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14 cheap and easy Halloween costumes

Halloween is a major date on the student calendar, but getting together an impressive costume on a budget can be tricky. Here’s some of our best ideas!

Whether you’re the self-proclaimed king or queen of fancy dress or prefer something a little more vanilla, we’ve got a whole host of ideas that won’t break the bank.

That means avoiding shelling out £50+ on this thing

Not only that, we’ve specially picked costumes which won’t take you hours to complete and can be made with things lying around the house. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how good they are.

Quirky Halloween costume ideas

  1. Jelly Beans costume

    Grab yourself a clear (and clean!) bin bag and make a few holes for limbs – then fill to your heart’s content with balloons!

    Weave a ribbon through a few smaller holes at the top of the bag and tie loosely at the neck so it doesn’t end up around your ankles.

    Walking around inside a bag of balloons won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely add to the night’s entertainment!

    Cost: 20 clear bin bags (£2) – you’ll need to bring back-ups in case of any tears! 50 multicoloured balloons – £1.70 here!

  2. Silent movie star costume

    Everyone owns some clothing which fits into the white and black category, right? And with a dash of white face paint it’s exceptionally easy to look like you’ve just walked off a silent movie set.

    This idea’s especially great if you aren’t a massive fan of the people you’re going to party with, as silently drinking in the corner can be declared part of the act.

    Similarly, if you happen to have a stripy top, white gloves and a beret lying around – you’re the perfect mime!

    Cost: White face paint (£2.75) and print off some witty placards to take along with you so you can stay in costume while addressing the important stuff like “Where can I find the vodka?”

  3. Fried egg costume

    Who’s to say what can’t be achieved with a bit of white card and a splash of yellow?

    To make the yolk you can glue on an upside down mixing bowl, stitch together some yellow material or simply paint a big yellow circle in the middle.

    Aside from reminding everyone of what they’ll be forcing down their gullet to fight the hungover a few hours later, this costume is super easy and memorable.

    Bear in mind the logistics of travel in this instance – climbing into a taxi dressed as a fried egg will be…interesting.

    Cost: White card (£1.50) and plastic bowl or yellow paint (around £1), plus string to strap the egg around your neck.

  4. 404 error

    Definitely one for the tech buffs among you – this Error 404 costume involves minimum effort but with maximum kudos.

    Upstage everyone effortlessly by donning your witty ‘I’m above all this fancy dress sh*t’ look.

    Cost: White tee (£3 from Primark) and fabric pens or black marker. Or for even more minimal effort, simply print off the message and tape it to your top.

Traditional Halloween costume ideas

  1. Mummy costume

    This is quite possibly the easiest and most effective Halloween costume in the history of the universe, and chances are you’ll have everything you need in your possession right now (unless you’re one of those student houses that never has toilet roll).

    To prevent the bog roll from tearing and leaving a trail behind you everywhere you go, mix things up with some white bandages at the end as this will keep things in place.

    For added effect, you can also splash some fake blood around or red food colouring will do the trick. Just be careful not to turn all your clothes red.

    Also consider bounding yourself in two halves, otherwise you’ll encounter some issues when you need to pee (although you’ll never be short of bog roll for once!).

    Cost: 6 toilet rolls (around £2).

  2. Dead celebrity costume

    Elvis, Shakespeare, Marilyn Monroe… this is particularly handy if you’ve dressed up as them before – just do it again, but the dead way. Recycle, baby!

    Add some fake blood, pale white face paint and some scratches à la eyeliner and you will instantly look like you’ve put in a zillion times more effort than the guys dressed up as Hulk or the Smurfs…again.

    Cost: Cheap make up (£2) and pre-owned costume (free).

  3. Creepy doll costume

    Nothing screams low-budget horror more than an eerie toy that’s seen better days.

    Thankfully this costume is equally as low-budget as the rest. A simple, ripped up dress will do the trick, coupled with some inventive make up. Go for massive eyes, pale cracked face and pouting lips.

    Raid your local charity shop for an old dress, and if you want to go all out, you could use some wood and string to construct a puppet mechanism above your head.

    Cost: Cheap make up (£2) and old dress.

  4. Skeleton costume

    There’s two main ways of doing the classic skeleton look.

    You can get together an all black outfit and then draw bones on top with chalk or a white fabric pen. Alternatively you can layer black clothes on top of white, and cut out shapes to create the bones.

    Some white facepaint and black eyeliner around the eyes will finish this one off nicely.

    Cost: Black t-shirt and leggings (around £3 each from Primark). White fabric pen (£3.10).

  5. Ghost costume

    ghost costume
    Sheet ghosts are a staple of fancy dress: one old sheet with a couple of holes and you’re done – what’s not to love?

    Working out the perfect positions for some arm holes will involve much less pulling and tugging to keep the sheet in place, so take 10 seconds to do this too.

    Cost: A single white bed sheet will cost you less than a tenner (but you can always use an old one lying around the house if you have one).

Special effort Halloween costume ideas

Everyone knows that one guy/girl at the party with a costume that just blows everything you ever knew out of the water. The great news is, you too can be that person.

Making something of epic proportions doesn’t have to cost you the earth, but be warned, these ideas will need a significant time investment. They’re totally worth it though.

  1. Jellyfish costume

    Jellyfish costumeThis one comes courtesy of our very own writer and fancy dress aficionado Jess. To construct the jellyfish dome you can use a plastic mixing bowl or a round hanging basket liner (pick one up from Homebase for £3).

    Grab yourself some scrap material to cover it and decorate with some cheap fairylights and ribbons. To actually attach it to your head, stuff it with newspaper and glue on a hairband. Easy!

    This costume definitely works best at night time in a dark venue where the fairylights can really pop, but beware, trying to dance with all that on you head is no mean feat.

    Cost: Hanging basket liner (£3), fairylights (£3.49), ribbon and material (around £4).

  2. Rubik’s cube costume

    We’ve heard of the Rubik’s cube party, but to be honest that’s a little outdated, especially when you could actually just be a Rubik’s cube.

    All you actually need is a cardboard box, coloured paper and paint and you will literally be the coolest person ever.

    Helpfully, the guy who pioneered this on live television, has handily uploaded a step-by-step guide to achieving the look.

    Cost: Cardboard boxes (free from supermarkets) and coloured paper (£2).

  3. Lego brick costume

    Sticking with the theme of block shaped toys, because that’s what all the cool kids are wearing this season, we present you with the “Lego brick”.

    All you’ll need a massive cardboard box, some paint, yoghurt pots and glue, and it’s pretty self explanatory!

    Cost: Cardboard boxes (free from supermarkets), paint (around £1), yoghurt pots (free), glue (around £2).

  4. Pop Art costume

    All you really need to make this work are face paints and hairspray, but this will take a fair amount of time to actually put together.

    We can tell you now though, it will be totally worth it. Go for plain, brightly contrasting clothing for max effect, too!

    Cost: Hairspray (£4),  face paints (£2).

Halloween costume tips

halloween costume ideas
If you just can’t get enough of all this halloween-y goodness then never fear, we’ve got even more bonus tips to help save you dollar and imagination.

These saving tips can be applied to any costume (which is great if you weren’t a fan of any of our amazing ideas).

Don’t have time for the DIY route? These 22 costumes are all under £15!