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18 DIY Ideas for Easy Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

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Cardia is a Barbadian university student with a love for writing and helping others.

Don't have a costume and want to make one using clothes you already own? Check out these ideas.

Don't have a costume and want to make one using clothes you already own? Check out these ideas.

Last-Minute Costume Ideas Requiring Minimal Effort and Cost

So you recently heard about an awesome Halloween party, and you’re able to go. Great! However, there’s one little problem: What are you going to dress up as?

Some people spend weeks or even months planning and working on their costumes, while others simply buy one from a store or have it made for them. If both money and time are short for you, you can create your own Halloween costume at home with minimal cost and effort.

Here are 18 ideas for Halloween costumes that you can put together at the last minute without looking like you did.

1. Mario Brothers

This is an awesome costume for two reasons:

  1. It’s easy to put together.
  2. Everyone will instantly know who you are!

You can go as either Mario or Luigi. If you like, have a friend dress up as the corresponding brother, and you can go as a pair. Wear a t-shirt and overalls. If you don’t have overalls, you can simply wear a pair of suspenders and jeans. Wear black shoes, white gloves, and a baseball/peaked cap in the same colour as your shirt.

If you really want to look the part, wear a stick-on fake moustache, or you can make one out of construction paper, attach it to a thin dowel pole, and hold it up to your face whenever someone takes a picture of you. Females can always give this outfit a sexy touch by wearing a mini skirt or shorts instead of jeans.

2. Out of the Shower

This one is a bit revealing but is a great conversation starter. Choose some clothes that can be hidden by a bathrobe (or even a bath towel, if you feel daring!). Girls can wear a tube top and shorts for their bottom layer, and guys can wear shorts and go bareback if they’re dressing in a towel. Wrap the bathrobe or towel around yourself, and pin it with safety pins so it won’t fall down. Wear bedroom slippers and a bathing cap and carry a sponge or rubber duck with you. This costume is a great one for college parties!

3. Zombie

The zombie is one of Halloween’s classic creatures. Transforming yourself into the living dead is easier than you would think!

Buy some FX makeup and fake blood. Paint your face and visible areas of skin with greys and dark colours, and put dark rings around your eyes. Daub some fake blood around your mouth so that it looks like you were recently feeding. YouTube has lots of video tutorials on how to do zombie makeup, which are easy to follow and recreate. Rip holes in some old clothes and also splash them with blood.

Using markers and the same FX makeup, make your clothes look grimy and dirty. When walking, make sure to drag one foot or shuffle, and make moaning and grunting sounds. You’re a member of the living dead, so go all out! This is a fun costume to wear, and there will definitely be many great photos taken!

4. Jailbird/Convict

Wear a striped shirt and striped pants (if possible) or black bottoms, like jeans or trousers. Also, get a black beanie or close-fitting hat. Get some chains from the hardware and make yourself fake shackles. However, make sure that the chains are not too heavy for you to wear. Write a number on a strip of cloth and sew it on the back of your shirt.

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You can also make a ‘mug shot card’—on a white piece of cardboard, write information such as the name of your jail, your name, what crime you’re in for, and your prisoner’s number. Make up funny names and reasons why you’re behind bars! You can hold it up whenever someone asks what you’re dressed up as or while photos are being taken.

5. Men (or Women) in Black

This costume is very simple, both to wear and to pull off. Wear a black suit with a white shirt inside, a black necktie, and a pair of black shoes. Top it all off with a pair of sunglasses. Girls can wear a business suit that is also in black and white. Speak in an official tone, and address everyone as ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’.

To add a touch of authenticity, make yourself a Neuralyzer – simply paint an empty napkin paper roll to look like the famous Men in Black memory eraser prop. You can add a small flashlight inside the roll so that it lights up when pressed. Carry it and hold it in front of you; every now and then, ask people, ’ Please look here, Ma’am,’ and press the little flashlight inside. However, make sure not to flash the light directly into people’s eyes!

6. Doctor Who

Get the TARDIS ready! Wear a suit with a pair of sneakers (preferably Converses) and a large dark overcoat. You can wear a bowtie or even a fez hat if you want to be like the 11th Doctor (played by Matt Smith). If possible, carry a little Doctor Who token like a Dalek or TARDIS keyring. Reiterate that 'bow ties are cool.'

7. Pirate

Arr, Matey! This is another Halloween classic and can be created with materials found around your home.

Wear a button-down shirt in a solid colour, dark pants (girls can wear a skirt or a pair of shorts), and boots if available. If not, just wear dark shoes. Get a scarf or a strip of cloth, and tie it diagonally across your torso like a sash. Also, wear a bandana tied around your head, and if your ears are pierced, wear large gold hoops (for those with non-pierced ears, don’t worry – there are fake ones that you can buy).

If you like, you can do a few braids in your hair and put beads on the end. If you want to have a ‘stubbly’ face, take an eyeliner pencil and put small dots around your cheeks and chin. You can also blacken out a few teeth—tooth ‘blackener’ can be found in most costume stores and is non-toxic and safe to use. You can also buy or make yourself a fake sword or pistol to tuck in your sash.

8. L from 'Death Note'

This is one of the simplest costumes to recreate. All you need is a long-sleeved white shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and some eyeliner. L has black hair that hangs in his face—try styling your natural hair the same way. If that won't work, you can always opt for a short black wig. Watch a couple of episodes of the show, or read some chapters from the manga to see how L interacts with others and how he moves around.

L also stays barefoot, but you can always wear shoes (preferably a dark colour). Also, walk around with your shoulders hunched over, and keep your thumb to your mouth.

9. Typical Ninja

Wear all black clothing and black shoes. Get a long strip of black cloth and tie it around your head so that only your eyes are visible. Make sure to make it loose around your nose and mouth so that you can breathe! You can also cut small holes in those areas. Get a thin red strip of cloth and tie it around your waist to form a sash.

You can also wear black gloves, but this is optional. Consider carrying fake weapons as props, such as a fake katana (which could be strapped across your back). Make sure to strike some epic poses for photographs!

10. The Rich Heiress

This one is for the ladies. Wear revealing clothing such as a short skirt and a crop top. You can also wear heels, but only if you’re sure that you’ll be comfortable in them all night—if not, just wear a pair of sandals or flats. Wear excessive jewelry, especially rings and necklaces.

Also, wear a lot of makeup and extremely long false eyelashes. If you want, you can spray tan yourself. Wear your hair down, and use the product in it so that it shines. You can always opt for a wig if necessary. Carry a large handbag with a stuffed toy dog inside with the head peeking out. When interacting, act as stuck up and as obnoxiously as you can, and say phrases like “Daddy bought me this last week. Isn’t it fab?” and “I just got back from my summer home in Greece!”

It wouldn’t hurt if you kept your cell phone in your hand and used it in an obnoxious manner (talking loud and using your phone in the middle of a conversation).

11. Waldo

This is a children’s classic book, and it is easy to put together Waldo's outfit for a Halloween costume! Simply wear a pair of blue jeans, a red-and-white striped shirt, and a pair of glasses. Also, don a knit hat and carry a walking cane.

12. Stereotypical Tourist

This costume would definitely be fun to put together and act out. It can be worn by either gender. Wear a shirt with a very bright pattern (such as flowers) and a pair of shorts. Try to make yourself look as dorky as possible by wearing sandals with socks pulled up high.

Also, wear a straw hat and a pair of sunglasses. Strap a fanny pack around your waist—this is a bonus since you can keep all your items in it while enhancing your ‘touristy’ look! You can carry a large foldable map with you and pose with it for pictures—make sure to have a lost or confused expression on your face!

Stereotypical geek wearing suspenders

Stereotypical geek wearing suspenders

13. Stereotypical Nerd/Geek

Wear a polo or button-down shirt tucked into high-waisted pants or shorts. Also, put on a pair of sneakers with socks, and the higher the socks are pulled, the better! Wear a pair of big fake glasses. For an added touch, put some pens in your shirt pocket (if you have one) and if you want, carry a large textbook with you. You could even wear a backpack!

Breathe loudly through your mouth and frequently push your glasses up the bridge of your nose. Use a red lip liner pencil to draw ‘zits’ on your chin and forehead. Once again, this is simple to put together but definitely a lot of fun to add theatrics to! Spout random facts and equations, and use large, complex words.

V wearing his Guy Fawkes mask

V wearing his Guy Fawkes mask

14. V from V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, is a cult classic based on a graphic novel of the same name.

The most important thing you need to pull off this look is the Guy Fawkes mask that Weaving sported in the film. This can be found in movie memorabilia and pop culture shops, bookstores, and in many places online.

For the rest of the look, simply wear all-black clothing and, if possible, gloves and a dramatic black cape. For an added touch, carry a bouquet of red roses.

Even though V was male, both genders can pull off this character.

15. Cowboy/Cowgirl

Yee haw! You can make your own Old West costume with pieces from home.

Wear a plaid or flannel shirt with a denim vest. A leather belt with a big buckle, a pair of blue jeans, some boots (or laced shoes if boots are not available), and a cowboy hat will complete the look. You can buy a fake sheriff badge from a party store or make one yourself with cardboard, paint, some papier-mache and a safety pin.

Use ‘cowpoke’ lingo when interacting with others at the party, and use phrases such as ‘Little Lady’, ‘Darn tootin”, and ‘Saddle up’. It may sound cheesy, but it’ll definitely get the point across that you’re a proud resident of the Old West.

Hippie is a fun costume

Hippie is a fun costume

16. Hippie

Once again, this costume is fun and easy to create. Wear headbands and headscarves, and wear necklaces with long chains and large pendants. Girls can wear flowers in their hair and lots of bangles and bracelets.

Tie-dyed clothing, denim vests, baggy pants, and flowery skirts and shirts are all clothes that you can use in this costume. Be as colourful and bright as possible! Also, get some face paint and draw peace signs and hearts on your face and body.

Throughout the night, use slang like 'Daddy-o', 'chill', 'peace and love', 'dude', and, of course, 'groovy'.

17. Movie Extra/Minor Character

Wear regular clothes and say you are dressed as a civilian or as an extra in a movie. As a bonus, you can even give the name of a movie and say something like:

“Remember that mall scene in [insert movie name]? I was the guy waiting in the line at the coffee shop talking loudly on the cell phone!”

18. Fifty Shades of Grey . . . Literally!

Don't worry; this costume is not X-rated!

Wear clothes that are all varying shades of grey, including shoes. You can also wear silver jewelry. If you want to take it a step further, wear grey skin makeup. When people ask what you're dressed as, you can say, 'I'm literally fifty shades of grey.'

Happy Halloween!

Tell Us Your Costume Ideas!

Mike from Harrisburg Pa on May 03, 2016:

Found some worn out clothes and boots. This year I can improve on my hobo costume. I mainly need a worn jacket and some fabric paint to make everything look grungy.

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