The Costume Conundrum: Costumes on a Student Budget

by on Oct 12th, 2018

Every year you want to do a sweet Halloween costume. You remember seeing that guy with the fully-functional Transformer costume complete with motors and voice changer and you thought, “hey, I can do that!” Well, that is until you remember that you are on a student budget. So without further ado, here are eight tips to help you shop for and make costumes on a student budget this year (and next).

Value Village

There are eight Value Village locations in Edmonton and the surrounding areas. All of them are awesome places to either purchase your Halloween costume, or to purchase pieces for a DIY costume. No matter how you plan on building it, Value Village is a great place to start. The key is to go early, like as early as you can to make sure you get the best finds. People generally pick over the stock pretty quickly.

Dollar Store

Your friendly neighbourhood dollar store will undoubtedly stock a huge supply of costume pieces, decorations and – more importantly – cheap candy. Along with the Halloween themed items and candy, the dollar store is a great place to find some materials for building costumes. If you need any kind of craft material, they probably have it for cheaper than another craft store.

Build it Yourself

DIY costumes can be as easy or as complicated as you want them to be. Some people put hundreds and hundreds of dollars and hours into building some amazing things. If you don’t have the time or money to do those amazing things, you can still do some pretty cool things with some will and a couple of bucks. The key to building your own costumes is to make sure you buy what your need early, make a budget and plan!

  1. Shop Early – you’re more likely to find the pieces you’re looking for!
  2. Shop Late – You might be able to get a better deal on pieces you need from Halloween stores in November, it’s never too early to start planning!
  3. Use affordable materials like cardboard, wire mesh and papier-mâché, old clothes and affordable new materials.
  4. Use the internet! You can get a lot of ideas and step-by-step guides ( for building masks, creating weapons, suits of armour, really whatever you need, it can all be found online, and most of it can be made cheaply!

Facebook Swaps

Arguably the cheapest method of getting a new costume is to swap it for another costume. If you search on Facebook, you can find multiple groups of people just swapping away. Swapping costumes, or just buying pieces this way is an easy way to save some coin. Word of warning? Check for stains and weird smells.

Plan early. Really early.

When we say really early, we mean November 1st. Everything left from the build up to that one faithful day is cleared out by stores like Spirit Halloween or Value Village the very next day. What does this mean for you? Savings on all the goodies you can use for the following year! You can buy a handful of generic Halloween materials that can easily be transferred between costumes and even larger pieces for a serious discount. The longer into November you wait the better the deals, at the cost of selection.

Make a List

This tip has a couple of different meanings. First, you can make a list of costumes that you would like, then make a list of the things you need for those costumes and understand what your budget needs to be. Then you can go back and review your lists and start crossing off ideas. This can help you curb your spending before it even gets started, instead of once it gets out of hand.

Raid the Closet

You may not know it, but you probably have a lot of great materials in your closet just waiting to be used to for Halloween costumes. That trendy blazer that you stopped wearing after two weeks? Bam, you’ve got yourself a costume piece! The hat you bought for $10 because it was on sale? There’s a costume for that. The closet is your best friend when it comes to looking for hidden gem costume pieces. There are countless ways to make your old closet finds new again! Which brings me to the eighth and final point.

Reuse or Repurpose

This one might seem to be the least exciting option, but if you were on a tight budget then it might make sense to just use a costume you’ve used before. The other option for old costumes is to repurpose them. You bought a black robe last year to be a Jedi? BAM, with a little make-up you’re the grim reaper this year. If you are a costume DIY’er then you probably have costume pieces in your closet already, a fresh spray paint or iron-on graphic can fundamentally change a piece of clothing to make it perfect for your next costume.