Great Hallowe’en costume ideas on a budget

Plus ideas for makeup, treats and party games

You don’t have to believe in ghosts to believe in having fun at Hallowe’en. But most of us know the mild horror of realising the night’s fast approaching and you’ve still no costume for your child (or yourself). Fear not! We’ve summoned a few ideas for quick and easy money-saving DIY Hallowe'en costumes, together with some great ideas on how to make your trick-or-treating or Hallowe’en party a success.

Costume ideas

Wing it

Sure, going with a bat costume is hardly ground-breaking, but you’ll be the best one in town with this Hallowe’en costume with hinged wings made out of an old umbrella. Take a basic black outfit, a few extra supplies and some simple craft skills, and you’ll be flapping terror into the hearts of party-goers all night.

Be the doll of the ball

Remember those cut-out paper dolls from your youth? Go back in time and make a grown-up sized version with some cheap foam board, old wallpaper and a steady-handed craft knife (careful not to cut yourself – fake blood is better for Hallowe’en!). 

You could even swap outfits as the night goes on. Super simple and super cute. Check out this handy step-by-step guide to create your own paper doll costume.

Become a ‘brollyfish’

OK, it’s another umbrella-based approach, but hey, a costume that also keeps you dry is a bonus here in the UK. This jellyfish costume (complete with bioluminescent fairy lights) is quick to do, easy to wear and guaranteed to make you stand out (or swim out?) in a crowd.

Get in the frame

Even if you’re no oil painting, on Hallowe’en, you can at least pretend to be. Head out to the charity shops and look for a large framed portrait. Then simply cut out the face with a craft knife (again, carefully – you don’t want to spend the night in A&E!) so the hole’s just big enough to fit your own face. Voila – you’re a haunted portrait with eyes that follow everyone around the room! A bit of makeup to match the style of the painting and you’re a walking work of art. 

Be full of Hallow-beans

Everybody loves Trick or Treat sweets, so why not go out dressed as a pack of jelly beans? To become a giant bag of jelly beans, all you need is a large, clear plastic bag (the kind that things like duvets come packed in), a packet of coloured balloons and some ribbon. 

Blow up the balloons to about half way, cut leg holes in the clear bag, get in, fill the bag with balloons around your middle and tie the top around your neck with ribbon (not too tight, mind). Done! Not only is it a fun costume, it’s also amazingly cosy in there. Sweet!

Simply buy it

If making your own costume fills you with dread, then don’t worry. You can buy from a dazzling selection of costumes online and even in supermarkets – just make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute in order to maximise the chance of your size still being in stock.

Makeup, treats and more


This is an easy way to completely transform your (or your child’s) look. From zombies to witches and everything in between, YouTube is the go-to place for makeup tutorials.


No Hallowe’en party or trick-or-treating venue is complete without one. Visit your local pumpkin patch from mid-October to select a locally-grown one, or if you don’t fancy getting muddy and windswept and are happy to choose from a more limited variety then get one from a supermarket. Pumpkin carving has reached new levels of sophistication in recent years as people compete on social media to have the most ingenious design – again, YouTube is a great place to visit to upskill yourself so you don’t let the side down. 

Trick or treat sweets

Make sure you have plenty in stock. Buy party size bags of sweets and chocolates ahead of 31 October, or to be a really memorable destination on the trick-or-treat trail, why not make your own? From biscuits decorated with spider web icing to chocolate eyeballs, there’s endless scope for originality.

Party games

If you’re brave enough to throw a Hallowe’en party – whether for kids or adults – have some memorable party games up your sleeve, from a themed scavenger hunt to bowling with tissue-wrapped (mummified) bowling pins.

Whatever your plans for Hallowe’en this year, we hope you have a spook-tacular time whilst keeping an eye on the pennies.

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