Fun, Fast and Frugal Halloween Costumes

Remember the hobo? That’s a classic grab-whatever-you-can strategy our moms may have used to make a last-minute Halloween costume. Luckily, you don’t have to dress your child as a street urchin anymore to make a fast, easy costume.

How easy? Do you have a big box? Or a bunch of old clothes? Then, you have the makings of a quick costume. Here are some ideas to get you started:

A larger-than-life Lego

Everyone has a big empty box on hand, or knows where they can easily pick one up. Find one that will fit over your child’s torso. Cut off the bottom panel of the box. Measure your child’s head and cut out a circle on the top panel about 2” in from the front edge.

Cut two armholes near the top front corner of each side. Spray paint the box in a color of your child’s choosing. Gather 6 large plastic cups in the same color (or spray paint them). Arrange the cups on the front of the box, to make the “bumps” on a Lego piece. Use a hot-glue gun to adhere each cup. Have your child dress in the same color as the box using sweatpants, a hat and gloves. You can also make a mini Lego piece for your child’s head from a smaller box, worn on top of a baseball or knit cap.

Mini Mummy

Got cheesecloth? If not, you can pick some up at a local discount department store. Six yards of the stuff will set you back less than five bucks. (As an alternative, you can purchase rolls of gauze from the first aid section.) Cut the cheesecloth into strips. Then get to wrappin’.

Dress your mini mummy in a white sweat shirt and sweat pants. Wrap the cheesecloth over your child—do the top and bottom separately—using either fabric glue or big safety pins to adhere the edges. Remember, you’re not going for a perfect mummy—tattered edges and hanging strings add to the overall mummified look. Then wrap your child’s head and neck in cheesecloth strips, being sure to leave his face uncovered, which you can color with white makeup. Add white gloves and white shoes. Oh Daddy, that’s some Mummy!

Night of the Living Dead Zombie

We promise, no hobo–but old clothes do serve a very important function at Halloween. Find some big ol’ pants and a button-down cotton shirt that are ready for the donation pile. Then take a pair of scissors to them. Shred the edges of the hem line and sleeves of the shirt and the legs of the pants. Splatter the frayed clothes with “blood” (i.e., red paint). Voila! A completely zombified wardrobe.

To finish off the look, draw dark circles under the eyes with eye shadow.

Garden Fairy

To get your little fairy fluttering, first head to the dollar store. Just about every one has some items you’ll need for this costume. Pick up several garlands of faux roses, a child-size tutu, a roll of clear packing tape and a watering can. Items you probably have on hand or can purchase at the crafts store are low-temperature glue gun, a couple of yards of 1/8” ribbon in various pastel colors, straight pins, one roll of 19-gauge wire, and ½ yard of sheer white fabric.

To make fairy wings, cut a piece of wire about 52” long. Form into the shape of oval wings, twisting the wire together in the center in a 2 ½ inch section. Cut four pieces of fabric a bit larger than each wing; put one piece of fabric on top and below each wing. Securing first with straight pins, sew the pieces of fabric together along the outer edges of wire. Trim off excess fabric. Make a head wreath using one rose garland. Measure it around your child’s head, snip to size and tie with satin ribbons.

Add extra ribbons around the wreath to. Dress your little nymph in tights and a leotard (colors such as white or pink work well) and the tutu. Drape a garland from atop one shoulder, across the chest and around waist to the back. Attach with a few quick stitches at several points to keep garland in place. Using the hot glue gun, adhere single roses to sleeves, shoulders and ankles. Attach the wings with a piece of clear tape to back of leotard. Finally, wrap a garland around the watering can, or simply adhere a few roses to the top. Fairy pretty!

Pile o’ Laundry

Buy a cheap, lightweight laundry basket (the dollar store, our favorite destination, is sure to have them). Cut out the bottom. Have your child dress in old clothes and step into the basket. Tie pieces of clothesline to the front and back of basket and use as suspenders, keeping the basket about waist-high. Fill the basket with lightweight clothes, underwear, pillowcases and pieces of fabric. Don’t put in too many clothes or heavy items such as jeans—the basket will get way too heavy. Using clothespins, attach a sock or two to the clothes line. Place an empty laundry detergent bottle or box and a few dryer sheets on top of the “dirty laundry.”

There’s no need to spend a small fortune on a Halloween costume. With a few items you were about to toss or give away and a little ingenuity, you can make your little trick-or-treater feel like he’s wearing the most expensive costume. After all, the costume is just one part of the excitement of Halloween, and it’s really a means to an end—the candy!

Guest contributor Myra runs a delightful site dedicated to hot costumes for Halloween. Pay her a visit if you dare!

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