Tempted to run to the store for a pre-fab Halloween get up? Hey — where’s the fun in that? If the last time you used a sewing machine was in elementary school Family Studies, don’t worry. With glue, duct tape, and dollar store staples you can whip up boo-tiful costumes. Gather your gang and follow these steps:
Step 1. Get inspired.
For costume ideas, start with your kids’ interests and obsessions. What are their favourite animals, TV characters, flowers, sports? What do they want to be when they’re all grown up? How about an artist, doctor, construction worker, nurse, movie star, scientist, vet, farmer, astronaut, Spiderman or donut? All have great dress-up potential.
Step 2. Get gear.
Raid your closets, dress-up bin, second-hand stores and a dollar store to piece together your child’s dream costume. Pin, tape, staple or (gasp) hand-sew items together. Add a hat, make-up and a prop or two and you’re done.
Step 3. Get crafty.
Still stuck? Try these classic kid-pleasing costumes:
According to professional birthday party planners, anything pirate is a huge hit with boys.
1. Black, red and brown face paint
2. Eye patch (optional)
3. Large empty plastic yogurt container
4. Small plastic hanger
5. Silver or black duct tape
6. A fake bird (stuffed animal or craft bird from Dollar Store)
7. Basic pirate duds: full length or cut off jeans, an old vest, wide belt, rubber boots, red or black bandana
1. With black facepaint (or a black eyeliner), draw a patch around one eye (or use store-bought eye patch). Draw on a mustache and cheek scar.
2. Tie a bandana on your child’s head and knot at the side.
3. Now to make a Captain Hook style hook. With sharp scissors (adults only) cut a small slit in the middle of the container bottom. Break off the arms of a small plastic hanger. Only the hook with the neck still attached should remain. Thread the hook through the hole in the container so it sticks through. Use duct tape to keep it in place. Wrap silver duct tape around the hook. Cover the yogurt container with black construction paper or tin foil. Then place the inverted container (with the hook sticking out) over your child’s hand.
4. Wear rubber boots, jeans, and an old vest. For outdoors, wear layers under clothes or try a winter weight vest.
5. Staple, pin, or duct tape a bird to your child’s shoulder.
1. Flower lei and plastic flower to pin in hair (both from a Dollar Store)
2. Duct tape Green garbage bags or green felt
3. Dancer duds: bodysuit, long sleeved green shirt and white leotards. (For outside, wear layers under a close fitting sweatsuit instead.)
Make the grass skirt:
1. Cut out two same size pieces of thick duct tape. Tape should be long enough to circle and tie around your child’s waist.
2. Place one piece of duct tape on a table sticky side up.
3. With scissors, cut the garbage bag into long vertical strips (each approximately 2.5 cm or 1 inch) wide.
4. Place strips of garbage bag next to each other all along the duct tape. Leave enough room on each end of the duct tape so you can tie it around your child’s waist.
5. Place the second piece of duct tape over the first (sticky sides together.) Now the tops of the garbage bag strips are secured.
6. Tie around your child’s waist and give the skirt a whirl.
1. Whiteface and several colours of facepaint (depending on what flavour your kids want to be!)
2. 2 large sheets of coloured cardboard poster board (the ones they use for school projects)
3. Markers, stickers, construction paper, glue
4. Clear self-sticking contact (shelf) paper
5. String Donut duds: brown or white sweat suit with matching mittens/gloves and hat
1. Cut each poster board into a large circle. If you like trace around a large garbage can lid.
2. For the donut hole, cut a smaller circle in the middle of each poster board circle.
3. With markers, poster paint, coloured construction paper etc, create chocolate, vanilla or strawberry icing. For sprinkles, add self sticking sequins and stickers.
4. For extra durability, cover the poster board donuts in clear shelf paper.
5. Punch a hole near the top of each donut side.
6. If you like, staple an empty paper coffee cup (a certain well-known coffee chain perhaps) to the front.
7. Thread string or ribbon through the holes.
8. Place the donut sides over your child (dressed in a sweatsuit) so that it’s worn like a sandwich board.
9. Add matching makeup and extra dots of colour on the face (if your kids want sprinkles.)
Smart Cookie: Decorate the poster board like an Oreo or chocolate chip cookie. With marker, write on mathematical equations, a Shakespearean quote and a few physics theorems. Brilliant!
Got an animal lover? With some basic gear you can make an endless variation of creature costumes.
1. A black, brown, pink or white sweatsuit
2. Matching coloured mini stretch gloves (from the dollar store)
3. Black or brown pantyhose
4. Dark fabric scraps
5. Plastic hair band
6. Black, brown or white felt
7. Duct tape
Tall Tails: Cut off a panty hose leg and fill it with cloth scraps or stuffing from the fabric store. Knot it at the end and attach it with a safety pin. For a rabbit, pin on a white nylon bathing puff instead.
Perfect Paws: Cut the fingertips out of a pair of mini stretchy gloves. Paint your child’s fingernails black.
Awesome Ears: Cut triangles (for a cat) or long ovals (for a dog or rabbit) out of felt. With duct tape, attach felt ears to a plastic hair band.
A Bevy of Bellies: Cut a long oval out of felt and tape, safety pin or hand sew it to the front of the sweatshirt. For a dashing dalmation, attach black felt circles to a white sweatshirt. Seeking a skunk instead? Place a long strip of white duct tape down the back of the sweatshirt and along the tail.
Fetching Faces: With facepaint, add a black nose, whiskers, freckles, or a dark circle around one eye.
Yikes — it’s 4 pm and Halloween starts in 1.5 hours. Don’t panic. Try these no prep ideas:
Farmer: Wear overalls, a checkered shirt, boots and a hat. If you have straw, let some dangle out of the hat. Pin a few stuffed animals to the sweatshirt. Or carry them along in a basket or wagon.
With face paint, draw peace signs and flowers on your child’s cheek. Use an old tie, scarf or piece of felt as a headband. Raid your closet for flowing shirts with flowers or psychedelic designs. Or take an emergency run to a used clothing store like Value Village. They have an extensive (and inexpensive) vintage section.Photo by Ella Larose/Flickr
For an easy variation of the picture, wear a green sweatshirt. Duct tape Halloween candy all over the shirt. With facepaint, write the letter “p” on your child’s face. Ha!Photo by chadirish/Flickr
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