Brilliant bargain Halloween costumes

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Halloween is here again, and it's a great excuse to dress up and let loose. You don't have to break the bank for a spooky get-up though. With a little cash and some creative thought, you can still impress with your costume.

Fearsome face paints
You don't have to be an artist to create some fabulous and freaky effects with face paints. From skulls to zombies and tears of blood to dripping fangs, all it takes is a few pounds for the paints and you can be as creative and ghastly as you like. You can even make your own paints by mixing two tablespoons of cornflower with a tablespoon of cold cream, and adding water to get the required consistency. Add food colouring for a whole palette of paints.

Just add blood
If you're on a limited budget and a tight timescale, fake blood is the way to go. It's a must-have for vampires, the undead, and an essential for creating effects such as cut throats or bullet wounds. Consider dressing up your standard zombie outfit, for instance, by rubbing fake blood into the ripped seams of clothes, or go as a corpse bride with a gory slashed throat. Here too, you can experiment with your own fake blood concoction. Golden syrup with a dash of red food colouring is all you need, and you can simply add a touch of blue for a darker colour, or gelatine for a thicker consistency, a trick used by the pros.

Raid your cupboards
Part of the fun of making your own Halloween costume is seeing just how creative you can be with what you've already got. Raid wardrobes and cupboards for old gear that could come in handy. Of course those items that have been hiding at the back of your wardrobe can be ripped and torn for a zombie costume, and old tights and socks can be simply stuffed and added as spider's legs. Everyday objects can also be useful pieces of kit. For example, if you have an old black umbrella lying around, you'll find the sections make excellent bat wings. Kitchen roll or old bedsheets are ideal for that old failsafe, the mummy, and are highly effective if dipped in cold coffee and allowed to air dry before applying. And if you're heading out in a group, think very much inside the (cardboard) box, and dress each member as a Tetris shape for a cheap but cheerful costume.

Take inspiration
If you're struggling to come up with a costume idea, look no further than the movies for inspiration. Think back to horror movie icons like Jason from Friday the 13th - a hockey mask and a pair of dungarees and you're ready to go. Or recreate Carrie's prom nightmare with a long nightie or dress and a serious helping of fake blood. The movies are great for group costume ideas too. The Addams Family is a perfect example. Plenty of black clothing, white face paints, and perhaps the addition of a bald wig for Uncle Fester. And for an easy but creative alternative, go as black and white movie stars with black and white outfits, white face paints and plenty of eyeliner.

So instead of forking out for a pricey shop-bought outfit, let your imagination run wild - after all, if you can't go a little crazy at Halloween, when can you?

Do you make your own Halloween costumes? What tips have you got for creating a fabulous but freaky outfit? Leave your comments below...
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