For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.


13 cheap and low effort 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...

scooby doo mystery machine costume

Credit: Cmglee – Wikimedia

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 £40+ on this impressive, but ultimately excessive, traffic cone costume.

Not only that, but we've hand-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!

Creating an epic fancy dress costume is just one of the things in our ultimate university bucket list.

Best cheap Halloween costume ideas

These are the best and easiest costumes to get for Halloween:

  1. 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!

    Cost: 20 clear bin bags for £2 (you'll need to bring back-ups in case of any tears!) and 50 multicoloured balloons for less than £2.

  2. Silent Movie Star costume

    It's so easy to find clothing that fits into the white and black category. And, with a dash of white face paint, you can really quickly put together a costume as a silent film star.

    This idea's especially great if you aren't a massive fan of the people you're going to party with, as staying silent 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.

  3. Fried Egg costume

    It's amazing what can be achieved with a bit of white card and something yellow.

    To make the egg yolk for the costume, 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 trying to stomach in the morning to fight the hangover, this costume is super easy and memorable (and not to mention cheap).

    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.

  4. 404 Error costume

    Error 404 Costume Not Found costume

    Credit: Tableau Software – Pinterest

    This is definitely one for the tech buffs among you. And as far as low-effort Halloween costumes go, you'll struggle to find one costume that gets 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.

  5. Mummy costume

    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 a student house that's forever running out of toilet roll).

    To prevent the loo 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).

  6. Dead Celebrity costume

    dead celebrities costumes

    Credit: The Costume Shop

    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).

  7. Creepy Doll costume

    Nothing screams low-budget horror more than an eerie toy that's seen better days. And thankfully, this costume is as equally low in effort as it is in budget.

    A simple, ripped up dress will do the trick, coupled with some inventive makeup. Go for massive eyes, a 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.

  8. Skeleton costume

    skeleton costume

    Credit: Chris Palmer – Flickr

    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).

  9. Ghost costume

    ghost costumes

    Sheet ghosts are a staple of fancy dress. One old sheet with a couple of holes is all you need – 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: single white bed sheet (flat, not fitted!) will cost you around £10 – but you can always use an old one lying around the house if you have a spare one.

  10. Jellyfish costume

    Jellyfish costume

    This one comes courtesy of Save the Student's former editor and 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.

    Cost: Hanging basket liner (we'd recommend a 35cm one, which should cost less than £5), battery-operated fairy lights (about £5) and ribbon and material (around £4).

  11. Rubik's Cube costume

    Rubik's cube costume

    Credit: AmanDanGo

    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).

  12. Lego Brick costume

    lego costume

    Credit: boston09 – Instructables

    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 you'll definitely be able to get some for under £10), yoghurt pots (free if you eat yoghurt!) and glue (around £5).

  13. Pop Art costume

    pop art costume

    Credit: Michaela Heaphy & Lori Seibert – Pinterest

    For a Roy Lichtenstein costume, all you really need is face paint 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!

    Cost: Hairspray (around £4) and face paints (around £3).

Cheap Halloween costume tips and tricks

dogs in ghost costumes

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:

  • Try Primark – You don't need to shop in fancy dress shops to put together a great costume. 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 items you already own – 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.
  • Shop in low-cost stores for easy costumes – If you really can't be bothered with the effort of making your own costume, you can head to cheaper online stores rather than overpriced costume shops.
  • Don't waste money on expensive makeup – We've got loads of hacks for getting the best deals on makeup products and making sure they last longer.
  • Check out 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 marked 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 – don't underestimate their potential for a stand-out Halloween costume.


Don't have time for the DIY route? These fancy dress costumes are all under £20.


Ask us a question or share your thoughts!

Tweet @savethestudent - Facebook Message - Email