Easy, Low-Cost DIY Costume Ideas for
by Nikki Phipps
Let's face it, not everyone can afford to
spend a lot of money on elaborate Halloween costumes, especially if you're
living on a fixed income. Likewise, not everyone can afford to spend a lot
of time making them either, especially those without sewing abilities.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could create your own costumes with little time
or money invested? Well you can. In fact, there are numerous costume ideas
that can be created yourself for next to nothing. Better still, there's
little or no sewing involved. All you need is a little imagination and
some creativity, something most of us already have tucked away somewhere
inside us. And if for some reason you don't have it, I'm sure the kids do.
An interesting way to come up with ideas
for costumes is to keep a trunk or box somewhere handy and fill it with
miscellaneous items. This can help spark the imagination. For instance,
load it up with old clothing, fabric of varying lengths, pantyhose,
fashion accessories, artificial flowers, pipe cleaners and other craft
supplies, aluminum foil, yarn, old sheets or curtains, etc. Nearly
anything can be used. Instead of traditional Halloween bags for candy, use
other items related to your costume and store them in the 'imagination
box.' For example, you can implement items such as old pocketbooks,
pillowcases, garbage bags, baskets, doctor's bags, small backpacks, or
even diaper bags.
Ever since my kids were old enough to
participate in trick-or-treating activities, I have made their costumes.
Once Halloween approaches, I begin asking them what they would like to be.
Then I scour the house and our box of goodies to find whatever I might
already have on hand, making a list of the items with which I need.
Generally, these few items can be purchased at the local thrift shop or
dollar store so there usually isn't too much money invested in the
For safety reasons, I prefer to use make-up
or face paint as opposed to masks. You can easily make your own out of
food coloring and corn starch. This is not only safer than using masks,
but it's also cheaper, easier to apply, and comes off just as easily with
mild soap and water. A simple cream can be made with one part corn starch
and two parts food coloring to create the desired shade for your costume.
Apply to the face with your fingers just like foundation. And with a few
drops of red food coloring and a little corn syrup, you have home-made
blood for those ghoulish costumes.
One year my daughter went as a witch. It
isn't as difficult as you might think to come up with creative ways of
putting this outfit together. In fact, they can be as easy or difficult as
you can handle. For the witch ensemble, I simply used a tattered black
dress and a witch's hat my daughter already had. I mixed up some green
face paint and added a wart with an eyeliner pencil. For her hair, I used
some fiery, red-orange yarn that I attached to the hat with Velcro. Add a
small broom and there you go.
Another year, she was a butterfly. The
butterfly was fashioned together by cutting a pair of wings out of some
cardboard, which I decorated with multi-colored pieces of felt (you can
also use aluminum foil and decorate with sequins, glitter, etc.). The body
of the butterfly consisted of nothing more than a black sweat suit;
however, a dark-colored leotard should work just as well. Wings can be
attached in whatever way is easiest for you. They can be sewn onto the
back of the sweatshirt or fastened with elastic bands fitted around the
child's arms. You could also try using Velcro for felt-covered wings. This
not only sticks to the felt but to the shirt as well. Add an antennae
headband and, if desired, some face paint. The headband can either be
purchased from the dollar store for a couple bucks or put together
yourself using an ordinary black headband with black pipe cleaners
I transformed my son into a lively
jack-in-the-box one year. This idea came about through my own childhood
memories. My mother also made a lot of our costumes growing up. Aluminum
foil would incredibly become a tiara, a wand, or antennas. Lacy curtains
would suddenly become flowing gowns. Her creativity was amazing, and one
costume in particular stood out above all others--a kitchen table. She had
taken a simple cardboard box, cut out a hole in the bottom, and slipped it
right over my head. After draping a tablecloth over the box, my protruding
head became the centerpiece with a carefully placed 'hat' made from a pair
of pantyhose and artificial flowers.
And from this kitchen table costume,
another one was born--the jack-in-the-box. It uses the same 'box' concept
and originality. I simply took a box, decorated it, and attached it to my
son with suspenders (can use elastic as well). On one side of the box I
fashioned a handle. He wore dark sweatpants and a regular long-sleeved
shirt that I attached ruffles to. I painted his face to mimic that of a
A few years back, my kids decided that they
wanted their costumes to match. We looked around the house and soon enough
found ourselves with a cowboy and an Indian. For the cowboy, my son donned
a cowboy hat and boots, a western shirt, blue jeans and a denim jacket.
All of which we already had. To accessorize the look, I tied (loosely) a
red bandana around his neck and fastened the holster (complete with toy
guns) around his waist. Once again, these were items that we already had
My daughter, of course, was the Indian. Her
costume was also something we had just lying around. I took an old brown
pillowcase and cut a v-neck hole in the bottom that was large enough for
my daughter's head to fit through. I then cut two more holes in either
side for her arms. I hand-stitched designs around both the neck line and
bottom of the 'dress' and with a pair of scissors, I carefully cut slits
along the edges to give it a frilly look. If you don't sew, that's ok; you
can easily use fabric paint to decorate the dress instead. To set off the
dress, my daughter wore braided pigtails with a feathered headband around
her forehead. The only item I purchased for this was a pair of moccasin
slippers from the dollar store. To hold all their candy, my son carried a
pillowcase 'loot bag' while my daughter used an old harvest basket lined
with an orange towel.
Ever had the option of dressing up for work
with the most original taking first prize? This one worked for me. Once
again, I borrowed the idea from my mother, giving it my own twist--a
tomato plant. For this costume, I wore a dark green leotard with green
hose and slippers. I found a dark green table skirt and simply cut out
holes to allow me to both slip it over my head and run my arms through. I
pinned some green artificial leaves onto the leotard and table skirt along
with little tomatoes made from Styrofoam balls that were painted red and
topped off with green stems (you can also use tomato pin cushions found in
craft stores). I finished it off with a green beret full of leaves. By the
way, I took the prize.
I have found balloons to be quite useful
for costumes; however, they should only be applied to those of older
children or adults. Once again, safety is important and balloons tend to
pop easily and small children can accidentally try to eat the balloon
pieces. Balloons are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of shapes,
colors, and sizes. You can create one-of-a-kind costumes with hardly any
work involved. Imagine a bunch of grapes (like that from
Fruit-of-the-Loom). Choose a purple sweat suit or leotard and attach
purple balloons carefully with small safety pins. Add some ivy vines and
top it off with a matching hat full of ivy leaves. This could also be used
for other berries as well with appropriate colored sweats and balloons.
For instance, you could try raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries.
Then again, why not go out as Mr. Bubble?
Wear white and use some white balloons to instantaneously become soap
suds. Accessorize with a scrub brush and a hat or bag made up of bath
materials such as sponges and empty shampoo, bubble bath, or soap
containers. When you apply balloons to any costume, however, try not to
put any on the backside. This could make it difficult to sit down.
Other interesting costume ideas might
include a scarecrow using denim bib overalls, a plaid or flannel shirt,
rope or twine for belt, a straw hat, gloves and boots. Stuff all the
pockets with straw. Turn an old sheet into a ghost. Create a hobo from
some old clothes and add a hat. Paint the face with a five o'clock shadow
and fashion an old hankie to a stick. What's autumn without leaves? Use a
dark-colored sweat suit (with hood) and pin silk leaves all over it. Walk
around carrying a rake and gather candy in a leaf bag.
Remember, a little imagination can go a
long way; and best of all, it's free to use.
About the Author
This article was written by Nikki Phipps
and was sponsored by DareToScare.com
and the Dare To Scare Halloween Costume Search. Reproductions of this
article are encouraged but must include a live link back to http://www.DareToScare.com