Person in mummy costume dancing at party near devil and witch

Creative and Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas You Can Pull Off Last Minute

Did you forget to plan a Halloween costume this year? No need to scream! These ideas are easy and cost-effective for high school and college students!

Maybe you weren’t planning on dressing up until your friend told you to drop by their party. Maybe you’re an A+ procrastinator and you didn’t realize it was already the end of October. Or maybe the price tags on the costumes at those pop-up shops scare you more than all the Halloween movies combined! We’ve all been there: scrolling through Pinterest, scouring our closet, or running out to Spirit Halloween to buy a last-minute costume. Here are some DIY Halloween costume ideas that can be thrown together easily and won’t break the bank.

Invest just a little

Use inexpensive and everyday items for a cool costume that won’t break the bank. If you have the time to make a mad dash to the craft store, you can put one of these together.

  • Bag of jellybeans: Get a large clear garbage bag and cut out some arm and leg holes. Step inside and fill the bag with small multi-colored balloons, then tie a ribbon around your neck to cinch the bag shut. Print out the Jelly Belly logo to stick on the front for emphasis. (Pro tip: find the most durable clear garbage bags you can find!)
  • Animal: You’ll get an F for originality but an A+ for frugality. Just buy some ears and a tail at a party store, dress monochromatically, paint on some whiskers, and you’re a mouse…duh!
  • Lady Gaga: All you need is a leotard or one-piece bathing suit, some fabric glue, and a bag of different-sized clear balloons, and you can be cool circa 2009.
  • Flapper: Finding a 20’s style dress at a thrift shop should be easy. Then just throw on some pearls, stick a feather in a headband, and kick up your heels—it’s time to party like it’s 1929!

Raid your closet

You probably have a few costume elements in your wardrobe already. Reach into the back of your closet, almost to Narnia, and you’ll probably find some gems to update. But if you don’t, a quick stop at Goodwill will complete your look affordably.

  • Rosie the Riveter: Grab your best chambray shirt, tie up your hair in a red and white bandana (polka dots preferred), and get ready to show off the guns. You can do it!
  • Tourist: A flowered shirt, sunglasses, straw hat, and tropical drink in hand will put you in the mood for spring break.
  • Wizard trying to blend in: Put together an outfit that doesn’t match: pajama pants and a button-down, a polka-dot dress and striped tights, a sweatsuit with a tie. Then find a stick that’s roughly wand-sized to carry around while you act eccentric and suspicious.
  • Ancient Roman: Take a sheet, wrap it around yourself, and pin it to make sure it doesn’t come undone. Weave some vines into your hair or get a cheap crown, and it’s that easy!
  • Secret Service agent: Dress in all black, wear some dark shades, and try not to crack a smile. You can also wear an old suit and a nice watch to dress as James Bond.
  • Killer prom regent: Dig out an old dress or suit from your closet and add a crown or tiara. Then pour some fake blood over your head to go the Carrie route (if you don’t mind ruining your clothes!)
  • Pop art: Dress in bright colors or polka dots. Then paint bright colored dots all over your face and outline your facial features with thick, black lines. Pow! You’re straight out of a comic book.

Related: How to Throw an Awesome Halloween Party on a College Budget

Make your own accessories

Everyone will appreciate your creativity and craftiness when you DIY your own costume—and that doesn’t mean complex homemade cosplays. We’re talking afternoon crafts with the friends not months of planning for Comic-Con.

  • Sim: If you’re good at origami, you can fold a PlumBob (the green icon that floats over an active character’s head) and attach it to a headband to instantly become the Sims version of yourself. Bonus points for trying to replicate an outfit you could actually put on a Sim in the game.
  • Eureka!: You can also simplify the Sim costume with this classic idea. All you need is a headband, a light bulb, and some superglue. Stick the light bulb onto the headband and you have a great idea for a costume!
  • Pineapple: Create a tall, leafy crown with green poster board and dress head to toe in yellow for this sweet costume. Don’t like pineapples? There are plenty of fruits you can be!
  • Neglected doll: Take some old clothes you were thinking of getting rid of and have fun distressing them. Then do yourself up with creepy doll makeup and get out there to haunt people.
  • A major award: Pick up an old tennis racquet, golf club, or hockey stick then paint it (and yourself) gold and don all gold clothes. Randomly pose like a statue throughout the night to really sell it.

For the squad

Sometimes you’re not the only one to leave your costume to the last minute. In that case, try out these last-minute group ideas.

  • Where are we? It’s the power duo no one can find—Carmen Sandiego in black pants, a red jacket, and a red hat and Where’s Waldo in a red and white striped shirt, red beanie, black pants, and glasses (bonus points if you get a cane!). It could be a couple’s costume, but it might be better not to if you want to spend the night hanging out with them because once you find someone to do this with, lose them.
  • Run Pac Man run: All you need are five friends, black jeans, and corresponding shirts (yellow, orange, red, blue, and pink) with eyes and mouths drawn in permanent marker. If you want the whole crew, add a Ms. Pac-Man with another friend in a yellow shirt and a red ribbon in their hair!
  • The breakfast club: Grab some friends and your favorite breakfast cereals and walk around with them all night (your friends and the cereal). This is great because your costume comes with a built-in snack! Bonus points if you dress up like the cereal mascot.

Related: Last–Minute Costume Ideas Based on Your Favorite Class

No matter your situation, dressing up in high school and college is a necessity—don’t waste these creative years. You can come up with an awesome costume without spending a ton of money and have fun with your friends this spooky season. Happy Halloween!

What are you being for Halloween this year? Send us pics of your costume on Twitter @CollegeXpress

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