Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Home-Made Halloween Costumes for (and with) Kids

Here on the homestead, we've started to put together our Halloween Costumes.

We have one princess, one caveman, and one pirate. The princess has been easy, because we have a dear cousin who has shared some beautiful dress-up dresses with us.

The pirate and the cave-man? They're a different story.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not the most creative or crafty of moms. But I love Halloween, and so do my kids. So this year, I had to pull out the stops and get creative.

Here's how:

First, I had my kids Draw a Picture: They needed to translate their mental image of the costume they wanted into graphic form. I had to be able to see what they wanted.

Then, it was time to Make a List: I asked each of my boys to write out a checklist of items a pirate or a caveman MUST have. As we gathered or made each item, they could check it off the list.

Next, we decided to Gather things On Hand: One son dug an eye patch and pirate coins out of the toy box from a long-forgotten birthday party. The other son turned a brown throw from our living room into a caveman bearskin cape. Outdoors, he found a long stick we could fashion into a caveman spear.

When we didn't have an item, we had to Create it!: I cut craft foam in the shape of a spear tip and attached it to the end of the stick my son found. I cut a circle of felt and wove rawhide through holes at the edge to be my pirate's treasure pouch.

Then we made a pirate sword.

First we traced and cut sword shapes out of cardboard.

Then, we taped two of them together.

We glued tin foil onto the blade and wrapped the handle with red duct tape.

Finally, we put a pirate decal from the scrapbook section of the craft store onto the handle -- and my pirate was ready to rock.

On Halloween night, we'll Let Make-up do its Magic: The final step of any homemade costume is the make-up. Ugly teeth and brown smudges will turn my third grader into an authentic Neanderthal. A well-placed sneer and scar will transform my first grader into a buccaneer. And my little princess will get rosy cheeks and red, red lips. The extra step of fun, minimal make-up completes any costume.

In this process, we have learned to Accept Imperfection. A homemade costume has the potential to be far different than one from the store. But what I love about the process is that it engages my children's imaginations and helps lead them to solve the costume 'problem' on their own.

In the end, if the result is what they imagined then our Halloween has succeeded. Personally, I can't wait to see the faces of our family and friends when they answer the door and hear "Trick or Treat!"

- Midwest Mom


  1. What a mom. They're very lucky. Have fun.

  2. @Mom24 - Thanks. :) It has been fun to get them in on the costume creation -- much better than buying a plastic mask.

    And the great part is that our creations can go into the dress-up bin when we're done!

    - Julia

  3. Your process of conceiving the costume makes so much sense!

  4. When I was a kid, my mom tried to be on the creative side and homemade mine and my brothers' costumes. They never turned out right. One memorable one was a TV costume for my brother and it just didn't fit on properly. Yeah, the concept seemed easy, a box and two antennas, but making it was a different story. I guess from this experience, making my kids' costumes just never appealed to me. I envy parents who have the creative ability, like you, to put together costumes from scratch.

  5. Looks awesome :) happy Halloween!

  6. Hope you guys had a wonderful Halloween! I'm afraid if I attempted a homemade costume it would end in disaster but you are one crafty mama!


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