Before I had kids, I gleefully handed out trick-or-treat candy with one caveat: if the person asking for candy was not wearing a costume, they need to do a trick to get their treat. One sullen adolescent climbed my porch in jeans and a black t-shirt and said, “Trick or Treat.”
“I’m sorry, but since you’re not wearing a costume, you need to do a trick,” I responded.
He spat, “I’m totally wearing a costume.” He rotated his hip to the side and showed me three tubes of Smarties safety-pinned to his jeans. “I’m a Smartie pants,” he said.
I let him take as many pieces of candy as he wanted.
I, however, lack forethought and creativity in the costume department. In order to help you dress your trick-or-treater for success without spending a fortune, here are some easy (I don’t sew, people) DIY costume ideas that will help fill those bags with candy and make your neighbors smile.
Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes
Bunch of Grapes: You will need anywhere from 30-50 purple or green balloons, depending on the kid’s size, safety pins, and double-sided tape. You pin the balloons to whatever your kid is wearing, and then stick the balloons together with the double-sided tape, so they don’t flail around in the October wind. If you want to get really into it, put them in a purple winter hat with a black or brown pipe cleaner stem sticking out of the top. Definitely not recommended for babies or toddlers because choking is real.
Old person: My husband is obsessed with the idea of painting a mustache and eyebrows on our baby, so this one is right up our alley. For an old lady, hot glue white cotton balls in a circular pattern on a baby hat. Try popping the lenses out of an old pair of sunglasses and see if they will keep them on. Put her in a flowery dress and cardigan. For an old man, paint on a bushy mustache and eyebrows, plop him in some khakis, a white onesie and a sweater vest. Try to find a baby flat cap, and if you’re really into it and your baby is mobile, some go as far as to make a PVC pipe walker.
Lego: Find a child-sized cardboard box, some paint or colored duct tape, some solo cups, and your little lego is as good as done. Leave the top and bottom of the box open for your child’s head and legs. Poke holes near the top of the box and thread wide ribbon arm straps through the holes to hold the box up on the child’s body. Measure them up and cut ample armholes. Either paint the box the same color as the solo cups, or cover it in colored duct tape. Attach six solo cups to the front to make the Lego design complete! If your child wouldn’t be too picky about it, you can take a shoe box and make a Lego hat: make a ribbon chin strap, cover the shoe box in paint or tape like the body box, and put two cups on top.
Gumball Machine: Grab a white t-shirt, a hot glue gun, and a big bag of those colorful poof balls you can find at your local craft store and start gluing the balls on the lower half of the white shirt. Make a little cardboard sign that says “25 cents” to wear like a necklace and you’re good to go!
Rain Cloud: If your child already has a pair of rain boots, you can throw together this adorable costume in under two hours and for about $15. Score!
Shadows: Heading to a daytime Trunk or Treat and just need to order something from Amazon Prime and call it a day? Dress your kids in long-johns to keep them warm and slap on a black morph suit. Boom – they’re shadows!!!
Charlie Brown: Got a bald baby and a yellow onesie? All you need is black duct tape to turn your bald little cutie into the iconic Charlie Brown. Use the duct tape to create a zig-zag pattern across the front of the shirt. Pair with black shorts or pants and brown shoes to complete the look.
Grown-Ups Need Costumes Too!
A few of our contributors offered their best DIY costumes, and I love these easy, fun ideas.
Ceiling Fan: Grab your pom-poms and make a t-shirt that says, “GO CEILING! YOU’RE #1!” Guaranteed to make your friends and neighbors smile, and possibly make your children pretend they don’t know you.
Social Butterfly: Make or buy a pair of butterfly wings, and twist some pipe cleaners around a headband. Then, print some large-scale social media website logos and stick them to your shirt. Easy and clever; you’ll get all the candy you can handle.
Stranger Things: Capture the creepiness of one of the biggest Netflix hits of the past year while keeping it suuuuuper simple. Use black paint (or a Sharpie!) to draw the alphabet on a plain white t-shirt. Dig a string of Christmas lights out of the decorations box and wrap it around the shirt. Bonus points if you have a battery pack to light ’em up!
Damian from Mean Girls: Light blue hoodie, oversized sunglasses, and a hand-drawn sign that says “She Doesn’t Even Go Here!” Halloween…..nailed it.