Scary Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas

young people in halloween costumes

No one likes to have the same Halloween costume as everyone else, but it’s hard to come up with completely original ideas. One way to get around that is to upgrade, remake, and DIY the classics! Here are some tips on how to make your own scary, cheap Halloween costume with a little “wow” factor.

Black Bat Umbrella Hack

This is a great costume idea for anyone who has an old or slightly broken black umbrella to upcycle. Not all umbrellas are made the same, but here are some basic guidelines:

Start by cutting out two triangles of the umbrella directly opposite each other at the top and bottom. You'll need a good set of wire cutters to remove the “winged” fabric away from the handle and metal supports. You can use black electrical tape on any sharp edges, but try to get a clean cut. Lay out the wings and cut the joiners from all arms of the umbrella.

Next, remove the metal supports that will let the cut umbrella pieces fold with your arms. Use black ribbon to tie the ends to your wrists and the middle to your shoulders, crossing over the chest and underneath the arms. Make it extra scary with plastic fangs, fake blood on the sides of your mouth, round black sunglasses, and a black headband with construction paper ears.

Updated Skeleton

A classic, but oftentimes overdone Halloween trope, the skeleton has potential to be more than just a scary painted white and black boney face. Add another layer of fun to this DIY costume by cutting out rectangular sections of a white or black t-shirt to create the illusion of a rib cage.

Show off your art skills and knowledge of anatomy by drawing a realistic looking heart and ventricles on red cardboard paper, cut it out, and place it underneath the “rib cage” with tape to add a creative dimension to an otherwise outdated costume.

Day of the Dead

Another way to one-up the skeleton look is to go for a “Day of the Dead” theme, from the Mexican holiday that salutes the spirit world. Take a look at pictures online for inspiration and to see the main ways the face differs from a traditional skeleton: namely the all-white face with large, round or oval black eyes, and patterned mouth make-up.

What sets this costume apart is the wardrobe which uses bursts of festive color—typically black and red, but not limited to those two. Combine with traditional Mexican dresses and mariachi suits to add character. Add face tattoos of colorful flowers, hearts, and your own personal style to really enhance the skeletal face make-up.

woman in a day of the dead costume

Billy the Puppet

Debuting in the Saw movie franchise back in 2003, this scary character is becoming a timeless Halloween costume idea for those wanting to pay homage to their favorite horror flick. The outfit is fairly simple: a black suit, white collar shirt, and a red bow tie—items you may already have in your closet. Then, simply cover your face and hands with white paint and draw on the signature red spiral on both cheeks. Invest in a bald wig with black hair or simply slick back your own. To achieve those dark black eyes, use black eyeliner and eye shadow, then finish the look off with deep, red lipstick.

Clown from It

With the 2019 remake, this terrifying clown is back on people’s minds—and in their nightmares! The look has been done to death, but there’s something so sinister about Stephen King’s “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” that wearing this costume will freak out everyone around you. A puffy Victorian collar will make it legit, but any floppy clown-like garb—or even pajamas—will do the trick.

If you aren’t a natural ginger, consider using orange hair spray, and make sure to blow dry and frizz up your hair on the top and sides. The make-up consists of all-white face with distinct red lines running from the forehead through the eyes to the sides of the mouth. Use a red face crayon for the lines, then apply dark eye shadow and red lipstick. Get a red balloon to top off this creepy costume.

pennywise costume

Sabrina Spellman Witch

Witches are another Halloween mainstay, but why not ditch the broom and black hat and go for a themed witch this Halloween? The 90’s hit TV show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” got a darker makeover in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” last year, and the teenage witch did as well.

For this “chilling” look, source out a red vintage lace doily shirt at a second-hand store or make your own by buying a paper doily at the dollar store and attaching it around the neckline of a tight, long-sleeve red shirt. If you already have shoulder-length curly blonde hair, that saves you some time and money, but temporary dye, or a wig will do just fine. Pair a black headband and dark red lipstick with a coy look and voila, instant witch-with-cache.

You don’t want to be stuck with one of those basic Halloween costumes, but you don’t want to break the bank either. By using some of these ideas, or applying some of the concepts to your own designs, your scary DIY costume will surely be a hit—without your wallet taking one.