27 Cheap and Clever DIY Costumes for Adults and Kids



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Some enthusiasts spend a good chunk of the year planning the perfect Halloween costume that expertly straddles the line between clever and spooky. Others desperately search for something they can throw together 20 minutes before a Halloween party. Those who identify more with the latter can assemble one of these easy and affordable costume ideas in a pinch. Most of the necessary items are probably already lurking in your home.

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Anyone who loves the classic combination of pasta and parmesan cheese will appreciate this simple costume idea for a couple or two friends. Raid your craft supplies for scissors, glue, and a stapler, then head to the kitchen for a colander, plastic forks, and a paper plate. Use a red sweatshirt and yellow yarn to complete the spaghetti look and a green dress for the parmesan cheese container. Head to the blog The Surznick Common Room for a full tutorial.

Cameron Whitman/shutterstock


This costume idea from Babble is an oldie but a goodie for one key reason: You probably have everything you need to replicate a cultural icon right in your closet. Find a good pair of light-colored jeans, white tennis shoes, a denim or chambray button-down shirt, and a red and white polka dot bandana (there are plenty of affordable options on Amazon, or check your local thrift store). For a prop, whip up a "We can do it!" sign using blue poster board and white paint.

Ljupco Smokovski/shutterstock


Do you have a black and white striped shirt? You're already halfway there. Next, find some black pants or shorts, black suspenders (again, the thrift store is a good source), and black shoes. Paint a mime face with black and white face paint, or use white eyeshadow or powder and a black pencil from your own makeup stash -- there are plenty of tutorials online. Add a pair of white gloves and black beret to complete the look.

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This fall-themed costume works for adults and kids of any age and makes a great option for anyone on a tight budget. Find a pair of overalls -- any color will do -- and a flannel shirt, and cut up a few old T-shirts to add different colored patches to the overalls. Stuff dried cornhusks (or yellow construction paper or fabric) into the sleeves and under a straw hat. Use yellow face paint as a base and then "sew" on the mouth using black paint or eyeliner.

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Take a cue from the pop-culture hit of the summer with this '80's-inspired getup from Popsugar. Barb, the nerdy and cautious best friend of Nancy Wheeler from the sci-fi thriller "Stranger Things," was one of the breakout characters of the Netflix series, making her a popular choice for this year's costume. For her signature red hair, use a wig or hair chalk (from $2.50 on Amazon). Borrow or find a pair of retro, oversize glasses. Wear a ruffled plaid top and high-waisted jeans, and go all out with the blue eyeshadow.



For those who binge-watched "Stranger Things" in one night, here's one more costume idea based on the show. To be Eleven, the mysterious little girl with psychokinetic powers, you'll need a pale pink dress. If you can't find one with a Peter Pan collar, cut one out of paper or fabric and glue or pin it to the dress. Eleven wears a blue windbreaker, but any blue topper will do. Add a pair of green-striped tube socks, white sneakers, and her prized '80s-style digital watch.

Related: 13 Cheap and Trendy Halloween Costumes for 2016

IMG_6426e by dangerismycat (CC BY-NC-ND)


Here's a brilliant idea for the person who wants to put minimal effort into a Halloween costume and still look cool (although that's just, like, our opinion, man). Go ahead and wear the robe that you haven't washed in weeks -- the grubbier the better. A grungy T-shirt, pajama pants, slip-on shoes, black sunglasses, and a White Russian cocktail as a prop will pull it all together. The Dude abides.

Yulia Glam/shutterstock


It may be a bit chilly outside, but it's time to revisit your summer wardrobe for this '90s-flashback costume idea from xoVain. You'll need a fitted white tank top, cutoff denim shorts, hoop earrings, and, of course, a can of Pepsi (brownie points if you can get your hair to look as amazing as Crawford's).

IMG_5793 by dangerismycat (CC BY-NC-ND)


While this costume would work at any age, it's a super adorable option for a baby or toddler. Who could resist a mini Clark Kent, like this one from Taking Care of Monkey Business blog. The cost is low if your little one already has a white button-down, jeans, and dress shoes. To truly represent the superhero's alter ego, you'll need a Superman T-shirt and those signature black spectacles. This kid will be saving the world in no time.

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Yes, a witch has been done many, many times. But it's a Halloween classic for a reason. As Real Simple notes, It's a cinch to find the necessary items: a black dress, black tights or leggings, black shoes, a black pointed hat, a black shawl (sensing a theme here?). Plus, it's fun to put your own spin on it with makeup and props. Add a glittery ribbon for some color and flair. Create a skirt out of tulle for a modern "witch in the city" vibe. The choices are limitless.

Related: 10 Cool, Creepy, and Cheap Halloween Makeup Tricks

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A little guy or girl who still won't stop singing all the songs from the Disney mega-hit "Frozen" will love dressing up as Olaf. These easy instructions Homemade Ginger, show you'll need a white stocking hat, a white onesie or shirt and pants, black felt for the eyes and eyebrows, and orange felt to construct the nose (hint: use some stuffing to stiffen it up). If you've got extra black buttons in your sewing kit, sew them onto the shirt, or bunch together some black yarn and safety pin it on. Everyone will melt when they see this snowman.

Netfalls Remy Musser/shutterstock


Channel your inner Jane Fonda with this fun costume idea that celebrates '80s wardrobe staples: spandex pants, leg warmers, a leotard, a headband, and a scrunchie. Tease that hair into a high ponytail and go bold with eyeshadow and lipstick. Not only is this outfit super easy to put together, but you'll be comfy and warm all night. For maximum effect, carry around a portable stereo and blast those '80s workout hits.

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Here's a beautiful costume idea for anyone who grew up reading classic fairy tales. To recreate the look of the little country girl who met a fateful end, you'll need a red or white dress, black shoes, and a basket. Purchase a cape at any costume store or make your own with a yard of red felt, fleece, or other material following an easy tutorial on the blog Fleece Fun.



In this age of binge watching, what's more timely than a costume that honors a classic movie snack? You'll need a red and white striped skirt or dress (or just a piece of striped fabric), a white top, white paper, yellow paint, and a glue gun, according to instructions provided by Studio DIY. Crumple up bits of white paper and paint part of each piece yellow to look like buttered popcorn. Then glue them onto the shirt. Buy or make a small popcorn container to carry as a prop, so you can eat delicious popcorn out of it all night long.

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Get ready to hear lots of "awwwws" from friends and family if you go with this sweet costume idea from Rosyscription for a baby. Find a pastel-colored onesie and cut a heart shape out of felt to symbolize the popular Valentine's Day candies. Iron or stencil on a saying such as "Be Mine," "Soul Mate," "Angel," or "Text Me," or make up a Halloween-themed phrase.

Vincent by Nina G (CC BY-ND)


The prolific post-impressionist painter looks a lot like a modern-day hipster, which means you might find everything for this costume in your closet. Necessary items noted by The House That Lars Built include a Panama hat, a pipe, a blue sweater, and a red beard. If you really want to go full tortured genius, bandage your left ear to symbolize his infamous fit of self-mutilation. Pick up a sunflower from a local flower shop and you'll be ready to paint the town.

Sergey Nivens/shutterstock


Ice cream is delicious any time of year, and this is a cheap and easy costume that kids will have a blast making and wearing. It takes just two pieces of cardboard, paint, scissors, a hot glue gun, and string. Head to Hello, Wonderful for a full tutorial.

My daughter it's a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans #Halloween #costumes
My daughter it's a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans #Halloween #costumes by bnpositive (CC BY-SA)


Delightful and affordable ($5 or less!), a Jelly Belly costume can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, using these directions from Massive Sway. Grab a long-sleeve shirt, mismatched long socks, a package of brightly colored balloons, and a clear garbage bag (a white mesh laundry bag can easily sub in if there are safety concerns). Wait until the costume is assembled before taping or gluing a printout of the Jelly Belly logo to the front of the bag.

Milavanava Anastasiya/shutterstock


One of the bloggers behind The Chirping Moms found a way to pay homage to the most famous mouse of them all without spending much money. Gather a black shirt, red shorts, black tights, old sneakers, yellow paint, and a pair of white gloves. Cut Mickey's signature ears out of stiff black felt and glue them to a black headband. Next, affix a circle of white felt to each pant leg and paint the sneakers bright yellow. Add a smudge of black eyeliner to the nose.



Want to feel like one of the smartest people who ever lived? An easy and cheap Einstein costume can be made with items you already have at home: a pair of khaki pants, a rumpled sweater or sport coat, a white button-down shirt with a collar, and a black tie. The hair is the trickiest and most important element to perfect. Apply hair gel and then brush upward while using a hair dryer. When it's dry, add white hair paint. Complete the look with a stick-on mustache.



You can't go wrong incorporating a clever pun into Halloween attire, and DIY Network shows you how. Use real candy or make your own using rolled-up paper and brightly colored sheets of cellophane. Glue each piece to a T-shirt, and put on sunglasses, gold costume jewelry or candy necklaces, and a fedora or cap to create the look. You can even carry around a microphone and entertain everyone with your freestyling talents.

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Check the garage or raid the tool shed for the items needed to put together this quick and easy costume. You'll need an old shirt, work boots, work gloves, and a tool belt. You could also carry around a few hand tools, such as a hammer or screwdriver, or buy or borrow plastic toy versions. Bonus points if you can find or make a hard hat and construction vest.

Tina Belcher costume
OTC Bookstore/facebook.com


Dark-haired women can easily impersonate the oldest child of the Belcher clan, the awkward and boy-crazed Tina, known for antics with her siblings, flipping burgers at the family restaurant, and chasing her true love, Jimmy Jr. To duplicate her retro style, all you need is a light blue, short-sleeve shirt, blue skirt, red and white knee-high socks, black Converse shoes, and a yellow barrette.



This Halloween, don't even bother getting dressed when you wake up. You're already in the world's easiest costume -- your pajamas. Now all you have to do is mess up your hair, go makeup-free, and put on a pair of fuzzy slippers. Carrying around a stuffed animal would be a nice touch.

Kuznetsov Alexey/shutterstock


Everything you need to morph into the beloved magical nanny can probably be pulled right out of your closet. Grab a black umbrella, a long black skirt, a white button-down shirt, a red bow tie, white gloves, black pantyhose, a black hat (pin a few plastic flowers on), and a scarf. You'll have everyone at the party singing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in no time.

Mr. Rogers!
Mr. Rogers! by Roxanne Ready (CC BY-SA)


It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood when you dress up as the friendliest guy on earth -- Mr. Rogers. In addition to slacks or jeans, says Carbon Costume, you'll need a baby-blue dress shirt, a red or maroon cardigan (think grandpa style), a blue tie, and casual sneakers. Don't forget to be kind and soft-spoken and dispense plenty of wise advice.

Bob Ross!!
Bob Ross!! by Joe (CC BY-NC-ND)


Everyone's favorite painter, Bob Ross of PBS's "The Joy of Painting," is easy to emulate with his signature curly hair, serene smile, and distinctive wardrobe. Put on dark blue jeans, a belt, and a light blue, long-sleeve dress shirt (roll up those sleeves and pop open the top two buttons). A paint pallet and paintbrush are cheap and easy to find at any craft store, or can be made out of cardboard. A local costume shop should be able to supply the most important piece: the brown afro.