My favorite holiday is in a few weeks and I thought I’d share some of the DIY Halloween costume ideas we’ve had for our kiddos over the years.
Growing up, my mother always made our Halloween costumes and it was a tradition I so wanted to continue with my kids. Unfortunately, due to my lack of sewing machine know-how and an ever-elusive amount of extra time, a lot of these costumes are pieced together from both store-bought components as well as homemade elements. My mother still does the sewing, but we’ve gotten fairly creative over the years. We also have the added challenge of making sure the costumes are weather appropriate since we never know if it will be snowing during trick-or-treating. If it isn’t, it’s still pretty darn cold.
I hope you find some inspiration for your little ones and I’ll try my best to credit the sources of my ideas as memory serves me. If you’re into unique DIY costumes, you can find inspiration from a lot of different places.
- Lily of the Valley
(She wriggled out of her little belt.)
I first saw this costume in an issue of a Martha Stewart magazine, long before B was born. It was so cute that it stuck with me and I insisted it be her very first costume. My mother sewed the dress from a pattern and made the flower hat from crepe paper. The photo was taken by Sears Portrait Studio in 2009 (Not sure if they’re even still open nationwide; they closed here.). If you’re stuck on costume ideas, sometimes browsing magazines can lend inspiration.
We were enjoying one of the many fall festivals in our state and saw this ADORABLE dress on display. I think it was meant for one of the dolls the vendor was selling as fall decorations, but I couldn’t pass it up. It just so happened to be my daughter’s size, too! I took a small witch’s hat I’d bought from a store and added textured yarn, beads, and ribbons around it. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture that quite did it justice. The little broom was also store-bought. It was a very lucky find (especially being the right size), but sometimes you just luck out when you least expect it!
- Lion Tamer and Aviator
I got the inspiration for B’s costume this year from a toy she got on her first birthday. One of my aunts got her this adorable stuffed lion and I thought: why not a lion tamer?! The hat was store-bought and my mother sewed the shirt from a pattern. The band for the hat she made from scraps leftover from the shirt. The boots were a pain in the butt to find. I mean, where do you find knee-high, black boots for a toddler?! Well, the answer is: I forget. But, we were super lucky to find them in our area. My best friend made the whip from black duct tape and she also took the gorgeous photos for their shoot. Sorry all, she’s not in business anymore, but if that ever changes, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can schedule your session!
Little GJ’s very first Halloween costume was difficult for us. I don’t know why I decided on an aviator, but I was hell-bent on it. I put him in a long-sleeve white onesie and cut a strip of white pillowcase to make the scarf (which he only wore for the pictures). The hat was SO hard to find. I think I tried almost twenty stores before I finally found this one at Old Navy, and it was super big on him. We added a pair of silverish-gray swimming goggles and called it a success. I’m convinced newborns are impossible to dress up unless you hand-make a costume.
- Scarecrow and Dinosaur
Ok, the Scarecrow was obviously a Pinterest steal. At the time, there were several little cuties on Pinterest with this costume. The skirt was made of an elastic waistband and strands of tulle that went on forever. Seriously, I had no idea those little skirts were so time-consuming. If you plan on making a do-it-yourself tulle skirt for your little one, know that there really isn’t any quick way to do it. Be prepared to start early. My mom made the hat, and a couple of drawn on patches later, I had myself a scarecrow.
The dinosaur idea also came from Pinterst. Something about cutting Dollar Store sponges into triangles for the spikes, but we couldn’t find any. Instead, we found a pattern for a crocodile and changed the colors. We even lucked out and found this super soft material that was warm and textured. Again, Momma did the sewing.
- Jack Frost, King Max, and A Minion
B picked out her own costume this year and it was pretty exciting. I sprayed her hair with a silver-white Halloween spray and found some cute winter boots with fur at the top, which I thought my B would appreciate (she did). My mom decorated a blue hooded sweatshirt with T-shirt paint. She sewed the pants and my husband made a giant shepherd’s hook from dowel rods, screws, some sort of plaster mache, and paint. It was HUGE. Great for pictures, but Daddy totally had to carry it around for trick-or-treating.
King Max from Where the Wild Things Are, was Mommy’s idea. I went to Pinterest for references and found such cute pictures. My mom sewed the costume, but it ended up being pretty big on our little man. The material was not environmentally friendly, and by that I mean that the leaves he stood in for his pictures stuck with him forever after. I made his crown from poster board and gold spray paint and used a feather boa for the trim and his tail. The whiskers were pipe cleaners and they were super cute until he discovered them and twisted them all up! Daddy made the scepter from wood pieces and gold spray.
Welcome our little G (I call him Roo). Baby’s first Halloween: A Minion from the movie Despicable Me (long before the Minion movie). This one was pretty easy. Yellow shirt, blue overalls, and a crocheted (Knitted? I’ll admit, I don’t know the difference.) minion hat that I ordered from an Etsy store. Regretfully, I don’t remember which one, and it’s a shame, too, because the woman was very friendly and prompt with the delivery, pretty impressive considering the hat was made to order!
- Smurfette, A Fireman, and William Wallace
Again, B chose her own costume. Another tulle skirt, a blue shirt, a white tube top, white shoes, and some cloud-looking tights. I had ordered a Sumrfette costume in a last-minute panic, thinking the costume wasn’t going to work and it was completely see-through and a horrible quality. At least the hat was usable. We finished it off with blue paint.
GJ wore a fireman’s costume he’d received for his birthday, and thanks to some Pinterest searching, my husband painted this awesome firetruck for him to wear! Sometimes all you need is a great accessory!
Daddy chose Roo’s costume: William Wallace from Braveheart. I’m sure he was just looking for an excuse to put him in a tiny kilt. We bought plaid material for the kilt and put him in brown shirts. He borrowed one of Daddy’s sporrans and brandished a plastic great sword. Of course, he wore the signature woad paint.
- La Muerte, Jack Frost, Dog, and Leonardo
If you haven’t seen The Book of Life, you should. B chose to be the character La Muerte from this movie based around the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. The dress was not hard for my mom to make. The paper marigolds took a bit of time, but were beautiful finished products. I found a tutorial for them online. The hat took FOR-E-VER. My mother attached the hanging skull beads (which I found as a bracelet at Hot Topic) by hand. I then constructed an elaborate paper marigold top for the hat which consisted of pipe cleaner latticework, hot glue, and a slew of cuss words. The candles were made from pipe cleaners and the feather we bought at a craft store. It’s not completely accurate, but it was as true to the character as I was able to make it. A few days of practice with face paint and a black wig and she was set. I mean, just look at that sass!
GJ decided on Jack Frost, which made it easy for me. By this time, the costume had been played in so much that the pants my mother had made were torn. Substitute regular brown pants. My husband made a new shepherd’s hook that was smaller and lighter (and he still ended up carrying it around all night!).
Little Roo transformed into the character Dog from the play “Wiley and the Hairy Man.” During college, my oh-so-talented sister designed costumes for this play, and I modeled his costume after her original costume design. My mother sewed it with patchwork spots and ears and tail held on with antique wooden buttons that belonged to my great grandmother. You probably won’t find any photos of this one online, but patchwork and button puppy dogs are totally a costume that more people should dress their little ones in!
Introducing Fuzz, the youngest of our brood. I got the idea to make him a turtle from a Pinterest picture and my husband immediately took it to the next level by jumping on Amazon and ordering him TMNT footed pajamas. I made the shell from paper mache, formed around a mixing bowl, and my husband painted it. We attached a blue ribbon to tie it around him, et voila, Leonardo! He was not a happy baby (at least not until Daddy held him for a bit.).
- Wednesday Addams, Catboy, Gecko, and The Little Prince
You can’t have October without the Addams family, and B was captivated by Wednesday. Momma sewed the dress from a very simple pattern. The wig we bought at Halloween Spirit shop, which carried everything you can imagine for Halloween…for a price…a very steep price. My kids call it “the spooky tent,” and my husband and I cringe every year going into it. While it was nice to have the perfect wig for B, we ran into what I’m sure many a parent entering for a gander does: “Mommy, I want THAT! Daddy I want THAT!” This is how we ended up with Catboy and Gecko from Disney Jr.’s “PJ Masks.”
Not only did we not want to say no when the boys’ eyes lit up over the excitement of finding these costumes, but when we were asked that impending question: “Can we get it, please?!?!” our eyes connected and I think we both had that telepathic moment where we weighed the pros and cons of not only fighting with them if we left empty-handed, but also of having to come up with ideas for two more costumes and then make said costumes. In the end, we agreed that the sky would not fall if they were among the dozens of other Catboys and Geckos running around on Halloween night. Here are pictures of them, because they’re just too cute not to post!
And last, but not least, Little Fuzz as The Little Prince from the movie of the same name. Now, I’ve known about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s book for a very long time, but I had never read it until after my kids stumbled upon the movie on Netflix. It’s based around the children’s book and our family absolutely LOVES it. The little jumpsuit was made from a pattern by my mom and the scarf was from leftover material from an older costume, and of course, Fuzz had to pick at the strings and fray it. He’s still cute as can be with his little stuffed fox from Target.
That’s it for now! In a year or so I may have a few more to add in a new post, but I think you’ll be able to get a few new Halloween costume ideas to hold you over until then! If not, browse magazines and Pinterest, watch movies and TV shows, go see plays, read books, and just keep your eyes open when you’re out and about. Inspiration can strike anywhere! And if all else fails, hit up the Halloween section of your favorite store and let your kiddo go wild!
Please share some of your favorite costumes with me. I’d love to see them!