Saving Money on Halloween Costumes

October 3, 2008

Child dressed as a taco.Here are tips for saving money on Halloween costumes shared by ThriftyFun users.


Find out if you have a Freecycle webgroup for your area. Members list items they want to find or give away. Recently many Halloween costumes have been "put up for adoption". Freecycle groups aim to keep items out of our landfills by finding them new homes. Everything is free!

By Debby

Shop Garage Sales And Thrift Stores

As fast as children grow, they outgrow their clothes fast, usually meaning less money in your wallet. Before this Halloween, either shop for gently used Halloween costumes either at yard sales, or if you don't have the time or the gas to run all over searching, go to your local thrift stores before buying a costume at a retail store. It is much cheaper than renting one or buying one. You also can go to a store like "Savers" and get items inexpensive enough to make your own costumes.

For most thrift stores or stores like "Savers", the proceeds go to a charity like the American Red Cross, for example. Being thrifty to me, doesn't mean "cheap" as some family members have called me, it means saving money that I can use elsewhere!

By Terri

Little Cheerleader

For Halloween this year, my 1 year old daughter is going to be a Duke cheerleader. For Christmas last year, her uncle bought her the Duke cheerleading outfit (which the smallest size he could find was 12 months which is what she's wearing now). It has a white turtle neck shirt underneath the cheerleading suit. If it's cold, I'm going to put her on black windsuit pants underneath the dress since the slits in the skirt are blue and black.

And she's going to wear her white tennis shoes. On her face I'm going to use blue eyeliner to "paint" "Go Duke" on her cheek. I found blue and white pom-poms at Dollar Tree for just $1 to go along with her cheerleading outfit.

By Anna

Buy Halloween Basics After Halloween

Buy next years costumes after this year's Halloween, on clearance. You can't go wrong with the basics: Dracula, Superman, Darth Vader, The Incredibles, various monsters, etc.

Check your local dollar stores for accessories you can use to make your costume. For example, this year my niece will be a lady bug. Target has lady bug wings for a dollar. She'll wear black sweat pants with a red sweatshirt top with little black duct tape circles stuck to it. My daughter got a pair of fairy wings for a dollar at Target. We're planning on pairing this up with a dollar tiara, leotards and a body suit. I guess she's going to be some type of fairy ballerina/princess with this one. (I don't sound too sure, do I?)


By Michael Carter

Thrift Store Ball Gown

Even thriftier, go to a charity shop and get a "big" dress, or some curtains, and literally have a ball!

By Tanja from Malta

Old Clothes For Halloween and Dress Up

The kids visited their grandparents, and had fun going through the attic looking at old dusty treasures. They found vintage dress clothing in excellent condition from the great-grandparents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Lots of dress-up possibilities!

I also do the garage sale circuit frequently, and buy costumes in excellent condition for next to nothing. I put the larger sizes aside in a trunk for future use. In the winter, my brother's little kids also wear the warm fuzzy costumes for dress up on a daily basis! (This also works with Christmas decorations too!)


By Janet

Thrift Store Pirate Costume

Thrift shops! They are wonderful for creating costumes. If you have an idea in mind or a picture from a magazine to copy, plan ahead and visit different thrift shops in the months before Halloween, since the items for sale constantly change. Don't be afraid to use girls clothing items if you have boys, and vice-versa. My son was a pirate last year, using girls pull-on black pants that I cut jaggedly across the bottom ($1); a metal-ring and leather belt (about $1); girls red and white knee-high tights ($1); and a pirate hat ($2). My mom gave me buttons to sew onto a red felt tunic which I sewed (crudely, I admit, but pirates are supposed to be raggedy!). I used my own eyeliner to draw "scars" on his face and arms. A cheap, fun costume for a few bucks. It must be a good one because he wants to wear it again this year!

By Christine

Diet Coke Costume

Use 40 and 50% coupons at Joann's I made this Diet Coke can for cheap! I enlarged the diet coke info from a 2 liter bottle, glued the fabric on, so the only sewing was the seams on the side. I've made other beverages, even a six pack for friends. I made my mom model it for me.

By Melissa Murphy

RE: Saving Money on Halloween Costumes

Homemade Candy Bar Costume

Another idea for making your own: candy bar wrappers. The patterns are expensive, so just enlarge them yourself. Watch the fabric to be on sale at your store. Also, use fabric glue, so less sewing. Again I had my mom model for me, it was late. Have a great Halloween!

By Melissa Murphy

RE: Saving Money on Halloween Costumes

Imagination, Not Money

Making costumes for the younger set is super simple! Buy an orange sweatsuit and stitch on black stripes with a running stitch, and they can be easily removed for the child to wear all season long, then draw black or brown whiskers on their face with eyebrow pencil and you have a tiger. A beetle can be made from a black sweatsuit and colorful cloth spots. Add 2 pipe cleaner antenna to a headband and draw some spots on the face with Moms makeup and that one is done.

A red sweatsuit can morph into a ladybug using a similar process and so on. If you can use the costume as regular clothing it really costs you nothing as children have to have clothes to wear no matter what. Let your imagination go and you will be surprised at what you can come up with. You might even create a front loading washing machine out of a large box that would hang from the shoulders of an older child with straps. Cut a circle from heavy clear plastic, cut a larger circle from cardboard and paint it silver. Poke a few holes in the box "before" attaching the 2 circles, and stick a few articles of clothing in so that they stick out a bit.

Glue the plastic onto the back of the silver circle and glue both onto the front of the box. Voila, a washing machine with a few items spilling out of it.

The one thing that all of these costumes have in common is that the main thing required to make them is imagination - not money. If you include your child in making them you have created a real treasure - a happy childhood memory. Cherish them, they grow so fast. God bless, Shari

By Sharon

Bag of Onions

I put my little one in an onion bag with her head sticking out the top and holes for arms. It really fit that year too, she was a crabby baby.

By Suzanne

Taco Costume

I made my son a taco last year. I used an empty diaper box and cut out two half moons and painted them yellow with brown speckles (dip a toothbrush in brown paint and flick the bristles) and sewed in fabric to connect all the parts. I then hot glued on some green felt red felt and yellow stringing stuff and I painted some styrofoam for the meat and added straps. It was pretty funny,he hated it! It was fun for me.

By Gina

RE: Saving Money on Halloween Costumes

Use Your Imagination

My daughter and I came up with these two cute ideas when she was a preteen.

One year she thought that she was too old to dress up, but at the last minute, wanted a costume so she could compete in the costume contest. I was at work and had very limited resources. What we ended up doing was using my eye pencil to draw a circle around her eye, and then we took a piece of construction paper and punched 2 holes in it and threaded yarn through it so that she could wear it around her neck. I then took a magic marker and put a large letter "P" on her sign -- she was a Black Eyed Pea! She won 2nd place in the contest, for an idea that we came up with and executed in about 10 minutes!

Another year, she was "White Trash". We took a clear trash bag and filled it with crumpled white papers and cardboard and then labeled it "White Trash" and tied it around her neck.

You're only limited by your own creativity and imagination!

By Jana

More Ideas on ThriftyFun

For more Halloween costume ideas, check out our costume section on ThriftyFun.

Feel free to post your ideas below!

Read More Comments

13 More Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 170 Posts
October 22, 2010

No need to spend a lot of money on Halloween costumes. The Dollar Store has a lot of children's toys and things that you can make a costume with. For girls, fairy wings and a wand, play jewelry, and gloves can make a cute fairy.


October 12, 2011

The best solution we found was to shop the week *after* Halloween for the following year. For instance, my daughter wanted us all to be characters from the Wizard of Oz. We could not afford the costumes in time for Halloween 2010, but they were 75% off the first week of November!


October 10, 2011

When my daughter was young, we'd go to the local Salvation Army Store and get her a prom dress or some old outfit that she could tear and make look all ragged. Paying a couple of dollars was the best way to go for something she'd only wear once.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
October 17, 2018

I got a brand new Minnie Mouse costume on Freecycle. I saw from the pictures that the trim in the front was damaged, and it was pretty obvious. I decided to take it anyway, as I have lots of trim I have bought at garage sales.

Save on Halloween Costumes - new trim in place


September 21, 2010

Creating or coming up with a homemade Halloween costume is easily done by searching through someone else's closet! Simply ask a friend or sibling if you can pick a costume from their closet.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
October 31, 2011

My husband is a viking for Halloween, because a few years ago we found him a marvellous plastic viking hat complete with horns. This year, we added other plastic elements from the Dollar store.


October 29, 2005

Keep your eye out all during the year for items to possibly toss together to make inexpensive Halloween costumes during your everyday wanderings out while shopping.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 263 Posts
October 10, 2007

If you have friends with children the same size or about the same as yours, trade Halloween costumes. This way, each costume will be "new" to each child.


October 14, 2005

Do an internet search for face painting ideas. Last year I found a great fleece lion costume for $5.


October 7, 2005

This time of year, you get all the sale ads for halloween costumes; save them!



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

October 15, 2006

Where can I get a non-sexy costume cheap? One I can wear in public around kids and one I can also have fun at work and public with.

Theressa from Westerville, Ohio


October 17, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had the best time last year with a costume I believe I found on this site. I wore white pants and an oversize white sweatshirt. On the sweat shirt I had whipstitiched (could also glue) a yellow oval made from scrape material. I dotted a little red glitter all over the front, then wore a hair band that had devil horns and attached a red devil tail to the underside of the sweatshirt so it hung out the back. No one could figure out what I was - and what was I? A deviled egg, of course!

Answer this Question

September 20, 2017

Don't buy a new costume for you or your children this Halloween. Buying Halloween costumes on eBay can save you a lot of money.

A cute kid wearing a crocodile costume.

April 7, 2016
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