20 Simple and Cheap Halloween Costumes for Kids

I have an almost 3-year-old daughter, and she's incredibly excited to dress up for Halloween this year. The thing is, we went out shopping for costumes the other day, and I was absolutely shocked at how much these little outfits cost. I complained to my own mother who, in turn, showed me photos of some of the costumes I wore as a kid. Guess what! They were all humble and homemade. (See also: Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes)

So, get out the glue, cardboard, and pipe cleaners. Here are 20 amazing Halloween costume ideas that are both adorable on your kid and sensible for your budget.

1. Black Cat

Dress your child in black pants and a black shirt or sweater. Use construction paper to cut out two triangles to attach to a headband for ears. Use eyeliner to draw a black triangle on your child's nose and then whiskers on his or her cheeks. Finish off by filling a long black sock with some stuffing and pinning it on as a tail.

2. Robot

Gather up any discarded boxes you were planning to recycle and use them to assemble a DIY robot costume. Paint with bright or metallic craft paint however you like. Decorate with — you guessed it — plastic bottle caps, stray buttons, and other discarded items.

3. Snail

Use brown craft paper to twist and turn into a shell for this cute snail costume. From there, you simply make a base using a square of cardboard and hot glue ribbon onto it so your child can wear the shell as a backpack.

4. Runner

Put your kid in his or her most athletic clothes — a t-shirt and shorts should do. You can add leggings if it's cold. Then choose a pair of sneakers. If you have a sweatband — great! To finish, pin one of your race numbers onto the shirt and add a finisher's medal (or borrow those items from a runner friend).

5. Aerobics Instructor

My mom taught dance aerobics in the 1980s, so I love this throwback costume that even a baby can wear. Dress baby in a onesie with leggings underneath and a pair of leg warmers. If you don't have leg warmers, cut the feet off a pair of old socks as a temporary fix. The author of the costume made a felt boom box. If you're not into sewing, make one using a small cardboard box and craft paint.

6. Angel

You can make some amazing angel wings using cardboard and coffee filters. Though this tutorial was originally intended for decorative wings, they'll attach to your child's body with ribbon much like in the snail costume instructions above.

7. Superhero

Dress your child in one color as a base and then craft a quick, no-sew cape using an old t-shirt (or you can buy one for just $1 at the Dollar Store). Then make cuffs using toilet paper rolls and a mask using construction paper. Decorate using whatever art supplies you already own.

8. Crayon

Have your child wear his or her favorite color from head to toe. These girls decided to color their hair and loft with water bottles, but you could also make a quick cap using construction paper and ribbon. Otherwise, make a label using black paper and paint that says Crayola.

9. Ghost

Your classic homemade costume. Use a sheet or large piece of white fabric as your base. Cut holes for the eyes. Or you can buy this exact same thing for $200 with 600 thread count. Your choice.

10. Fairy

Most little girls already have one of those tulle dress-up skirts. Dress her in one color leggings and a shirt and throw on the poofy skirt. Head to your Dollar Store and pick up a few fake flowers to glue onto a headband. Craft some DIY wings using cardboard, glitter, and ribbon.

11. Lego Man

If your child loves playing with Legos, this inexpensive Lego Man costume will surely be a hit. Use two cardboard boxes and some disposable bowls (or Solo cups). Glue everything together and then spray paint your favorite color.

12. Wind-Up Doll

Though this Wind-Up Doll idea is originally for a girl's costume, it could work equally well for a boy. Use a toilet paper roll, a styrofoam ball, and a cardboard cutout to make a wind-up handle and spray with gold paint. Use elastic and brass fasteners to attach to your child's arms.

13. Artist

Dress your child in all black, including a beret. Cut cardboard in the shape of an artist's palette, paint white, then add color splotches and a paintbrush. Then cut two small holes in the top so your kid can loop the whole thing around his or her neck.

14. Jellyfish

All you need is an umbrella, some ribbon (or streamers, etc.), and embellishments for this DIY jellyfish costume. Bonus: When you're done with Halloween, your child can continue to use the umbrella on rainy days for years to come.

15. Care Bears

Get the whole family involved with this no-sew Care Bears costume. You'll need sweatshirts or hoodies and matching pants. The rest requires felt, paint, glue, some pipe cleaners, and a little artistic ability. If you don't want to go to all that trouble, I think you could draw the designs on paper plates for a similar impact.

16. White Cloud

This white cloud getup would be a lot of fun to wear. After you construct your base, the bulk of the costume is made from cotton batting or polyester pillow stuffing. Use whatever you have on hand. This cloud would also be cool if you spray painted it grey or black and added a cardboard lightning bolt.

17. Game Boy

Turn your baby into a handheld gaming system with a onesie, different colored felt, and glue. This costume is seriously adorable and — as the author writes — the hardest part is waiting for it to dry.

18. Litterbug

Tampa has a Green Halloween celebration each year. In 2010, a little girl stole the show with her eco-conscious Litterbug getup, winning first place in the costume competition. Simply have your kid wear a solid color underneath a collection of taped-on (and cleaned off!) recyclables of all shapes and sizes.

19. Octopus

I laughed out loud when I saw this DIY octopus costume in my search. I've come across several variations, some with matching socks and some without. If you're on a tight budget, just use what you have around the house before buying anything new.

20. Masked Animal

If you don't have a lot of time or crafting ability, try these no-sew animal masks. The template is free and this project is a fun one to get kids involved with creating. For the rest of the costume, have your child wear simple clothing so the mask is the focus.

Are you proud of a DIY costume you made (or wore)? Please share in comments!

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Carey @ wiserdollar.com

This is a very good list with some creative costume ideas. I intend to pass it on. Thanks!