Cheap-as-chips Halloween costume ideas

Fancy dress costumes are a bit like condoms: they’re only good the first time round! Forget splurging on one-off outfits, writes Save the Student – here’s how to dress for (a lot) less.

Pay less for party costumes: the golden rules

  • Stick to a budget if you don’t want to start November hungover and It’s totally possible to pay peanuts for a last-minute Halloween outfit: just work with what you’ve got!
  • Plan ahead to give yourself time to forage, borrow or make what you need and avoid last-minute panic buys – plus DIY is half the fun.
  • Head for charity and pound shops if you need kit, accessories or anything that’ll be ripped and shredded. Or ask friends and family for stuff that’s getting chucked.
  • Swap with someone else if you’ve both got last year’s outfit – that’s two new looks for the cost of none! Don’t have something to swap? Still ask around, or try Freecycle.
  • Going in a group can mean spending less individually if you pick the right concept. Think minions, memes, rainbows and emoji for starters!


Halloween costumes you can make for next to nothing

1. Go as your bestie

Celebs are easy to copy – but the beauty of the BFF is that you can raid their wardrobe for free! It works best if you know folk with a recognisable style (and who won’t mind you borrowing their gear, natch).

2. The Mummy (always) returns

The key is wrapping or stapling toilet paper around an outfit before you put it on, or it’ll be wrecked as soon as you move (or go to the loo). Don’t forget a few extra sheets around your face and head to finish the look. If you’ve got more time and cash to hand, go for crepe bandages (45p a roll on offer at Asda!) or a ripped-up bed sheet – soak ‘em in tea first for added grunge.

3. Think inside the box

Scour supermarket exits for free packing boxes – you want one large enough that you can wear. Leave the bottom open (so you take it on and off!) and cut a hole in the top so you can poke your head through. Cover or colour the box like your favourite breakfast brand with a gory twist (i.e., splashes of fake blood) and Bob’s your uncle: cereal killer.

4. What would Kanye do?

Well he probably wouldn’t wear yellow and carry around a shovel – but that’s because he’s not into gold diggers… True story.

5. Do social media

Get a large sheet of card or rip the side off an old cardboard box. Paint or cover the card like your social media timeline (or follow the instructions here), then cut out a large square hole to frame yourself as an Insta photo or Facebook profile. Alternatively, mock-up an old-fashioned picture frame and go as famous portrait. Don’t fancy carrying your costume around all night? Grab a black T-shirt, stick on your favourite icons and go as a smarty pants smart phone.

6. Gore-tech

Get the make-up right and people won’t even realise you’re not wearing a costume – but the key is jaw-dropping realism rather than “I drew a penis on my face”. Case in point: gory cut-throat SFX. Heads-up – watching this woman use scissors is possibly scarier than the final effect.

7. Anything ‘It’ related

The demonic clown look is easy to pull off at any time, but this year’s the one to cash-in on the Pennywise wave. Wear anything extra baggy (hit charity shops and accessorise with pom-poms if you need to, then go to town on scary face paints: try Wilko’s Frightfully Fab Make Up Kit for £1.50. Grab a red balloon, shout “you’ll float too!” and job’s a good ‘un.

What not to wear

There’s always one person that gets carried away and goes full-throttle racist at Halloween: don’t let it be you! There’s a fine line between hilarious and hideous – if you’re not sure where it is, think twice about:

  • Recent disasters: not cool, not funny, and could be closer to the bone than you realise.
  • Dressing like a genocidal maniac or dictator unless you know your politics or can take the heat. Definitely avoid the genocidal maniac + victim combo.
  • Painting your face or mimicking another nationality ‘for laughs’. Ditto taking the mickey out of other genders or mental health conditions. Cos, hey, it’s not 1972 any more.


Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site.

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