50 Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas That Won’t Cost You a Dime

Need a last minute Halloween costume? Try shopping in your own closing to create these looks: a tourist, a fortune teller, a minion, a pinup girl, a witch, a zombie or a greaser. Hector Velez and Christie Post / The Penny Hoarder

Halloween is just around the corner, and waiting in the shadows is that terrifying moment when you realize you don’t have a costume. Never fear, because creating a unique last-minute Halloween costume is easier — and cheaper — than you think.

Before you put on all black and resort to going as a cat to the office party (again), take a tour of these last-minute DIY Halloween costumes that don’t require much time or money to pull together. From couples costumes to group Halloween costumes, DIY Halloween costume ideas abound if you know where to look.

Should You Buy a Last-Minute Halloween Costume?

Don’t google “Halloween stores near me” on Oct. 30 and then rush to deep dive into the discount bins. Instead, shop your closet or the thrift store to score a spooky costume just in time for the holiday.

How much can you save skipping the costume shop and putting together an easy Halloween costume? The National Retail Federation says that 73% of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending about $108 each and a truly terrifying collective $12.2 billion on costumes for kids, adults, and pets.Pocket that money for your Christmas saving plan instead and shop your closet for a costume or create something fun with a glue gun and a little creativity this Halloween.

On a budget this Halloween? Here are 5 tips to save money and still have a spooky good time.

50 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

Procrastinators may be the smart ones after all because these easy Halloween costumes are super affordable. Whether you need a costume for a pet or one for the whole family, everything you need to pull together a spooky Halloween surprise might already be at home.

Halloween Costumes You Can Find in Your Closet

If your aim is to wear a completely free (we like free!) costume on Halloween, start with your closet. Chances are you already have a few costume pieces lurking in the dark recesses of your wardrobe. And if you can’t locate exactly what you want, hit up the thrift store.

There’s gotta be a reason you didn’t throw out that Hawaiian print shirt from the summer of ‘92 yet, right?! Check out these mostly free, fun halloween costume ideas that are literally homemade.

  1. Tourist
  2. Farmer or Scarecrow
  3. Mime
  4. Wednesday Addams
  5. Rosie the Riveter
  6. Fortune Teller
  7. Holly Golightly
  8. Oppenheimer
  9. Top Gun
  10.  Harley Quinn
  11. Pin-up Girl
  12. Mary Poppins
  13. Flower Child
  14. Sailor
  15. Bob Ross
  16. Witch
A woman is dressed as a tourist as part of a DIY Halloween costume.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

1. Tourist

This one might be the easiest costume on this list to pull off. Who doesn’t have a pair of shorts, a brightly colored shirt and some tacky socks to pair with sandals?

Slap on a straw hat or visor and some sunglasses and grab a camera or a map and you’re ready to go. A sunscreened nose will only make your costume more realistic (although a little messy).

2. Farmer or Scarecrow

Got some overalls? You can probably throw together a farmer costume. Look for gingham shirts, bandanas, boots and a straw hat to complete the look. And if you want to get extra mileage out of the costume, turn it into a scarecrow next year by spilling straw out of the sleeves, neckline and pockets.

3. Mime

It’s hard to keep quiet about this easy Halloween costume. All you need to be a mime for Halloween is black pants or overalls, a black and white striped shirt, a beret and some face paint or makeup. A red scarf and gloves are a nice touch, but the key to a good mime costume is learning the movements.

4. Wednesday Adams

The entire Adams family is a great group costume idea, but Wednesday Adams is especially easy to pull off. A black dress, black shoes and a white shirt with a big collar does the trick. Looking to replicate Wednesday’s signature braids? This Wednesday Adams hair tutorial shows you how.

5. Rosie the Riveter

If you had to place a bet on which DIY last-minute Halloween costume anyone could manage, it’s hands down Rosie the Riveter. We can definitely do it because the basics are just a red bandana and a blue button-down shirt. The hardest part of the Rosie Riveter costume is pin-up girl hair. You can get tips and a tutorial here.

A woman is dressed as a fortune teller for Halloween.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

6. Fortune Teller

For this one, you’ll need drapey, flowy clothing, a scarf or headband and lots of stacked jewelry (never enough jewelry). If you’re not totally convinced that your costume is convincing, carry around a prop like a magic eight ball or a plain glass orb, if you just so happen to have one lying around.

7. Holly Golightly

Got a little black dress? You’re halfway to recreating Audrey Hepburn’s signature look in the iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Pair with pearls, opera gloves, black sunglasses and pile your hair on top of your head. And that cigarette holder? Just use a long-handled paint brush, darling.

8. Oppenheimer

We’re certain nobody cared about dressing up as a famed theoretical physicist before 2023. But this year, it’s one of the top trending Halloween costumes. Fortunately, it’s easy to pull off a J. Robert Oppenheimer costume. Just collect some great vintage menswear pieces (like a long trenchcoat, fedora hat, and some nice dress shoes). Add a tie and a pipe, and you’re in business.

9. Top Gun

If you’re feeling the need for speed this Halloween, you’re not alone. Top Gun looks are some of the most popular costumes for Halloween night. Fortunately, going as Maverick or Goose is as easy as grabbing a jumpsuit or coveralls in brown or green, sticking some paper decals on it and pairing your look with aviators and a lot of swagger.

10. Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn costumes are trending this year, but you don’t have to drop a bunch of money at the costume store to become a member of the Suicide Squad. Shop your closet for a few punk-inspired accessories and a baseball tee, and you’re on your way!

A person is dressed as a pin-up girl
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

11. Pinup Girl

High-waisted shorts + a button-down shirt + wedges + red lipstick + bandana = perfect pinup girl. Follow a YouTube tutorial like this one to achieve that flawless pinup hair curl — it’s actually so much easier than it looks — and you’re ready to make old-fashioned gentlemen swoon.

12. Mary Poppins

The great part about a Mary Poppins costume is there are as many ways to recreate this iconic Disney character as there are letters in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. All you really need is a long black coat, an umbrella, a red scarf or bow tie, and a hat you can stick some daisies on.

13.  Flower Child

Some psychedelic tie dye and bell bottoms complete a flower child Halloween costume. But if you really want to feel the love, lean into including a peace sign necklace, some flowers in your hair and a suede vest with fringe.

14. Sailor

If you’ve got white trousers and a striped shirt, you can probably figure out how to make a sailor Halloween costume on the fly. The hat is the hardest part, but say ahoy there to this tutorial that makes it easy to fashion one out of paper.

15. Bob Ross

Got the big hair and the sideburns? Then this Bob Ross homemade Halloween costume is for you. Just wear a blue button-down shirt, some jeans and a brown belt. You can fashion a palette out of cardboard and carry a paintbrush to complete the look. Bonus points if you convince a friend to join you as a happy little tree.

A woman is dressed in a DIY witch costume.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

16. Witch

This costume is less classic witch and more witchy-esque. I mean, does anyone just casually own a pointy hat?

No matter: Throw on lots of black layers, add some dramatic makeup, frizz up your hair and add some drippy black jewelry and no one will even question your costume (mostly out of fear). And don’t forget a broom!.

Halloween Costume Ideas for Crafty People

Fear not! These cheap Halloween costumes don’t require a seamstress. With a little elbow grease, a glue gun and some supplies from the dollar store, this handful of Halloween costume ideas will have you haunting the office party in style.

  1. Little Mermaid
  2. Cheese
  3. Pac-Man
  4. Cereal killer
  5. Bubble bath
  6. Juice box
  7. Robot
  8. Ice cream cone
  9. Harry Potter
  10. Gumball machine
  11. Smarty pants

17. Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey reinvented the Little Mermaid this summer in Disney’s latest live-action movie, and lots of people will be taking inspiration from her this Halloween! Best of all, you can make a DIY Little Mermaid costume from scratch — it just takes a little craftiness and a great tutorial.

18. Cheese

If yellow is your color, consider going all in on cheesy this Halloween. A cheese Halloween costume requires a yellow T-shirt or dress, some cardboard, styrofoam and a little paint to pull off this slice of Halloween ingenuity.

19. Pac-Man

Throw on some black and mount strategically placed paper cutouts of Pac-Man and you’ve turned into a walking, old-school arcade game. If you want to take this Pac-Man costume to the next level, do fabric cutouts and use a glue gun or fabric glue.

20. Cereal Killer

Want a punny costume? This cereal killer costume is a classic play on words. Stalk the grocery store aisle for small variety boxes of cereal and sprinkle your shirt with splashes of fake blood. You can also add spoons, knives and other playful sinister accessories.

21. Bubble Bath

This bubble bath costume idea could really clean up the Halloween party this year. Wear flesh-colored or white clothing and cluster balloons as bubbles across your body, then add a rubber ducky or two and carry a loofah or a back brush.

22. Juice Box

You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of this Halloween costume first. You can go all out and make a cardboard juice box or opt for a simple DIY juice box costume by dressing in one color and attaching a roll of paper bent into a straw shape and encased in Saran wrap.

23. Robot

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Retro robot costumes always compute during Halloween because they’re versatile and who doesn’t have a million cardboard boxes and some duct tape laying around the house?

24. Ice Cream Cone

The sweet stuff isn’t just for kids. Get the scoop on an ice cream cone costume that involves wearing beige on the bottom, white on top and tossing a few paper sprinkles on your shirt. And of course, a red balloon is the cherry on top.

25. Harry Potter

Nothing says Halloween like a Harry Potter-inspired costume. Most of this costume magic is homemade, including wands from chopsticks, a simple black robe or cape and paper cutout glasses. Pair with a plaid skirt and robes to dress as Hermione instead.

26. Gumball Machine

Gather your glue gun. This gumball machine costume tutorial is as easy as sticking together some pompoms with a red skirt or pants. And there are endless variations on this costume idea, including boba tea and frosted animal cookies.

27. Smarty Pants

Put your Halloween candy to work on your hips with this puny smarty pants costume. Mount Smarties candy on your pants and dress the costume up or down with suspenders, oversized glasses and a lot of nerd attitude.

Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples

If you need coordinating outfits this Halloween, there are plenty of easy last-minute Halloween costumes for couples. With a little ingenuity, these Halloween costume ideas can make great friends and family Halloween costumes, too.

  1. Barbie and Ken
  2. Sandy and Danny from “Grease”
  3. Rock ‘n’ roll
  4. Operation
  5. Peanut butter and jelly
  6. “Men in Black”
  7. Night and day
  8. Beer pong
  9. “Wayne’s World”
  10. Dancing emojis

28. Barbie and Ken

Own a one-piece leotard in a bright color and some leggings? No judgment. But you’ve got the makings of a Barbie costume. Pair with a wide belt or some roller skates and people will be asking you to “Come on, Barbie. Let’s go party.” Make it a couple’s ensemble by asking Ken to don leopard print with neon, shorts and loafers. Don’t forget the neckerchief, which is really the chef’s kiss of any Ken costume.

A woman is dressed in a greaser outfit from the movie Grease for a Halloween costume.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

29. Sandy and Danny from “Grease”

If you’re hopelessly devoted to procrastinating, the iconic duo from Grease is another easy last-minute Halloween costume. Sandy and Danny are just head-to-toe black pleather or spandex, black leather jackets, red heels,and slicked-back hair. And they’re a versatile pair that works for just about every couple if you want to put a spin on it.

30. Rock ‘n’ Roll

You don’t have to bring the whole band, but a couple’s rock ‘n’ roll costume can hit all the right notes. With this Halloween costume tutorial, one of you can go as a mix tape and the other can sport a guitar. This Halloween costume idea also makes adorable sibling costumes.

31. Operation

If someone already owns scrubs for work (or you can nab a cheap pair at the thrift store), this is the perfect remedy to your Halloween costume dilemma. Go as the game Operation by sticking pieces to neutral clothing or a bodysuit and having your partner carry the pliers. Don’t forget the clown nose!

32. PB & Jelly

Think you’re the perfect pair? Slap some bread on it and make your couple’s Halloween costume a peanut butter & jelly sandwich this year. Be warned though — you might get stuck together for the day.

33. “Men in Black”

Got a black suit and some shades? Then you can pull off a Men (or Women) in Black (MIB) costume. Just mock up a badge, a black tie and forget about the neuralyzer. Everyone will already know who you are.

34. Night & Day

Opposites attract in this Halloween couple’s costume. Dig up your favorite metallic club wear and fashion these headbands out of simple craft supplies. There are endless iterations of this last-minute costume idea including weather-themed family costumes.

35. Beer Pong

You’ll be the life of the party with this beer pong couple’s costume. All you need are solo cups, a ping pong ball and a beer can or two. Bring your sense of humor though since people into their cups may try to throw things at you.

36. “Wayne’s World”

When it’s party time, you’ll feel excellent as the duo from Wayne’s World. This is the perfect Halloween costume idea for people who have a lot of plaid in their closets and are a few drumsticks short of an actual band.

37. Dancing Emojis

Do you know those dancing emojis that stand shoulder-to-shoulder on your smartphone screen? Recreate the look with a DIY dancing emoji costume that requires a lot of black and a friend willing to stand by your side.

Last-Minute Group Halloween Costumes

Getting together a big group for Halloween? There are plenty of Halloween costume ideas for a crowd. Keep in mind you can choose elements of these costumes if you’re going solo or in a smaller group instead.

  1. “Stranger Things”
  2. Minions
  3. Game show contestants
  4. Ted Lasso cast
  5. Lost Boys
  6. Super Mario characters
  7. Box of crayons
  8. Rock, paper, scissors
  9. Zombies
  10. “Inside Out”
  11. “The Breakfast Club”
  12. M&Ms

38. “Stranger Things”

If you’ve got a wardrobe that looks like it’s stuck in the ’80s, you’re in luck. You and your friends can probably pull off at least one or two signature looks from the Netflix blockbuster show Stranger Things. Got a stonewashed denim vest or some black leather in your closet? Try going for an Eddie Munson costume. You can print out the Hellfire Club logo and secure it to a plain white tee.

A person is dressed as a Minion.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

39. Minions

Overalls were like the parachute pants of 2017: You either owned three pairs already, or you were desperately looking for an excuse to add them to your closet. Add in a yellow shirt (any shade will get the point across), black shoes and gloves and a pair of round glasses or goggles. And because you never see minions making mischief alone, this is best done as a group Halloween costume.

40. Game Show Contestants

“The Price is Right” is an iconic game show whose guests have a distinctive flare that’s easy to pull together for a Halloween costume. You can also go as a team from “Family Feud” if you reproduce the name tags and get everyone to wear coordinating outfits.

41. Ted Lasso Cast

Ted Lasso has been one of the most popular costumes of the past few years. But a group Ted Lasso costume is even more epic. Pull out that tracksuit, whistle, and visor for the iconic Ted Lasso look, then recruit your friends to dress as Keely, Rebecca, Jamie Tartt, and the rest of the Richmond crew.

42. Lost Boys

Want to do Halloween in your pajamas? Then this is the Halloween group costume idea to cozy up to. And if that doesn’t satisfy your need to snuggle, you can always take a black onesie and paint a skeleton on it with glow-in-the-dark paint.

43. Arthur and Friends

Who knew animal ears were so versatile? If you’ve got a whole crew, you can probably dress up as the cast of the popular PBS cartoon “Arthur” with stuff from your own closet. It’s mostly jeans, Converse sneakers and cozy sweaters in solid colors. If you want to go as DW, throw on a pink dress.

44. Box of Crayons

This group Halloween costume is a classic for a reason. All you need to get creative with this crayon costume is an array of outfits in a solid color, some fabric markers or paper and matching party hats.

45. Rock, Paper, Scissors

Trying to do a Halloween costume party as a trio? Rock, paper, scissors costumes are a minimalist homemade approach for three. All that’s required are white T-shirts, black leggings and a little compatibility.

A woman is dressed in a DIY zombie costume.
Michael House/The Penny Hoarder

46. Zombies

This one doesn’t take a lot of … wait for it … brains to figure out.

But seriously, all you need for a zombie costume is holey, grungy clothes: ripped jeans, an old work shirt, a plaid button-up and a pair of dirty sneakers. This will either read as zombie or “midnight Taco Bell run” depending on how you accessorize — which is why you can’t skip the makeup.

Use dark eyeshadow around your eyes and under your cheeks, rat your hair and add some twigs and leaves and you’re good to go. And because zombies always travel in packs, bring friends.

47. “Inside Out”

The cast of characters from “Inside Out” makes a rather fabulous group Halloween costume idea. Many of the costume elements can be found in closets and the rest can be easily made out of paper or with a little hair dye and makeup magic.

48. “The Breakfast Club”

If you have a group of five and one of you has a letterman’s jacket, you’re required to go to Halloween dressed as “The Breakfast Club.” It’s just the rule. And if you don’t recreate the iconic dancing scene in the library for social media props, you’re definitely getting detention.

49. M&Ms

For a group of six that’s a handful, try an M&Ms group Halloween costume. You only need T-shirts in a rainbow of colors and some iron-on paper to stencil and attach the “m.” This is a great costume idea for kids since it’s easy to spot who’s missing during trick or treat.

Easy Halloween Costumes for Dogs

One of the joys of the holidays is that it’s a socially acceptable time to dress your pet. So flaunt some canine style with this easy Halloween costume for dogs.

50. The Cone of Shame Reimagined

Need a DIY costume idea for your pooch? Consider the cone of shame, which can be turned into everything from a Slurpee to fries, flowers to the Iron Throne, a bowl of cereal to a satellite dish.

And of course, cocktails aren’t for canines, but this mutt martini makes it easy to pour one out on Halloween. Take a protective cone, add some tennis or styrofoam balls with red construction paper, and raise a glass to this easy pet costume. Cheers!

Assuming you own at least a pair of jeans and some dark makeup, you’ve solved your last-minute costume woes. Now start haunting the office party or the neighborhood Halloween bash to score the best treats. This year, you definitely earned it.

Kaz Weida is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. SMS manager Grace Schweizer contributed.