With Christmas expenses looming, this may not be the best time to invest time and money in Halloween costumes. Still, no one wants to be left out of the fun, so we've come up with 55 easy and creative costumes for adults, children, couples and groups that won't cost you an arm and a leg, unless you're a real zombie, that is.
1. Progressive Insurance's Flo: All you need is a white shirt, white apron, name tag and a headband and you're set to cut insurance deals for fellow party goers.
2. Duck Dynasty's Willie: Everyone's favorite duck-calling family offers great material for an easy Halloween costume. Take Willie's signature style, for example: jeans, black or flannel button-up, stars-and-stripes headband and of course, the beard.
3. The Hunger Games' Katniss: While Effie Trinket's getup may cost you some coin, the elder Miss Everdeen's look can be acheived on a District 12 budget. Pair a basic tee with khaki or brown pants tucked into boots. Sport a black-hooded coat or brown leather jacket, and style your locks into a chic side braid. Complete the look with a cheap bow-and-arrow set, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
4. Jay Crew: This last-minute costume requires a polo shirt with khakis and a name tag reading "Jay Crew.
5. The Nerd: Some can go from work to Halloween parties without a change of clothes, but for non-nerds, pair high-water pants, a short-sleeved dress shirt buttoned to the top with pens in the pocket and appropriate ink stains. Take the nose and mustache off a set of Groucho glasses and you've completed the look.
6. Bernie Madoff: Dressing as America's most famous Ponzi schemer is simple and bound to garner laughs. Just top a suit from Goodwill with a Madoff mask (available at most party stores) and stuff your pockets with fake cash. Don't be surprised if you get a glass or two of wine in your face, however.
7. Miley Cyrus: This one is best left to childless adults. After all, no one wants to see Mommy twerking in a barely-there getup. To achieve this look, wear nude-toned boy shorts and a sports bra or well-fitted crop top. Divide your hair into pig tails and create two small buns at the top of your head. Complete the look with red lipstick and lots of tongue wagging.
8. Repo Man: Nothing is scarier than the guy who wants to tow your car away. For this look, go casual with jeans, a well-worn t-shirt and a backwards ball cap. Carry a toy tow truck or tow chains to complete the frightening spectacle. Since Zombies are all the rage this year, why not really scare your friends by turning into a Zombie Repo Man. See below for fake blood and fake wound recipes.
9. Ugly Betty is a good option for ladies not interested in a sexy look: Heavy framed glasses are required but a Sears poncho is optional.
10. The Lone Ranger: This year's iteration of the Lone Ranger offers a more approachable look than the original's charcoal unitard. Grab a white button-up, black vest, brown pants and black blazer for the outfit. Tie a red sash around your neck, affix the signature black eye mask, and top off the look with a white cowboy hat and ranger pin.
11. Job Seeker: Whether you're unemployed or gainfully employed, this costume is a cinch. Dress in your favorite suit, grab a suitcase and resume and you're set to go. Those truly unemployed might want to stock the briefcase with real resumes, just in case that perfect job prospect shows up at the party.
12. Mortgage-backed Security: Financial whizzes need only wrap a lightweight dollhouse in chains or ropes to make this costume work. Pair a business suit with a briefcase and strap the house to your back. For an added touch, paint your face black and blue.
13. Backwards Man: This simple concept was popular in the 1980s and is due for a revival. Simply put your clothes on backwards, pad your front to give yourself some "back" and voila, you're ready.
14. A Recyclable: Wear a trash can adorned with empty bottles and cans and you've created a trendy costume.
15. Mayhem: Allstate has their advertising down, first reassuring us with the calming voice of that guy who used to be president on 24, and then making us LOL with their Mayhem character. The latter makes for a super-easy Halloween costume -- just wear a basic suit and tie, sport a five o-clock shadow and affix a butterfly bandage to your face.
16. Corporate CEO: You'll need a decent suit for this one, but what really makes this costume work is the golden parachute, made by spray painting a bed sheet gold and allowing it to peak out of a backpack. You can stuff fake bills in your pockets but be prepared to lose them over the evening to costumed Job Seekers.
17. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Seth Grahame-Smith paired up with the very late Jane Austen to create a bestseller that would make a killer costume. Since Austen's ladies wore light-colored, high-waisted gowns, shop the nightgown aisle for the basis of your costume. Pile your hair on your head, slather on the fake blood and insert a few wounds (see recipes below) and you're good to go.
18. Michael Jackson: The hottest costume this year is the late, great musician. You can choose from any of several Michael Jackson permutations, but the easiest costume combines high-water black pants, a billowing white shirt and white t-shirt, white socks, black loafers, a white glove (sequins optional) and black loafers. Adults have the option of grabbing their crotches and spinning at every opportunity.
19. Email (males only): Wear what you like and cut two E shapes out of fabric or paper. Glue them to the front and back of your shirt and you're an E-male.
20. Gangster: Some may prefer the under-dressed Sopranos look, but for a traditional gangster you'll need dress pants, a vest, fedora and toy machine gun. Considering the zero-tolerance policies at most American schools, children may prefer to nix the gun for an empty violin case.
21. Coach: Whether male or female, basketball, football or hockey, a coach makes an easy costume for the man who want to feel comfortable all night while supporting his local team.
22. The School Girl: Want to go sexy this year? No man can resist the ever-innocent school girl. Short-short skirts, a dress shirt tied at the cleavage, white socks and the briefest of blazers can all be found at your local Goodwill-type store. Tie your hair up in pigtails and watch the guys drool.
23. Little Red Riding Hood: If properly executed, the LRR can be innocent or sexy. The real key is a red cape made of any material and a basket filled with bread and jams.
24. Witch: Dressing as a witch is easy-peasey since a cheap, pointy hat is all you need to convey the look. If you want to get technical, pair the hat with a black dress, striped stockings and a pair of Mary Janes. We like What I Wore's take on the classic Wicked Witch of the West -- floppy hat, trendy black coat and of course that signature green skin.
25. Grandma: While modern grandparents are more likely found on a cruise than in a rocking chair, the traditional granny is still a fun and easy costume that primarily requires you get into character. Turn an old afghan into a shawl, paint lines on your face with eyeliner and powder your hair and your good to go. Make sure and pad the belly for the Grandpa look.
26. Lamp: Top an all-black ensemble with a large lampshade and you'll light-up the party.
27. Non-sheet Ghost: Wear an old nightgown or wedding dress (white clothes for men). Sprinkle your hair with baby powder and on your skin for a from-the-tomb look.
28. Pile of Laundry: The perfect costume for college students! Simply pin clothes onto an old outfit or, for a more complex costume, cut the bottom out of an old laundry basket, fill it with clothes and wear it around your waist.
29. Vampire: These days, dressing as a vampire is as simple as a blowout, glamour makeup and a perfected pout. If you want to go the more traditional route, invest a couple bucks in a set of plastic fangs. Pair black pants with a white button-up and affix a black sheet or piece of fabric to the collar for a cape. Paint a dribble of blood at the corner of your mouth and perfect your diabolical laugh.
30. Rainy Day Kid: Glue tinsel to the edges of an open umbrella to provide the effect of running water. Spray your skin with glittery body spray for a damp look and toss on a raincoat and boots. You'll have your friends hunting for storm clouds.
31. Tombstone: Cut two large tombstone-shaped pieces out of cardboard and paint them gray. Add moss and dirt by sponge-painting green and brown. Let the cardboard dry and paint an appropriate inscription in black. Punch two holes on either side of both pieces and fasten them together with yarn or string cut long enough so the cardboard can be worn as a sandwich sign. Make sure you wear black to set off the tombstone.
32. Monster: Cut different shapes of fabric strips of every color. Sew or glue them to a sweatsuit with hoodie, leaving no blank spaces. (Add a hat if you have no hood.) For best affect, the sweatsuit should be too large but make sure children won't trip on extra fabric.
33. Work of Art: This couldn't be easier: Hang a large picture frame around your neck. If you want to make it complicated, consider dressing up as a specific work of art, such as the Mona Lisa or a Van Gogh self-portrait.
34. Tourist: Nearly everyone has a Hawaiian shirt in their closets. Add some Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks and sling a camera around your neck. For a humorous look, stuff the rear end of your pants and put brochures in your pockets.
35. Bucccaneer: Attach a dollar to each ear. Buck-an-ear...get it?
36. Babysitter: Strap a baby doll to your rear end and sit on it. Sick, but easy.
37. Leaf Blower: Dangle a leaf from the bill of a baseball cap. When asked about your costume, just blow on the leaf. This same concept can be used for a Snowblower costume.
38. Gangrene (for groups): The whole gang wears green and travels together.
39. Q-Tip: Dress entirely in blue and cover a cap and your shoes with cotton balls.
40. Melted Snow Man: Here's a wet one. Douse your body with water and bring a carrot, scarf and two sticks. Continue the dousing all night for the full effect.
41. Hole-in-one: Golfers will love this easy costume. Just cut a large numeral 1 out of a piece of cardboard and cut a hole in the middle of the 1. Attach the cardboard to your chest and let them guess.
42. Quarter Pounder: For the very laziest costumer, carry a quarter and a hammer. Prepare to demonstrate pounding the quarter with the hammer when called upon to explain your costume.
43. Autograph Book: This is one costume you may never want to throw away. Dress all in white and carry a Sharpy pen then ask people to sign your clothes. This could be particularly fun for grade-schoolers or children learning to write.
44. 50 Cent: Don't be surprised if you're not the only rap fan to tape two quarters to your chest.
45. Pull Toy: Only the agile should attempt turning themselves into a pull toy by donning skates and tying a rope around their waist.
46. Pin-up Girl (females only): Pin safety pins in the shape of an arrow pointing upwards onto a colored shirt .
47. Blackmail: Wear all black and glue postage stamps to your chest.
48. Chia Pet: Wrap yourself in duct tape with the sticky part on the outside then roll on your lawn. Not to be attempted during snow laconic grin.
49. Web site: Turn yourself into a Web site by draping fake spider webs all over a pair of eyeglasses.
50. Soldier or Hunter: Fans of camouflage should already have the makings for these costumes in their closets, but make sure your gun is obviously a toy.
51. Flower Power: This one's a perennial favorite. Whether you were a hippy or merely descended from hippies. The key is to top your outfit off with a bandanna.
52. Grape Bunch: Blow up purple or green balloons and attach to a simple costume or all-black clothing.
53. The Peas (for couples): Both should wear green sweat shirts. To create a black-eyed pea, pin a paper P to the shirt and blacken one eye. A split pea requires cutting the paper P in half and attaching each half to a string around the neck.
54. Pumpkin: Accent an orange sweat shirt and pants with a green baseball cap (worn backwards, naturally). Thicken the middle by tying a rolled-up towel or blanket under your shirt. For a jack-o-lantern, pin black felt triangles to the shirt in the pattern of a ghoulish face.
55. Cereal Killer: Attach small-sized cereal boxes to your clothing and insert plastic knives.
FAKE BLOOD RECIPE: 1 cup Karo syrup, 1 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp. red food coloring, 1 tsp. yellow food coloring. Mix everything together in a mixing bowl. You may need to add some blue to get the right color.
Photos by: eco-photography, lobraumeister, valrico.runner, finnadat, James Ellsworth, wcupmartin6.