Have you set your sights on dressing up as a Star Wars Stormtrooper this Halloween? Cool idea. But there’s one problem. The costume’s price tag—$1,963—is otherworldly.
A lot of people are spending big on costumes these days. The National Retail Federation says U.S. spending on Halloween costumes will reach $3.4 billion this year, with a lot of dough going toward superhero outfits. The average American will spend $86.13 this Halloween, on costumes, candy and other related merchandise.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend much—or any—money on a killer Halloween costume. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
1. Shop in your own closets
Start by taking stock of what you already own. Are there old clothes you’ve held onto and that haven’t been in style for years? Perfect. You may have the foundation for a funny costume—say, an old T-shirt from your favorite 1990s rock band. With some closet digging and a little creativity, you can put together a ‘look’ without spending a penny.
2. Get together with friends for a costume swap
Invite friends to brainstorm costume ideas and do a costume swap. Maybe you’ve got an old costume that a friend could borrow, or vice versa. Trading costumes is a great way to avoid spending money on something you’d probably only wear once.
3. Get ideas from Google, YouTube and Pinterest
Google searches are an easy way to kick-start your costume brainstorming. For example, to see which costumes might be popular this fall, try a Google search like trending Halloween costume ideas 2017. That could give you inspiration for what to do (or what to avoid).
A lot of costumes you’ll see in your search results are for sale. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy them. For example, USA Today reports that the most popular adult costumes this year are (1) witches; (2) Batman-related; (3) cats and dogs; and (4) pirates.
You could buy costumes fitting any of those categories, of course. But with some creativity and/or a little more Google searching, you could conjure up your own variations of those costumes. YouTube videos demonstrate how to make a ‘great witch costume,’ for instance, as well as a Batman costume, though they may require some minor purchases.
With its focus on DIY and crafts, Pinterest is an ideal site to browse Halloween costumes you can make yourself or buy for cheap. To get specific ideas, go to Pinterest and search topics like Halloween costumes for guys 2017 or Halloween costumes for best friends 2017.
4. Scan the news
By reading the latest news, you might find some larger-than-life characters to inspire a DIY costume. Focus on the worlds of sports and entertainment, both of which are heavily populated with colorful individuals.
5. Check out Etsy
Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade or vintage merchandise—including plenty of Halloween costumes. Some can cost $100 or more. But there are also plenty of inexpensive DIY costume kits for sale.
6. Hit the thrift stores
Is there a Goodwill store nearby? A locally owned thrift shop? Often, these stores will put together a Halloween costume section. You can also browse the racks for offbeat clothing for inspiration.
7. Look online for promotional offers
As with any purchase, put your online shopping skills to work for your Halloween costume. A Google search on Halloween costume promo code, for instance, turned up promotional discounts from HalloweenCostumes.com, RetailMeNot, Groupon, and other sites. Target has a Halloween promotion—you can get a $5 gift card if you spend $30 on a Halloween costume, decor or lights. Amazon is another useful site for costume shopping, as you can filter costumes by price, theme, gender, and more.