15 Best Budget Friendly and DIY Costumes for Halloween

Halloween’s getting closer, and despite the fact that your child has been thinking about candy bars and trick-or-treating with friends, you haven’t actually gotten around to planning your child’s actual costume. (It’s okay, it happens!)

You want both cute and affordable Halloween costumes for your cuties, so why not look for items around the house? You might not have every single thing you need at the ready, but since you’ve already got pool noodles, colanders, egg cartons and a hot glue gun laying around, you’re likely more than halfway there!

Take a look at a few of our suggestions for great costume ideas that you can assemble quickly (and most importantly, won’t bend your budget). 

Campfire 

Do you and your family adore camping (or glamping)? Make your child into a glowing campsite attraction by cutting flames out of orange, yellow and red felt and sewing (or gluing them) to an old red shirt. 

You can’t have a fire without logs. Cut pool noodles in half both vertically and horizontally and paint them with brown acrylic paint. Hot glue the logs onto the shirt at various angles and outfit your child in brown pants — his or her legs can also double as logs!

Glue gray-painted cotton batting to a hat and draw some wisps of smoke on your child’s face before you head out the door.

Human LEGO 

Keep your child’s favorite primary color in mind for this costume. Dig through your child’s closet to find a shirt and pants in identical primary colors — a sweatsuit works well. 

Next, using glossy acrylic paint, paint a large piece of rectangular cardboard. Slice off a dozen egg cups from an egg carton and paint them with the same glossy paint. Next, glue them on the cardboard, equally spaced, to resemble a LEGO. Tie the cardboard to a long piece of matching ribbon so the LEGO cardboard hangs from his or her neck.

Birthday Present

Recreate your child’s last birthday by cutting holes from the sides of a large box for your child’s arms and large enough for your child’s head to pop through. Wrap the box with gift wrap. Secure the raw edges with matching tape. Add a ribbon and glue a big bow to the finished present. Consider making a giant personalized gift tag for the present.

Washing Machine

Everyone in the neighborhood will remember this costume! Cover a large box with white paper and cut out holes for your child’s head, arms and a hole large enough for a washing machine window. Push a clear plastic bowl through the front of the washing machine to represent the concave glass window. Fill with clothing and seal the front of the washing machine and raw edges with matching tape. Hot glue plastic pop caps to the front of the machine for knobs. Your kiddo will be the cutest little cleaning device around!

Octopus

Make your cutie into a long-tentacled octopus in about an hour. Stuff three pairs of colorful cotton tights with fiber fill and wrap the waist area of the tights around a belt. Have your adorable cephalopod wear another matching pair of tights on her legs and a matching shirt. Add two large felt black and white eyes to a matching stocking cap to represent an octopus head.

Bubble Bath

Dress your bubble-blowing sweetheart in white leggings and a matching white shirt. Blow up white and iridescent balloons to resemble bubbles. Safety pin the end of the balloons to the shirt, but do so carefully! Snag a headband or head wrap and safety pin balloons to your child’s headband. Add a rubber duckie to the middle of the giant bubbles for a finishing touch.

Hot Air Balloon Rider

Cut off the top and bottom flaps of a large box. Paint alternating checks on all sides of the box to look like a basket. Create the top part of the basket using wooden dowels and stick them into square-formed painted pool noodles of the color of your choice. Run another pool noodle down the middle of the square and tie at least 20 helium balloons to it.

Punch small holes at the bottom of each of the box’s corners. Label four plain paper bags with the word “sand” and fill with wadded paper or foam peanuts. Tie the bags closed with twine and knot the string through the holes.

Gumball Machine

Sew colorful pom-poms all over a stocking cap. Cut out “25¢” in black felt and glue it to white felt. Create the money slot and hole for the gumball out of black and white felt and sew or glue both felt items to a red dress. Put the stocking cap on your child’s head and you’ll have your sweet little gumball machine ready for Halloween.

PaintBrush and Palette

Make your child into a life-size paint brush and palette using simple materials. Buy two brooms and cut off the bristles. Poke them into a round styrofoam disc. Use silver spray paint to paint a strip of posterboard to create the metal part of the paint brush — measure your child’s head to make sure it fits. Dress your child in whatever color she prefers for the paint brush handle color!

Create a giant palette out of cardboard. Paint primary circles of color all over the palette to create the paint for your cutie to “dip” into!  

Goldfish

Dig up an orange hoodie and a matching orange sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. Dye coffee filters orange and fold them in half. Attach them to the sweatshirt with a dab of hot glue and overlap to look like scales. 

Create white and black eyes and glue them to the top of the hoodie for the cutest scaled trick-or-treater around!

Jellyfish

Why not add another sea creature to the list? All you need for an instant jellyfish (without the stinger and all of the cuteness): a clear umbrella (did you know it’s actually called an umbrella on a real jellyfish?). Attach iridescent purple, pink and white ribbons for the tentacles. If you want to get really fancy, you can create the stomach pouch of the jellyfish. Attach small balloons or bubble wrap to the inside of the umbrella.

Sports Trophy

Guess what you need to make a sports trophy costume? Gold paint, gold paint and more gold paint. Spray paint a basketball, baseball bat, hockey stick or other type of sports equipment gold. Don’t forget to paint a uniform (or shoes, socks, shorts or pants and top) gold as well. Add bronzer to your child’s skin to complete the costume.

M&M’s Costume

Short on time or have to create several costumes quickly for multiple kids? Cut out lowercase “m’s” in white felt and put them on shirts the classic colors of M&M’s candies. It’s amazing how well branded M&M’s are — even your elderly neighbors will say, “You’re M&M’s! Great costume!”

Salt and Pepper Shakers

If you have a set of siblings or want to help best friends come up with a Halloween costume, consider dressing them as salt and pepper shakers. Gather two clear trash bags and fill one with black and the other with white pom-poms. Stick silver colanders on their heads and have them dress in either black or white. Complete the look with a giant black “S” or “P” on each.

Pool Noodle Rainbow

Got a cutie who loves rainbows? Bend multicolored pool noodles in the shape of a rainbow — hint: the rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — in that order. Add white balloons to the end to resemble clouds and attach the whole ensemble to a rainbow dress. Your trick-or-treater will bring happiness to whoever sees her costume!

SCUBA Diver

Have a SCUBA diver in the family or a child who really likes splashing around in the water? Create a SCUBA diver costume with two two-liter pop bottles. Spray paint them silver and use colored duct tape to create stripes on them and tape them together. Attach the pop bottles to suspenders and run tubing from the top of the pop bottles to a regulator, which you can make out of a laundry detergent cap. Create flippers from decorative felt and dress your child in all black to create the wetsuit. Don’t forget to add goggles to the whole ensemble!

Even Last-Minute Costumes Can Look Spooktacular

Feeling overwhelmed? Set your timer and see how much of your child’s costume you can create in an hour. That might keep you from feeling less daunted by adding Halloween costume creation to your to-do list.

Check out Pinterest for some great ideas of how you can make really simple costumes for just a few dollars. If the goal is to save money, you can find lots of ideas in minutes even if it takes more than a few minutes to create a costume. 

Happy Halloween! Get more tips and tricks about budgeting and saving from UNest.