How to Get Free or Cheap Halloween Costumes

Halloween mask

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Halloween costumes can cost a fortune, especially if you want to keep up with the latest trends each year. However, it's possible to get free Halloween costumes—you just need to know where to look. You'll be amazed at how many costumes are out there, whether for adults, kids, or even pets, that don't cost a thing.

  • 01 of 05

    Attend a Halloween Costume Swap

    kids in Halloween costumes

    AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

    A costume swap involves several people getting together and trading costumes they don't want anymore. You can come away with a "new-to-you" costume and get rid of some clutter from your home at the same time.

    Local libraries and schools often host costume swaps each year before Halloween, so keep an eye on community bulletin boards and newsletters to take advantage of a swap that is going on near you. Local parenting groups are also a great resource for finding Halloween costumes to swap. If there aren't any swaps happening near you, consider hosting one yourself. You can organize a small swap just for your friends and neighbors, or try to partner with a local school or business to host a larger swap.

  • 02 of 05

    Scour Freecycle or Craigslist

    Hanging Halloween costumes

    breejohnsonphoto / Twenty20

    Freecycle is a website where people list what they'd like to give away or get for free, and Craigslist is another great place to find free or very cheap Halloween costumes. Search by your city to see what's available locally. Don't limit your search just prior to Halloween either. People might have costumes to get rid of at other points in the year, such as when they're doing their spring cleaning, or they might post their costumes directly after Halloween once they're done using them. You might face less competition during these times, too, versus right before Halloween when lots of people are on the costume hunt.

  • 03 of 05

    Print a Free Halloween Mask

    kid wearing butterfly mask in park

     Soren Hald / Getty Images

    If you aren't loving the costumes you're seeing online or in your community, create one yourself. A method that's virtually free is to simply print a Halloween mask from an online template. There are many options to choose from in varieties that are suitable for all ages. You can find cute pumpkins and bats, spooky skulls, and more. There are even templates to print popular superhero and other character masks. Coordinate clothing you already have with the mask theme, and your costume will only cost what you spent on the paper and printer ink.

    Tip

    If you don't want to wear a paper mask, you always can use face paint to mimic a mask template. Use inexpensive Halloween makeup kits or makeup you already have on hand.

  • 04 of 05

    Use What You Have to Create a Costume

    kid in robot costume

     Isabel Pavia / Getty Images

    With a little ingenuity, you probably already have everything you need to create an original Halloween costume. Take a look around your home, and see whether something inspires you. For instance, if you have a cardboard box, tinfoil, paper, and markers, you can easily make yourself a robot costume. Cover the box in foil, and add some design touches, such as eyebrows and a mouth, with paper and markers. Then, cut out holes for your eyes. The box will be your costume's headpiece. Complete your costume with matching gray or silver clothes if possible.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Consider Other Inexpensive Ideas

    kid dressed as the Statue of Liberty

    harpazo_hope / Getty Images

    You may not be able to find a totally free costume, but you could put together a rather an inexpensive one.

    • Thrift stores: Check your local thrift store for used Halloween costumes. There might be some good finds even right up to the day of Halloween. You can also get creative and find pieces of clothing and accessories at the thrift store that coordinate to form a costume.
    • Garage sales: Because most garage sales occur in the summer, always be thinking ahead to next Halloween for your best chance of finding the costume you want.
    • After-Halloween sales: After Halloween is over, usually any store that carries Halloween items, including costumes, will have a sale to get rid of the remaining merchandise. The sales typically start at a small discount, but as the days and weeks go by they can work their way up to more than 75 percent off.