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11 Brilliant Budget Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween’s almost here (geez, can you believe it?). So it’s tough to think of easy halloween costume ideas that won’t destroy your Black Friday shopping budget, right? I mean, dropping $70 on an Amazon costume can be tough this time of year.

For those of you with little or no budget for costumes this year, here are 11 budget Halloween costume ideas. You may not win the best costume title but you’ll still show up respectably at any costume party — with money left in your checking account. Enjoy!

The easiest budget Halloween costume ideas

1. Princess (of Genovia if you like)

Close up of woman wearing tiara and formal dress.

This is my personal Halloween favorite. Head to the nearest Salvation Army or Goodwill and find yourself an old prom dress or evening gown. Or, look in the back of your closet for those “forgotten” bridesmaid dresses. The puffier and gaudier, the better.

Next, pick up a tiara, fake diamond jewelry, and white gloves if you can find them. You may also find those at Goodwill, but a Halloween store or teen accessory store like Claire’s will work too. Pile on the bling first, then get into character. You know, adopt a made-up accent like Moira Rose and then practice your royal wave (wave, wave, touch the pearls).

Now, here is the piece de triumph: Have your male bestie dress in a tux and gloves and be your manservant, James, for the whole night.

Your cost: $15-40, depending on the size of your kingdom.

2. Marathon runner

Runner in race raises arms to celebrate finish.

Dig out that summer tank top, shorts, and tennis shoes. Since it’s the end of October, go ahead and wear tights underneath your short shorts if you need to. A beanie and lightweight gloves would also be acceptable. Print out a race number on your computer, pin it on your tank, and you are ready to go.

Your cost: $0-$40, depending on the medal you are seeking.

3. Off-duty model

Woman walking on street wearing denim jacket and mini skirt.

For this costume, it doesn’t really matter what you wear — as long as you start with an enormous pair of sunglasses, long hair, and heels that seem too formal for your outfit. Find yourself a cheap wig if needed. You could don a mini and denim jacket with heels or sweatpants and a baggy t. But your hair should be messy and you should scowl.

It’ll also help if you can perfect the “I’m trying to hide but secretly want to be noticed” look.

Turn this into a couple’s costume by having your partner follow you and push people out of the way to photograph you.

Your cost: $0 to $25, depending on the size of your headline.

4. Sports parent

Mom with daughter wearing soccer uniform and holding soccer ball.

The prep for this costume is fairly easy. Attend one of your local little league or soccer events and study the parent pacing the sidelines wearing the team colors from head to toe. Then head to your nearest Salvation Army or call up a friend to borrow a booster club t-shirt. Spend the entire night yelling at others to “suck it up,” “run faster,” and “stop being a cry baby.”

Your cost: $0 (or more, depending on your child’s therapy bills).

5. Sandwich board (or Pinterest board)

Sandwich board sign for a tattoo shop.

Get yourself two giant pieces of cardboard, cut holes in the top of each and tie them together with string or twine. Decorate the boards however you’d like. Be a tattoo shop sign if you’re edgy. Other options are your corner cafe with a sense of humor (see sandwich board puns for inspo).

You could also tap a bunch of photos to your cardboard and call yourself a Pinterest board.

Your cost: $0 unless you decide to buy a bunch of stuff on Amazon to procure cardboard.

6. Ward and June Cleaver (or any ’50s couple)

Smiling woman pours tea for man wearing suit.

Dig a collared shirt and a-line skirt out of your closet and ask an older relative for a floral apron. Or shop thrift stores for appropriately old-fashioned pieces. Add sensible pumps and a subservient attitude (say “yes dear a lot) and you’re are ready to go.

Have your SO dress as your husband Ward, with a brown suit and a printed newspaper in hand.

Total cost: $0 to $40, depending on whether “the Beav” needs braces.

7. Game show host and number-turner

Man wearing suit holding microphone stands next to woman in cocktail dress.

This is a perfect costume for couples. Go to your nearest thrift store and find the cheesiest polyester, double-knit suit ensemble for men, and an ‘80s deranged-bridesmaid dress for women. Buy a toy microphone at a toy shop or Halloween store. Pick up a can of ultra cheap hairspray and tease up your hair like you’re from the Jersey shore.

Get a piece of cardboard, cut out a star about 8 inches in diameter and glue on gold glitter. Write the word “Grand Prize” in silver. To keep you smiling for the entire night, use this beauty pageant trick:  put Vaseline on the gums underneath your upper lip.

Your cost: $20 to $70 for both costumes, depending on whether your show is picked up for another season.

8. Tacky tourists

Tacky couple takes photo on golf course.

Pair loud, floral printed camp shirts with hideous khaki or bermuda shorts. Wear white tube socks pulled up to your knees with some plastic sandals from WalMart. Add a camera or camcorder, fanny pack, and flip sunglasses to finish off the outfit.

Total cost: $0 to $20 for both costumes, depending on how much vacation time you’ve accumulated.

9. Sloth (of the seven deadly sins)

Woman lays on bed in pajamas.

To be sloth, forgo washing your hair for a week. Then roll out of bed on Halloween in your pjs and you’re ready to go. See if you can recruit six friends to play the other deadly sins: greed, envy, wrath, gluttony, pride and lust.

Your cost: $0, depending on how sinful you’re are willing to get.

10. For families: The Huxtables (or the Tanners, Bradys, etc.)

There are so many great TV families to choose from: the Partridge Family, Brady Bunch, the Evans from Good Times, Donny and Marie Osmond, and the Jeffersons. The family you choose depends on the make-up of your group of friends, but putting together the outfits is almost as much fun as the actual Halloween event itself. Make a date and head straight to your local thrift store, or your parents’ closet.

Your cost: $20 and up, depending on how dy-no-mite you want to be.

11. Minions costume

I can’t take credit for this one — minions costume for adults, courtesy of Thrifty Jinxy. It’s likely you have all the elements in your closet, except for maybe those goggles!

Got some great budget Halloweeen costume ideas? Let us know!

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Tuesday 18th of October 2011

My friends and I were unique pageant queens one year:

Miss Spell (scepter with a lot of misspelled words on it: kute, peece, luv, etc.) Miss Direction (scepter with arrows pointing all different directions) Miss Fortune (Magic 8 Ball, tarot cards)

There are a number of possibilities! We all wore old bridesmaids dresses.


Monday 17th of October 2011

Halloween is the best holiday for the frugal creative types. So much fun coming up with a costume when you can't afford a pre-made one.

Kimberly D

Monday 17th of October 2011

More easily, whoever does "Envy" could just paint himself green


Thursday 1st of March 2007

I dressed up as a mime last year. Striped t-shirt, blank pants, black beret, face paint. The easiest part was to put the outfit together, the hardist was to be mute for the day.

Total cost: -$10 to $10, depending on how good your miming act is.


Wednesday 26th of October 2005

7 deadly sins:

Lust: Tshirt cropped and tied as microtank, no bra, “L U S T” emblazoned on it, hair undone, micromini skirt,lipstick smeared “like that”, high heels. Expensively cheap.

Sloth was already described. Keep with tshirt idea.

Vanity: mannequin-like apparel. Use button up shirt and emblazon “Vanity” in script on breast pocket of shirt, rather than tshirt. Or emblazon it across shoulders.

Wrath: Tshirt, “Wrath”. Jeans. Lots of bruises. Cast on fist. Brass knuckles.

Avarice: tons of bling. Suitjacket and tux apparel. “My Name Is” tag with “Avarice” on it. Highly visible cell phone, etc.

Gluttony: fat suit, Tshirt, “Gluttony”. Baby oil over all surfaces of skin.

Envy: find a pop culture icon, and *be* that pop culture icon, incorporate “Envy” into the shirt.

Done. Crew of seven are ready for the floor.

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