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Fun Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Updated on October 5, 2008


Heck yeah! Dressing up like monsters and mystical creatures and evil do-ers and naughty girls, free candy all night long, parties up the yin-yang, silly pranks, a night just for fun and tricks and friends! Who doesn't love Halloween!?

... Super-duper Christian zealots and cranky old coots aside, everyone loves this holiday. Halloween is a night of mischief, mayhem, and all-around monstrosity (in the best way)! But Halloween shopping can seriously take a bite out of your wallet, especially with those ever tantalizing costumes. Never fear, my fellow Halloween patriot! I have with me some simple tricks to make your costume an even sweeter treat without having to scrounge in the sofa cushions for those spare quarters!

What do you want to be?

Ask yourself this question first. Do you want to be a pirate or a princess? A bar wench or a scary witch? A vampire or Dorothy? Depending on your costume, you might have to shell out more dough to get the perfect look.

Some of the easiest (and cheapest) ideas are:

  • Animals
  • People
  • Clowns
  • Witches
  • Vampires
  • Goth/Lolita
  • Evil Empress
  • Storybook Characters
  • Specific Professions

Most of these can be achieved without even having to buy a costume (clown excluded; you just HAVE to get that stupid-looking suit!) if you just look in your own closet. The average person has at least one entirely black outfit; perfect for a spooky getup. And almost every woman has makeup, so you won't need all that expensive face-paint. You can get it if you want, but I'm pretty sure you've got black eyeliner and mascara in that makeup bag of yours (for you boys, this is where girlfriends/wives/moms come in; they're good for something after all).

Easiest to create is the animal costume, since about the only thing you'll actually need to buy is a headband with the appropriate ears on it. People are easy, too; just find something you'd think that specific person would wear/have worn, and there you go. You might need a wig, but it's not like those cost a lot in the Halloween section at Wal-Mart. Specific professions can be simple, too, depending on what you're going for. Doctors need a white lab coat (which can be almost anything; even a bed sheet, if you know how to sew), and so do scientists. And to get the notorious Evil Genius grey/white hair, just use baby powder. Easy to get in, easy to get out. Storybook characters follow this same principle, though they may be a bit harder. Want to be Little Red Riding Hood? Like that's hard to accomplish, all you need is a long red coat (or even another bed sheet and some sewing know-how), a little dress-like outfit (preferably white), and a wicker basket (honestly, who doesn't have one of those lying around the house somewhere?).

If you're going for something more elaborate, you're going to have to dig deep into your wallet for just the right junk. But if you don't mind doing things on a budget, continue reading as I go through a couple different costumes and how you can pull them together from stuff you'll find right inside your house.

You don't always need a broomstick to be a witch.
You don't always need a broomstick to be a witch.


Sorry boys, I'd do a segment on warlocks, but they're just not the same as a witch, and will more than likely need a costume (or someone really handy with a sewing machine) to pull off.

The witch has been around for centuries, and has always been my personal favorite. I was a witch for about 8 years, and only had to buy two costumes and one thing of face paint to pull it off. Did I mention I'm going to be a witch this year? :-D

Let's start with the basics.

Every woman has a LBD (little black dress). Even if you don't have a LBD, you're bound to have at least one black shirt and one black skirt. This will be the foundation for your costume. Next, you'll need black shoes. If you don't have a pair of black heels, which are preferred, tennies will work just fine. Plus, they'll feel a lot nicer on your feet after a couple of hours of walking around.

Once you've got these things, you'll need a pair of black fishnet stockings (another thing almost every woman has) or black nylons (okay, you better have a pair of these, else I'm giving up on you). These are mostly for kicks, so they're not entirely necessary, but they will add to the glamor of the costume.

Do you have a pair of elbow-length black gloves? If you don't, don't worry; they're not required, they're just an accessory. Black or silver bracelets will work, too. These add some fun to your arms or wrists. Black nail polish isn't a must, either, but again, it adds more fun to the costume.

A silver belt will help break up all the black on your torso. No one's that interested in an all-black babe (black meaning the outfit, not your skin color), unless you're going for the gothic look. If you have one, great. If you don't, you might have a silver/grey head scarf you can tie around your waist to make a belt. You can even go for an orange scarf, or a purple scarf; both of these colors are common among store costumes, and they add more kerpow to your homemade ensemble.

For jewelry, try to stick with Halloween-esque items; a black or silver necklace, preferably chunky in volume, black or silver star/spider/whatever earrings that match said necklace, and whatever else you might have if you've got more holes on your face to fill. This part's all up to your personal taste.

Makeup's pretty simple: black/orange/purple eyeliner, black/orange/purple eyeshadow (sparkles are more fun), black/orange/purple mascara, dark red lipstick.

  • First, put on the eyeliner. You can do it as you normally would, or add more for a more sizzling look. A fun thing to do is put an eyeliner star next to the outer edge of your eye, about a finger's width away from the corner. Sure, it's kind of a teeny-bopper goth/punk/emo thing to do, but for a costume, it's fun.
  • Once you've got your eyeliner on, powder up your eyelids with that shadow! For a more sophisticated look, go for two colors (darker color on bottom, lighter color on top and around). If you're not sure how to do this, just look in any magazine; find a makeup ad and the model will more than likely have this look goin' on.
  • After the eyeshadow comes the mascara (NEVER do mascara first; the small eyeshadow powder particles will stick to the wet mascara and you'll look like an idiot). Nothing different than normal here. A fun idea is to get those cool eyelash sticky things with the cool colors or gems or feathers. Those things rock.

The last thing you'll need is your hat. "What about hair?" you might be asking your computer monitor. While I don't think talking to inanimate objects is going to get you very far, worrying too much about your hair's not really worth it. You can do anything you want to it, or nothing at all. I'm getting a soft perm, to be honest. It's mostly for Halloween, but I've been wanting to do it since forever, and I thought it'd be a fun way to help myself get out of my usual routine and into something new and different. Change is a good thing sometimes.

Anyway, the hat. The hat is probably the most important part of the witch costume. Any cheap-o Wally World hat will do. I'm sorry, but this is just not an average American wardrobe piece, so I can't tell you to go look in your closet for this item. Besides, they're not that expensive anyway, and look! You've saved a huge bundle just by using your own clothes for your outfit, so why not reward yourself with an inexpensive piece?

Tada! You are now a full-fledged Witch! Don't go casting any bad spells, girls; what goes around comes around!

Scooby Doo, where are you?
Scooby Doo, where are you?


The most common Halloween animals are dogs and cats. Both are pretty simple, but we'll break both costumes down for easier reading.


You're going to need a dog-eared headband for this. Let's say your doggy is brown. Alright, easy enough. We'll start with brown pants. Just simple brown pants, nothing super-duper, nothing you don't already own. Does your dog have brown or white feet? This'll determine which color shoes you'll want to wear. Brown feet call for brown shoes, and white feet call for white shoes. Easy enough, but what if he has one brown foot and one white foot?

... Duh, you wear one brown shoe and one white shoe. Obvious much?

Now, you can either go for the all-brown dog, which will require a brown shirt roughly the same color as your pants, or the half&half-er, in which case you'll need a white shirt. If you want, you can dye the back of the shirt brown, so it looks like your puppy has a white belly. Aw, look at the belly! So cute! Or you can give him some spots, if you want. It's all up to you.

If you don't own a dog, you're going to have to get a dog collar. It's a good thing they're inexpensive, else I'd feel bad for telling you this. Color's all up to you, Buddy, so pick one you like. You can even get yourself a leash, though that might look a little goofy or too sexual (yeah, you need to be wary of that). It can have rhinestones on it, spikes sticking out of every which way, it can be a choke collar, or it can be a plain fabric thing. Your choice.

For hands, take an old, ratty pair of winter gloves (if you're in a place where you'll never own gloves... Well, I don't know what you want me to say to that) and cut off the fingers. You know what gloves I'm talking about, right? The ones that you can get almost anywhere for a dollar? Okay. You'll want your gloves to match your shoes (if you went for the brown/white combo, switch it up on your hands) so your dog doesn't look like a total weirdo. Not much else is needed in the arm department, unless you have to have your jewelry (ladies) or watch (guys).

The tail is simple, too. All you need is an old brown (or white) sock, fill it up with tissue paper/kleenexes/toilet paper/cotton balls, then tie it to your back belt loop. If you don't have a belt loop, pin the tail on (the donkey! Ha! I made a funny!) with a safety pin. Want some spots or a different colored end? Crayola marker words wonders, or Sharpie. Don't bother with dye; it's a mess and a hassle with such a small item.

For the face, take brown eyeliner (ah, women; what would our men do without us?) and make a big dot on your nose. This is the doggy nose. Put a couple of small dots along your upper cheek bone for those little muzzle-whisker spots. If your dog has a spot on his eye, make a big brown circle around your eye, and either color it in or leave it blank. Girls, for your other eye, just put a nude-like colored eyeshadow on. No one will be the wiser.

Shove that headband on your head, and poof! Insta-puppy!


The cat follows the same principles as the dog. For a black cat, get a black outfit together. For a tail, you'll need a black knee-length sock or stocking. Don't worry about paws here; just use black nail polish for claws. You'll want a dog collar, though; cat collars don't come in human-like sizes. Instead of muzzle-spots, put whiskers. Wasn't that easy?


This is easy enough to do, since we've already explained the Witch, and most of the Vampire costume will follow those same guidelines.

Get your black outfit together. Guys, consider a white button-up shirt and a black vest for this one. It'll look a lot cooler, trust me. Once you've got that part taken care of, the only thing you'll need to worry about are nails, face, hair, and the ever-present cape.

The nails are simple; black nail polish, yet again. Yes, boys, even you will look better with it on; it adds more oomph to the ensemble. If you want, you can add a bit of red to the tips for that "Sorry, I just ate" appeal. For jewelry, go with vintage gothic-esque styled items. Oh, and boys, don't put on that Rolex watch; it doesn't match the Vampire lifestyle. If you want something interesting below your wrists, wear your class ring. It's bound to be old (ha ha, old people joke) and to the nonobserver, will look like a count's ring.

For that deathly palor, find that baby powder. Rub some in your hands, then rub it all over your face, being careful of your hair and eyebrows. Next, take some purple and black eyeshadow and apply to your lids for that bruised look the Vampire chicks/dudes vye for. Be sure to put it underneath your eyes, too. Then comes the black eyeliner and mascara (for the ladies). The lips are simple enough; ruby red lipstick. If you're looking to spruce up the getup for some extra effects, put a couple of droplet-shaped lipstick dots under the corners of your mouth.

Your hair might be a challenge. The general Vampire costume calls for black hair. You can either get the cheap wash-out dye or a wig. Guys, if you have super short hair, don't bother; there's not enough hair to really see the dye, and the wig's just going to itch like mad. If your hair's about an inch in length, consider the wash-out stuff, then slick your hair back with gel (if you don't have any handy, ask a female friend for some). Girls, trust me when I say the dye's going to be your only choice, unless you've got a pixi cut and don't mind wigs. Those of us with luscious locks can try for the wig, but it's not going to stay on very well without a million billion bobbypins.

Jewelry's the same as with the Witch (for girls), so jump up to the bit about jewelry for some good ideas.

"I vant to suck your blood!" Teeth! Vampire teeth are cheap as heck, so don't feel bad about buying them. Though, if you don't feel they're necessary, don't bother; those plastic dentures have a bad habit of cutting into your gums, which just doesn't feel good. You know what else isn't good? Missing your cape. The cape's an easy accessory to pull off. All you need is a black bedsheet (or pillowcase if you want a smaller cape) and a little sewing machine knowledge. If sewing's not on your agenda, you might as well just buy the cape.They're not that bad on your wallet.

There you have it, kids! An eco-friendly Vampire! Who says vampires don't know anything about saving money?

Trick or Treat!

Those are my inexpensive costume tips for the economic shopper in you. Have fun this Halloween, and always remember to be safe, never drive drunk, and give lots of candy to the kids!


Oh look! I see Casper!
Oh look! I see Casper!


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    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      I absolutely loved your hub so much I'm linking to mine. You have great writing syle and tons of humor and not to mention great ideas on a budget. Happy witching again to you this year!


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