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.
One of the best ways to spark some imagination for creating Halloween costumes is to keep a box filled with miscellaneous items. For instance, load it up with old clothing, sheets or curtains, pantyhose, fashion accessories, artificial flowers, pipe cleaners and other craft supplies, aluminum foil, yarn, etc. Nearly anything can be used. Instead of traditional Halloween bags for candy, use other items that relate to your costume instead. For example, you can use things like old pocketbooks, pillowcases, garbage bags, baskets, doctor’s bags, small backpacks, or even diaper bags. These, too, can all be stored in your ‘imagination’ box.
Ever since my kids were old enough to trick-or-treat, I have made their costumes. I scour our box of goodies to find whatever I might already have on hand and make a list of the items I will need, which can usually be purchased at the thrift shop or dollar store. I prefer to use make-up or face paint as opposed to masks, and 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 some homemade blood for those ghoulish costumes.
The year my daughter went as a witch, I 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 reddish-orange colored yarn that I attached to the hat with Velcro, and I accessorized the costume with a small broom. Another year she was a butterfly. The butterfly was put 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. The felt-covered wings were attached with Velcro, but depending on the materials used, the wings can be attached in whatever way is easiest for you. For instance, they can be sewn onto the back of the sweatshirt or fastened with elastic bands fitted around the child’s arms. 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 a black headband and attaching two black pipe cleaners.
I transformed my son into a lively jack-in-the-box one year. I took this idea from one of my own childhood memories. My mother also made most of our costumes growing up. Aluminum foil would instantly become a tiara, a wand, or antennas and 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 cardboard box, cut out a hole in the bottom, and slipped it 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 unforgettable 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. On one side of the box I fashioned a handle. He wore dark sweatpants and a regular long-sleeved shirt that I had sewn ruffles onto. I painted his face to mimic that of a joker.
A few years back, my kids decided that they wanted to match their costumes. 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 he already had. To accessorize the look, I tied (loosely) a red bandana around his neck and placed a toy holster around his waist. Once again, these were items that were already on hand. 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, you can use fabric paint to decorate the dress instead. 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.
One year I decided to dress up too. 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 so I could slip it over my head and run my arms through as well. I pinned some green artificial leaves onto the leotard and table skirt along with little tomatoes that I made from Styrofoam balls (you can also use tomato pin cushions found in craft stores). I finished it off with a green beret full of leaves. Speaking of leaves, what’s autumn without them? This also makes a great Halloween costume idea. 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.
Balloons can be useful for costumes but only for those of older children or adults. These are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. When you apply balloons to any costume, however, try not to put any on the backside as they could impede your ability to sit down, not to mention, pop. With balloons, you can create one-of-a-kind costumes with hardly any work involved such as a bunch of grapes. Choose a purple sweat suit 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 matching 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.
Making Halloween costumes can be both fun and easy. Using items already on hand can save you lots of money as well. Remember, a little imagination can go a long way, and this, of course, is always free to use.