13 cheap and easy Halloween costumes
Halloween is a major date on the student calendar, but getting together an impressive costume on a budget can be tricky. Here are some of our best ideas!
Whether you're the self-proclaimed king or queen of fancy dress or prefer something a little more vanilla, we've got a whole host of ideas that won't break the bank.
That means avoiding shelling out £50+ on this impressive, but ultimately excessive, Jabba The Hutt costume.
Not only that, we've specially picked costumes which won't take you hours to complete and can be made with things lying around the house. You'll be pleasantly surprised by just how good they are!
Best cheap Halloween costume ideas
Jelly Beans costume
Grab yourself a clear (and clean!) bin bag and make a few holes for limbs – then fill to your heart's content with balloons!
Weave a ribbon through a few smaller holes at the top of the bag and tie loosely at the neck so it doesn't end up around your ankles. Or, better still, see if you can find some bin bags with long handle ties that will do the same job.
Walking around inside a bag of balloons won't be easy, but it'll definitely add to the night's entertainment!
Silent Movie Star costume
Everyone owns some clothing which fits into the white and black category, right? And with a dash of white face paint, it's exceptionally easy to look like you've just walked off a silent movie set.
This idea's especially great if you aren't a massive fan of the people you're going to party with, as silently drinking in the corner can be declared part of the act. If anybody dares talk to you, simply point them towards the selection of witty placards that you've prepared to help you communicate (things like "Where can I find the vodka?" and other important questions).
Similarly, if you happen to have a stripy top, white gloves and a beret lying around – you're the perfect mime!
Cost: White face paint for about £3, plus the tiny cost of printing off your speech placards.
Fried Egg costume
Who's to say what can and can't be achieved with a bit of white card and something yellow?
To make the yolk you can either glue on an upside-down mixing bowl (a yellow one, obviously), stitch together some yellow material or simply paint a big yellow circle in the middle.
Aside from reminding everyone of what they'll be forcing down their throats to fight the hangover in the morning, this costume is super easy and memorable.
Just bear in mind the logistics of travel in this instance – climbing into a taxi dressed as a fried egg will be... interesting.
Cost: White card (feel free to tape some smaller pieces together) for £3 or £4, plus a plastic bowl or yellow paint (both around £1) and some string to strap the egg around your neck.
404 Error costume
This is definitely one for the tech buffs among you. And as far as low-effort Halloween costumes go, you'll struggle to find an easier costume that'll get you more kudos.
Upstage everyone effortlessly by donning your witty 'I'm above all this fancy dress sh*t' look.
Cost: White tee (about £3 from Primark) and fabric pens or black marker. Or for an even more minimal effort costume, simply print off the message and tape it to your top.
This is quite possibly the easiest and most effective Halloween costume in the history of the universe, and chances are you'll have everything you need in your possession right now (unless you're in one of those student houses that never has toilet roll).
To prevent the bog roll from tearing and leaving a trail behind you everywhere you go, mix things up with some white bandages at the end as this will keep things in place.
For added effect, you can also splash some fake blood around (red food colouring will do the trick too). Just be careful not to turn all your clothes red.
Also consider bounding your top and bottom halves separately, otherwise you'll encounter some issues when you need to pee (although you'll never be short of loo roll for once!).
Cost: Six toilet rolls for around £2 (although you can make some money back by selling your empties).
Dead Celebrity costume
Elvis, Shakespeare, Marilyn Monroe... this is particularly handy if you've dressed up as them before – just do it again, but the dead way. Recycle, baby!
Add some fake blood, pale white face paint and some scratches à la eyeliner and you'll instantly look like you've put in a million times more effort than the guys dressed up as Hulk or The Smurfs... again.
Cost: Cheap makeup for around £2 and your pre-owned costume (free).
Creepy Doll costume
Nothing screams low-budget horror more than an eerie toy that's seen better days. And thankfully, this costume is equally as low-effort as it is low-budget.
A simple, ripped up dress will do the trick, coupled with some inventive makeup. Go for massive eyes, pale cracked face and pouting lips.
Raid your local charity shop (here are our tips for finding the best bargains) for an old dress and, if you want to go all out, you could use some wood and string to construct a puppet mechanism above your head.
Cost: Cheap makeup for about £2 and an old dress.
There are two main ways of doing the classic skeleton look.
You can get together an all-black outfit and then draw bones on top with chalk or a white fabric pen. Alternatively, you can layer black clothes on top of white, and cut out shapes in the black top to create the bones.
Some white face paint and black eyeliner around the eyes will finish this one off nicely.
Cost: Black t-shirt and leggings (around £3 each from Primark) and a white fabric pen (about £3) or white t-shirt (again about £3 from Primark).
Sheet ghosts are a staple of fancy dress. One old sheet with a couple of holes and you're done – what's not to love?
Working out the perfect positions for some armholes will involve much less pulling and tugging to keep the sheet in place, so take 10 seconds to do this too.
Cost: A single white bed sheet (flat, not fitted!) will cost you less than £10 – but you can always use an old one lying around the house if you have one.
This one comes courtesy of Save the Student's very own fancy dress aficionado, Jess (thanks, Jess!).
To construct the jellyfish dome, you can use a plastic mixing bowl or a hanging basket liner. Grab yourself some scrap material to cover it and decorate with some cheap fairy lights and ribbons. To actually attach it to your head, stuff it with newspaper and glue on a hairband. Easy!
This costume definitely works best at night in a dark venue, as that's when the fairy lights can really pop, but beware, trying to dance with all that on your head is no mean feat.
Rubik's Cube costume
We've heard of the Rubik's cube party (where you have to dress in one of the colours of the cube) – but to be honest, that's a little outdated, especially when you could actually just be a Rubik's cube.
You'll need a cardboard box, coloured paper and paint, and you literally will be the coolest person ever (ok, maybe not literally).
Making a costume of the Rubik's cube in motion, like the one worn by the guy on the left, is a little more tricky. But, helpfully, the guy who pioneered this on live television has handily uploaded a step-by-step guide to achieving the look.
Cost: Cardboard boxes (often free from supermarkets) and coloured paper (less than £5).
Lego Brick costume
Sticking with the theme of block-shaped toys (because that's what all the cool kids are wearing this season), we present you with the Lego brick".
All you'll need is a massive cardboard box, some paint, some yoghurt pots and glue – and we're pretty sure you don't need us to explain how it all goes together.
Cost: Cardboard boxes (often free from supermarkets), paint (price will vary depending on the colour and quantity, but it'll definitely cost less than £10), yoghurt pots (free if you eat yoghurt!) and glue (around £2).
Pop Art costume
All you really need to make this work are face paints and some hairspray (coloured if you fancy it), but it'll take a fair amount of time to actually put together.
We can tell you now, though, it will be totally worth it. Go for plain, brightly contrasting clothing for max effect, too!
Cheap Halloween costume tips and tricks
If you just can't get enough of all this Halloween-y goodness, then never fear – we've got even more bonus tips to help save you dollar and imagination.
These Halloween fancy dress saving tips can be applied to any costume (which is great if you weren't a fan of any of the amazing ideas above):
- Try Primark – You don’t need to shop in fancy dress shops to nail these looks! You can get some great bargains at Primark or even local charity shops. Another good option is to have a look at what's available on swap sites, so you could even grab your costume for free.
- Use what you already have – Make as much of your costume as possible by yourself and use things lying around your house. It's time to get inventive, and this option is much more fun anyway.
- If you need to be lazy, shop smart – If you really can't be bothered with the effort of making your own costume, at least head to cheaper online stores rather than overpriced costume shops. FancyDress.com is a good starting point and they often have deals and sales which keep prices low.
- Don't waste money on expensive makeup – We've got loads of hacks for getting the best deals on makeup products and ensure they last longer.
- Check our deals section – As always, keep an eye on our student deals section, our Facebook page, and we might have a few cheeky Halloween deals popping up in our weekly deals round-up newsletter.
- Seek out slightly faulty goods – Unpackaged or slightly dirty outfits and accessories can be sold at a much cheaper price, so keep an eye out in fancy dress shops. Who cares about a little mark here and there – it adds to the Halloween look!
- Think outside the box – What’s not a fancy dress outfit now could easily become one with a bit of creativity.
- Think inside the box – Cardboard boxes can be so many things it's impossible to count!
Don't have time for the DIY route? These fancy dress costumes are all under £20!