For some of us, Halloween costumes are fun…but kind of stressful. It’s hard enough pinning down what the kids want to be and getting their costumes made or purchased—then you have to figure out your own? Too much pressure! I don’t even have kids to costume, and most years I panic at the last minute, grabbing the bottom-of-the-barrel getup from the party store or (God forbid) going costumeless.
If you think outside the box, you can come up with a clever, creative costume that can be put together in a couple trips to the thrift, fabric and/or dollar store (or maybe even your own closet). Any of these easy DIY Halloween costume ideas will score you some cool points with your friends, co-workers and trick-or-treaters.
DIY Costumes for Women
1. Alice in Wonderland
If you’ve got black Mary Janes and white tights, you’re halfway to an Alice in Wonderland costume, like this one from Keiko Lynn.
Follow this eye-makeup tutorial and wear a ’60s-inspired outfit for this super simple mod costume.
3. Morton Salt Girl
If you already have some yellow items in your wardrobe, this obscure DIY costume is easily put together. Plus, no big deal if it rains.
4. Denise Huxtable
Let your artsy side out with this creative, fun throwback costume, as seen on Avant Blargh. Mix and match all those funky ’80s and ’90s relics from your closet (or the thrift store) that you’re not gutsy enough to bust out on a normal day, then top it all off with a bright headband and chunky accessories. The best part? Absolutely no matching required!
5. Lucille Ball
Get that vintage curly Lucy ‘do with this tutorial from Sailing Over a Cardboard Sea. Red lipstick and a vintage dress complete the look.
6. Treasure Troll
If you can live with your hair (well, a wig) standing on end all night, follow these American Apparel costume contest contestants’ example and don a nude-, beige- or peach-colored dress (make sure to glue on a jewel to the tummy!), then bobby-pin and hairspray the heck out of a bright-colored wig to make it stand up.
7. Ladies of Mad Men
Whether you’re a Peggy, a Betty or a Joan—or none of the above—you can channel the mod fashions of Mad Men pretty easily and cheaply. Dig out that vintage dress you never wear, or pick one up at a thrift or vintage store. Pair it with winged eyeliner, an updo (don’t forget the hairspray), lots of lipstick and some pearls. Get inspiration at Hello Giggles.
8. Margot Tenenbaum
Blondes will find this Royal Tenenbaums tutorial especially easy. Non-blondes can just add a wig!
9. Rosie the Riveter
Red lipstick, red bandana and denim shirt—you can do it! (With the help of What I Wore.)
10. Minnie Mouse
The makeup is the hard part of this costume, and it’s made easy with the help of this tutorial from Talking Trash & Wasting Time.
11. Dorothy from Wizard of Oz
Get your gingham fix with this Dorothy costume how-to from The Joy of Fashion. Bonus points if you can convince your pooch to play Toto.
12. Retro Flight Attendant
If you can find the right style dress for this, it’s super easy to put together. Get inspiration (along with two-other last-minute costume ideas) at Kittenhood.
13. Annie Hall
Visit the menswear department of the thrift store and channel your inner Diane Keaton.
Wire hangers and a few other items are all you need for pretty fairy wings. Wear them with your regular clothes, or a fun dress.
This no-sew witch costume from Martha Stewart, which uses garbage bags, is one of the easiest (and cheapest) costumes you’ll find!
16. Katniss Everdeen
Grab every leopard-print item from your closet (thrift some additional ones if needed), then apply some cute cat makeup.
18. Fortune Teller
Wear drapey clothing and shawls, lots of flashy gold and silver jewelry—including your largest hoop earrings—and a turban or headscarf (read this tutorial on how to tie it!). Bring a Magic 8 Ball with you, and your fortune-telling talents will be in demand all evening long.
19. Zombie Bride
Thrift an old wedding dress, then add fake blood and makeup. Couldn’t be simpler!
20. Runaway Bride
Another twist on a wedding dress—this time skip the blood and add running shoes.
21. Christmas Tree
Thrift a green dress, then add a star headband, garland, and pom poms or ornaments (just make sure to use non-breakable ornaments that you can safely attach to the dress).
22. Frida Kahlo
A super fun and unexpected costume, and easily scaled down to fit a little girl—get inspiration from Artelexia.
23. Ina Garten
Show your love for The Barefoot Contessa by donning her trademark denim button-down, black pants, boat shoes and red lipstick. Carry around some flowers, baked goods or veggies in a farmers market tote, and keep telling everyone how much Jeffrey loves your cooking!
24. Pippi Longstocking
This one will be easier if you already have reddish hair. Simply (and gently!) work some wire into braids and paint on some freckles.
Yes, it’s the old standby. But it’s a classic for a reason! Don your favorite long-sleeve black knit shirt and leggings or black jeans. Do a cat eye, draw on some whiskers with your eyeliner, fasten some felt or construction-paper ears to a headband, craft a tail (or buy one) and you’re good to go.
Wear a nude- or bright-colored leotard (a long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings will do), then hot-glue colorful crepe paper streamers all over your clothes, like in this tutorial from Camille Styles. Throw around some candy to make it more authentic!
DIY Costumes for Men
27. Dwight Schrute
This costume’s simple: Just track down some out-of-style menswear (lots of earth tones!) and oversized glasses, then part your hair down the middle.
28. Wilson from Home Improvement
This one’s obscure, but those who recognize it will love this ’90s throwback! Throw on plaid and a fishing hat, then make a “fence” from Popsicle sticks.
All you need is perfectly coiffed hair, jeans, a long-sleeve henley tee, rubber apron, black gloves and some fake blood splatter. Carry around a roll of plastic wrap and a fake knife for props.
30. Jolly Green Giant
Plastic or felt leaves, plus green body paint or sweats, are all you need!
31. Derek Zoolander
32. The Dude
If you’ve seen The Big Lebowski, you know this one’s easy: bathrobe, white v-neck, flannel shorts, sunglasses and sandals. Oh, and White Russians!
This costume is a great excuse to get to wear comfy clothes on Halloween. Just throw on a flannel and jeans, some sturdy boots and pick up a toy axe. Make sure to grow out the beard for a few days leading up to Halloween. Ladies can try this one too (Lumberjill?)—fake beard optional.
34. Tom Cruise in Risky Business
If you don’t mind going pantsless for the evening, you probably already have everything you need to go as Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Ladies can do this one, too! Get the Lauren Conrad tutorial, then practice your slide.
35. Walter White
Here’s another pantsless one—but at least you get to wear shoes with it!
36. Rocky Balboa
Why are all the guys’ costumes so comfortable?! Spend the evening in your sweats with this Rocky Balboa costume guide from Almost Makes Perfect.
Unisex DIY Costumes
Recreate those adorable Despicable Me characters with a bright yellow t-shirt or tank top, high-waisted jean shorts, suspenders and goggles.
38. Voodoo Doll
Burlap, felt and a few other items are all you need for this creative costume.
39. Loofah/Bath Pouf
This cute costume entails a lot of tulle—carry around a bottle of body wash and rubber ducky for props.
40. Jackson Pollack Painting
Splatter a white shirt and pants (or a dress) with different colored paint. Here’s a perfect example to work off of.
41. Ice Cream Cone
A white shirt with paper or felt sprinkles, plus khakis or a tan skirt with tights or pantyhose pretty much does it. If you’re feeling crafty, make a cherry hat or headband.
A pillow, glue, satin tape and felt are all you need to go as your favorite nigiri roll!
43. Deviled Egg
Transform a white t-shirt into an egg, and top it all off with a devil-horn headband—get inspiration here.
44. Cowboy or Cowgirl
Pony up to this easy costume from A Beautiful Mess with the help of a cowboy hat, western shirt, jeans and boots. Add a red bandana to make it a little more authentic. Spurs and lasso (and banjo) optional.
So simple! All you need for this one is white jeans (or jeggings), riding boots, an argyle sweater and a helmet if you can track one down.
This costume is completely no-sew—simply dress in white and attach string, bubble wrap or ribbon to a clear umbrella.
Using fabric paint or construction paper, draw or attach large polka dots all over a red t-shirt. Wear black leggings or pants, and glue black pipe cleaners to a headband for antenna. If you’re really ambitious, hot-glue gun some cardboard wings to the back of your shirt.
Wear all brown, then gussy up a large hat with tulle or felt leaves, and even a bird.
49. Cereal Killer
Grab a box of cereal and a toy knife. So pun-ny!
50. 404 Error
If you really can’t cobble together something last minute, grab a white t-shirt and write “Error 404: Costume not found” in Sharpie—the ultimate last-resort costume.
51. Kermit the Frog
Whip up a bright green bunting collar and some felt eyes attached to barrettes (you could go with ping pong balls), and you’ve transformed yourself into a Muppet! Get the instructions at Rad Megan.
Tuck in a button-down short-sleeve shirt to high-waisted pants (even better if they’re too short). Throw on some big glasses with white tape on the bridge, a pocket protector, white socks and loafers. Even better if you can find suspenders.
Everyone’s got a flawy skirt or bellbottoms in their closet. Pair it with a peasant top or tunic (preferably floral or a crazy pattern), some beads, sandals and John Lennon-esque sunglasses. Then part your hair in the middle and add a couple braids in the front.
Black pants with a striped shirt, suspenders and white gloves should do the trick for this easy costume. Add a beret and some white face makeup.
All-white clothing and plenty of TP is the easiest route here, although you could also go with gauze and add some fake blood for a spookier effect.
Find a vertical-striped black and white t-shirt (or buy a cheap referee shirt online) and black pants. Just add whistle.
Scrubs are easy to come by at thrift stores. Pick up a pair, throw on sneakers, grab a clipboard and you’re good to go!
Lazy? A little. Classic? Yes. Throw on an old sheet with eye holes cut out, and voila!
Adults or kids can have some fun with this easy DIY costume. Grab some art supplies, some paint-splattered clothing (or have some fun making some paint-splattered clothing) and head out on the town. You can even add a cardboard paint palette or a beret for good measure.
Head to the garage and grab all your unused sports gear—tennis racquets, shin guards, the whole nine yards!
61. Grumpy Cat
Everyone’s favorite grouch is easy to recreate with the help of some face paint.
62. Where’s Waldo?
Grab a red beanie, black-rimmed glasses, jeans, a camera and a red-and-white striped shirt for this costume. You probably already own four out of five of those items!
63. 50 Shades of Grey
Some paint samples from the hardware store + a quick once-over of the gray items in your closet = instant (G-rated) 50 Shades of Grey Halloween costume.
64. Ziggy Stardust
Even if you can’t track down a silver jumpsuit, rock David Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust makeup with the help of this inspiration from Brittany Made Me Pretty.
65. Bag of Jelly Beans
This might not be the most comfy costume, but it’s cute! Just use a clear trash bag and balloons. Add nutritional facts and/or a logo to the bag if you wish.
66. Veggie Burrito
Go as your favorite Mexican food with this veggie burrito costume DIY.
67. Bunch of Grapes
Wear all purple clothing, then tape purple balloons to the top of your outfit, tapering them down as you get lower. Works with green, too!
A green hat, Sriracha logo t-shirt and matching pants or leggings is all you need!
69. Eggs and/or Bacon
If you have access to felt, you can go as breakfast—either solo or as a duo—with this tutorial from Make Zine.
Get creative with felt and green clothing for this super easy costume.
DIY Costumes for Couples
71. Bonnie + Clyde
Grab some ’30s garb and hit the road together—just remember that you do have to come home eventually…and no bank-robbing!
72. Salt and Pepper
One person wears all white and the other wears all black. Wrap your torsos in your respective colored fabric and paint (or Sharpie) on an “S” and a “P.” Aluminum pie pans with holes poked in them (or gray hats with felt circles attached) can serve as “shaker” hats. Or, follow this easy tutorial from Beth Being Crafty.
73. Wayne + Garth
Finally, an excuse to wear that Aerosmith shirt! This one’s just about as easy as they come. Get inspiration at Almost Makes Perfect.
All you need to make this costume from Say Yes is striped shirts, black pants, gloves, some small bags and cheap masks. Almost as easy as a ghost costume.
75. Carrie Bradshaw + Mr. Big
Be the ultimate NYC style icon for a night with this Lauren Conrad tutorial. All that’s required is a cheap tank top, ribbon, tulle and decent sewing skills. And fabulous shoes, of course. Grab a suit-wearing Mr. Big—or a casual, artsy Aidan type—as your date and you’ve got an instant couple’s costume.
76. Al + Peg Bundy
This costume will definitely be more fun for the gal playing Peg—teased hair, heels, leggings and lots of leopard print! Just head to the late-’80s section of your closet; it’ll be a goldmine.
DIY Costumes for Kids
77. Owl and Tree
This oh-so-cute mom-baby costume requires minimal sewing. The owl hat is so cute, you’ll want the little one to wear it even when it’s not Halloween.
Put all those stuffed animals to work as a Halloween costume. Just add khakis, a white polo and a tan safari or baseball cap.
A blue hoodie or jumpsuit with some bright feathers and fabric add-ons will make your little one the life of the party.
Mix and match primary colors and add a cape (make one out of a black trash bag), mask, bright rain boots and a lightning bolt cut-out.
81. Rag Doll
Make a trip to the craft store and whip up this Raggedy Ann wig from A Beautiful Mess in no time! Perfect for a mom-daughter costume, too—or for boys!
Dress up in a head-to-toe (try leggings with a matching long t-shirt or dress) bright color. Use fabric paint or cut-out black fabric to spell out the name of the closest Crayola color (we’re partial to Vivid Violet and Atomic Tangerine) sideways on your front. An upside-down funnel covered in fabric or construction paper can be the tip.
If you don’t mind poking a little fun at yourself, dress your kid up as you! Scroll down about halfway through this roundup to see an adorable baby girl dressed up as her dad—goatee, iPhone holster and all.
84. Aerobics Instructor
This baby looks pretty happy rocking some leggings, a headband and leotard. All items you can find or make cheaply, or that you already have on hand!
85. Coffee Cup
A cheap white plastic trash can serve as the cup for this easy DIY costume. The whole family can even go as assorted sizes!
86. Wednesday Addams
Who says girls have to princesses and fairies? Let your daughter’s dark side out this Halloween with a DIY Wednesday Addams costume. Get the shopping guide on Design Love Fest. (To save money, you could attach a Peter Pan collar to a black dress instead of buying a new one.)
A giraffe costume seems daunting, but this easy one from Spoonful only requires a sweatsuit, some felt and masking tape.
88. Little Red Riding Hood
This Little Red Riding Hood costume from Make It & Love It is pretty extensive, but you can simplify it by using a red hoodie (or make a cape) and a gray-and-white dress from the thrift store (or that you already have), plus a picnic basket and braids.
89. Garden Gnome
One of the cutest kids’ costumes! A DIY beard, some overalls or suspenders and a hat made with felt is super simple to throw together.
90. Thing 1 and Thing 2
A great way to kill two costume birds with one stone. Start with a red sweatsuit, and add a fuzzy blue hat and “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” badges.
91. Snuggly Lion
If you’re going for cute, it’s hard to beat this DIY felt lion costume from Taste of Home.
92. Charlie Brown
Good grief! Apply Charlie’s trademark zig-zag with fabric paint or tape, then add sneakers and black pants.
Convert a t-shirt to this cute bat costume (via Alpha Mom) and download a printable mask that can be attached to sunglasses.
94. Monster Claws
Almost any costume can benefit from the addition of some fierce monster claws, via The Southern Institute.
The most expensive part of this costume is probably the tulle. But it’s worth it—your daughter will probably want to wear this one around the house long after Halloween’s over.
Grab an item of clothing or accessory from every color in the rainbow—think shirt, pants, socks, scarf, cardigan, hat, shoes and jewelry. Even better if you can wear them in order from head to toe! This is a fun one for kids who are just learning colors—or who hate matching their clothes!
97. Paper Doll
It doesn’t get much easier—or cheaper—than this DIY paper doll costume from Splash Dash Mom.
98. Raining Cats + Dogs
All that’s needed for this easy costume from Real Simple is some stuffed animals to attach to the umbrella. Everything else is already in your closet!
99. Hula Girl
Paper bags and cupcake liners make for a DIY grass skirt and lei. Follow the Real Simple how-to for the easy costume instructions.
Transform your child into a stegosaurus with the help of an old hoodie, some felt and basic sewing skills—get the tutorial at Just Another Day in Paradise.
It doesn’t get much easier than this: Print this free mouse mask at home, and get creative with the rest of the outfit. Even just a light-colored sweatsuit would do the trick. Perfect standby costume for the indecisive child :)
What will you be dressing as this Halloween?4