How to Make Homemade Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Halloween is fast approaching, and it’s time to get the costumes ready. My kids and I usually make their costumes at home – it’s not always cheaper than buying one, but it’s a lot more fun and a great creative outlet. The hardest part, usually, is keeping the cost down. It’s easy to spend more making a Halloween costume than it would have cost to buy one. Here are some tips to make Halloween costumes for you kids on a budget.

Know Your Skills and Limits

What are you good at when it comes to costume creation? Can you sew? Paint? Mold? Carve? Build? What about power tool use? How good are you or your kids at each of the skills you will need to make their costume?

You don’t want to get to a point where you realize you’re in over your head on making a costume. There are plenty of instructions online to help you do more than you might manage otherwise, but that’s not always enough.

Pick a Costume and Stick With It

My rule for making costumes for my kids is that as soon as we have made a purchase related to their costume, it’s final. The same would go for if we started making things from supplies we already have at home. The kids can change their minds as often as they want until the costume is started in any form.

Get Ideas Online

There are many place online to get ideas to make creating a homemade costume easier. Whatever your idea is, look it up online and see what other people have done.

This can save you time and money. Some ideas will cost more than you want to spend – lots of people are serious about their cosplay, after all. Other ideas will be perfect for your budget. At the very least, getting ideas online will give you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into before you spend any money on it.

Look at What You Already OwnMillie from Team Umizoomi homemade costume

Many homemade costumes can be made from things you already have around the house, at least in part. When we made a Millie from Team Umizoomi costume for my youngest daughter one year, a part of the costume was her bike helmet, to give her the big head look the characters on the show have. I covered it in fabric and attached red ribbons for the hair. I had to make the dress, and she used pink pants and a long sleeve shirt to complete the costume.

Check your garage too. PVC pipe can be painted to make a walking stick, for example. Craft supplies and toys can be used to make all kinds of things. Parts from old costumes can be used to make new.

Know Your Budget

Once you reach the point where you’re buying things for costumes, know how much you’re willing to spend. If you’re trying to keep the cost down, make sure you know what a similar store bought costume would cost, and see what you can do to keep your cost below that.

If you have to buy a lot for the costume, this may not be easy. Store costumes are made from very cheap materials as a general rule, unless you go with something really fancy. The fabrics and other supplies you might buy to make a costume yourself can add up very quickly.

Consider Which Purchases Can Be Used For Other Events

steampunk costumeMy son made a steampunk costume last year. We had to buy the clothes for him, but the dress shirt and pants were suitable for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so their cost was simply a part of buying clothes for the holidays in general, rather than an expense just for Halloween.

You may also be able to upgrade a previous year’s costume into something for this year. My son hasn’t outgrown his steampunk clothes from last year, so he may be simply adding more accessories to it this year so it doesn’t look quite the same.

Shop Used

Thrift stores have all kinds of costumes and clothes that can be perfect for your costuming needs. You may be able to find clothes or accessories on the cheap that are perfect for your needs.

Tardis dressKeep It Simple

The more complicated you make the costume, the more you’re likely to spend on it. If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine, but be prepared for your costs to go up as you add details.

My oldest daughter made a Tardis dress costume using a blue dress she already owned and some paint. Effectively a free costume, as we already owned everything she used. It only took her a couple hours to paint it, but she got so many compliments on it. She hates dresses and had no intention of ever wearing it again, so this was a great use of the dress. This was probably the least effort we’ve ever put into a costume, but it worked wonderfully.