How to DIY Themed Halloween Costumes and Save Money

Are you looking for Pinterest-worthy themed costumes for your little ones this year? I think I can help you out! I’ve been making themed DIY Halloween costumes for six years and I’ve never sewed more than a simple stitch and I am saving money. With a little creativity and hot glue, you can do it, too- Let me teach you how! 

A few years ago, I started noticing that my daughter’s Halloween costumes were getting lost in the sea of characters. Store-bought costumes were expensive and I longed for a little more originality so I came up with the bright idea to start making Halloween costumes. The thought hadn’t occurred to me that I had no experience making costumes. I learned to sew on a button in middle school but couldn’t sew and I didn’t own a sewing machine! I thought back to how my mom rummaged thrift stores, went through closets and matched pieces here and there to come up with the perfect Halloween costume. I set out to do the same thing and create my own nostalgia in the process. 

The first themed costumes I made by putting together things I found in second-hand stores.

There was a time when moms slaved away making Halloween costumes. They also made clothes. I think when Halloween costumes started hitting the store shelves, some moms were willing to spend the extra money (not my mom) on these quick and easy alternatives. Stores watched sales increase at Halloween and I bet no one ever imagined that today there would be stores dedicated to just Halloween! Halloween costumes have come a long way. Remember the character masks and plastic ponchos that came with it? 

These days, it’s much easier to make Halloween costumes than when our moms had to (I assume your mom made a few costumes, too). We don’t have to spend hours sewing- we don’t even have to learn how to work a sewing machine to make a Halloween costume! Here are some easy tips for how to DIY themed Halloween costumes. 

  • Decide on a theme. The great thing about Halloween is you really can be ANYTHING! You can do something classic or something out of the box. We pick out our Halloween themes sometime in August and start brainstorming costumes. It can be hard to get the kids all to agree. I usually throw out suggestions and then show the older kids the Halloween costume ideas on Pinterest so they can visualize what I’m thinking. My son is too young to care right now. Once we pick our theme- we don’t get to change our minds! 


  • Keep it simple! Pinterest is a great a resource for DIY costumes, budget-friendly costumes, and last minute Halloween costumes. I like to take ideas from here and there and change it up to make it my own. Let your older children design their own costume. Sometimes my daughters like a costume top but not the bottom so we have some wiggle room. It doesn’t have to be perfect! 


  • Start with what you have and what is easy to find! Search your closet and drawers to see what you can piece together. I discovered that most people wear costumes once and get rid of them. You can find used Halloween costumes in perfect condition on Facebook resale sites, consignment shops, and thrift stores! In my experience, you can find most of the clothing items in your closet or from a quick trip to a second-hand shop. I usually have to buy accessories (hats, stockings, make-up, or character specific items). 


  • Don’t forget the finishing touches! This is where you get to use your creativity (and maybe some hot glue)! What is Dorothy without her basket and Toto? The Strongman without his barbell? The White Rabbit without his pocket watch? Sometimes, you can make these items to add some character. Plus, these items serve as a fun photo prop. 


  • Have fun! I enjoy making Halloween costumes because it allows me to be creative while doing something special for my children. It brings back a bit of nostalgia for me and reminds me of why I love Halloween so much! I love the look on my kids’ faces when the costume is finished and they see it for the first time. But, let’s be honest… I have made pieces that didn’t the kids didn’t want to wear. I made a great coffee filter Elizabethan collar for my daughter’s old school Harley Quinn costume and she hated it. My son refused to wear his Batman mask so it looked like he was just wearing Batman p.j.’s (he was). We’ve had some hats/ headbands that wouldn’t stay on and wings that were annoying. I always make sure to take plenty of pictures in the complete Halloween costumes but when its trick-or-treating time, I let them take off the uncomfortable stuff. It makes it so much easier than hearing the kids complain or having to carry things they discard as the night goes on! 

Follow my advice to create your own DIY Halloween costumes! I hope this inspires you to try it! 


Kim McNeely
Kim grew up in a small town in northeast Alabama. She majored in journalism in college at Faulkner University. There she met baseball-playing Florida boy named David who swept her off her feet and then married her. David went right into a coaching career and Kim lost her desire to write. In 2008, they started a family and Kim fell in love with motherhood. She has been a stay at home mom for almost 12 years devoting her time to raising three children. Her kids have grown up on baseball fields and in ball parks. They moved to Lithia a few years ago and enjoy exploring Tampa and checking out the local baseball teams. Kim likes being creative and crafty. She is a list-maker, scheduler, and planner. She loves planning play dates, parties, and budget-friendly family activities. When Kim isn't at a baseball game, she spends her days convincing her 11 year old, Emerson, to put down the cell phone; helping her 8 year old, Everly, with math homework; and entertaining her playful 5 year old and only son, Easton. If she finds some free time, she writes her blog, catches up on her favorite TV shows, scrolls social media, and folds massive piles of laundry. Her desire to write returned when she realized that her children were an endless source of inspiration. She also realized she knew more about baseball than the average mom and wants to share her knowledge with others. You can follow Kim's blog and Instagram as she documents The Baseball Life.