Child wearing ghost costume made out of a white sheet

15 Frighteningly Frugal Halloween Costumes

Here’s a freaky fact for you: Americans are planning to spend more on costumes, pumpkins, decorations, and treats this year than any other Halloween in the past decade. That’s $82.93 per shopper, mostly on costumes, according to the National Retail Federation.

If that number spooks you, fear not! America Saves has compiled our 15 favorite affordable, homemade costume ideas for any budget:

1. Slimy Snail

This snail costume can be made in a pinch with kraft paper, a backpack, and household supplies. Get the directions from Oh Happy Day. Just don’t trick or treat too slowly!

2. Oh Deer

For a costume that everyone will fawn over, use makeup colors that you already have on hand to create a doey-eyed deer look.  Top it off with construction paper ears and antlers made from twigs. Cheap Frills and Thrills has the tutorial.

3. Jellybeans

This easy and clever costume idea is so sweet, you might get a toothache! Inflated balloons (water balloons are the perfect size) and a clear plastic bag instantly becomes a bag of jellybeans. Get more inspiration from Buzzfeed.

4. Ice Cream

This Halloween costume will leave you screaming… for ice cream! It can be whipped up last minute with some construction paper sprinkles and cone hat. Get the rest of the scoop from Treasures & Travels.

5. Fairy Tale

All you need for a frugal last-minute costume is an old book. With a sewing machine or stapler, you can turn the pages into a clever storybook costume. Or make a similar comic book hero costume using the funnies section of your newspaper.

Quirk Books explains how to make this fairy tale costume.

6. Spooky Spider Web

This no-sew spider web can be spun with felt from the craft store or an old sheet. Add some hot glue and contrasting yard, and you have a simple DIY costume.

Get step-by-step directions from Pretty Plain Janes. Or see a similar version with cutouts instead of yarn from Delia Creates.

7. Spookier Spider

Every spider web needs its spider! This last-minute Halloween costume can be put together with black clothing and stuffed black socks. If you don’t have googly eyes on hand, you can make some of your own with construction paper.

Get the full instructions from Mad in Crafts.

8. Jellyfish

Don’t get stung by the price of store-bought costumes. An umbrella and streamers of any material (tissue paper, fabric, yarn, ribbons) are all you need for this homemade Halloween costume. Add some holiday lights for a really special look.

Almost the Real Thing walks you through the steps.

9. Bugged Out

This quick and easy costume is giving us the creeps, but it’s too good not to share. Hot glue plastic creepy crawlers to a pair of nylons for a memorable look.

This idea comes from Martha Stewart.

10. Crazy Cat Lady or Gentleman

The purr-fect costume for cat lovers! Hair rollers, a bathrobe, and cats (lots of cats) are all you need for this affordable Halloween costume.

See more pictures at Costume Works.

11. Bank Robber

Keep you money in the bank by making this cheap costume. A bank robber comes together right before your eyes with a mask and ski cap. Use electrical tape to make the dollar sign on a sack.

See how this bandit costume was made at Make It and Love It.

12. Lions, and Tigers, and Bears

You’ll roar over how shockingly simple this free costume idea is. Just print one of many animal masks from Coolest Free Printables. You can even color your own! Laminate the mask, if available, for extra durability.


13. Flower Pot

A laundry basket or storage tub and dollar store flowers can become this year’s Halloween costume with just a little bit of creativity.

See how this clever costume was made at Dukes and Duchesses.

14. Bulletin Board

This 2016 Halloween costume idea isn’t just cheap and easy, it’s also interactive! Wear a brown t-shirt, and bring a pad of sticky notes and pen with you. Ask people to leave messages on you throughout Halloween day and night!

Take note at Woman’s Day.

15. Wind-up Toy

You are guaranteed to have these supplies on hand. A paper towel tube and scrap cardboard are all you need to complete this costume. Make this key in 1-2-3 from eHow.

Woman wearing homemade Trom costume with reflective tape. 16. Tron

Here's a bonus from the America Saves team! Our very own Halloween hero Katie crafted this glowing homemade costume with black clothes and a roll of reflective white tape. 


17. Battlestar Galactica 

This sci-fi couples costume was made with just a grey shirt, black tank top, and washable markers.

15 Frighteningly Frugal Halloween Costumes text overlay over picture of child wearing ghost costume made out of white sheet with holes cut for eyesWhat to do with the Money You Save on Costumes

Savvy crafters and DIY-ers can save lots of green this October with these cheap and easy costume ideas. But don’t just spend less! Put the money you save into a savings account to plan for future expenses. Saving just $500, for example, can save you from a lot of scary unplanned expenses, and not just during Halloween. 

And did you know those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully? Why not let America Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. That’s what our pledge is all about. Learn more about how to save money for the future here.

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Looking for even more costume ideas? Check out 25 Effortlessly Frugal Last Minute Halloween Costumes.

Need a costume? Here are 15 frighteningly frugal #Halloween #costumes from @AmericaSaves >>
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  • Written by Katie Bryan | December 20, 2013

    Setting reasonable expectations can help keep your #holiday festivities #frugal!

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