Get Inspired: Homemade Halloween Costume Ideas

Got a tip for a DIY ensemble? Tell us in the comments!

Halloween is less than two weeks away—have you found a costume yet?

No? Well, Patch is here to inspire you.

Borrow one of the costume ideas below, as recommended by Patch editors Becca Manning (me) and Abby Jordan, or use them to kickstart a brainstorm and let the creativity flow. Got some great costume suggestions of your own? Share them in the comments section at the bottom of the article.


Associate Regional Editor Abby Jordan believes the best Halloween costumes are homemade.

"It's fun to make your own costume and can be an affordable option if you stick to items you already have around your house," she said. "Not to mention, you get to put your creative genius (or kids) to work."

Here are her picks for the best homemade Halloween costumes:

  • God's Gift to Men/Women: This can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like. Take a few cardboard boxes and used the material to make a you-sized box. Cut a head and arm holes in it. Then wrap the box in your favorite wrapping paper. Get in. Complete your outfit with a ribbon on your head and a giant gift tag that says: "To: Men, From: God." I won a costume contest with this one in 2006.
  • A Mummy: I was a mummy the year I wanted to put about 10 minutes of time into crafting a costume. All you need? Toilet paper. Do it yourself, or have someone help, by wrapping toilet paper all around you. Then go crazy with face paint or makeup to finish the effect.
  • Go Political: It's a great year to go as Mitt Romney or Barack Obama (maybe even Big Bird?) Just dress up in a suit and tie and carry props such as a binder (for Mitt) or a birth certificate (for The Prez).
  • Thrift Store Threads: Thrift stores are great places to find cheap, fun costume ideas. Think '80s snowsuits, lumberjack flannels or adult onesie pajamas. I even found an Easter bunny costume at a thrift store one time for $9. Major score.
  • Giant Pumpkin: You know those lawn leaf bags in the shape of a pumpkin? They make a great costume. Just cut leg, arm and head holes in the bag, reinforce the holes with tape so they don't rip, and fill with you, plus leaves, tissue paper or newspaper.
  • Jelly Bean Jar: Find a clear garbage bag and make it wearable following the steps in the "Giant Pumpkin" costume above. Blow up a bunch of balloons and stuff the bag. Write "Jelly Beans $.10" with a Sharpie and you're good to go.
  • Find more ideas in this 2011 Moms Talk Halloween column


As for me, every year, I get tons of great Halloween costume ideas—AFTER the holiday. If you're like me and you tend to get a creative block when Halloween nears, here are a few jumping off points:

Celebrate celebrity: Historical figures don't have to be reserved for class book reports. Find a famous face from the past or present and design a costume around that person. Don't they say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Last year, I dressed as Julia Child for Halloween partying (funny, seeing as I'm not known for my skills in the kitchen). I modeled my costume after Child's look on "The French Chef," complete with her ever-important "impeccably clean towel." If you're worried everyone is going to be Lady Gaga, or whomever is the celebrity du jour, think about who was popular 10, 20 or 50 years ago and become them.

Go retro: Whether you're a child of the 60s, 80s or otherwise, chances are you have lots of fond memories of pop culture icons from your youth. Bring them to life! Remember playing Candy Land or Pac Man? Got a favorite Saturday morning cartoon or television commerical from your childhood? Make it into a Halloween costume. I was a huge fan of Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock" as a kid, so a few years ago I decided to put together a Red Fraggle costume. Sure, some people at the party had no idea what I was, but boy was it fun when they figured it out—I got a huge smile and a few minutes of reminiscing with perfect strangers. Also inspired by my childhood: A Jem and the Holograms costume in college (who doesn't love a pink wig?).

Keep it simple: When I struggle with creativity, I try to think simple. What common, everyday items would make fun, easy-to-assemble costumes? One year as a kid, I used an old screen from the backdoor and became a fly swatter (my friend was a Christmas tree—needing not much more than a green shirt, brown pants and a string of lights). Another year, my sister, her husband and I went as utensils—we wore gray clothing and made knife, fork and spoon heads out of cardboard wrapped in tin foil. And in college, a friend and I dressed as salt and pepper—she in a white sweater and me in black, with tin foil hats and the letters "S" and "P" taped to our fronts. Stuck for ideas for that last-minute Halloween party? Take a look around your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom and get inspired.

Share your DIY Halloween costume successes (or even those that didn't quite go over) in the comments section below. 


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