Halloween costumes that don't cost an arm and a leg

The lure of the Halloween scare is still very much alive. In Auckland's Balmoral, hedges along Marsden Ave and neighbouring streets are ablaze with orange cobwebs, while front paths are littered with gravestones, skulls and hand-grabbing lolly bowls. 

Scores of kids crawl the streets, hungry for their next sugar-fix, where they might even catch a glimpse of a pantomime on stilts, leering across the path.

Trick-or-treating may be fun, but for many parents, early evenings are a rush. Newshub grilled two mums for their last-minute costume ideas and where to dig up cheap accessories. 

Kids costumes for up to $5


Spookily simple, a ghost costume can be created in minutes using an old white sheet.  Places for the round eyes and oval mouth can be marked on the sheet, cut out using adhesive black felt and either hand-stitched or stuck on.

Materials: white sheet, scissors, black adhesive felt (Spotlight).

Options: Cut a zig-zag below the arms and along the bottom and add cut-outs, such as BOO!  For friendly ghosts, try triangle eyes and a smiley face.


The base of a ghoul outfit can be made with a black sack as the tunic and a black hooded long-sleeve top

Materials: black sack, scissors, long-sleeved black hoodie

Accessories (Spotlight, Kmart, Ikes & Geoff's Emporium): ant ghoul mask, halloween stick - assorted, picaxe. 


So simple, this costume can be created with a white sheet and optional coffee water - the kids can help!  Using scissored tears to start, rip a large sheet into strips, the messier the better, wrap strips around the body and tie together.   

If there's more time, the 'worn' look can be created by pre-soaking sheet strips in left-over coffee, rinsing and drying.

Materials: white sheet, scissors, optional coffee soak.


Great for younger kids who are warming up to the idea of a more gruesome costume, there's a pirate or two at every party.

Materials: black T-shirt and pants, black fabric tied at the nape for head cover, black eye patch.

Accessory options (Look Sharp, Kmart): pirate hat with skull, sword, pirate accessory set.  


A simple costume for kids or parents that can be thrown together with existing clothing and a little imagination.  Find a pair of old jeans, add a few slits to the legs and stuff with straw.

Materials: checked shirt, straw hat, old jeans, dungarees or track-pants, boots, straw or finely shredded packaging paper.

Accessory options (Ikes & Geoff's Emporium, Look Sharp): straw cowboy hat, orange face paint, plastic flower/black rose (add to each boot and tie with wire/string). 


Another classic Halloween character, the vampire costume is easy to assemble with a black cape, fangs and face paint.

Materials: cape can be made using cheap black material, or bought ready-made.

Accessory options (Spotlight, Look Sharp): spooky kids' cape, fangs, fake blood spray, white face paint. 


Witch costumes are quick to pull together and there's no clean-up afterwards!  Hats are available everywhere from $2 and black tulle can be purchased from fabric shops from as little as $2-$3 per metre.    

Materials: black tulle, scissors, elastic or ribbon, needle and thread (to stitch elastic or ribbon around neckline).

Accessory options (The Warehouse, Kmart, Look Sharp, Ikes & Geoff's Emporium): witch hat (many variations on basic black), tulle, readymade tulle skirt, witch broom.


For kids who have moved past scary bedtimes, a zombie costume can be as simple as grabbing a plain white T and a bottle of spray.

Materials: White T-shirt, scissors, fake blood.

Accessory options (The Warehouse, Kmart, Look Sharp, Ikes & Geoff's Emporium): white T-shirt, latex zombie hands, zombie fake blood spray, zombie syringe headpiece/mask/apron, white and/or black face paint, white tulle (zombie bride). 

While the spirit of Halloween is still alive, spending hours at the sewing machine is a dying art. 

For around $5, a simple costume can be stitched together in minutes.  With throngs of trick-or-treaters due to pound the pavement on Thursday, time-starved parents may well need a few tricks of their own.