Halloween is just around the corner and waiting in the shadows is that terrifying moment when you realize you don’t have a costume. Never fear! Because creating a unique last-minute Halloween costume is easier — and cheaper — than you think.
Before you put on all black and resort to going as a cat to the office party (again), take a tour of these last-minute DIY Halloween costumes that don’t require much time or money to pull together. From couples costumes to group Halloween costumes, DIY Halloween costume ideas abound if you know where to look.
Should You Buy a Last-Minute Halloween Costume?
Don’t google “Halloween stores near me” on Oct. 30 and then rush to deep dive into the discount bins. Instead, shop your closet or the thrift store to score a spooky costume just in time for the holiday.
How much can you save skipping the costume shop and putting together an easy Halloween costume? The National Retail Federation says that 69% of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending about $100 each and a truly terrifying collective $3.6 billion on costumes for kids, adults and pets.
Pocket that money for your Christmas saving plan instead and shop your closet for a costume or create something fun with a glue gun and a little creativity this Halloween.
50 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes
Procrastinators may be the smart ones after all because these easy Halloween costumes are super affordable. Whether you need a costume for a pet or one for the whole family, everything you need to pull together a spooky Halloween surprise might already be at home.
Halloween Costumes You Can Find in Your Closet
If your aim is to wear a completely free (we like free!) costume on Halloween, start with your closet. Chances are you already have a few costume pieces lurking in the dark recesses of your wardrobe. And if you can’t locate exactly what you want, hit up the thrift store.
There’s gotta be a reason you didn’t throw out that Hawaiian print shirt from the summer of ‘92 yet, right?! Check out these mostly free, fun halloween costume ideas that are literally homemade.
- Farmer or scarecrow
- Wednesday Adams
- Rosie the Riveter
- Fortune teller
- Holly Golightly
- Where’s Waldo?
- Top Gun
- Greek god
- Pinup girl
- Mary Poppins
- Flower child
- Bob Ross
This one might be the easiest costume on this list to pull off. Who doesn’t have a pair of shorts, a brightly colored shirt and some tacky socks to pair with sandals?
Slap on a straw hat or visor and some sunglasses and grab a camera or a map and you’re ready to go. A sunscreened nose will only make your costume more realistic (although a little messy).
2. Farmer or Scarecrow
Got some overalls? You can probably throw together a farmer costume. Look for gingham shirts, bandanas, boots and a straw hat to complete the look. And if you want to get extra mileage out of the costume, turn it into a scarecrow next year by spilling straw out of the sleeves, neckline and pockets.
It’s hard to keep quiet about this easy Halloween costume. All you need to be a mime for Halloween is black pants or overalls, a black and white striped shirt, a beret and some face paint or makeup. A red scarf and gloves are a nice touch, but the key to a good mime costume is learning the movements.
4. Wednesday Adams
The entire Adams family is a great group costume idea, but Wednesday Adams is especially easy to pull off. A black dress, black shoes and a white shirt with a big collar does the trick. Looking to replicate Wednesday’s signature braids? This Wednesday Adams hair tutorial shows you how.
5. Rosie the Riveter
If you had to place a bet on which DIY last-minute Halloween costume anyone could manage, it’s hands down Rosie the Riveter. We can definitely do it because the basics are just a red bandana and a blue button-down shirt. The hardest part of the Rosie Riveter costume is pin-up girl hair. You can get tips and a tutorial here.
6. Fortune Teller
For this one, you’ll need drapey, flowy clothing, a scarf or headband and lots of stacked jewelry (never enough jewelry). If you’re not totally convinced that your costume is convincing, carry around a prop like a magic eight ball or a plain glass orb, if you just so happen to have one lying around.
7. Holly Golightly
Got a little black dress? You’re halfway to recreating Audrey Hepburn’s signature look in the iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Pair with pearls, opera gloves, black sunglasses and pile your hair on top of your head. And that cigarette holder? Just use a long-handled paint brush, darling.
8. Where’s Waldo
You’ll be easy to spot in a crowd this Halloween if you opt for an easy Waldo-themed costume. Just grab a red and white striped tee, some jeans, and a beanie. The best part? You don’t have to look far to recycle this costume and dress as an elf for holiday parties.
9. Top Gun
If you’re feeling the need for speed this Halloween, you’re not alone. Top Gun looks are some of the most popular costumes for Halloween night. Fortunately, going as Maverick or Goose is as easy as grabbing a jumpsuit or coveralls in brown or green, sticking some paper decals on it and pairing your look with aviators and a lot of swagger.
10. Greek God
Go minimalist by mining your linen closet and making a basic toga out of a white sheet. For a genuine Greek costume pair with sandals, a gold ribbon or belt and a hair wreath. You might get some questions about whether you’re Roman, but just respond with “It’s all Greek to me.”
11. Pinup Girl
High-waisted shorts + a button-down shirt + wedges + red lipstick + bandana = perfect pinup girl. Follow a YouTube tutorial like this one to achieve that flawless pinup hair curl — it’s actually so much easier than it looks — and you’re ready to make old-fashioned gentlemen swoon.
12. Mary Poppins
The great part about a Mary Poppins costume is there are as many ways to recreate this iconic Disney character as there are letters in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. All you really need is a long black coat, an umbrella, a red scarf or bow tie, and a hat you can stick some daisies on.
13. Flower Child
Some psychedelic tie dye and bell bottoms complete a flower child Halloween costume. But if you really want to feel the love, lean into including a peace sign necklace, some flowers in your hair and a suede vest with fringe.
If you’ve got white trousers and a striped shirt, you can probably figure out how to make a sailor Halloween costume on the fly. The hat is the hardest part, but say ahoy there to this tutorial that makes it easy to fashion one out of paper.
15. Bob Ross
Got the big hair and the sideburns? Then this Bob Ross homemade Halloween costume is for you. Just wear a blue button-down shirt, some jeans and a brown belt. You can fashion a palette out of cardboard and carry a paintbrush to complete the look. Bonus points if you convince a friend to join you as a happy little tree.
This costume is less classic witch and more witchy-esque. I mean, does anyone just casually own a pointy hat?
No matter: Throw on lots of black layers, add some dramatic makeup, frizz up your hair and add some drippy black jewelry and no one will even question your costume (mostly out of fear). And don’t forget a broom!.
Halloween Costume Ideas for Crafty People
Fear not! These cheap Halloween costumes don’t require a seamstress. With a little elbow grease, a glue gun and some supplies from the dollar store, this handful of Halloween costume ideas will have you haunting the office party in style.
- Queen of Hearts
- Cereal killer
- Bubble bath
- Juice box
- Ice cream cone
- Harry Potter
- Gumball machine
- Smarty pants
17. Queen of Hearts
Rule over the Halloween party scene with these simple costume ideas made from a deck of cards. You can make a corset, a crown or even a collar for your Queen of Hearts outfit and use other recyclables to make cuffs, wands and a whole suit of accents to pair with a cute dress.
If yellow is your color, consider going all in on cheesy this Halloween. A cheese Halloween costume requires a yellow T-shirt or dress, some cardboard, styrofoam and a little paint to pull off this slice of Halloween ingenuity.
Throw on some black and mount strategically placed paper cutouts of Pac-Man and you’ve turned into a walking, old-school arcade game. If you want to take this Pac-Man costume to the next level, do fabric cutouts and use a glue gun or fabric glue.
20. Cereal Killer
Want a punny costume? This cereal killer costume is a classic play on words. Stalk the grocery store aisle for small variety boxes of cereal and sprinkle your shirt with splashes of fake blood. You can also add spoons, knives and other playful sinister accessories.
21. Bubble Bath
This bubble bath costume idea could really clean up the Halloween party this year. Wear flesh-colored or white clothing and cluster balloons as bubbles across your body, then add a rubber ducky or two and carry a loofah or a back brush.
22. Juice Box
You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of this Halloween costume first. You can go all out and make a cardboard juice box or opt for a simple DIY juice box costume by dressing in one color and attaching a roll of paper bent into a straw shape and encased in Saran wrap.
You can’t go wrong with a classic. Retro robot costumes always compute during Halloween because they’re versatile and who doesn’t have a million cardboard boxes and some duct tape laying around the house?
24. Ice Cream Cone
The sweet stuff isn’t just for kids. Get the scoop on an ice cream cone costume that involves wearing beige on the bottom, white on top and tossing a few paper sprinkles on your shirt. And of course, a red balloon is the cherry on top.
25. Harry Potter
Nothing says Halloween like a Harry Potter-inspired costume. Most of this costume magic is homemade, including wands from chopsticks, a simple black robe or cape and paper cutout glasses. Pair with a plaid skirt and robes to dress as Hermione instead.
26. Gumball Machine
Gather your glue gun. This gumball machine costume tutorial is as easy as sticking together some pompoms with a red skirt or pants. And there are endless variations on this costume idea, including boba tea and frosted animal cookies.
27. Smarty Pants
Put your Halloween candy to work on your hips with this puny smarty pants costume. Mount Smarties candy on your pants and dress the costume up or down with suspenders, oversized glasses and a lot of nerd attitude.
Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples
If you need coordinating outfits this Halloween, there are plenty of easy last-minute Halloween costumes for couples. With a little ingenuity, these Halloween costume ideas can make great friends and family Halloween costumes, too.
- Barbie and Ken
- Sandy and Danny from “Grease”
- Rock ‘n’ roll
- Peanut butter and jelly
- “Men in Black”
- Night and day
- Beer pong
- “Wayne’s World”
- Dancing emojis
28. Barbie and Ken
Own a one-piece leotard in a bright color and some leggings? No judgment. But you’ve got the makings of a Barbie costume. Pair with a wide belt or some roller skates and people will be asking you to “Come on, Barbie. Let’s go party.” Make it a couple’s ensemble by asking Ken to don leopard print with neon, shorts and loafers. Don’t forget the neckerchief, which is really the chef’s kiss of any Ken costume.
29. Sandy and Danny from “Grease”
If you’re hopelessly devoted to procrastinating, the iconic duo from Grease is another easy last-minute Halloween costume. Sandy and Danny are just head-to-toe black pleather or spandex, black leather jackets, red heels,and slicked-back hair. And they’re a versatile pair that works for just about every couple if you want to put a spin on it.
30. Rock ‘n’ Roll
You don’t have to bring the whole band, but a couple’s rock ‘n’ roll costume can hit all the right notes. With this Halloween costume tutorial, one of you can go as a mix tape and the other can sport a guitar. This Halloween costume idea also makes adorable sibling costumes.
If someone already owns scrubs for work (or you can nab a cheap pair at the thrift store), this is the perfect remedy to your Halloween costume dilemma. Go as the game Operation by sticking pieces to neutral clothing or a bodysuit and having your partner carry the pliers. Don’t forget the clown nose!
32. PB & Jelly
Think you’re the perfect pair? Slap some bread on it and make your couple’s Halloween costume a peanut butter & jelly sandwich this year. Be warned though — you might get stuck together for the day.
33. “Men in Black”
Got a black suit and some shades? Then you can pull off a Men (or Women) in Black (MIB) costume. Just mock up a badge, a black tie and forget about the neuralyzer. Everyone will already know who you are.
34. Night & Day
Opposites attract in this Halloween couple’s costume. Dig up your favorite metallic club wear and fashion these headbands out of simple craft supplies. There are endless iterations of this last-minute costume idea including weather-themed family costumes.
35. Beer Pong
You’ll be the life of the party with this beer pong couple’s costume. All you need are solo cups, a ping pong ball and a beer can or two. Bring your sense of humor though since people into their cups may try to throw things at you.
36. “Wayne’s World”
When it’s party time, you’ll feel excellent as the duo from Wayne’s World. This is the perfect Halloween costume idea for people who have a lot of plaid in their closets and are a few drumsticks short of an actual band.
37. Dancing Emojis
Do you know those dancing emojis that stand shoulder-to-shoulder on your smartphone screen? Recreate the look with a DIY dancing emoji costume that requires a lot of black and a friend willing to stand by your side.
Last-Minute Group Halloween Costumes
Getting together a big group for Halloween? There are plenty of Halloween costume ideas for a crowd. Keep in mind you can choose elements of these costumes if you’re going solo or in a smaller group instead.
- “Stranger Things”
- Game show contestants
- Fruit basket
- Lost Boys
- Arthur and friends
- Box of crayons
- Rock, paper and scissors
- “Inside Out”
- “The Breakfast Club”
38. “Stranger Things”
If you’ve got a wardrobe that looks like it’s stuck in the ’80s, you’re in luck. You and your friends can probably pull off at least one or two signature looks from the Netflix blockbuster show Stranger Things. Got a stonewashed denim vest or some black leather in your closet? Try going for an Eddie Munson costume. You can print out the Hellfire Club logo and secure it to a plain white tee.
Overalls were like the parachute pants of 2017: You either owned three pairs already, or you were desperately looking for an excuse to add them to your closet. Add in a yellow shirt (any shade will get the point across), black shoes and gloves and a pair of round glasses or goggles. And because you never see minions making mischief alone, this is best done as a group Halloween costume.
40. Game Show Contestants
“The Price is Right” is an iconic game show whose guests have a distinctive flare that’s easy to pull together for a Halloween costume. You can also go as a team from “Family Feud” if you reproduce the name tags and get everyone to wear coordinating outfits.
41. Fruit Basket
Getting your friends to create a tropical ensemble of fruit is easier than you might think. Purple balloons make a great grape costume, a yellow dress over at Studio DIY doubles for a pineapple costume and a red outfit is a pretty sweet strawberry costume.
42. Lost Boys
Want to do Halloween in your pajamas? Then this is the Halloween group costume idea to cozy up to. And if that doesn’t satisfy your need to snuggle, you can always take a black onesie and paint a skeleton on it with glow-in-the-dark paint.
43. Arthur and Friends
Who knew animal ears were so versatile? If you’ve got a whole crew, you can probably dress up as the cast of the popular PBS cartoon “Arthur” with stuff from your own closet. It’s mostly jeans, Converse sneakers and cozy sweaters in solid colors. If you want to go as DW, throw on a pink dress.
44. Box of Crayons
This group Halloween costume is a classic for a reason. All you need to get creative with this crayon costume is an array of outfits in a solid color, some fabric markers or paper and matching party hats.
45. Rock, Paper, Scissors
Trying to do a Halloween costume party as a trio? Rock, paper, scissors costumes are a minimalist homemade approach for three. All that’s required are white T-shirts, black leggings and a little compatibility.
This one doesn’t take a lot of … wait for it … brains to figure out.
But seriously, all you need for a zombie costume is holey, grungy clothes: ripped jeans, an old work shirt, a plaid button-up and a pair of dirty sneakers. This will either read as zombie or “midnight Taco Bell run” depending on how you accessorize — which is why you can’t skip the makeup.
Use dark eyeshadow around your eyes and under your cheeks, rat your hair and add some twigs and leaves and you’re good to go. And because zombies always travel in packs, bring friends.
47. “Inside Out”
The cast of characters from “Inside Out” makes a rather fabulous group Halloween costume idea. Many of the costume elements can be found in closets and the rest can be easily made out of paper or with a little hair dye and makeup magic.
48. “The Breakfast Club”
If you have a group of five and one of you has a letterman’s jacket, you’re required to go to Halloween dressed as “The Breakfast Club.” It’s just the rule. And if you don’t recreate the iconic dancing scene in the library for social media props, you’re definitely getting detention.
For a group of six that’s a handful, try an M&Ms group Halloween costume. You only need T-shirts in a rainbow of colors and some iron-on paper to stencil and attach the “m.” This is a great costume idea for kids since it’s easy to spot who’s missing during trick or treat.
Easy Halloween Costumes for Dogs
One of the joys of the holidays is that it’s a socially acceptable time to dress your pet. So flaunt some canine style with this easy Halloween costume for dogs.
50. The Cone of Shame Reimagined
Need a DIY costume idea for your pooch? Consider the cone of shame, which can be turned into everything from a Slurpee to fries, flowers to the Iron Throne, a bowl of cereal to a satellite dish.
And of course, cocktails aren’t for canines, but this mutt martini makes it easy to pour one out on Halloween. Take a protective cone, add some tennis or styrofoam balls with red construction paper, and raise a glass to this easy pet costume. Cheers!
Assuming you own at least a pair of jeans and some dark makeup, you’ve solved your last-minute costume woes. Now start haunting the office party or the neighborhood Halloween bash to score the best treats. This year, you definitely earned it.
Kaz Weida is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. SMS manager Grace Schweizer contributed.