Do store-bought Halloween costume prices send you screaming in fear? If so, the DIY route might be for you.
By now you may be thinking: How can you scare up a unique and affordable costume? Luckily, we’ve got a bright idea for you: Dress up as your favorite literary figure. This will make you look smart and boost your savings – double win!
Here are 14 affordable, literary-inspired costume ideas, broken down by categories. Book lovers everywhere can now rejoice!
Well-Loved Children’s Books
An excellent children’s book never goes out of style. These kid-lit faves make perfect costume choices:
1. The mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.
This one is easy as the main thing you need to imitate the lovable mouse from Numeroff’s series is a pair of overalls. You can then make mouse ears by gluing grey paper or felt semi-circles to a headband. If you have long hair you can also put your hair into two top buns for ears. Then, make a giant cookie with construction paper or carry around a bag of cookies.
You can also make it a family affair by dressing up as characters from the author’s other books. For example, you can dress as a pig and take along a box of pancake mix, or dress up as a dog carrying donuts.
2. Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.
Camilla Cream is plagued with rainbow stripes after trying too hard to fit in with her peers. To create your own Camilla Cream, you’ll need to cover your face, neck, and arms with different colored paint stripes (make sure you get body paint!) From there, wear a black dress or shirt to make your rainbow skin pop.
3. Amelia Bedelia from Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish.
If you don’t have a maid’s costume hanging around, a black dress and rectangle-shaped piece of white lace will do. Adorn a black hat with faux daisies and then seal the deal by carrying around a fake chicken or a string of green beans.
4. Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.
For this easy costume, all you need to do is draw a creative scene with purple marker on a white shirt. Then, walk around holding the purple crayon. Nailed it!
5. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole.
Ah, Ms. Frizzle: The science teacher we all wish we had! To transform into Ms. Frizzle, all you need to do is tease your hair or wear a big, bright orange wig. Then, pick a science theme and tape pictures relating to that theme to a dress and leggings.
Young adult books may be promoted as a teenage category, but let’s be honest. You probably geek out on the following characters more than your younger cousins. Take a look:
6. Harry Potter from the namesake Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
Did you really think we could put this list together and leave off Harry Potter? The classic circle glasses, lightning scar, and stick wand can all be yours for an affordable price. You can even use a black graduation robe (check the thrift store or borrow one from a recent grad). Voila! You’re Harry Potter!
7. Count Olaf and others from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.
You can expect more love for your Lemony Snicket-inspired costumes this year thanks to the Netflix mini-series. There are so many interesting characters to choose from. For example, slap on a mustache and wrap a stuffed snake around your shoulders to become Uncle Monty.
8. Characters from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.
Yes, you can become Katniss by rocking a bow and arrow as well as a dress that looks like fire. However, dressing up as Effie Trinket is where the real fun is at. From her ever-changing wigs and outlandish outfits, there are many looks to choose from. May the odds be ever in your favor.
9. Become an Ugly from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.
For this costume idea, focus your efforts on your makeup with a flash tattoo from the Uglies trilogy. Tally Youngblood’s tattoo may be the most fun to replicate. She has Celtic swirls above her eye.
Love to read? Take a look at a few of our favorite literary costume ideas – inspired by popular adult books.
10. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
Can you be any cooler than Lisbeth Salander? Luckily you can become her by coloring your hair black (if it’s not already black naturally) and slicking it back. Then, dress in black skinnies and a black jacket, and don’t go light on the fake tattoos, piercings, and metal jewelry.
11. Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.
Can’t choose between awesome period clothing and zombie makeup? You can have both if you dress as the undead Jane Bennet. Splatter red paint over a white regent-style dress, pin up your hair, and paint on your zombie face. You’re good to go!
12. Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another classic series with so much costume inspiration to draw from. Frodo Baggins may be the easiest and cheapest to pull off. You’ll need a brown cape, a ring on a chain, and furry feet. For the cape, you can tie brown cloth or a brown towel over your shoulders. For furry feet, glue sections of a wig to flip-flops.
13. Fifty Shades of Grey from the namesake book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.
This costume is always good for a laugh. All you have to do is dress in grey tones and attach grey paint swatches to your outfit. Handcuffs are optional.
14. The old man from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
For this literary-inspired costume, you can take a trip into your dad or grandfather’s closet for some fashion choices. Add a white wig, facial hair and cane. You are now a literary genius. You’re welcome.
Be Inspired by Your Favorite Books
If none of these ideas suit your fancy, then be inspired by your favorite book. Look for ways to dress up as the title character. Or, if the book’s main characters have been overdone, try going for another character. Whatever you do, have fun with it. And, remember: By being a little creative, you’ll save a lot of money. What’s not to like about that? Happy Halloween!