Fun Costumes for Less Money

by Alison Hickey

Over the years, I have become pretty good at making last-minute costumes out of items, and clothes that I already own. The key is to stay simple. Start with ideas that are basic enough so that the costume won’t look as last minute as it is.

Here are a few that have worked for me, and friends, in the past.

1: Skeleton 

All you need for this costume is a long-sleeved, all-black outfit. You will need long black pants, a long-sleeved black shirt and a roll of white, or glow-in-the-dark duct tape. Most people reading this, likely already have an all-black outfit. If not, these are basic items that you can get at Target or Wal-Mart for less than $20. The roll of duct tape can also cost you $2 to $6, depending on the brand. In the picture below, my sister and I both are wearing the skeleton costume. You can rip the pieces of duct tape, and place them on your clothing in the structure of a skeleton. You also have the option of buying a small kit of black and white face paint, which will cost you less than $5.

People in mostly homemade costumes pose for group photo on Halloween, 2014.
My sister and I both wearing the skeleton costume. Photo taken by Kimberley Laurenti.

2. Papier-Mache Masks:

The cost of flour, water, newspapers and paint can be totaled up to $15 or more, depending on the size of your mask, or how many different colors you want to use and don’t already own. In the picture below, I bought an over-sized balloon and papier-mached it, painted it and added cardboard pieces for shape. My friend, also pictured below, turned hers into a skeleton-and dressed in a different version of the skeleton costume described above.

Paper-mache bird and skeleton costumes
Papier-mache bird and skeleton costumes. Photo taken by Kimberley Laurenti.

Papier-mache provides you with endless mask and costume possibilities. You can make any animal, hairdo or hat that you’d like for your costume!

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2 thoughts on “Fun Costumes for Less Money

  1. I absolutely love this. When I think Halloween costumes I do not think papier-mache. I used to think most costumes were either bought or pre-owned clothes. Making a mask out of papier-mache seems fun. In high school we used added starch to our papier-mache pulp. I think that made it stronger but it took longer to dry. Do you recommend the use of starch or just flour?

    -Vanessa Okor

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  2. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and these ideas for cheap, last minute costumes are very cool. I remember raiding my parent’s closet for items to make a cool Halloween costume. One time, I dressed up as a biker chick, using my dad’s old leather jacket and motorcycle helmet. Another time, I went as a hippy using one of my mom’s old dresses. Shifting through their wardrobe was always fun, but there were also things in my closet that I could use as well. A lab coat that I used for school, coupled with a pair of fake glasses from the Dollar Tree, doubled as my mad scientist costume one year.
    The papier-mache masks are a really fun and interesting idea. I never knew how cheap and easy they were to make. I always wanted to try making my own mask for a costume and now I have the basic knowledge to do so. This year, I’m definitely going to try to make one, hopefully it will turn out as good as yours.

    -Jasmin Faisal

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