Halloween certainly can play a trick on your wallet if you buy expensive costumes for your kids. In fact, those celebrating Halloween this year are expected to spend $950 million on children’s Halloween costumes, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a lot of money shelled out for an outfit that’s likely only going to be worn once.
This Halloween, do your pocketbook a favor by making inexpensive costumes for your kids. Before you say, “I’m no Martha Stewart,” listen up: You can create Halloween costumes your kids will love even if you’re short on time, can barely sew and “Crafty” isn’t your middle name.
Check out these 11 DIY Halloween costumes that are easy, cheap and guaranteed to get raves this year.
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume
Total Cost of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume: Less than $20
You can save money on Halloween costumes by getting a little creative. My son wanted to be the caterpillar from Eric Carle’s classic children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” I looked online for costumes but couldn’t find anything that was reasonably priced. So, I decided to create a caterpillar costume for him.
I spent less than $20 on a red hooded sweatshirt, green sweatpants and a green shirt on sale at Old Navy. I bought felt and fuzzy pipe cleaners to create the eyes and antennae, which I sewed by hand onto the hood of the sweatshirt (hot glue would’ve worked, too). If you can’t find a red hoodie, a red knit hat will do the trick.
2. Owl Costume
Total Cost of Owl Costume: Less than $15
Mimi Green created an adorable owl costume for her daughter for less than $15. She used a hooded sweatshirt as the base and felt to create the feathers, which she sewed under each sleeve and on the front of the sweatshirt. You can use hot glue to attach the feathers, she said — just put cardboard inside the sweatshirt so the glue doesn’t soak through, and stick the sides together.
She also used felt to create the owl face, which she stitched to the hood of the sweatshirt. For more details on how Green created the costumes, see her step-by-step guide on MimiCuteLips.com.
3. Carrot Costume
Total Cost of Carrot Costume: Less than $20 (less than $10 if you have orange clothing)
The carrot costume Menucha Citron made for her son didn’t require any sewing — just hot glue. She glued an orange piece of felt cut in the shape of a carrot to a shirt and paired it with orange pants. For the carrot top, she made a hat out of green burlap ribbon, using hot glue to hold it together.
You can find detailed instructions on MomsandCrafters.com.
4. Cow Costume
Total Cost of Cow Costume: Less than $20
Lynnae McCoy’s daughter insisted that she make her a cow costume last year — and she definitely didn’t want a store-bought one. So, McCoy transformed her daughter into a cute black-and-white cow for less than $20 with a long sleeve white shirt, black leggings and felt bought at Walmart.
She used fabric glue to attach the black felt cut into spot shapes and pink felt for the udders. She found cow ears and a tail at Walmart to complete the look. For more details, see LynnaeMcCoy.com.
5. Cactus Costume
Total Cost of Cactus Costume: Less than $20
Rachel Hollis, who often relies on her DIY skills to make Halloween costumes for her boys, made cactus costumes last year for her and her son. All it took to make this clever costume: a green sweatshirt, sweatpants and pipe cleaners.
Hollis cut the pipelines into 2-inch pieces and glued them onto the sweats in groupings of one to four. You can see step-by-step images of how she did it on The Chic Site.
6. Jellyfish Costume
Total Cost of Jellyfish Costume: Less than $10 (if you have an umbrella)
If your kid wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up — as Erin Burt’s daughter does — then a jellyfish is the perfect costume. And it certainly looks a lot cuter than the real thing.
Burt glued pink material to an umbrella and then attached ribbon with hot glue to create tentacles. She dangled frilly white ribbon from the center of the umbrella to create the jellyfish’s “oral arms,” as Burt’s daughter instructed her they are called. Then, her daughter held the umbrella over her head while trick-or-treating to give the illusion that she was a jellyfish.
7. Robot Costume
Total Cost of Robot Costume: $9
What little boy wouldn’t love to be a robot for Halloween? Jamie Roubinek was able to make her son look like one mainly with things she found around the house.
She used two boxes covered in foil to create a robot body and head then added an old CD, bottle caps, solo cups and printouts of gauges found online to accessorize. Dryer duct found at a home improvement store for $9 was used to cover her son’s arms and legs, and foil was wrapped around his shoes. You can get more detailed instructions on Roubinek Reality.
8. Thing 1 and Thing 2 Costume / Cat in the Hat Costume
Total Cost of Cat in the Hat Costume: $12
Total Cost of Thing 1 and Thing 2 Costume: $22
Mary Hoover relied on Dr. Seuss for inspiration for costumes for her three sons. She turned her oldest into the Cat in the Hat using a black sweatshirt and sweatpants bought at a thrift store, white gloves, red felt for a bow, and a red and white hat that she bought but said could be made using felt if you sew.
She dressed her younger sons as the Cat’s sidekicks — Thing 1 and Thing 2 — using red sweatsuits purchased at a thrift store, blue ski hats and blue yarn. She used white paint and a marker to create the Thing 1 and Thing 2 labels on their tops. Hoover said the yarn could be sewn or hot glued onto the caps to create hair. For more details, visit MissiontoSave.com.
9. Caterpillar and Butterfly Costumes
Total Cost of Monarch Butterfly Costume & Caterpillar Costume: $25
Maura White bought a monarch butterfly costume for her oldest daughter and wanted a costume for her toddler that would complement it. However, she couldn’t find a monarch caterpillar costume, so the frugal mom behind Happy Deal Happy Dayopted to make one.
She found a black and white romper on Amazon for $14 then used fabric markers to color every other stripe yellow. Then, White fashioned antennae out of black pipe cleaners attached to a black headband.
10. Day of the Dead Costume
Total Cost of Day of the Dead Costume: Less than $10
Gina Kleinworth was inspired by sugar skulls used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and decided to create a similar look on her daughter’s face for Halloween. This Day of the Dead costume only requires face paint — and a very steady hand. She added a large flower to her daughter’s hair to complete the look.
You can find step-by-step instructions for creating a Day of the Dead face at her blog, Kleinworth & Co.
11. Tornado Costume
Total Cost of Tornado Costume: Less than $5
Forget princesses and fairies — my oldest daughter wanted to be a tornado for Halloween when she was 3. This isn’t the type of costume you can find in a store, so I had to come up with a clever way to make it obvious she was a tornado without wrapping her in something that would restrict her movement.
Keep reading: Why You Should Rethink Your Halloween Budget
I cut a poster board in half and painted tornado images on each piece, complete with items such as a plastic cow “caught” in the tornado. I tied the two pieces together with ribbon and draped them over her shoulders like a sandwich board. It was a huge hit, and people were amazed that a little girl actually wanted to be a tornado.
From GoBankingRates.com: 11 easy (and cheap) DIY kids Halloween costumes