Birthday party costumes do not have to be expensive, or time consuming to make. There are plenty of birthday party costumes for kids you can make on a budget, using bits and pieces you already have around the house. Here are some easy and inexpensive ideas to get you started.

Pirate : Clown : Butterfly : Ladybird : Acrobat : Magician : Cave man / woman : Animals

Pirate Costume

Pirate costumes are an easy costume to make. Simply cut off a pair of old jeans at the knee, add a coloured T-shirt, and tie a bandana around your child’s head. Use black face paint or eyeliner to draw on some scars, and even a tattoo if you’re feeling brave. You can easily make a pirate sword out of heavy cardboard.

Other things you could add to the costume are a big hoop earring (if your child has their ears pierced), a stuffed parrot on the shoulder, and an eye patch. You can buy all sorts of pirate accessories from emporium type stores in NZ for just a few dollars.

Clown Costume

A clown costume can be just about anything and the sillier the better. Find some pants that are a few sizes too big and hold them up with braces. If you don’t have braces, you could make your own version with coloured ribbon, or simply make a belt out of a piece of string. Put on a bright coloured top, mismatching socks and a big floppy hat. Paint your face and you’re done.

Other things you could add to the costume are a big plastic flower, one of Dad’s ties, giant glasses and a pair of oversized shoes. Wigs and rubber noses are also fun, provided your child can handle a bit of itch and scratch.

Butterfly Costume

This costume takes a little bit of sewing, but you don’t need to be a seamstress or even own a sewing machine – simple hand stitching will do.

  1. Find a pair of leggings in any colour, and a top to match. This will form the body of your butterfly.
  2. Cut a piece of old net curtaining so that it is as high as your child from waist to shoulders, and a little wider than wrist to wrist (when their arms are held out to the side).
  3. Lie the curtaining evenly on the back of the coloured top, and stitch it straight down the centre, so that either side of the curtaining floats free like wings.
  4. Attach an elastic loop to the top corners of the curtaining, so that your child’s wrist can fit through. As your child moves their arms, they will control the wings.
  5. Decorate the wings using fabric paint or beads, and add a headband with antennae to finish it off.


Child’s Birthday gift? Find a great selection of popular Books & Authors.

Age: 0  1  2  3  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 Years Old


Lady Bird Costume

You can make a ladybird costume in the same way as the butterfly costume, but use black polythene for the wings instead of net curtaining. To make the body, use red tops and bottoms, and paint on black dots with fabric paint. If you want to be able to use the red clothes again, you can cut out black dots from insulation tape, or use sticky dot labels available from any stationery store.

Acrobat Costume

Acrobat costumes are easy, especially if you have a gymnast in the family. Simply dress your child in their leotard or togs, and then make ribbon bands for their wrists and hair by tying long lengths of ribbon to hair ties. Add theatrical make-up and a few props like hoops, balls and ribbon wands, and you’re done.


To make a simple magician’s costume, dress your child in black pants with a white top and a black bow tie. Make a black cape out of an old sheet or tablecloth, and if you like use tinfoil or fabric paint to make silver stars on the back.

Most emporium type stores have a range of magician’s props like wands and top hats for just a few dollars.

Cave Man / Woman

If you’re good on a sewing machine, then you can whip up a quick tunic out of an old sack to make a great cave man outfit. Line the sacking with an old pillowcase so that is doesn’t itch and scratch.

If sewing is not your forte, you can still use an old sack to make a cave man’s costume. Put your child in short shorts and a singlet, and then simply cut and tie your sack into place like a sarong. Add scraps of animal print material to their hair, and buy a cheap plastic bone from a toy store.

Animal Costumes

To make a quick and easy animal costume, have your child dress in track pants and a top the same colour as their chosen animal, add the necessary ears and tail, and then paint their face.

You could make a tiger costume by wearing an orange top and bottom, and sticking on black stripes using insulation tape. Cut pointy ears out of heavy card and attach them to a headband, then stuff one leg of a black stocking to make a tail.

The trick to making party costumes on a budget is to look around at what you already have to start with, and go from there. Once you have a basic idea, take a wander around The Warehouse or other emporium type stores, and see what you can pick up for just a few dollars. Remember, you do not need to use the item in the way it was intended.

I often use foam gardener’s knee pads to make claws and paws, small camouflage tarpaulins for turtle shells and dinosaur skin, and weed mat can be made in to just about anything! Hunt through the clearance bins and use your imagination. You might just surprise yourself!

0 0 votes
Article Rating

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x