Costume parties in and of themselves seem like a great idea.
That is, until you realize that you’re about to spend $50+ and countless hours putting together an outfit you’ll wear once before shoving it deep under the bed with the rest of your one-hit-wonder Halloween ensembles.
And while I always try to be frugal (because despite my over-the-top holiday enthusiasm, I’m still a Penny Hoarder at heart), I’m also pretty lazy when it comes to Halloween costumes.
I always think I’m going to go all out and DIY my costume, but then every year, without fail, I end up running to the store at the last minute and spending a lot of money.
There has to be a better way to go about this whole costume business — a way that, ideally, won’t cost any money at all.
7 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home
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.
I mean, there’s gotta be a reason you didn’t throw out that Hawaiian print shirt from the summer of ‘92 yet, right?!
I started brainstorming and managed to put together seven great options that I could wear to a Halloween costume party — using only things I already owned.
This one might be the easiest costume on this list to pull off. I mean, who among us doesn’t have a pair of shorts, a brightly colored shirt and some tacky socks you can 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. 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) and make vague but ominous statements all night about how your friends’ Mondays will go.
Overalls were like the parachute pants of 2017: You either own three pairs already, or you’re 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 (find an awesome DIY tutorial here), and you’re all set to annoy the living daylights out of everyone at the party.
4. 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 (I promise, it’s actually so much easier than it looks), and you’re ready to make old-fashioned gentlemen swoon.
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). Bonus points if you’re willing to carry a broom around all night.
This one doesn’t take a lot of… wait for it… brains to figure out. (I know, I know. I already docked myself three whole funny points.)
But seriously, all you need 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.
This one’s a classic, and honestly if you try to tell me you don’t own a white T-shirt and leggings or jeans, I won’t believe you.
Tie a scarf around your neck, slip on a pair of sneakers or wedges, throw a jacket (denim, leather or bomber) over your shoulder and you’re good to go.
Bonus: This one makes for an excellent couples costume, too.
Trick or Treat!
Assuming you own at least a pair of jeans and some dark makeup, I’d say we’ve just about solved your last-minute costume woes.
Now you officially have no excuse for not showing up to the party in a costume that could shock Frankenstein’s monster to life.
Grace Schweizer is an email content writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s just trying to figure out if there’s a way to combine all her best costume ideas into one. Is there such a thing as a fortuwitcheaserpinuzombieist?