20+ DIY Halloween Costumes That Won’t Break the Bank

With Halloween quickly approaching, you may still be looking for the perfect costume for the party, neighborhood trek, or candy duty. Check out some of our favorite ideas from the internet, and prepare to make your best DIY Halloween costumes!

Tip: If your costume is a bit derivative–that is, you can’t seem to pull together enough elements to make it an undeniably recognizable character–carry a prop that identifies your character. Whether a book, a copy of the DVD, or even just a printed photo–it’ll save you from the inquiries of, “wait, who are you again?”

DIY Halloween Costumes for Duos

Coach Lasso and Coach Beard

What you need (Ted): a fake (or real) mustache, visor, pullover sweater, collared shirt, soccer ball, whistle

What you need (Coach Beard): beard, soccer jersey or jacket, watch

Ted Lasso was one of the best drama-comedies that came out of 2020 and is still delighting audiences. An American football coach, Ted, is hired to manage a British soccer team. He makes up for his lack of knowledge with optimism, determination, and biscuits.  

Marty McFly and Doc

What you need (Marty): skinny or straight-leg jeans, button-down flannel, denim jacket, red puffer vest, watch, white sneakers, and a skateboard

What you need (Doc): all-white outfit, crazy cray hair, remote control with a big antenna

Not many 80s characters are as recognizable as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. With the 80s fashion, nostalgic music, and excellent sci-fi plot line, what’s not to love? We’d argue that these outfits are so iconic they’re easily gender-neutral. Grab a friend or partner and get ready to go back in time.

Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable

What you need (Kim): army green utility joggers, black turtleneck, brown belt, black gloves;

What you need (Ron): gray utility cargo pants, black turtleneck, black gloves, naked mole rat stuffed animal.

You might just have these DIY Halloween costumes already in your closet–which is the best kind of costume. Kim Possible was one of the heroines of Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. Not your average high school cheerleader–she spent most of her time-fighting supervillains with her buddy Ron Stoppable.

DIY Halloween costume Kim and Ron Possible
Photo courtesy of @adelialaughs

DIY Halloween Costumes From Movies

Boo from Monster’s Inc

What you need: long, pink shirt, purple leggings, white socks or shoes

One of the best Pixar films of all time is about two unlikely monster buddies discovering that humans aren’t quite as scary as they were taught to believe. Their tiny friend is Boo– a toddler who sees them differently than most children. Boo’s outfit is simple to re-create. All you need is an oversized pink shirt, pigtails, and white ankle socks, and you can even carry a box of cheerios (her favorite treat).

Mia Thermopolis

What you need: formal gown, tiara, sunglasses, wired, over-the-ear headphones.

With all the buzz around the royal family recently, we’re forgetting about the other royal family story of the early 2000s–the fictional Genovians and their queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews) from The Princess Diaries. For this costume, Mia Thermopolis, the heir apparent, any formal gown you have should work. But the main thing to remember for this costume is the sunglasses and wired, over-ear headphones–the iconic promotional shot from the movie posters and DVDs.

Damian From Mean Girls

What you need: Blue drawstring hoodie, a sign that says, “she doesn’t even go here.”

One of the pop culture icons of the early 2000s was the movie Mean Girls. In fact, it made such a cultural impression that you can hear Mean Girls referenced in everyday conversations, especially from people who are still trying to make “fetch” happen. While you can always be one of the “Plastics,” one of the alternative, perhaps easier DIY last-minute Halloween costumes is “Damian,” one of Cady’s first friends at her new school. 

Forrest and Jenny (and Lieutenant Dan)

What you need (Forrest): red baseball cap, short-sleeved collared shirt, khakis, white sneakers

What you need (Jenny): hippie clothes

What you need (Lt. Dan): camouflage pants, T-shirt, blue bandana, Hawaiian shirt

No matter how you feel about this iconic movie couple, you have to admit it’s a fantastic costume. Bonus points if Forrest spends the entire night jogging. That is– until he decides it’s time to “go home now.”

forrest gump DIY costumes
Photo courtesy of @jenny.d.love

Iconic Characters and Memes

Dwane, “the Rock,” Johnson

What you need: black turtleneck, gold necklace, blue jeans, brown belt, brown fanny pack

One of the most meme-able photos in pop culture is a vintage photo of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson in a turtleneck. No one’s quite sure why, but the internet fell in love with this quintessential ’90s photo. Is it the tiny fanny pack? The gold chain? Who’s to say? We’re happy the photo exists and gives us the perfect DIY costume idea.

Miranda Sings

What you need: red drawstring pants, blue striped button-down shirt, over-drawn, bright red lipstick

If you were on the internet in 2008, you likely remember the spunky, off-the-wall Youtube personality “Miranda.” The character was an unapologetically self-promoting aspiring “singer” who wanted nothing more than fame. Of course, her ridiculous outfit choice, overdrawn lipstick, and complete lack of talent made her a comical spectacle. While “Miranda” was just a character created by actress Colleen Ballanger, the legacy lives on in our memories. Fortunately, this costume is simple enough for anyone with red drawstring sweatpants, a blue and white striped collared shirt, and red lipstick.

DIY costumes miranda
Photo courtesy of @miss__lexxi

Guy Holding Sign

What you need: cardboard, aviator sunglasses

This man has made quite an impression on the internet. He’s known for holding signs with “hot takes” or opinions. Some examples include, “stop standing up when the plane lands” or “stop replying-all to company wide-emails.” He’s often seen wearing a simple outfit, such as a long-sleeved t-shirt, but his signature accessory is a pair of dark aviator sunglasses. Grab a piece of cardboard, some aviator sunglasses, and a light-hearted opinion you’re willing to defend, and you’re all set. 

Morton Salt Girl

What you need: yellow dress or coat, umbrella, ping pong balls, yarn, Morton Salt container, white tights, yellow shoes

The Morton Salt Girl is one of the most recognizable mascots out there, and we love this costume idea. She’s been around since 1911, which makes her over 110 years old. We’d say she’s aged pretty gracefully.

morton salt DIY costume
Photo courtesy of @chicfromchicago

Throwback to Childhood DIY Costumes

Arthur and Buster

What you need (Arthur): a yellow pullover sweater, blue jeans, red sneakers/converse, round glasses, round ears, dog stuffed animal.

What you need (Buster): turquoise pullover, orange/pink button down, red sneakers/converse, bunny ears

Arthur was one of the most popular shows on PBS Kids from 1996-2022. You’ve probably seen at least an episode or two if you were a child (or had children) during those years. The beauty of dressing up as kids’ TV characters is that they’re notorious for wearing one outfit, making them much more recognizable.

@khadija.jahmila DIY costumes arthur
Photo courtesy of @khadija.jahmila

Cookie Monster

What you need: an all-blue outfit, headband with two ping pong ball eyes, giant paper cookie

Cookie Monster is one of the stars of Sesame Street whose obsession with cookies informs all of his interactions. As one of the most recognizable characters in pop culture, you only need a simple costume for people to get the gist.

Your Favorite Book Character

What you need: It varies, but we love this costume for Smelly Peter: the Great Pea Eater

If you’re a teacher or grew up as an avid reader, you probably have a book character you remember well. For me, it’s Madeline. For you, it might be Corduroy, Curious George, Miss Frizzle, or Waldo. No matter what character spoke to you, pay homage to them with a DIY costume that you pieced together with things from your wardrobe or a thrift store.

@mrs.shight DIY costumes smelly peter
Photo courtesy of @mrs.shight

Pop Culture DIY Costumes

BeReal

What you need: Poster board and markers, tape, glue

One of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of the year was the popularization of a new app called “BeReal.” Especially popular with Gen-Z and millennials, this app prompts all users at the same time to take a photo from the front and back perspective on their phone. The comedy of it all is that some people are so committed to proving their adherence to “being real” within the allotted 2 minutes that they’ll take photos in increasingly outlandish situations simply because it’s what they were doing at the time. Use cardboard to make the “beReal” frame around your head, with a large printed photo in the corner of what the front perspective of your phone would be.  

Olivia Rodrigo (Sour)

What you need: pink tank top, plaid skirt, necklace, stickers

One of the biggest albums of 2020 was Olivia Rodrigo’s debut solo album Sour. Although focusing on the intricacies of a teenager’s breakup with a fellow Disney channel co-star, the album tugged at the heartstrings of all ages with incredible talent, emotions, and a natural gift for lyrical storytelling. It’s to re-create her album artwork–a pink tank top, tartan skirt, and necklace. Add stickers to your face, and everyone will recognize the iconic album cover. Bonus points for putting them on your tongue, too!

Sam From “Operation”

What you’ll need: Red and white card stock, white or tan long-sleeved shirt, white or tan long-sleeved pants, tape or glue, red clown nose, tongs

If you played the game Operation as a child, this one’s for you. Remember the way you would jump when the game buzzed? Fortunately, you can probably make the costume with things you have lying around the house. You can find a template for the “bones” and “organs” online, but you could also freehand them on your card stock. Cut them out and attach them to your clothes. Finish off the look with a red clown nose and some tongs!

DIY costumes operation
photo courtesy of @aimee_nezhukumatathil

Tooth Fairy

What you need: a white/blue outfit, toothbrush, tutu, tiara, wings, glitter

Most kids are excited to find a few quarters (or more, the tooth fairy isn’t immune to inflation) underneath their pillow after a long battle with a stubborn tooth. Fortunately, this fairy is not only easy to recognize but easy to emulate. Not many other fairies have as recognizable a symbol as a tooth. A tutu, tiara, and wings are a great place to start. Add little tooth details to the outfit–even if it’s just a hand-drawn tooth on card stock.

Simple DIY Costumes

diy costumes
Photo courtesy of @vintageandgrace

Take it back to basics and don’t stress with these simple costumes you can’t mess up:

  • Bed sheet ghost
  • Error 404: Costume not found
  • Beanie Baby
  • Mummy
  • Crayon

DIY Halloween Costumes Are More Fun (Trust Us)

No matter what your budget is, DIY Halloween costumes are always a win. Because really, do you want to spend a ton of money you’re only going to wear once (or maybe twice)? And you get to use your creativity and imagination! What are some of your favorite ideas for DIY Halloween costumes? Share your photos with us on Instagram @getfamilyapp!

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