There’s nothing like sauntering into a Halloween party wearing the best costume, especially if it didn’t cost a fortune.
Having used homemade Halloween costumes dozens of times, I consider myself an expert.
Here are my favorite DIY Halloween costumes for under $10:
Abducted by an Alien
Dress in pajamas and carry a teddy bear. Cut out a large alien body shape from cardboard and spray paint it black. Glue on white slits for the alien’s eyes and affix a cape over the alien’s shoulders.
Grab a length of rope and tie the alien cutout to your back so it seems as if the alien has tied you up. Making the alien extra tall will help create the illusion that it is kidnapping you.
Hot Air Balloon
Grab a large cardboard box and cut out the top and bottom. Secure four garden poles to each corner so that the sticks rise evenly a few feet above the box. Attach the top of the box to the top of the poles, creating a little roof for your box.
Using duct tape or straps, hang the box from your shoulders so your face frames the opening below the roof. Tie a dozen balloons to the roof. Draw crisscross lines on the box so it looks like a basket.
If you don’t have a grey sweatshirt with a hood, pick one up at a thrift store. From white felt, cut out a string of triangles as long as the hoodie opening. Sew the white felt triangles into the edges of the hoodie to form teeth. Sew or glue two black circles to the top of the hoodie for eyes.
For the fin, cut two large grey triangles that are the same size. Sew two edges of the triangles together, leaving the third side open. Cut a slightly smaller triangle out of cardboard and fit it inside the triangle.
Sew the third side closed (with cardboard inside) and attach the “fin” to the back of the hoodie. Dribble fake blood from the teeth.
Grab a large piece of cardboard and round the edges. Cut out a large rectangle, also with rounded edges, from the center so that the border remains sturdy. Spray paint the remaining piece red.
Affix two large white circles (tops to jars or plastic containers work great) to the lower left and lower right corners of the shape. Grab a silver marker and at the top write, “Etch-a-Sketch.”
Dress in all white. Purchase a cheap clear umbrella and bubble wrap, if you don’t have these supplies on hand at home.
Cut long strands of bubble wrap and attach them to the underside of the umbrella to form tentacles. Affix plastic fish or other sea creatures to a tentacle or two for added effect.
Wear a light-colored dress. Buy cheap yellow yarn measuring six to ten feet, depending on your height. The length should be at least twice as long as you are tall.
Grab a pair of tights or thick stockings. Tie the legs together and then cut off the ends. This forms the base of the wig. Cut the yarn in half. Sew or glue the strands onto the wig base so the yarn covers the wig thickly. Tie the yarn at the base of the neck and braid.
Add a hair wreath of fake flowers from a dollar or thrift store to complete the look.
Follow the steps for making a shark, but use a brown hooded sweatshirt instead. Sew on a tail made from stuffed brown nylons or tights.
Instead of one fin, make a row of three spikes to attach to the back of the hoodie.
Follow the steps for making a dinosaur, but use a green hooded sweatshirt and tail. Make the teeth and back spikes from yellow felt.
Dress in all black, including a black hooded sweatshirt. Make two ears out of black felt with cardboard in the center for stiffness (see dinosaur).
Grab an old black umbrella and cut out three triangular sections of the umbrella so they are still attached to each other. Repeat. Each three-piece section will form one wing. Sew each wing from the armpit out to the cuff.
Find a cheap source of rubber rats and glue them to various parts of your body, including many in your hair. Wear contrasting colored clothing. For example, black clothing with white and gray rats.
Grab a cheap pair of black sunglasses with oversized lenses. Using a whiteout pen, draw a web on each lens.
For the spider’s legs, use black pipe cleaners or cardboard. Zig zag the pipe cleaners so the legs appear as if they are moving. If you use cardboard, cut out eight legs that zig zag and narrow at the tip, then spray paint the legs black or color with black crayon.
Glue four of the cardboard or pipe cleaner legs onto each side of the lenses.
Wear your hair up and wrap yourself in a shawl of cheesecloth or other gauzy material for a dramatic look.
What are you going to be for Halloween?
Julia Scott founded the everyday savings blog, BargainBabe.com.