“Dear Brooke, do you have any recommendations for getting Halloween costumes on a budget?”

This is an amazing question, and one I’m sure a lot of other college students are trying to figure out as they just spent their last five dollars on a pack of Ramen noodles. I absolutely love Halloween, and of course, figuring out silly costumes that are just as cute as they are funny is one of the main reasons why. What I’m not a fan of, however, is the pressure to spend upwards of one hundred dollars for a weekend of never-worn-again-outfits.

After learning some lessons and tucking them under my belt over the past two years in experiencing a true college “Halloweekend,” I am heading into this current season prepared with three different costumes without it costing an arm and a leg. And, if you haven’t already fallen victim to spending an entire paycheck on next week’s fits, you may find these next tips helpful when looking to fully decorate yourself on a budget!


One of my costumes this year is going to be based on Flo from Progressive. Something such as this can be so easy to recreate on your own rather than purchasing the set outfit from Amazon for $40. I have white pants, sneakers and a white t-shirt already in my closet, so all I need to do is head to Michael’s Craft Store and get a low cost, white apron and blue marker to write the insurance company’s logo. From there, I can find a cheap pin to write “Flo” on and a small roll of blue ribbon that I can use as a headband – so easy! Think of something you believe you can create yourself with only a few other accessories that aren’t too costly. This might be easiest for characters or abstract ideas. Maybe wear all green and glue on some vines to be Mother Nature or buy a red t-shirt and write the “Netflix” logo on it. Be creative!

Spice Up Past Years Looks

If you happened to have spent an absurd amount of money on Halloween costumes last year, there is no shame in reusing them! Honestly, you may even find that it’s possible to transform it into something else so it doesn’t go to waste, and you don’t have to post pictures of you online without your followers recognizing you were Barbie last year too. Cher from “Clueless” can just as easily work as a character from “Heathers.” Your waitress get-up can now serve as a coffee barista. Think outside of the box.

Head To The Thrift Shop

Goodwill or any other second-hand stores are such a great resource to use to shop on a budget and also not contribute to the fast fashion cycle that speeds up around this time of the year. You may find a fully adorned costume on the racks already or you can go to the store with specific items in mind such as a shirt, pants, shoes or jewelry for a low cost. For a few years in a row, I had a scary old lady mask I wore and went to my local thrift store for an elderly-looking nightgown. It was not only affordable, but it was perfect and lasted me a long time. 

Borrow From Your Friend

Switching with your roommate or close friend’s costume for the night before or the previous year is not the worst idea. You’ll both be splitting the cost and getting the most use out of the costume as it can be, rather than just wearing it once and throwing it away or donating it. Granted, this only works if you’re the same size. However, this is just another easy and simple way to have a cost-effective holiday.

If you missed out on this informative “older sister talk” before purchasing your costumes for this year, don’t sweat it! We’ve all been there, and at least you know now for next Halloween – so bookmark this in your phone or cut it out of the paper. In participating in the weekend’s festivities, you may even learn your own “what-not-to-forget” tips on how to survive Halloweekend at college, such as bundling up for the chilly weather, wearing comfy shoes or deciding your outfits by early September. Whatever it is, be sure to have fun and stay safe this weekend – hopefully you’ll spot me in all of my “Roderick” glory!

About The Author

-- Senior I Executive Editor I English Creative Writing & Digital Journalism --

Brooke is a senior English Creative Writing and Digital Journalism major, with minors in Film, Television & Media and Editing & Publishing. She plans to pursue a career in screenwriting after graduation.

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