11 Cheap and Easy Halloween Costumes to Make at Home

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Girl dressed as ghost
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By Raechel Conover

It's possible to create pretty much any Halloween costume by thinking outside the box (putting aside the fact that many of the ideas here start with a box). Choosing to DIY instead of buy can save money on a holiday that costs more than you might think. Each person who celebrates Halloween this year will spend an average $74.34 for decorations, costumes and candy, according to the National Retail Federation. With more than 157 million Americans expected to mark the holiday, it's a $6.9 billion retail bonanza. At the very least, the money saved making one of these costumes at home can be put into a bigger candy budget.

Rocket kid. This Halloween costume suggested by Real Simple is made entirely from items most likely on hand. Dress in all white and use duct tape to create armbands and leg stripes. Use two Pringles cans, streamers and two party hats to create a power pack and Rocket Kid is set for takeoff.

Life-size legos. This Pinterest-inspired costume has only three components: a big box, Solo cups and paint. Start by painting the box blue or red to match the color of the cups, cut armholes and a head hole in the box, and remove the bottom to allow for legs and feet. Glue the Solo cups in place -- two lines of three on the front and back, just like a Lego. For an extra touch add a hat: Paint a smaller box, cut out a hole for the head and glue two more Solo cups on top.

Hula girl. This easy and cheap Halloween costume from Real Simple uses a brown paper bag cut into strips for the skirt and different color cupcake liners strung together for a colorful lei and headband.

Animal. Pretty much any animal can be the muse for a homemade Halloween costume. Don a monochromatic sweatsuit and use felt or fabric scraps to fashion a hat or headband to be the ears. Create a tail and other fur detail with scraps of fabric and yarn.

Jellyfish. Dress in white or a light color. Glue white or light pink streamers around the bottom of a clear umbrella and cut eyes from construction paper to attach to the side. Carry the umbrella and -- poof! -- a jellyfish.

Game show contestant. Wear a college sweatshirt and cut off the side of a cardboard box. On the front panel, paint a scoreboard from "The Price Is Right" or another game show. Use twine to hang the panel in front of you like a podium, add a name tag and it's done. This easy Halloween costume also can be the building block for a group Halloween costume -- "Family Feud" contestants, for example.

Stick figure. Assemble an all-black outfit, including a hoodie -- old clothes only. Take a can of neon spray paint and spray a stick figure onto the back of the clothing, with a circle on the hood to serve as the head. Repeat on the front and outline the hood opening for the head.

Bad yearbook picture. This Pinterest-inspired Halloween costume for women requires loading on the blush, bright blue eye shadow, ruby red lipstick, etc. Pick out a gaudy shirt and style big hair and bangs. Cut armholes near the bottom on two sides of a cardboard box and cut off the bottom. Cut out one of the remaining sides, leaving a 3-inch strip of cardboard around the edges and paint this strip to make a picture frame. Paint the inside back of the box a bright blue for the backdrop.

Grapes. This is a classic, dead simple and low-cost getup that can still go for as much as $75 in stores. Instead, start by dressing all in purple. Blow up purple balloons and attach them to the clothing to become a walking cluster of grapes. Top off the costume with a green hat.

Rock, paper, scissors. This group costume takes a bit of effort but is clever and uncomplicated. Cut a cardboard box into the shape of a rock, one side for the front and one for the back. Cut armholes into the sides and spray paint the box gray. Cut armholes in another box and paint the front and back white. Decorate the white surfaces with thin, horizontal lines and three small black circles at the left edges to replicate a piece of loose-leaf paper. Finally, take two large pieces of strong cardboard or poster board and cut them into the shape of scissors, paint them and string ribbon between the two cutouts to wear over the shoulders like a sandwich board.

Soap and loofah. For the first part of this couples' costume, cut out holes for the arms and head from a rectangular cardboard box and remove the bottom. Paint the box white and spray paint the word "soap" on the front and back, attaching bubble wrap to the corners to look like suds. For the loofah, buy a bunch of tulle and sew it thick and bunchy onto an old dress or pants/shirt combo, preferably the same color as the tulle. Attach a loop of white rope to complete the look.
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