One-of-a-Kind Costume Creations

Create Costumes with Lots of Imagination and Little Money

It's that time of the year again! What will our little dreamers will want to be this Halloween!


If your child wants to be robot or NASCAR driver, or a dinosaur or a dalmation, you might have a hard time finding a ready-made costume at the store. Your youngster's imagination may well exceed the limits of Halloween costume suppliers' and/or your budget. Never mind. You can poke around the house for "found materials" and buy a few supplies. Then, with your trick-or-treater, create a one-of-a-kind costume with just a little bit of time and even less money.

Scroll down for a list of materials you can collect, or jump right to ideas and instructions for a dozen do-it-yourself costumes.

g>Cheap yarn — Cut and glued to the inside of shower caps and old hats it becomes hair for clowns and scarecrows. Tails can be fashioned from long lengths tied at the end and pinned to the back of a costume. (Use a diaper pin!).

g>Six-pack holders — Taped together, they can be used as chain mail or netting.

g>Old sheets — Dyed or decorated with markers, glitter and rickrack, they can be used for everything from capes and saris to the draping for the body of a three-child "horse."

g>Coffee cans — With ends opened and rough edges smoothed, they can be sprayed silver and connected to make a Tin Man costume. Don't forget the easy part: A funnel for a hat!

g>Plastic milk containers — Cut in half horizontally, they can be made into hats and helmets covered with foil and paper.

g>Paper bags — Toddlers usually need less elaborate costumes than older kids. Colored and decorated, a paper bag can be the basis of a quick and easy costume for your 2-year-old. Large bags with holes cut for arms can be worn tunic-style and decorated as robots or animals; smaller bags can be fashioned into hats and decorated as masks.

Metal coat hangers — These can be twisted and shaped as the foundation for ears, tails, horns and odd body shapes.

Feathers — Kids love to collect feathers on walks in the woods or along the beach. Keep them and use them in a Robin Hood hat or to create an Indian headdress.

Cardboard — A day doesn't go by when I'm not cutting something out of cardboard at the insistence one of my kids. It's to the point where I scavenge boxes from sidewalks, just so I have a supply on hand when creative impulses strike. Cardboard transforms into shields, swords and armor; cars, boats and planes "worn" with over-shoulder straps, and whatever else your imagination suggests!

Poster board — Remember this old standby for crowns and medieval princess hats.

Ribbon and fabric remnants — If you don't have a collection of your own, you can take advantage of some of the many great fabric stores and mill outlets in our area. My favorite has bins of remnants for as little as 50 cents a pound.

Dry pasta — Painted and decorated with glitter, then glued to crowns and cloaks, it masquerades as regal jewels.

Old scarves and hats, shirts and skirts — A worn-out skirt separated at a seam will make a cape, a gaudy old scarf can get a second chance as a sarong and oversized shirts and shoes are essential for your little clown. Just dig. You'll be surprised at how an old piece of clothing from your rummage bag will inspire an entire costume!

Basics — Sweat pants and shirts are handy to wear under armor, tunics, robes, capes and the like — particularly if the weather is cool. Leotards and tights are useful for the same purpose. My preference is long underwear, though, since it can be dyed to suit a costume and used again as long underwear after Halloween.

Before you begin, be sure you have the tools you need, such as a skill knife, scissors, glitter, glue (a glue gun, if available), tape, a hole punch, fabric dye and waterproof markers, a needle and thread or a sewing machine. Many disguises will require makeup, too, which is available at theatrical supply shops, novelty shops and variety stores. Many of the larger pharmacies carry Halloween makeup, too. Just be sure it's non-toxic! The sky's the limit in do-it-yourself costuming. If you have to improvise beyond adult standards, don't fret. Kids are less hung up on historical accuracy than we tend to be. The most important thing is to have fun creating with and for your child; and remember, it's just a one-night masquerade.

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