Saving Money on Halloween Costumes

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!

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October 3, 20080 found this helpful

Not a tip, just a comment. I used to do costumes for various community theaters so I have some elaborate stuff I've managed to put together on a dime in my life. My 5 kids always felt that they could rely upon me for some pretty slick Halloween costumes,etc., but I swear, the best costume EVER that I ever helped to create was for my son when he was 3 or 4 years old.

He trick or treated that year with total confidence that he WAS a Pirate, because he was wearing his Pirate underwear beneath his ordinary street clothes!!!

My point is, it's not how fancy or creative or expensive the costume is. Costuming is illusion, and play acting.

I've done a lot of fancier stuff over the years for my 5 kids, but this one stands out in my mind because it'a a reminder of how it's too easy to get carried away on the unimportant stuff (but very fun if you have time, resources and inclination to do),

I has no cash, and he designed his own costume. I simply facilitated his ideas the best I could. That turned out to be pirate undewear he already owned, and it wound up to be great fun for us all. But I didn't have much worries at the time onhow I stacked up against other parents.

And later (in junior high) when he won the best contest at school for something he'd created out of his imagination at the last minue, no money, and no help from me, well, I guess that helped my parental pride better than any official Pira

So I agree with the posters who've mentioned using imagination over all. Really, a "Black-eyed Pea" costume of ink and construction paper? Love it~L

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By Kim (Guest Post)
October 8, 20080 found this helpful

Geisha: One year when we needed to create something quickly my step daughter was a geisha in an oversized satin robe with a piece of cloth tied around her waist and pajama pants. We used kabob skewers with painted ends in her hair and slippers on her feet. My skin is lighter than hers so my powder foundation, eye liner and red lipstick completed her costume. She LOVED it much more than the costume that her mom had purchased but not sent and it was all stuff we had on hand!

Cheetah: Another year it was too cold for my daughter's planned costume so she wore a cheetah print coat and we painted her face with white face paint around her eyes and mouth and eyeliner and eyeshadow spots. She wore black pants and cat ears that I had purchased the year before after halloween for less than a dollar.

Kitty: We made use of those same bargain ears a different halloween when my step-daughter expressed an interest in dressing up for school. She wore a black and multicolored glittery sweater, black skirt, black tights, black gloves, and her dad's black socks over her tennis shoes. We gave her "cat eyes" with eye liner and used eye shadow all over her face to make her a glittery kitty. She was about 7 I think and was very happy to report that one boy in her class especially liked her costume.

Toga: Going greek is always easy and cheap too. Safety pins a white sheet and some ivy and you are the deity of your choice. We used goldish eye shadow all over our face for a special glow and I always chose to be Hera.

Ghost: Be a ghost, I know corny, but sometimes hotels have lightly stained white sheets that they keep on hand and will give you if you ask. The smallest stain prevents use and you would have to cut the edges for little ones anyway. Also you can often find solid colored sheets at thrift stores pink, blue, orange, or red and you are a "pac man ghost"

This year I picked up thrift store costumes. Our children always pick what they want to be unless there is a last minute problem and then I usually come up with 2 choices and let them pick. I take what they want to be and make the costume or buy inexpensive pieces. It is so much more fun it they choose and so much less expensive when I assemble. "Cheap" store costumes are about $15, but times 5 it isnt so cheap anymore. They are much more unique this way too.

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By Teri (Guest Post)
October 11, 20080 found this helpful

Living in the midwest, Halloween night was usually chilly, so I always started with sweats. Grey hoodie w/ felt ears and a grey tail, snap a mousetrap on the tail - MOUSE! Black sweats with 4 extra black fabric legs under the arms, run strong black thread from arm to arm - SPIDER. Black pants, white shirt, red felt to make a vest on the front of the shirt, sew a parrot to the shoulder, black patch, and a plastic sword - PIRATE! Black sweats, black fabric cape, white face makeup, and fangs - DRACULA. Sweats are a great base to build on! And can be worn the rest of the winter for play clothes too!

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