Want to do Halloween costumes but living on a tight budget?

Halloween sneaks up on me every year. I day dream about Halloween costumes MONTHS in advance, but when it actually starts getting close, I almost always draw a blank on how our family will dress up. I find it especially challenging given that we have been students and or paying off student loans the entire time our family has existed. Aka we’ve always been on a tight budget for Halloween. So, here are 5 quick tips to do Halloween costumes on a budget.

halloween costumes on a budget


To do Halloween costumes on a budget, start by checking in at home to see what you have. This is a good place to start if you haven’t decided what you and or your family will be for Halloween. For example, I owned a light blue and white striped shirt that looks exactly like Smee from Peter Pan. That piece inspired our family theme of Peter Pan last year. I added a red beanie and some Birkenstocks (all of which I already owned) and then started gathering other pieces so that hubby could be Captain Hook and our babe could be Peter Pan. You might have an old costume that could be repurposed into something new or you might have an outfit that you normally wear that can be transformed into something else. Keep your eyes out.


If nothing is inspiring you at home, check in with family members and friends. You could swap old costumes and or repurpose some of their old ones. You can also borrow things that can be purposed into a costume or other resources to help you craft, like a glue gun.


If you don’t have any luck with family or friends, check at your local thrift shop for some cheap finds. One year we were Jurassic World characters, inspired by an adorable T-rex costume that we found at a thrift store for $5. It even had the original tags on it! The only other thing we had to buy for the ensemble was a red wig for me (to be Claire). Everything else we had at home. Don’t underestimate what treasures you might find at a thrift store. You might even find a piece that inspires your whole ensemble!


Another option is to shop clearance sales in the days and weeks after Halloween to prep for next year. That way you can get brand new, high quality costumes for a fraction of the price. It is really difficult for me to commit to a costume one year in advance, but I love the idea of this. It is also a good option if you have kids and want to put together a dress up box. This year, I’m planning to buy several costumes on clearance and save them as Christmas presents for M’s dramatic play.

5. DIY

Even the least crafty of all of us is capable of doing some simple DIY costumes. [Remember Jim from the Office’s Facebook face?] This year, we are going to be characters from the Trolls movie. I have almost no craft skills, but was able to make little head bands for our hair and throw some felt on a vest for M’s Branch costume. Pinterest + the internet are chock full of easy DIY ideas.

This Halloween means that Danny and I have been together for 10 years! Blows my mind.

I thought it would be fun to show you our costumes throughout the last decade. We’ve dressed up every year we’ve been together and we’ve always done it on a budget (because we’ve been in school that long!) We usually find inspiration around the house and then top our costumes off with a few small purchases to complete the look.

2007: This is the year we met which was sadly but likely appropriately undocumented.

2008: Ninjas halloween costumes on a budget

2009: Storm and Wolverinehalloween costumes on a budget

2010: Princess and Mario, Mariokart version halloween costumes on a budget

2011: Chinese (not very PC but we’d just gotten back from China) halloween costumes on a budget

2012: Orbit gum lady and Brawny paper towels dude halloween costumes on a budget

2013:  Characters from the movie “Up” halloween costumes on a budget

2014: 90’s teen pregnancy halloween costumes on a budget

2015: Jurassic Park characters halloween costumes on a budget

2016: Hook, Smee, and Peter Pan halloween costumes on a budget

2017: characters from the movie “Trolls”– can’t wait to show you the final product! halloween costumes on a budget

What are your best “Halloween on a budget” ideas? What are you dressing up as this year? 

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halloween costumes on a budget

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