Yes, store-bought costumes make life easier, but they can be awfully pricey for something they'll wear once. Plus, you run the risk of being the 10th Disney princess to knock on the neighbor's door. But don't stress: You can make a one-of-a-kind costume with a little prep time and a few supplies. The proof is in the costume photos our cool mommy readers sent in; revel in the cuteness and then find out how you can whip them up at home.
Crafty mama: Gayle from Bellmore, New York, mom to Jared
Time to make: Five days, a few hours each day
Stuff you have: Ruler, scissors, glue gun, one mini pretzel, scissors, glue, long-sleeved black shirt and pants
Stuff you need: Black pillowcase, red paint pen, colored felt in orange, blue, green, red, purple, pink, and white, mini googly eyes, yellow plastic hat, yellow poster board, 2 large googly eyes
How to make it: Hold up the pillowcase to your child to figure out where to cut the arm and neck holes, and snip away. Use a pencil and ruler to sketch a maze and color it in with a red paint pen (Gayle used two coats).
Cut out quarter-sized circles from white felt and Pac-Man ghosts out of your colored felt. Use a hot glue gun to attach the mini googly eyes to the ghosts and then glue them, the dots, and the mini pretzel to the maze.
To make the hat: Cut out two Pac-Man faces from yellow poster board and glue googly eyes to each face with regular glue. Attach the faces to the front and the back of the hat with glue. Dress your child in black shirt and pants and you're set.
Lightbulb moment: "I wanted to make him a costume that he'd be comfortable in at school so that's why I used a pillowcase. He wore regular clothes underneath, and could just put on and take off the pillowcase during the day."
Crafty mama: Jennifer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, mom to twins Charlie and Henry
Time to make: An afternoon
Stuff you have: Cardboard box, various electrical items from the junk drawer, foil, glue, duct tape
Stuff you need: Dryer venting, silver paint, gray turtleneck, gray sweatpants, gray shoes, gray gloves, construction worker hat
How to make it: Cut head and arm holes in a cardboard box. Paint the box silver and glue or duct-tape random electrical items onto the front and back. Create the arms by attaching dryer venting to the arm holes with duct tape inside so it doesn't show. Cover the construction worker hat with aluminum foil. A gray turtleneck, gray sweatpants, gray shoes, and gray gloves complete the look.
Lightbulb moment: "The inspiration for the costume came from our twins, who loved the idea of being robots. Actually, Charlie loved the costume so much he wore it two years in a row. It was so much easier than I thought to make their costumes."
Crafty mama: Karen from Manakin Sabot, Virginia, mom to Jack
Time to make: Two hours
Stuff you have: Needle and thread, straight pins
Stuff you need: Off-white long-john set, white sheet, green and gold spray paint, green makeup
How to make it: Tear the sheet into strips. Cut the strips to fit across the front of the shirt, leaving a little slack so your child can easily get in and out. Starting at the top, sew the strips across each shoulder and add strips below so they overlap in layers. Do the same for the back of the shirt and the pants. Tip: Karen wrapped the legs of the pants while Jack was wearing them so she knew he could get in and out. She pinned the strips in place and carefully took them off to sew.
Spray green and gold spray paint on the under sides of the strips to create an eerie glow. Once in the costume, tie extra strips of fabric to your child's arms so they hang off and include one around his head for headband. Green makeup under the eyes finishes off the mummy look.
Lightbulb moment: "Jack really wanted to be a mummy 'because it was scary.' It easy to wear and easy to make -- you can't ruin it, since rips and tears only make it look better!"
Crafty mama: Kimberly from Mesa, Arizona, mom to Jacob
Time to make: Five hours total (including crochet time)
Stuff you have: Old white pillowcase, needle and thread, scissors
Stuff you need: Black zip-up hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, black yarn, gray fuzzy yarn or boa, Styrofoam balls for eyes
How to make it: Cut the pants into strips as long as the sweatshirt arms and sew the sides together to create spider "arms." Stuff with fiber stuffing. Stitch one end of each of the arms to the sides of the sweatshirt and connect to each other at the cuffs with about 4 inches of yarn (this will make it so the arms lift together when your child raises his arms).
Cut out hand shapes from an old white pillowcase and sew together to make the hands. Stuff with fiber stuffing. Shortcut tip: White gloves can be used for this as well.
To get the fuzzy spider look, cut small holes randomly in the front and hood of the sweatshirt and crochet black and gray fur yarn all over. Alternatively, a furry gray boa can be cut to the size of the sweatshirt and hood and stitched into place.
Hot-glue the Styrofoam balls to the hood and draw pupils with black permanent marker.
Lightbulb moment: "I asked my older son, Isaac, what he wanted to be for Halloween and he said 'a big scary spider.' I asked what his little brother should be and holding up his thumb and forefinger he said, 'Jacob can be a tiny spider,' which made me laugh."
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Crafty mama: Lori from East Windsor, New Jersey, mom to Max
Time to make: One hour
Stuff you have: Needle and thread, an empty milk jug, toilet paper
Stuff you need: Enough light brown felt to make the front and back of the cookie, dark brown felt for the chocolate chips, fabric glue
How to make it: Have your child lie down on the felt and draw a circle around him to make the cookie shape. The top of the cookie should cover his shoulders and the bottom should hit above the knees. Cut out two circles of this size, and glue one side together, leaving holes for an arm and a leg. Leave the other side open so your kid can get into the costume. Cut out smaller circles from the dark brown to make the "chips" and attach to the light brown felt with fabric glue.
When you're ready to outfit your kid, carefully slide the cookie on and glue the remaining side together (clothesline clips will help secure them while it dries).
Lightbulb moment: "Max just had it in his mind that he wanted a cookie costume for Halloween. It's his favorite dessert -- he even wanted cookies for his birthday instead of a cake."
Crafty mama: Gayle from Bellmore, New York, mom to Jared
Time to make: A few hours over two days
Stuff you have: Scissors, cardboard, heavyweight orange construction paper, tape
Stuff you need: Orange pillowcase, black fabric paint and paintbrush, black paint pen, orange shirt and pants
How to make it: Hold up the pillowcase to your child to figure out where to cut the arm and neck holes, and cut using scissors. Using a Crayola crayon as your guide, sketch out the wrapper design in pencil on the front of the pillow. Place a piece of cardboard inside the pillowcase to prevent bleeding, and retrace your pencil marks in black paint pen, then fill in with black fabric paint
To make the hat, roll construction paper into a cone and tape it closed. Dress your child in orange and that's it!
Lightbulb moment: "Even though I drew the Crayola logo by hand, it wouldn't be that tough to print the logo off the Internet and fashion some kind of template you could trace. Don't strive for perfection -- just have fun with it and use it as an excuse to flex your creativity!"
Crafty mama: Alison from Phoenix, Arizona, mom to Dylan
Time to make: Ninety minutes
Stuff you have: Chalk, scissors
Stuff you need: Large piece of green felt, squares of felt in various colors, craft glue, party hat, glittery pom-poms, silver tinsel, green long-sleeved T-shirt, brown sweat pants, ribbon
How to make it: Fold felt in half. Hold it up to your child to figure out how long it needs to be to cover his front and back down to his ankles, and how wide it needs to be to cover his arms and shoulders, and trim. Cut a half circle out of the crease in the folded felt to make the head hole. Place the folded felt on a flat surface and use chalk to sketch a branch pattern going down the sides and across the bottom. Cut along the pattern.
Cut out several circles of colored felt for the ornaments and glue them to the tree using craft glue. Decorate the tree with strips of tinsel (stitching them in place), pom-poms, and any other festive decorations. Repeat on the back.
Attach a few pieces of ribbon on the sides of the costume, front and back, so they can be tied together to keep the costume in place.
To make the tree top and star, wrap a party hat with green felt and glue it to the hat. Make a double-sided yellow felt star and glue it to the top of the hat.
Lightbulb moment: "Last August, my older son asked Dylan what he wanted to be for Halloween and Dylan immediately answered 'A Kwih-Muh-Twee!!!' I looked for costumes online and on eBay, but there were no costumes for 2-year-olds, so I made my own!"
Crafty mama: Fan from Brooklyn, New York, mom to Kai
Time to make: Approximately 1 hour
Stuff you have: Needle and thread
Stuff you need: Blue romper, red felt, yellow felt, letter "S" (or simply cut one from the red felt), red cloth diaper, red mittens
How to make it: Cut out a shield shape from the yellow felt and stitch or glue the "S" to the center. Stitch or glue the shield onto the front of the playsuit.
Cut out a square red felt cape and stitch the corners to the shoulders of the playsuit.
Put the cloth diaper on top of the playsuit (this version is by FuzziBunz) and place the red mittens over your child's feet for boots. For older kids, red shoes will work, too.
Lightbulb moment: "This is totally the lazy version of a crafty mom costume -- I bought a blue sleeper, borrowed the red cloth diaper, did a little stitching, put red mittens on his feet, and was done."
Crafty mama: Kathy from Brooklyn, New York, mom to Chloe
Time to make: One hour for the costume, 30 minutes for the hair
Stuff you have: Mismatched knee socks, an old dress in a solid color, a stuffed monkey, a wool scarf, a wire hanger, needle and thread, and clog-like shoes
Stuff you need: Fabric scraps
How to make it: Cut squares out of the fabric scraps, and sew onto to the old dress so it resembles patchwork.
Open up a wire hanger and bend it so there's a semicircle "headband" in the middle and sticks out straight on either side. Put it on your daughter's head and secure with bobby pins. Then braid hair around the wires so it sticks straight out.
Accessorize with mismatched knee socks, stuffed monkey, wool scarf, and clogs.
Lightbulb moment: "We wanted straight-out pigtails that would look authentic without being uncomfortable. Once we got them in place, the best part about the costume was watching Chloe navigate the busy Brooklyn streets, turning sideways to let people pass, because her hair was so wide."
Wizard of Oz Family
Crafty mama: Adriana from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, mom to Emily and Palmer
Time to make: Eight hours
Stuff you have: Needle and thread. Dorothy: Blue gingham and white fabric, dress pattern, white socks or tights, basket, stuffed dog. Scarecrow: Needle and thread, glue gun, rope, brown eyeliner pencil.
Stuff you need: Dorothy: Costume pattern, red shoes (sparkly if you can find them), wig. Lion: store-bought (or garage sale) costume. Scarecrow: Craft straw, brown pants, green turtleneck, brown and green felt, child size witch's hat. Tin Man: Iridescent fabric, Christmas rope, old funnel, silver electrical tape, store-bought plastic axe.
How to make it:
Dorothy: Adriana made the dress and apron using a store-bought costume pattern, but you could also buy a Dorothy dress, or layer a blue dress under a white apron. Dress your child in white socks or tights and red shoes, add a basket, and place a stuffed Toto inside. Braid hair or use a store-bought wig to complete the outfit.
Lion: Adriana found this one at a garage sale.
Scarecrow: Sew craft straw to the sleeves of the green turtleneck and the cuffs of the pants. Cut patches out of the felt, hot-glue straw to the back, and sew or glue onto the shirt and pants. Use rope to tie the cuffs of the shirt and pants and as a belt. Make the hat by using a child-size witch's hat that ties under the chin (Adriana used Emily's hat from the year before) and put brown eyeliner on your nose.
Tin Man: Cut a neck hole in the iridescent fabric, drape it over the body, and tie it at the waist with silver Christmas rope. Cover a cheap funnel with silver electrical tape for the hat and use a plastic axe for a prop.
Lightbulb moment: "We had recently moved to Pennsylvania from Kansas and wanted to show our Kansas pride so we dressed up as the Oz family."
Crafty mama: Alicia from Germany, mom to Nathan
Time to make: One hour
Stuff you have: Popeye: Black shirt, black eyeliner pencil.
Stuff you need: Sweet Pea: Red broadcloth, stick-on Velcro, white hat, red shirt. Popeye: White sailor hat, scraps of yellow, red, and black fabric, pipe. Olive Oyl: Long black skirt, red shirt, scraps of white and red fabric, red ribbon.
How to make it:
Sweet Pea: Trace a sleep sack on the red broadcloth and cut the bottom to a point. Sew up the sides and leave the tops of the shoulders open. Add Velcro at the open tops so you can slip on the sack and secure easily. Dress your child in a red shirt or onesie and a white hat.
Popeye: Cut out panels from red fabric and sew or glue on some black stripes. Sew or glue the panels to the neckline. Cut out 3 large yellow circles for buttons and sew or glue to the front of the shirt. Draw on a tattoo with black eyeliner. Accessorize with a sailor hat and a pipe.
Olive Oyl: Sew a red stripe around the base of a black skirt using a zigzag setting on the sewing machine. Cut out a white "collar" and sew or glue it on a red shirt. Use red ribbon to tie back your hair.
Lightbulb moment: "We needed a 'family' costume that would work with my husband's bald head and rough 'n' tough look (he's in the military). Who better for him to be than Popeye?"
Crafty mama: Sheriece from Cordova, Tennessee, mom to Pearson
Time to make: One hour
Stuff you have: Cotton balls to stuff the tail, black eyeliner pencil, needle and thread
Stuff you need: White bodysuit (Sheriece found this one online), white cap, tan and brown felt, brown face paint, fabric glue
How to make it: Cut out spots and long ears from felt and use fabric glue to attach them to the bodysuit and the sides of the white cap. Cut out two pieces of felt in the shape of a tail, stitch them together and turn inside out. Fill with cotton balls and attach to the bodysuit with fabric glue. Use black eyeliner for the nose and whiskers, and the brown for that we-can't-resist spot around the eye.
Lightbulb moment: "Pearson was about 20 months, and really loved animals and making animal sounds. At the time, all dogs were puppies, and puppies' sounds were among his favorite sounds to make."
Crafty mama: Dina from Georgetown, Texas; mom to Hunter Reid
Time to make: Forty-five minutes
Stuff you have: Dark eye pencil
Stuff you need: White jumpsuit (Dina found this velvet one on eBay, or just make a big V cut in the front of a plain white velvet romper), white foam, gold glitter T-shirt paint, black spray hair color, yellow scarf for belt
How to make it: Cut out a collar from white foam and glue it onto the material on the jumpsuit so it stands up straight (if you're using a romper, you can skip this step). Use gold glitter T-shirt paint to add dots and lines. You can also include "Elvis" on the sleeves and "The King" on the back like Dina did. Apply spray-on hair color, and draw on lamb chop-style sideburns with eye pencil. Wrap the yellow scarf around the waist -- and mini-Elvis has entered the building.
Lightbulb moment: "I wanted a costume that would stand out from the rest. I added the extra touches to make it original and to add to the plain costume. It needed more spunk and a huge collar with lots of glitter. I thought that the sideburns and the dark hair would complete the costume."
Bubble Bath Baby
Crafty mama: Brooke from Carteret, New Jersey; mom to Tess
Approximate time to make: A week to gather the materials and roughly eight hours to assemble
Stuff you have: Wagon, bath accessories, shower cap, rubber bands, glue gun
Stuff you need: White spray paint, several yards of iridescent fabric, a few bags of cotton batting, a plastic rod with hook for the showerhead (Brooke found this one at a party store), foam board, tinsel. Tess wore a flesh-colored set of thermal pajamas to go outside.
How to make it: Spray-paint a wagon white and let it dry. Divide the cotton batting into different size chunks and wrap with the iridescent fabric. Secure the ends with rubber bands and attach each "bubble" to the wagon with a glue gun, taking care to hide the rubber bands. The "shower" is made by attaching the rod to one end of the wagon with tape, cutting out and attaching a foam "showerhead," and gluing tinsel to the end to make "water." (Bonus: Easiest trick-or-treat ever! Just pull your kid around the neighborhood in the wagon.)
Lightbulb moment: "Tess, 10 months, loves to take bubble baths -- so we thought that we would let her have one for a whole day!"
Crafty mama: Cherie from Moorpark, California; mom to Phoenix
Approximate time to make: About two hours
Stuff you have: White button-up shirt, red socks, brown lace-up shoes, golf club
Stuff you need: Argyle sweater vest (Cherie found this one at Marshalls), cap, tan knickers (these are from Old Navy), blue and yellow fabric paint, small round paintbrush
How to make it: The red socks were painted with an argyle pattern of solid blue diamonds and yellow crisscrossing stripes (mom cheat: just buy argyle socks). Once painted, the socks were set out overnight to dry. Add the rest of the outfit plus cap, and you've got your own little Tiger.
Lightbulb moment: "My husband is a golfer and was inspired to make this costume while watching an old program with Payne Stewart who always wore knickers. We decided it would be great for our son, especially because he's had a golf club in his hands since he was 11 months old. He loves to golf (or at least swing and hit the ball)."
Crafty mama: Shelley from Brownsburg, Indiana; mom to Mason
Time to make: One hour
Stuff you have: Black long-sleeved shirt, white short-sleeved tee, old black pants cut up and frayed at the bottom
Stuff you need: Red and black skull bandannas, plastic sword
How to make it: Pair pants with black and white shirts. Tie one skull bandanna around the waist and one on the head. Add the plastic sword for a swashbuckling touch. You can also add an eye patch or gold clip-on earring to take this costume to the next level -- if your child will keep them on.
Lightbulb moment: "I thought [a pirate] would be a cheap costume to put together and I couldn't justify spending $30+ on an outfit from a store. I had the treasure chest already and I picked up some netting, a sword, and gold coins from a party store [to create the setting for the photo]."
Thomas the Tank Engine
Crafty mama: Donna from Valley Stream, New York; mom to Thomas
Time to make: Approx eight hours, spread out over three nights
Stuff you have: Cardboard boxes, empty paper towel tubes, oatmeal container, paint brushes, clip suspenders (or ribbon), paper plates, masking tape
Stuff you need: Blue, red, and yellow paint, oak tag
How to make it: Cut the flaps off the bottom of the box. Cut halfway through the flap on the top of box, and use the remaining part of the flap to create the back of the train, using the photo as a guide. Toilet paper tubes can be used to make the whistles, and an oatmeal container stuffed with newspaper can make the blue dome. Use paper plates and/or oak tag (a hard card stock that's easier to cut than cardboard) for wheels and face. Paint, and attach ribbon or suspenders (clip them to the front and back) so that the costume will sit on your child's shoulders. Place weights behind face to keep the costume from riding up (Donna used a bag of change). Dress your child in overalls underneath, and add a engineer cap if you own one -- perfect for your little Thomas fanatic.
Lightbulb moment: "My son's name is Thomas and he loves Thomas the Tank Engine. It really wasn't that hard to make -- just took some imagination and looking at his trains a lot! He loved being his favorite train so much that after Halloween he kept wearing it around the house and asked us to save it for next time -- once we got it off him long enough to pack it away."
Crafty mama: Sheriece from Cordova, Tennessee, mom to Addison
Time to make: Ninety minutes
Stuff you have: Black turtleneck, black pants, black shoes
Stuff you need: Black boa (Sheriece found a cheap one at the fabric store), black hat, black felt, fabric glue
How to make it: Cut the boa into five lengths: two to go around the ankles of the pants, two around the wrists, and one more to go around the neck of the turtleneck. Glue the boa pieces in place with fabric glue. Cut out ear shapes from the felt. Glue them to the hat and add a few feathers inside each ear, keeping them in place with glue. Glue felt tail to the back of the pants.
Lightbulb moment: "This costume really just fit Addison's personality. She didn't seem like a delicate princess or butterfly to us. A mischievous black cat fit the bill."
Little Bo Peep
Crafty mama: Ginny from Moore, Oklahoma; mom to Ellarie
Time to make: One week
Stuff you have: Dress shoes, dress socks
Stuff you need: Pattern for the dress (McCall's M5153), bonnet (Butterick B4820), pink and blue fabric, (yes, this mom actually sewed this, but you could also reuse last year's puffy-sleeved Easter dress and bonnet, paired with a white lacy apron), staff (this one was a Christmas cane decoration wrapped in white electrical tape), crinoline slip, and ribbon
How to make it: Follow the instructions on the dress and bonnet patterns. Once the dress and bonnet are on, add the crinoline slip underneath to make the skirt poufy. Add dress shoes and socks. Wrap the cane in white electrical tape and tie a ribbon on it. Then put out an APB on those sheep.
Lightbulb moment: "I saw the costume a few years ago and thought it would be sweet for my 2-year-old to be Little Bo Peep, and my 6-month-old [not pictured] to be the sheep."
Curious George & The Man in the Yellow Hat
Crafty mama: Erin from Newnan, Georgia; mom to Will and Caroline
Time to make: Two hours for both
Stuff you have: Caroline's costume: Brown turtleneck and brown stockings with a yellow oversized T-shirt; Will's costume: Old tie, old hat, old shirt, and pants
Stuff you need: Red iron-on letters, yellow spray paint, paint, and RIT dye (Erin used dye to make the turtleneck and tights brown and make the T-shirts and pants yellow)
How to make it: Iron on the red letters to the yellow tee so it reads "Curious George." Spray-paint an old hat yellow and paint brown dots on a yellow tie. If you don't have yellow shirts and pants already, dye shirts and pants with RIT dye as Erin did.
Lightbulb moment: "My son was a huge fan of the movie Curious George this year. Since they are both still young enough to not mind dressing as a pair I hopped on this theme!"
Crafty mama: Juliauna from Inkster, Michigan; mom to Jay Cory Jr.
Time to make: One hour
Stuff you have: Sewing kit, white outfit to wear under the wrap, safety pins
Stuff you need: Animal-print fabric (Juliauna recommends 1/2 yard for a 12- to 24-month old), 10-inch-long piece of faux fur fabric for the strap, high-density foam for the bone, button or snap, small bat [not pictured]
How to make it: Cut the bone shape out of a piece of high-density foam using scissors -- it's actually very easy to cut. Cut a wavy edge on the bottom half of the strip of animal print fabric and wrap it around your child's waist. You can attach a button or snap to secure the wrap in place, or simply pin it to the white outfit. Cut a slit in the faux fur fabric, insert the bone halfway through, and pin. Drape the fur diagonally across your child's chest and secure it to the wrap with safety pins or a few stitches.
Lightbulb moment: "I was inspired when my son picked up a small baby bat and started swinging it around."
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Kids' Favorite Halloween Costumes