Easy (and Affordable) Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

Image by Ashley Chaney.

Coming up with fun and exciting costume ideas for Halloween can be a daunting task. When you consider the cost, as well as the high level of creativity it takes to make a costume instead of purchasing a pre-made costume, it can discourage people from wanting to dress up at all. This is especially true if you consider the tight budget and limit on allotted time for college students. Deb Cunningham, a Greenville University student, confirms just how difficult it can be on a tighter budget. “I do think it’s hard sometimes because some years I want to get this elaborate costume, but I don’t have the money to spend.” She also explains how being involved in sports can make it even more difficult. “Usually I have practice at the end of the day, so I have to think of what I can wear so that I don’t have to quickly change for practice rather than still wearing parts of my costume.”

With these obstacles to consider, I procured a list of simple and cost-effective last-minute costume ideas you can pull together quickly. Most of the items can be purchased at a thrift store or a dollar store if you don’t have them in your home already.

Image by Ashley Chaney.


Arthur, a fan favorite since it aired in 1996, is a fairly simple costume to throw together. All you will need is a yellow sweater, round glasses (real or fake), and a homemade set of ears made from craft paper and a headband you no longer wish to use. To make it even more convincing, you can also include a white collared shirt underneath the sweater if you already have one or can find one at a cheap price point.

Image by Ashley Chaney.

Gumball Machine

Everyone loves gumballs (or at least they did as kids) so why not dress up a one? For this costume, you will need a white tee-shirt, small rainbow pom-poms, and a red beanie. You can glue the pom poms to the white shirt, and wear the beanie. To really add flair to the costume, add some red jeans/bottoms and a homemade sign that says 25¢.

Image by Ashley Chaney.

Bag of Jelly Bellies

The Jelly Belly Candy Company has been around since 1898, so it’s a very recognizable product making it the perfect inspiration for a Halloween costume. As one of the more simple costumes on this list, you will need rainbow mini balloons, a clear trash bag, and a homemade Jelly Belly logo. Get into the trash bag, fill it with rainbow balloons, and tie it around your shoulders. Then just glue the logo on and you’re ready to go!

Image by Ashley Chaney.


Where’s Waldo? You can find him at your Halloween party if you choose to use this costume idea! All you will need is a red and white striped shirt, round glasses (real or fake), and a red beanie. Simple, recognizable, and a perfect last-minute option.  

Image by Ashley Chaney.

Bank Robber

A commonly used simple costume is to show up to the party as a bank robber. It’s a fan favorite and you most likely have most of the elements to this costume at home already. You will need a black and white striped shirt, a black beanie and a black eye mask which can be found at the dollar store.

Image by Ashley Chaney.


This costume will take a little more work but requires very few supplies. All you will need to transform into a cactus is a (preferably old or thrifted) green sweater and some white yarn. Thread short pieces of the yarn through the sweater and tie them into knots, to mimic the cactus’s needles. If you want to add another element, you can make a pink flower to attach to a headband in reference to flowering cacti.

All of these costume ideas, though simple and perfect for throwing together last-minute, are fun options to consider for Halloween this year. If you decide to wear any of these costumes, be sure to post pictures and tag @gupapyrus on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be shared on our page!


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