Spending

5 clever, easy Halloween costumes you can make for as little as $4.99

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Americans spend an average of $86 per person on Halloween shopping, including decorations, candy, and, of course, costumes, according to the National Retail Federation. The biggest part of that tally comes from costumes, on which people spend an average of $31.05.

But it's easy to spend less without resorting to a basic bedsheet ghost ensemble. Take inspiration from these partygoers' cheap, easy costumes:

1. Self-absorbed

"One time, I took sponges and wrote my name in them with sharpies — like a ton of them," says Mandy Weiss of New York. Then she pinned them to a dress she already had. Ultimately, it took about an hour or less, she says.

What you need:

Total cost: $9.63

2. Photo booth strip

Photo booth strip.
Courtesy Jordan Lewis

"Being a photo [booth] strip was pretty easy," says Jordan Lewis of New Jersey. "Like $15 in mounting [board] from Lowe's, a few printed sheets of paper, and hot glue. It took three hours over the course of a few days."

Cut the mounting into a long rectangle (like a photo strip) and then measure out four equal sections going vertically. Place photos in the bottom two sections and very top section. Then cut a square in the section between them (the second section from the top). This is where your face goes.

Lewis had everything besides the mounting board, including access to a printer. The only challenge he faced was making sure it was durable for a night out.

What you need:

Total cost: $22.64

3. Trash

"My cheapest costume was probably my trash bag, which I just filled with crumpled paper wads," says Conor Patterson of New York. Cut arm and leg holes in the bag, and stick your head through the opening, which you can then tie shut around your neck. If you don't already have these items at home, they are pretty inexpensive to purchase and you can use the trash bags later.

What you need:

Total cost: $4.99

4. Gnome

Gnome.
Courtesy Sydney Mason

Wear an oversize blue T-shirt over red tights. Belt the shirt. Sydney Mason of Chicago says she used a belt she already had.

Then create a hat-beard piece from felt and pillow stuffing. Roll a square piece of felt into a cone and hot glue the edges. Cut a triangle out of the second piece of felt and hot glue pillow stuffing to it (this is the beard). Attach the beard and hat with elastic string so the hat sits on your head and the beard sits under you chin.

"My friend and I were each in charge of a portion of the costume, but overall, I believe the costumes took under 30 minutes to make," Mason says. "For me, it was quick, as all I had to do was find oversize T-shirts and tights. For her, it was tedious as the beard and hat combo required construction."

What you need:

Total cost: $27.04

5. Freudian slip

Pin some Freud photos to a slip dress and you've got a literal Freudian slip costume. Audrey Eichenberger of Dallas spent about 40 minutes total putting her costume together, as she had access to a printer and bought her dress from Target for $20. "I may have been able to find a cheaper slip elsewhere if I would have had more time to search for one, but, overall, this costume was super cheap and easy already," she says.

What you need:

Total cost: $12.68

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