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Americans are going to spend $3.2 billion on costumes this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Foundation. A brief look at some online stores show that children’s costumes can now run up to $70.
Why spend so much on something that may only be used once?
Common sense would dictate that the best way to save money is to make the costume yourself. Unfortunately, some of us were not blessed with a talent for sewing. That usually means homemade costumes are out.
But don’t despair — there’s still hope! Here are 10 affordable no-sew Halloween costumes — cute and affordable outfits for your kids (or yourself)!
Upside down person
Go to the thrift store (preferably on half-price day) and get some dress slacks, a tie and a long-sleeve, button-up shirt.
Get a mannequin head from your local Halloween store, Walmart or Sally Beauty Supply. (Don’t forget Sally Beauty is on Mr. Rebates.) and stick it in the neck hole, using the tie to cinch it into place.
Cut eye and mouth holes into the pants and stick them over the torso, with arms through the pant legs. Then slip legs through the sleeves of the button-up shirt. Cinch the shirt and pants together with a belt.
Fasten the tie to the dress shirt with a safety pin or tie tack. Put shoes on the hands and tape gloves to the tops of the shoes. (Don’t have gloves? The dollar store should sell them.)
An easy, cheap no-sew Halloween costume that anyone can make!
Bubble gum machine
This is best done with a white shirt and either a red skirt or red pants.
Take a clear garbage bag and cut arm and leg holes. Fill the bag with various color balloons, then cinch the drawstring closed and tuck into the collar. (If you can’t find a drawstring bag, tape the top of the bag along the collar/neck area.)
Take a square of cardboard, spray paint it silver, then draw a coin slot. Punch holes in the cardboard so that you can run string through them and tie the “slot” to yourself.
Note: If the costume has to be worn for an extended period of time — thus the person may need to use the bathroom — cut out the whole bottom of the bag rather than just leg holes. Cinch the bag closed at the bottom with a belt or duct tape.
It’s worth noting that there are a couple of variations on the construction of this outfit.
In the first one, the bag faces downward, so you cut out a head hole and arm holes, cinching the bag closed around the waist. The second variation calls for a clear raincoat, worn backwards (so that it snaps up the back) with the balloons only in the front.
Whichever style you choose, this is a great no-sew costume for Halloween — or any costume party.
Ghost of Christmas present
This one is for people who don’t mind embodying a good (or bad) pun.
Cut eye holes in a sheet. Then tape or glue bows and strips of wrapping paper all over.
Talk about no-sew Halloween costumes! This one is almost obscenely easy — and an almost obscenely bad pun too!
Dress in a white shirt, dark pants and page boy hat. Suspenders and bow tie are optional add-ons.
Get a mop from the dollar store and spray paint the end black. Don’t forget to use your Michael’s/Joann’s coupons to make the spray paint more affordable. And don’t forget both Michaels and Joann.com are on Mr. Rebates.
Use eyeshadow to put “coal” smudges on the face and, potentially, shirt. Maybe go around saying “Chim-chim-e-nee” a lot in a broad English accent.
This is a great no-sew costume because you don’t even need scissors or anything crafty. Unless you count a can of spray paint as “crafty.”
Get green or silver cupcake liners, fold them in half and glue them, overlapping slightly, onto a long skirt. Pair this with a flesh-colored shirt.
This one’s a little more involved, to be sure, but the effect will be great. And it still involves zero sewing! No-sew Halloween costumes for the win!
This one is probably better for kids. Get an inflatable baby bathtub and cut leg holes. (You might be able to get away with a small kiddie pool if you want to do this as an adult.)
Punch two small holes in bottom in both the front and back of tub’s bottom. Thread some ribbon through the front hole, over the shoulder, then through the back hole. Knot each end to prevent the ribbon from slipping back through the hole.
Blow up white balloons and use safety pins and double-sided tape to affix to the tub and child.
This outfit is also a little more work than some of the others. But it’s still a no-sew Halloween costume that you can do relatively easily (once you can puncture the darn bathtub).
Dress in black pants and shirt. Pin various items of clothing (ideally, brightly colored) all over the outfit. For bonus points, use gel to spike the hair.
Safety pins = a quick, easy no-sew Halloween costume.
Hot air balloon
This one is kids-only — unless you can find a big square laundry basket at Target or a similar store. And those are going to be a little sturdier and harder to cut.
Get a laundry basket from the dollar store and cut leg holes into it.
Tie two ribbons (or twine) in the front, run it over the shoulders, then secure it in the back.
Tie four pieces of string or twine to a large balloon and tie the strings/twine to the laundry basket in four places.
The hardest part here will be cutting the leg holes. Everything else is just tying things together — and it’s hard to get a more no-sew Halloween costume than string-tying!
Another bad pun!
Dress in all white or gray. Get a 10-15 yards of tulle (kids) or about 20-25 yards for an adult. My friend ended up getting about 25 yards for her adult costume and using most of it.
Bunch up the tulle in various places, securing with safety pins. Add bunny ears.
You can leave the tulle white, or spray paint it gray or even black. You could also add a duster (from the dollar store, naturally) or a Swiffer to the outfit.
Don’t forget your Joann’s coupons on this one. The fabric store is probably your best bet for this cheap, no-sew Halloween costume — especially with its in-app coupons!
First, get a baby doll dress.
Cut a large key out of a piece of cardboard. If you don’t have any cardboard handy, go to your local grocery store and ask if they have any boxes.
Once the key is cut out, cover it with aluminum foil or use a metallic spray paint.
In one version, you cut the key and make a slit in the shaft. Run a belt through it and wear the key that way. You can also use pre-cut elastic, as long as it won’t stand out against your dress.
In another version, you cut the key top — the part you’d “wind” — and a long shaft out of the cardboard, then slip the shaft into a cardboard paper towel roll. (You may want to trim down the roll.) Once again, cut slits to run the belt or elastic through the “key” to affix to your back.
You might also be able to get away with double-sided tape or glue, if you’re not wed to the dress. But a belt/elastic would be best.
You may want to paint rouge circles on the cheeks and, for an adult, maybe some (overly fake) fake eyelashes.
An adorable — or adorably creepy (for an adult) — no-sew Halloween costume that takes just some scissors, cardboard and makeup!
Bonus: Beaucratic red tape
Yes, yes, I said 10. But this one was too good to leave off.
Go to the IRS — or any government or school website — and print off a variety of forms. Tape them to your body using, you guessed it, red tape. Voila!
So a printer, paper and tape are all you need for this one, making it perhaps the most no-sew of no-sew Halloween costumes!
Don’t want to try any of those? There are other ways to get affordable costumes without sewing something.
Try arranging a costume swap in your neighborhood or through the PTA. If last year’s costume is never going to be worn again, you might as well have someone get some use out of it — and hopefully you’ll find one for your own kid while you’re there.
Also be sure to check out OfferUp, LetGo and Craigslist, as well as your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook.
If you do end up going store-bought, consider going through a cash back site like Mr. Rebates. Cash back sites offer rebates for many costume stores, Spirit Halloween, Party City and even some Amazon categories, like shoes or clothing. The various stores offer up to 6% cash back (it varies by merchant), and cash back sites will often have coupons listed as well.
What was the best costume you ever had? What are you going as this year?