is never a bad idea.

If you’re staring down October 31 with dread, wondering how you’re going to cover costs with what’s left in your bank account at the end of the month, there is hope. Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank, especially when it comes to costumes—frequently one of the most expensive parts of celebrating.

Instead of heading out to your local party store to drop a ton of cash on a costume that will just end up in the trash, you could get in touch with your inner DIY-er and plan out a costume you can make by reusing things you already own or picking up a few things from a dollar store.

These cheap costume ideas will ensure you’re the best dressed and the most financially savvy.

Social Media Selfie

When it comes to cheap Halloween costume ideas, cardboard is your friend. If you’re planning on making your own Halloween costume, you could start saving those shipping boxes—they’re the perfect canvas for making your Halloween dreams come true.

Steps for this versatile costume:

  1. Cut out a large cardboard rectangular frame.

  2. Paint it to look like the interface of your favorite social media account, complete with “like” and “comment” buttons.

  3. Top it off by dressing up and posing as a selfie inside the frame.

Pro tip: This could also be a great couples costume—as long as you don’t mind spending Halloween night side by side.

Stick Figure

Looking for something even simpler? For this easy and delightful costume, you could simply slip on your favorite pair of black pants and black sweatshirt.
Stick figure steps:

  1. Use white duct tape to make a stick figure outline on the front of your clothes.

  2. For the quintessential round stick figure head, cut a circle out of a piece of cardboard and paint it black.

  3. Create a border around the circle head with white duct tape, then use a craft knife to cut out holes to see through.


Have a green shirt? Embrace your inner prickle and whip up a quick cactus costume to ensure you look sharp for your costume party.

To create cactus spikes:

  1. Trim the long end of plastic bendy straws so you have a uniform V shape.

  2. Use craft glue to adhere them to your shirt at the bottom of the V, so that the two long edges stick out. (You could even sew these on if you’re worried about durability.)

  3. Create cactus flowers by folding several layers of pink or red tissue into an accordion. Fold the ends together and secure the middle with a paper clip or bobby pin, then fluff them up and hot glue them onto a cheap plastic headband.

Gumball Machine

Ready to really get creative? This super-impressive costume takes a few minutes to put together, but you should be able to find everything you need at a dollar store and around your house.

You’ll need: a permanent marker, a red T-shirt, a clear plastic serving bowl, small bouncy balls (or even gumballs!), and a small piece of cardboard covered in tinfoil.

To whip this one up:

  1. Place the balls inside the plastic bowl, then glue the rim of the bowl to the front of your T-shirt.

  2. Use your permanent marker to write 25¢ on your shirt.

  3. Glue your tinfoil-covered cardboard square below the bowl on the shirt to represent the slot where the gumballs come out.

You’ll be the sweetest treat at the costume party, for sure.

Pop Art

Looking for a costume you can put together with only what’s in your makeup drawer? Using white dots and bold colors, you can turn yourself into a pop art hero in no time with the help of an easy makeup tutorial. You could pair the makeup with a graphic tee and leggings for a costume sure to turn heads.

LEGO Brick

This costume could be great for kids and adults alike, and because it uses a large cardboard box as its base, it is a snap to put together.

To make all your brick-building dreams come true:

  1. Start with an assembled box large enough to fit over your body, leaving one end open for your legs.

  2. Cut out three holes, one for your head and one for each arm.

  3. To make the signature LEGO nubs (or “studs” for legit LEGO terminology), glue six round, plastic storage containers from the dollar store in two rows down the front of the box.

  4. Give the whole thing a quick coat of spray paint in a signature LEGO color like yellow, and you’re ready to party.


Who isn’t cheered up at the sight of a rainbow? You could bring joy to any party by turning yourself into a multicolored dream. Here’s how:

  1. Use leftover cardboard boxes to cut out two large rainbow shapes.

  2. Use paint or construction paper to create the colored stripes (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet).

  3. Cut holes in two spots about shoulder-width apart on each rainbow and use string or duct tape to add straps so you can wear your rainbow like a sandwich board.

Pro tip: For extra flair, cut out a cloud shape from white construction paper and attach it to a headband. You’ll look absolutely heavenly without spending a cent.


All you need for this smart costume is a black T-shirt and an old white T-shirt you don’t mind cutting up. To make your skeleton costume:

  1. Use scissors or a rotary tool to cut out a skeleton shape in your white shirt.

  2. Layer the “bones” shirt over your black shirt for a 20-minute, totally free costume that will have you feeling festive.

Workout Instructor

Looking to stay comfy while celebrating the spookiest night of the year? This classic costume requires nothing more than digging through your drawers for the brightest workout clothes you own.

Try a bright pair of leggings underneath shorts, topped with a tank top and off-the-shoulder cropped T-shirt. To complete the look, cut out a barbell shape from cardboard and paint it silver or black. No one could possibly doubt the strength of this costume.


This easy option requires nothing more than a paper plate, some yellow construction paper or paint, and a popsicle stick. To make your emoji:

  1. Paint the plate yellow or cover it with yellow construction paper.

  2. Use a black marker to draw your smiley or winking emoji face.

  3. Cut out eye holes, and attach your emoji face to a popsicle stick so you can easily hold it up in front of you.

Pro tip: Make a second face and attach it to the other side so you can change up your emoji for photos!


All you need for this trendy costume is a green T-shirt and a piece of brown construction paper or felt. Here’s how:

•  1. Cut out a large oval from brown construction paper or felt and pin it to your shirt to represent the seed.

That’s it! Party Halloween night away as everyone’s favorite expensive fruit. If you’re feeling really fancy, you could cut out a large leaf shape from green construction paper and attach it to a headband to take the costume to the next level.

Iced Coffee

Pay homage to your favorite chain coffee with little more than brown pants, a brown cardigan, and a green T-shirt.

  1. Use white felt or construction paper to cut out a logo to pin or glue to your green T-shirt.

  2. To top off your caffeinated costume, glue cotton balls to an old hat to represent whipped cream.

  3. Glue a green tube made of construction paper into the cotton balls to make a straw.


Got a leopard-print dress hanging out in the back of your closet? What about a zebra-print T-shirt? Repurpose your once-fave outfit into a Halloween classic by adding a set of ears and using makeup to create a nose and whiskers. For an easy set of ears, draw your design on construction paper and tape it to a dollar store headband.

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Have your sights set on something that might cost a bit more for your fun Halloween celebration? Maybe it’s an authentic-looking Renaissance dress or gear to create that Victorian-style steampunk robot. If you’re looking for ways to make your money go further, SoFi Checking and Savings®️ might be right for you.

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