I hate Halloween, but I come by my disdain honestly: My mother loathed the holiday. So while other mom’s were busy sewing Ewok costumes for their children, my mom sent me to the trunk of old costumes in our attic and told me to pull out something that fit. As such, I was a rabbit for 3 years straight, followed by a long stretch as Pete Rose—both of which had been worn many times by my siblings. When I grew tired of the ratty attic dress-up, I decided to get creative and pull costumes together from what I could find in the house, and as a result, I’ve developed the ability to throw together costumes with very little and for cheap. Of course, had I had Pinterest as a kid, it would have been much easier.
While it’s fun and challenging to create homemade costumes, who has the time? I sure don’t. So I’ve compiled a list of quick, easy and inexpensive Halloween costumes for kids that don’t require a Martha Stewart skillset. Here are 10 of my favorite DIY costumes from my brain and the Internet.
1. Wildstyle This is my daughter’s Halloween costume this year—she’s the female main character from the Lego Movie. My daughter is wearing her black hoodie and black yoga pants (and whatever shoes she feels like wearing), and I’m going to use hot pink and baby blue duct tape to create the Wildstyle design on the sweat shirt and pants. I found the pattern on Pinterest (apparently this is a popular costume). We’re going to spray a strip of her hair pink and a strip blue.
2. R2D2/generic robot: I saw this one on the Internet as well—you take a plastic white trash can, cut out the bottom and two arm holes. Then, you paint (or use duct tape) the R2 D2 façade on the outside. If you want a lower-rent version of this, you can take a piece of this poster board and create a cylinder, taping or stapling it together. Then you paint the body as you did the trash can. For the head, use a bowl or colander. For both, wear all black, all white or all grey underneath.
3. Witch: Remember when everyone was a witch? Now witches costumes for girls involve tulle and neon and seem to be a little provocative. A less revealing witch costume simply entails throwing on a black dress, funky striped tights and black shoes. Then head to Target and buy a witches broom and hat (they’re sold in the One Spot) for $3 each.
4. Fairy. My daughter changes her mind a million times between July (when we first start talking about Halloween) and Oct. 31. Last year, we got down to the wire before she made up her mind, so I took the bull by the horns and went to the dollar store and got her a pair of butterfly wings and a wand. Then I hit up H&M for a tutu skirt (but this will work as well), and she had a fairy costume that she wore for about a month straight.
5. Grapes: This one requires a little work, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Find a purple shirt and pants or green shirt and pants. Then blow up a million balloons and stick them all over the shirt creating a “bunch” effect. Tell your child they can’t sit until the night is over and avoid branches at all costs.
7. Farmer: Easy-peasy. Flannel shirt. Denim overalls. Straw cowboy hat.
8. Firefighter. This is a go-to when my kids are toddlers. We have Western Chief fireman rain boots and a bright yellow rain slicker. I add black sweatpants and the fire hat they get at school during fire prevention week. If you don’t have these boots, you may be able to use plain ones along with a red, yellow or black coat (use some reflective tape on the bottom and the sleeves) . Fire houses may also give you an extra hat if you need one.
9. Someone from another decade. This is a great idea for older kids. The 50s, 60s and 70s are ripe for finding inspiration for costumes: 1950s girl (Tea-length a-line skirt, cardigan, Mary Jane’s), 1950s boys (jeans rolled up, white socks, white T and leather jacket or cardigan with a letter on it. Hair slicked back). Hippies (bell bottoms, flowy tops, long straight hair with a band across the forehead), 1970s (give them $10 bucks and send them to a thrift store.)
10. Pirate. Black-and-white or red-and-white shirt, black pants, red sash around the waste, a bandana on the head, and an eye patch. Feel free to draw in facial hair. If you want, you can pick up a pirate hat for about $2 at Party City.