50 Quick and Simple Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costumes

Dollars & Sense on 10.16.12
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Our 11-year-old says he's "on the verge" of too old for trick-or-treating (I don't even think I'm too old), but he was willing to throw on his soccer uniform and pretend to be a pro player. The costumes here work for all ages from toddler to grown-up. And most simply require closet searching, cutting, gluing and maybe some painting-- spend some family crafting time while saving money!

If you've had it with overpriced costumes that come in plastic packages and tend to tear down the back, take a look at these 50 DIY costume ideas.

Cardboard Box Costumes

1. Rubix Cube. Paint squares and glue them onto a box. Cut holes for your head and arms.

2. Washing machine. Paint a box white and cut holes for the head and arms. Glue an empty laundry detergent bottle to the top.

3. Lego. Paint a box and cut holes for head and arms. Glue paper/plastic cups as the lego linking parts.  

4. Movie Theater Popcorn. Cut head and arm holes in a box. Paint the box white with red stripes. Glue yellow cotton balls or balled-up yellow paper on the top as the popcorn kernels.

Popular Characters

5. Raggedy Ann and Andy. Use red yarn to make wigs, knee socks and a rag-like outfit with blue denim and white overlay.

6. Pacman Ghost. Take an x-large t-shirt and cut the bottom in a triangle pattern. Cut out felt circles in white and blue to glue on eyes.

7. Tetris. Wrap a few smaller boxes in solid colored wrapping paper and tape the outside edges with dark colored electrical tape.

8. Super Mario Brothers. Great for brothers. Don some denim overalls and baseball hats, and dress one brother in a green t-shirt, one in red.

9. Mary Poppins. You'll need a long skirt and button-down shirt, black leggings and black dress shoes, and of course you can't forget the umbrella.

10. Orphan AnnieYou could use paint and rollers on your own hair or don a wig with red, curly tresses. Then you'll need some version of that famous red dress. (Sandy the dog is optional.)

11. Pippi Longstocking. Draw on the freckles and pull up the mismatched knee socks. You'll need a braid on each side of your head, and then thread a single piece of wire through each braid and across the top of your head to get them to stand up.

12. Fancy Nancy. Pile on the dress-up clothes and accessories. You could use paint and rollers on your own hair or don a wig with red, curly tresses.

13. Harry Potter. You'll need a cape, a wand, and round glasses. With makeup you can draw on the lightning bolt scar.

14. Mark Zuckerberg. If your kids are old enough to know the Facebook mogul, they probably also know his signature style: flannel pants, Adidas slip-ons and a robe.

Creative Costumes

15. Carpenter ant. Add extra legs with black tights filled with newspaper and wear a tool belt and hard hat.

16. Hurricane. Wear a sundress with a raincoat. Add dark colored streamers and leaves as debris (especially in your hair). You could also wear a posterboard cut-out of an eyeball on your head for the eye of the storm. 

17. It's Raining Cats and Dogs. Wear rain gear and then have fun decorating your umbrella. Either attach stuffed animals (cats and dogs) or use your own drawing or cut-outs from magazines, reinforced and glued to card stock.

18. Hula girl. Use a paper bag to cut a hula skirt and wear a real or fake flower lei as a necklace and flowers in your hair.

19. Donut. You can build a donut around a hula hoop and carry it around your waist or carry it beside you while you dress as a cup of coffee. If you are willing to cut the bottom out of a hamper, those make great coffee mugs, or use poster boards all around.  

20. Playing card. Use string to connect two poster boards (think salesman out front of a dealership handing out flyers). On one, draw or paint the front of the playing card, and on the other paint the back.

21. Cotton candySecure a paper cone on top of your head with bobby pins, and then cover some old clothes or felt with lots and lots of cotton balls painted pink or blue.

22. Loofah. Ruche an old tutu for part of this costume -- fill it out with extra tulle from the fabric store if your tutu isn't big enough -- and glue the fabric onto some old clothes.

23. Recycle bin or trash can. If you are willing to cut a head hole in the bottom of a hamper you can create a great shape and then attach (glue, tape or staple) trash or recyclable items to the outside.

24. Rainbow. If you have a white t-shirt and spare tights, have fun painting them with rainbow stripes.

25. Grapevine. Dress in green and your body will be the vine. Then attach lots of purple balloons.

26. iPod or iPad. Draw the front and back of an iPod/iPad on two posterboards and string them together at the shoulders.

27. Chocolate chip cookie. Wear a brown outfit and hat. Then cut a circular piece of poster board to make the cookie yourself and affix to your stomach. Brown pieces of felt work well for the chips.

28. Moon. Cut out two poster boards in the shape of either a full or half circle and paint them. Then attach the shapes with string at the shoulder.   

29. Sun. Cut out and paint yellow two circles from poster board. Use the extra board to cut triangles to glue along the edge of the circle. Then attach the shapes with string at the shoulder.

Tried and True Costumes

30. Mad scientistYou will need a white lab coat, lab goggles if you have them, and pretty much any accessories from an at-home science kit you have from around the house.

31. Butterfly or fairy. Throw on the sparkly tights. Many households with little girls have a pair of glittery wings floating around but if you don't it's easy enough to make them with poster board (you can also try these more involved crafting methods).

32. Hippie. Pile on the peace signs and tie-dye. Round tinted sunglasses and a bandana finish out the look.

33. Rock star. Spike up that hair and put on some cool sunglasses. Ripped jeans and rock t-shirts work or even a leather jacket would work. Accessories could include a microphone or guitar.

34. Scuba diver. Put on some swim trunks and a scuba shirt or a Hawaiian shirt with flip flops and goggles. Bonus if you have a scuba mask and snorkel.

35. Detective. A top hat works wonders with an oversized magnifying glass (maybe from an old bug-collecting kit). If you happen to have a pipe and a trench coat, the result will be even more convincing.

36. Witch. If you are like me and slow to throw things away, chances are you will find a pointy witch hat around the house. If not you can make one. Just add your decorated broom stick and your cape and you'll be good to go.

37. Ghost. The good old white sheet works wonders.  You'll need to cut out eyes and mouth to breathe (and eat candy, of course!).

38. Chef. We actually have a few chefs hats around the house from kids' kitchen kits but it's also easy enough to make one with tissue paper.  Don't forget to tie on your favorite apron and dust your face with flour.

39. Goth girl. Slide on the black nail polish, black lipstick, black jeans and black t-shirt with any kind of Gothic jewelry and a sour attitude.

Professional Athlete Costumes

40. Soccer player. Throw on those shin guards and cleats and don a jersey from your favorite team.

41. Hockey player. Pads are optional but impressive. Don't wear your skates trick-or-treating, but you can draw pretend skates on paper to attach over sneakers.

42. Horse rider. My daughter is wearing her riding boots, helmet, jodhpurs and jacket.

43. Football player. Again wearing the pads under your jersey is impressive. Also, don't forget the face paint lines under your eyes.

44. Cheerleader. Depending on the weather, you might need to wear some thermals under your cheerleading shirt and top. Don't forget the pom poms.

45. Ballerina. Dust off that dance recital costume, add leg warmers and tights and remember the tutu.

46. Gymnast. This year, post-Olympics, we're likely to see more of these professional athlete costumes. Be sure to put tights under the leotard so your little one doesn't freeze.

47. Basketball player. Bring along the ball and wear your high tops. Player jerseys and warm-up pants or long basketball shorts finish out this look.

48. Skier or snowboarder. Bundle up in a snowsuit and attach long pieces of cardboard to your shoes as skis or bring along your snowboard as an accessory.

49. Lacrosse player. Try attaching your candy bag to your lacrosse stick. Then wear your favorite jersey and warm-up pants or shorts.

50. Field hockey player. Wear your team's uniform and bring along the stick. You might want to slip on some warm leggings under the field hockey skirt.

Photo: Amanda Freeman

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