Inexpensive and Easy Homemade Costume Ideas

My mother always made our Halloween costumes when I was a kid, and when I had kids of my own the store-bought costumes just never looked right to me. Sure, you can buy a cheap costume at that discount store, but if you want a unique and really nice costume, you either have to spend a lot of money or make it yourself.

Halloween Kids

You do not have to be an expert seamstress to make a costume – you don’t even have to be able to sew at all! (If you can sew a little, it does help. The expectations for quality are much lower for a costume than for everyday clothing because everyone knows it is just for fun.) Many costumes don't require any sewing, though - creativity and thinking outside the box are much more important here.

• Dress up clothes can be the start of some great homemade costume ideas. Does your daughter have an old formal dress that she likes to dress up in? Princess! What about some baggy pants and a too-big shirt? Say ‘hello’ to a Hobo or Clown costume! Use your imagination – it’s fun!

• Purchase gently used costumes from a thrift store, consignment shop, or garage sale. Because children typically only wear their costume once or twice, most costumes are still in good shape for the next year.

Use clothing that your child already has as the basis for your homemade costume ideas (or purchase clothes that they can wear as regular clothes when the costume is no longer needed).

A black sweater and leggings becomes a cat costume with the addition of a tail, ears, fuzzy black gloves and whiskers drawn on with eye liner.
Or add cardboard wings to make a butterfly or a bat.

A blue dress shirt and pants can be transformed into a Policeman with the addition of an inexpensive costume hat and badge. Costume accessories are far less expensive than the whole costume.(Find these at party stores in the favors section.)

More Homemade Costume Ideas:

  • Gypsy: head scarf; long skirt; vest, shawl, or other clothing layers; lots of makeup; strappy sandals or bare feet; lots of jewelry – necklaces, bangle bracelets, etc.
  • Policeman or other uniformed person: solid dark-colored button-down shirt and pants of the same color; badge (from toy or party store); belt with attached pouches, gun holster, handcuffs, etc.
  • Bum: mismatched and/or torn clothing; painted on beard (stubble); stocking cap; props - garbage bag, toy shopping cart full of ‘junk’, or “will work for food” sign.
  • Pirate: t-shirt (ragged and holey is a plus); baggy (wide) sweat pants with a scarf sash-belt; vest; temporary tattoos; bandana on head; eye patch; plastic sword or knife.
  • Career girl: high heeled shoes; short black (or other dark color) skirt; button-down blouse or shirt; glasses (party store or grandma’s reading glasses); “briefcase”; hair up in bun or pony tail.
  • Witch: dark dress or skirt; messy hair or wig; black or dark purple lipstick and/or nail polish; black boots; torn tights in black, outrageous stripes, or a bright color; broom or black cat prop.
  • Princess: oversized party dress (thrift store or kids dress up supplies); curled hair or ‘up-do’; tiara (party store or make one from cardboard covered with foil or painted with silver paint); pink blush and lipstick; sparkly jewelry; party shoes.
  • Skeleton: solid color sweatshirt and pants; use glow-in-the-dark tape or paint to create bones
  • Bunch of grapes: Blow up a 15 or 20 purple balloons and sew or staple them to a vest so that they hang like a bunch of grapes. Add some green curling ribbon to the top so that it hangs down in curls like grape vine. Wear the vest over a fitted long-sleeved shirt of purple or green. 
  • Jack-in-the-Box: Paint a box with bright colors, and a crank. Cut hopes for legs and arms to stick out; clown makeup.
  • Mummy: Tear an old white sheet into strips, dye it in tea to age it and hot glue it to old sweat pants, shirt, and old shoes; ski mask. (Put newspaper or paper bags inside the clothing when gluing so that the back and front do not stick together.)
  • Pot of Spaghetti: Cut a hole in a large plastic tub so that the child can step into it and hold it around his/her waist (or attach straps to go over the shoulders); Use ivory colored yarn for spaghetti and brown balls (rubber or yarn) for meatballs. Arrange them messily around the child's head and torso over a light colored shirt. Red and white checked pants (pajama pants?) would be a nice touch if you have them! (like a table cloth)
Bunny Costume
  • Bat: Use an old black umbrella to make wings and dress in black.
  • Chicken - use yellow rubber gloves as feet, white feather boa for feathers, white cap with red felt comb.
  • Shark: Sew or glue white felt triangle 'teeth' around the edge of a black or dark gray hoodie; Put a larger black felt triangle at the top of the head as a fin.
  • Jellyfish: Use a clear bubble-type umbrella and hang 8 strips of bubble wrap (with large bubbles and cut between the bubbles) from it as tentacles. Wear white clothing. 
  • Lobster: Attach two ping pong balls to the ends of red pipe cleaner and put a black spot (about 1/2-inch in diameter) on each one with a black permanent marker. Attach the other end of the pipe cleaners to a red cap.

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