Where to Find Must-Have Halloween Costumes for Less

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Is your little girl refusing to "let go" the idea of dressing as Princess Elsa this Halloween? The Frozen costume can cost nearly $40 -- or less than half that price, depending on where you shop. We compared Halloween costume prices at online retailers and superstores for two of this year's most popular looks -- Princess Elsa and Captain America -- as well as an old standby, an adult witch costume.

Overall, we found Walmart a consistent source of cheap Halloween costumes while specialized vendors such as Costume Discounters and Halloween Mart carry a far larger assortment, still at reasonable prices. If you're looking for basic, budget-friendly get-ups for the entire family, Walmart's offerings are priced at very low levels. If you're willing to browse around a bit in search of the trendiest Halloween duds, Costume Discounters is the place.

This year there will be plenty of young trick-or-treaters sporting the Princess Elsa look, evidenced by the sold-out inventory at some retailers. For a little lady set on this theme, Costume Discounters can fill the order for $19.97; at the time of writing, an additional 20 percent discount code slashed the price to $15.98. This site offers free shipping both ways, as well as free exchanges and price matching. (The other sites we checked offer free shipping only for purchases exceeding certain dollar amounts.)

With a price tag of $23.95, Costume Kingdom, a marketplace retailer for Walmart, posts the second lowest price for Princess Elsa; here, though, shipping is free only on orders greater than $50. The costume is sold out online at Spirit Halloween but is available in the vendor's brick-and-mortar stores for $24.99, the same price posted by Halloween Mart. The tab for this popular, low-cost Halloween costume is less attractive at Costumes 4 Less, Party City, and Target, where the price point shows up as $28.76, $29.99, and (a whopping) $37.99, respectively. A quick visit to Amazon's extensive marketplace turned up additional options for Elsa wannabes, with near-look-alike costumes going for $15.76 and $37.93.

Price of Elsa Costume
Costume Discounters $19.97 ($15.98 on sale)
Costume Kingdom $23.95
Spirit Halloween $24.99
Halloween Mart $24.99
Costumes 4 Less $28.76
Party City $29.99
Target $37.99

This year's hottest superhero costume is Captain America, and Walmart has it for less than $10. The Costume Discounters price is also about $10 -- once you factor in the seasonal 20 percent discount. Halloween Express, Spirit Halloween, and Party City are disappointingly priced across the board, at $25 each.

After poring over the same retailer sites for an adult witch costume, we found the best deals at Walmart. A basic and complete witch outfit can be had for $9.97 at this mega-retailer and a more intricate style (top only) goes for $12.97. Searching for cheap witch costumes on Amazon turned up one for $11, and another hunt uncovered a ruffled $19.99 version at Halloween Mart. Costume Discounters, which boasts the lowest-cost Elsa attire, stocks the priciest classic witch -- hat included here, unlike the others -- for $23.99.

Of course, the DIY approach to Halloween is always an option. It's also the surest path to a truly unique look. Items already on hand, such as an old dress, a well-used suit jacket, even a bucket, can be put to good use. And remember to think outside the box. Try mixing different gray-colored pieces to portray "shades of gray" or pair a red or orange dress with a green hat to become a strawberry or a pumpkin.

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card - Enter Cheapism's 2014 Halloween Sweepstakes on Pinterest.