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12 Cheap Halloween Costumes For Kids Under $20

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Jacie ‘ET’ Minnick, Grant Writer at Upbring, and her husband Jerry on Halloween.

Just like spooky ghosts and ghouls, Halloween is creeping around the corner! Don’t fret if you are a parent in need of some last-minute costumes that won’t break the bank. I’m Jacie Minnick, a grant writer at Upbring and a Halloween fanatic, here to offer up some creative costume advice and 12 cheap Halloween costumes for kids that are both adorable and under $20.

First, take a brief, thorough inventory of what is already in the closet!  You never know what kinds of ideas will pop up just by looking at what is already available.

12 Cheap Halloween Costumes for Kids

My go-to inspiration for Halloween typically involves a character or characters from a book, movie or television show.


cheap halloween costume

image via amazon

1.  Use Those Stripes – A simple striped shirt and black pants combo can be turned into several varying costumes by adding a prop or two. For example, by adding a cardboard cutout paint pallet with a few paint swatches and a paint brush, this versatile outfit becomes Picasso! Don’t have painting supplies? No problem! Just add a black eye mask and a pair of cat ears, and then draw cat whiskers to become a Cat Burglar!

2.  Matilda – Matilda from Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a precious and easy costume for an eager bookworm. All your daughter would need is a simple dress paired with a book or two, along with Matilda’s iconic red bow in her hair. EXAMPLE: Pinterest

3.  PJ Masks – The popular Owlette, Catboy and Gekko characters from Disney’s PJ Masks can be made with some quick thrift shopping for solid color shirts, pants and gloves, as well as felt fabric, sharpie markers and a trusty hot-glue gun. EXAMPLE: smartandsavvymom.com

4.  Lego Movie Characters – Depending on how many costumes you are planning, coordinating them based on a movie can tie together otherwise unrecognizable outfits. Whether the group is made up of friends, siblings or the full family, it’s sure to produce keepsake pictures. This family uses the power of group costuming to represent The Lego Movie characters: Batman, Emmet, Wyldstyle and Benny. EXAMPLE: fabeveryday.com


Another great source of inspiration can easily be found around the house in standard household items.


5.  LOOFAH! – For example, maybe your child is a fan of bath time and would love to be a loofah. Multiple layers of tulle fabric stitched together on a dress, shirt or pair of pants paired with a rubber duckie or bar of soap creates this entertaining ensemble! EXAMPLE: easyday.snydle.com

image via inhabitat

While looking around the house, consider recycling. Some of the best costumes can also be environmentally friendly!

6.  Use Boxes Creatively –  Cardboard boxes painted white with aluminum pie crust dishes and soda bottle cap knobs make an awesome washer and dryer. Add an old detergent bottle, fabric softener box and a companion-less sock to truly impress.

7.  Spool Me Once… – Make a giant spool of thread with a cardboard box wrapped in fabric and accompanied by a large knitting needle. The fabric could be purchased at a store, but you could also recycle old bed sheets or t-shirts by cutting and tying them together! If you don’t feel like purchasing the knitting needle, you could always make one by wrapping cardboard in grey duct tape. EXAMPLE: creatingreallyawesomefunthings.com


Animal costumes are near and dear to my heart. My little brother went as a hippo for Halloween, two years in a row when we were younger, and it still brings a smile to my face when Halloween rolls around. This brings me to my next piece of advice: If you are going to buy something, make sure it is something you can reuse. Whether that means a costume your kiddos really love or something that can be re-purposed.


8. Grapes – A purple shirt, bag of purple balloons and a leaf atop one’s head make this a grape option for a potential costume. EXAMPLE: costume-works.com/

cheap halloween costumes for kids

Jacie and the infamous Hippo costume

9. Use Pool Noodles – As you can see from these foodie costumes, an underutilized but helpful costume-constructing item are pool noodles. They are a crafty complement that truly transforms a basket, cardboard and colorful paper into hunger-inducing treats. These costumes are so cute, I could just eat them up! EXAMPLE: Pinterest

10. Pajamas – Many stores have come out with onesie animal pajamas that could be a nice way to splurge and reuse a costume. This is especially true if you don’t have time to build a box giraffe. EXAMPLE: creatingreallyawesomefunthings.com/

11. Smart Cookie – People love wordplay, kids included! I adore this costume because it elevates a simple paper cookie, with glasses and a graduation cap, to a costume that makes others think constructively. I also appreciate costumes that foster self-esteem, like “smart cookie” for kids to feel empowered by this type of label. EXAMPLE: retailmenot

The Trick To Creating Cheap Halloween Costumes For Kids

12. Ask Your Child – Kids are creative, so use that to your advantage! By asking them what they want to be for Halloween, the child takes ownership of the costume, which in turn can build a foundation for instilling age-appropriate autonomy. Creating cheap halloween costumes for kids is as easy as asking your child who their hero is, what they want to be when they grow up, or if they could be anything in the world, what would they be, and then creating just that.

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