Homemade Halloween Costumes
Dressing up for Halloween is great fun for kids, but it can be a financial strain for parents. Between buying candy for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters, decorations for the yard and house and costumes for the family, it can seem like an early holiday season when you sit down to balance the checkbook! But instead of buying or renting a complete costume, why not make your own?
Materials for homemade costumes can be less expensive than store-bought costumes, and they're fun to make! Also, if your child has his heart set on dressing up in a particular way, you aren't limited by the pre-made outfit. Instead, your creativity can lead the way as you gather and assemble bits and pieces to fashion the perfect costume.Getting Started
If your kids are old enough, have them draw you a picture of what they want to be. This is your starting point. While looking over the picture, remind them of certain accessories, props or other items that can enhance the costume.
Ride 'em Cowboy: If your child wants to be a cowboy, perhaps he's imagined a cowboy hat, vest and holster. But why stop there? Get really creative and make a trusty companion! With a box, an old pair of jeans, a pair of cowboy boots, some stuffing and some paint, you can make it look like your child is riding a horse.
Find a long, thin box that is about three-quarters as tall as your child and wide enough for your child to sit in (he won't sit in the box when you are done with it, but this is a good way to measure it). Try your local music shop for boxes they use to ship guitars and other instruments.
Next, take a measurement of your child's waist and draw that circumference on the bottom of the box, near the center. Cut this hole out and let your child "try on" the box by pulling it up around the waist. For the cowboy's legs, duct tape a pair of cowboy boots to the inside of the old pair of jeans. Stuff the boots and the legs of the jeans.
Cut off the flaps of the box. Take these pieces of cardboard and cut out two front horse legs and a horse head. Paint the sides of a horse on both sides of the box, then paint the legs and head (details are important – don't forget hooves and a mane). When the paint is dry, tape, glue or staple the legs to the inside of the box (one on each side) toward the front. Your child's own legs will be the horse's back legs.
Dress your child in cowboy gear from the waist up; put him in brown or black sweats from the waist down (depending on the color of your horse). Let him put on the box, then place the stuffed jeans on the box directly in front of him. Swing one leg over each side and then loop a belt around your child and through the belt loops of the stuffed jeans. With the holster over the belt, your child is a cowboy riding into the sunset!Group Them Together
If your kids are willing to go as a group, you might be able to save even more money by buying in bulk.
Policeman and Jailbirds: If one child wants to be a policeman, maybe the other children will go as jailbirds. Jailbirds need white shirts and pants, some fake chain and a couple of large Styrofoam balls. You'll also need black fabric paint and black spray paint. If you can, consider making the shirt and pants out of old white sheets. Any simple shirt and slacks sewing pattern will work for this project. Once you have the shirts and pants, paint the black stripes with the fabric paint. Fake (and lightweight) chain can be found at most costume shops, but you'll probably have to paint it black, along with the black Styrofoam balls that attach to the chain.Think Cheap and Easy
If you really don't have the time or money, and your child doesn't have her heart set on something yet, suggest something easy.
A Bug: She can choose from a butterfly, bee, dragonfly or even a house fly! The most time consuming part of these costumes are the wings, which really aren't hard at all. Just take some wire and form the outline of the wings. Then buy some tulle (a nylon mesh material available in many colors) at the fabric store and cover the wings with it, wrapping each wing segment a few times (for strength). Cut holes in the tulle near the center wire and run another piece of tulle or other fabric (a bath robe waistband works well) through it. Then tie the wings on to your child by wrapping the fabric around to the front, under their arms, and tie it in front. This is great for kids who aren't too interested in dressing up because they can take the wings off whenever they want.
The rest of the costume can be a leotard or sweat suit with matching stretchy gloves. And don't forget antennae! A head band with pipe cleaner (chenille stems) that is bent in wacky ways works great!
A Turtle: You can create a turtle costume using the same basic idea: Take a large piece of green fabric (a green sheet is perfect) and paint or draw round-edged squares in a brick pattern all over one side of the fabric. Use a dark color like black, brown or deep green. Wait until the paint dries, then flip the sheet over. Then, take stuffing or another sheet and place it in the center of the sheet. Gather the corners of the sheet and either sew them together or tie them together, leaving two long corners free. These long corners are what tie around your child's body, holding the turtle shell in place. Dress your child in green sweats and give him a matching green hat and gloves.
It doesn't take a master craftsman to create a homemade costume. And who knows – maybe making your child's costume will become a tradition!