Scaring up imaginative, original Halloween costumes for your little spooks doesn’t have to be a frightening prospect. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to tap into your creativity, spend time with your kids and save money, too.
Thinking “out of the box” makes getting ready for trick-or-treating as much fun as Halloween night itself, says Michele Beschen, host of B. Original, a new daily craft show on the DIY television network. Recalling her own days of trick-or-treating while growing up in Savanna, Ill. (pop. 3,542), Beschen says making new costumes each year was a family affair.
“They were all handmade; none of them were out of the box from the store,” Beschen says. “It was just fun to come up with different ways to put makeup on your face and put grownup clothes and accessories together. Everything was pulled from what we had around the house.”
Beschen believes everyone has a creative side and that Halloween is a great time to express it. For fresh, playful and unpredictable results, the how-to hipster advises families to get the kids involved. This year, for instance, her 4-year-old daughter, Madeline, has been rummaging through a box of dress-up clothes to offer input on her Halloween outfit. “When kids are a part of the process, and they’ve helped make the costume, they’re usually more prone to wear it,” she says.
For “out of the box” Halloween costumes, Beschen offers these five tips:
- Organize a costume swap, asking friends and family to bring along costumes and accessories that their kids have outgrown or grown tired of. Let everyone come up with personal variations.
- Give an old costume a new look, or customize a purchased costume. Combine different elements from various costumes, creating your own version of a superhero or princess.
- Think in multiples. Assemble a group costume, such as a six-pack of soft drinks, tools for a workbench or individual books for a library. Older kids particularly enjoy coordinating and trick-or-treating as a pack.
- Visit a thrift store. These shops can be a gold mine—and economical—when putting together a costume. Turn old prom dresses and evening wear into one-of-a-kind princess and fairy costumes. Flannel nightgowns and flannel shirts are great for would-be pioneers, cowboys or lumberjacks. Jewelry and accessories make for an easy embellishment.
- Look around your house for endless costume possibilities. Hula hoops can form the base for cans, snakes or worms. Wire hangers can become the frames for wings. A new mop head can serve as a great head of hair. Cardboard boxes are a good starting point for robots, games, cartoon characters or even ice cream treats. Aluminum dryer vents work well for astronaut, robot and tin man costumes.
Leslie Graff of Sutton, Mass. (pop. 8,250), shares Beschen’s enthusiasm for creative costumes, and believes the time and effort invested are well worth it. The mother of two young boys, Graff last year made a shimmering, padded fish costume for 5-year-old Bennett, complete with fins, tail and head. A year later, it’s still a favorite dress-up outfit.
“It’s fun for them to get noticed and feel special,” Graff says. “When you do a great costume, they feel more of that persona when they put it on.”
Shelley Cornia, of Madison, Wis., created a sock monkey costume for her 2-year-old, Beatrix. She cut open several pairs of extra-large socks and sewed them together for the torso, then attached four other socks for arms and legs.
“I wanted the costume to match her personality, and she’s a big jumper and climber,” Cornia says. “She wore her costume when we went to the zoo, and everyone went crazy over it.”