Halloween costumes are a really big deal in my house. Like, really big. The children in my house don't even know the things out of plastic bags -- made of cheap fabric and silk-screened logos -- even exist. They know where costumes come from -- they appear courtesy of fabric scraps, sewing scissors, and a whole lot of craft glue -- and they're freakin' fabulous.
It all started when my daughter grew out of the cutesy toddler costumes and into the dreaded "girls" category. Gone were the days of cute little lions or age-appropriate Alice in Wonderland costumes; the selection jumped from adorable to either baby-hooker bees and witches, or even worse, the dreaded Disney Princess-themed garbage, in an instant. I had no idea that little kid Halloween costumes were so, well, terrible. No and no, thank you very much.
But there weren't many options to be found, aside from the uber-short, uber-girly and unnecessarily revealing for a six-year-old, no matter where I looked. Given that those costumes weren't even an option, the only choice left was to make 'em myself. It didn't seem terribly hard, in theory. I mean, these store-bought things look like they're slapped together sloppily anyway.
And now, after a couple of trial and error DIY Halloweens, I do believe got this costume-making thing down to a gluey science, and all without a sewing machine, because they terrify me. So to spare you the sticky heartache of costumes gone wrong, we've compiled some of the better ideas we've seen for easy homemade kids costumes below.
Make 'em. They'll score your kids the top-notch candy in the bucket this Halloween, which you can promptly lift for yourself once they're asleep. Everyone benefits from homemade costumes.
Plush Little Peacock
Let me give you fair warning about this one. As cute as it looks, I spent the majority of the time trick-or-treating accompanied by a whiny tween because she couldn't fit through entryways. So if you're going to take the peacock route, make sure your kid is willing to walk up to doors sideways. Seriously.
Other than that, this costume is way easy. All it took was an old dance leotard, a foam half-circle, and a bunch of peacock feathers that I bought in bulk off of the good old Interwebs. You can find them relatively cheap if you dig around. I wouldn't go the craft store route, though, unless you're really desperate.
Once my feathers arrived from the other side of the world, I picked out some of the less desirable or damaged feathers to use for the top, since the perfect ones would be used for her tail feather (and would ultimately break while trying to enter doorways.) I cut the eye of the feather from the stem and glued them down the front of her leotard to create the feathery top.
I then stuck each feather in the "tail" -- or the foam half-circle -- and used hot glue to secure it. Hot glue is an important step, or she'll be a sad peacock when she's left a trail of feathers up and down the street. To pretty it up, I slapped some fabric around the foam to keep it from looking like, well, a foam half-circle, pinned it on her rear, and we had a ridiculously huge peacock.
Purdy Paper Doll
So, there was a bit of trial and error on this one. I made the mistake of assuming that a paper doll costume would be all about the artwork painted on. Wrong. Turns out that this costume is way easy and way cheap, but you have to have the right tools.
Foam board, ribbon, an Exacto knife and not kitchen scissors, and some hefty craft glue are all you need, really. Do not try to use scissors to cut through foam board, trust me. You will end up with blisters and a very messy piece of foam board, and nothing more.
You can cut around a skirt or top that your kid had hanging in the closet, and then just even it out, if need be. The great thing about this costume is that it hardly needs to be perfect to be really rad. Just make sure you cut a bit of extra to give you some for error. Channel your inner crafty, slap some acrylic paint on it, and away you go.
Oh, a heads up? I really wouldn't use poster board, no matter how easy it might seem, cause it's going to be a hot mess by the time she's made it out the door. Foam board won't warp, and it'll hold up in the elements. Or dents and dings if she can't fit through doorways.
Instant Patchwork Owl
This is only semi-homemade, because again, my whole fear of sewing, but if you're really daring I'm sure you can do quite a bit with this one. But I'll just stick to the basics. It's still better than the pre-fabbed owls.
I just grabbed some fabric scraps from Joann's and glued them onto a dance leotard, since it's stretchy and would help the "feathers" to fall just right. I cheated on the mask -- which I also found at Joann's for like $3 -- and strapped on some little kid wings for good measure.
You can throw on some leg warmers or make a tutu out of the extra fabric -- there will be plenty of extra fabric; this thing takes like, basically nothing to make -- and some sparkly shoes to give her a bit of shine, and it's the easiest instant patchwork owl ever.
Lookie, Lookie! A Wookiee!
Seriously. Could this thing be any cuter?
If your little one isn't old enough to beg candy from the neighbors just yet, you can still get your fix by going with a baby and dad couples costume. Star Wars is literally the greatest, and yields some really great costume ideas, so go with it.
The Wookiee here looks super simple; you just need a brown long-sleeved onesie and some craft fur, really. If you've got scissors and some fabric glue, you can throw this one together last minute.
Dad's on his own for his costume, though. Kids only on this blog. Although we do fully suggest and encourage mom to throw down as Princess Leia. We would die from the cuteness overload.
Minimally Scary Medusa
I love this idea because there's finally a use for those rubber snakes that scared the hell out of me as a kid. So yay, rubber snakes!
I mean, it looks like a pretty easy-breezy costume to put together, other than perhaps some tender-headed issues, if you've got a kid who screams when a brush touches her scalp. (I know from experience on this one -- not sure I'd ever convince mine to let me tie rubber snakes in her hair.)
So -- tender-headed issues aside -- tie some rubber snakes in your darling daughter's hair, cut a cape out of some felt, or make some use out of that throw blanket and secure it around her shoulders, and she's off to turn competing trick-or-treaters to stone with her ensemble.
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Tim Burton's "9"
Remember 9, that creepy doll thing from the Tim Burton movie about the world, post-apocalypse, and these weird doll things? Well, the boy in my house did, and just about the time he was aging out of Halloween costumes, he decided on this bad boy. Way to go out with a bang, dude. I wasn't sure this thing would ever come together.
But ultimately, some Crayola Model Magic for the mask structure and a whole lot of itchy fabric made this thing come to life. I'm not even sure how it held up, but it's still around, and still freaking out little kids -- especially when the mask finds its way out of my closet and into the general area of our house.
Yeah. We're those parents.