Last weekend, I spent my Saturday Halloween costume shopping with a friend. After spending the entire day searching (and coming up empty-handed), she just didn’t feel right about spending $80 on a few pieces of poorly made fabric that probably cost only $0.10 to make in China (...and heck I don’t blame her!).

When did Halloween costumes get to be so expensive? That’s why I’m on the hunt for budget-friendly costume tips that won’t scare your wallet.

Tip #1: Don’t Buy Pre-Packed Costumes

Buying your entire costume in one nice package is SUPER convenient. But remember this convenience comes at a price. If you’re looking to save some money as a general rule opt away from taking the easy way out and choosing a pre-packed costume.

For example, this Betty Boop costume retails at $65.99 and includes only the dress (the wig is an extra $14.99!!). Instead, you could go to a second hand store, or even a retail store, and purchase a red dress. I found a red sequined dress at one store for only $19.99.

That’s a savings of $46.00!

Tip #2: Buy Pieces You Can Use Again

The other benefit of buying the items yourself is you can always re-use the items for other costumes....or maybe you’ll wear it in everyday life. For example, my costume this year included a black skirt (I’m dressing up at Lindsay Funke). So, I went to H&M and bought a black skirt that I actually liked and I’ve already worn it a few times. Buying pieces that you can re-use will certainly give you more bang for your buck.

Tip #3: Accessorize Your Costume

Accessories can make or break your costume. Once you get the basics for your costume, go ahead and get some make-up, gloves, hats, capes. These items are generally cheaper than your main costume but make it oh-so-worth-it.

Tip #4: Costume Swap

Do you have a friend who’s costume you absolutely LOVED last year? Ask them to borrow it! Or, do a Halloween Costume Swap with some friends, or around your office. This is a great way to get a FREE Halloween costume.

When it comes to accessories - ask around too! Someone might have a cape you need from their Zoro costume a few years back or that blond wig you need to complete your Lady Gaga look.

Tip #5: Get Creative!

Get inspired for your costume and then seek out the items you need. (And if you’re not creative use the pre-packed costumes as inspiration.) I always prefer going to thrift stores for my pieces to get the best bargain, BUT you can always hit up a retail store as well.

  1. Black Swan: Grab a black dress from a second-hand store, black crinoline (which you can always use next year or, borrow from a friend), a black masquerade mask, and glue some black feathers for extra oomph. Get some black and white makeup and voila!
  2. Poison Ivy: A friend of mine did this a few years back and looked brilliant. She got a bright green dress from a second-hand shop for $15, a red wig, and some super long fake eyelashes.
  3. Zombie: Go to the second-hand store and find the cheapest outfit that fits. Go home and rip holes in everything. Get some makeup and smear it on your face and body. Fake blood is also encouraged. (Note: if you find a cheap wedding dress, consider kicking it up a notch and becoming a zombie bride!)
  4. “Static”: this is the “go-to” costume for one of our staff members. Spike your hair, and then attach socks and anything else to a regular outfit.

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.... What are your top tips for saving this Halloween? Do you have any budget-friendly costume ideas? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below.  

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