Ideas for Making Your Own Halloween Costume

Maybe you are old

enough to remember when making your own Halloween costume, or at least deciding
what you wanted to be for Halloween, used to be half the fun of Halloween. It
wasn’t really the anticipation of that bag full of candy—it was putting on a
costume and maybe a wig and some makeup, and walking around, pretending you were
a comic book character, a Fairy Princess, or some hobgoblin (or a hobo…if you
couldn’t think of anything else, you could always be a hobo). If you are even a
little older, you remember planning and plotting how to make your costume out of
pieces of cardboard, swatches of material, paper towel tubes, and tinfoil. Come
on, admit it—it was fun!

Get a little of that
fun back—and make your own costume this year! And if you are too old to go
Trick or Treating, then have a Halloween costume party just so that you can play
dress up and be the Wicked Witch of the West (my personal favorite costume)!

Think Outside the


actually—maybe you should think inside the box…a cardboard box that
is. Think about what comes in a cardboard box—and then be that for Halloween.
Do you work in an office, shuffling paperwork all day? Then be a box of computer
printer paper! Find a printer paper box to use an example. Buy a packing box
that is wide enough to fit across your shoulders (and around your middle), cut a
hole in the closed-end bottom for your head, and then decorate the box like the
sample printer paper box. Wear a black T-shirt and black pants or black tights
underneath. (Think U-Haul or places like that where you can buy oversize packing

Maybe you are
addicted to Honey-Nut Cheerios—then be a box of Cheerios! Zillions of things
“come in a box” so let your imagination run wild!

Sturdy hunks of
cardboard can be the basis for numerous types of costumes. Just keep two things
in mind: Eventually, you are going to need to be able to sit down…and you will
need to able to “visit the restroom.” Keep these thoughts in mind while you are
crafting your costume!

Go to a Thrift

Shop or Second-Hand Store

You’ve probably got
at least one thrift store near-by, or maybe a Goodwill outlet. Wander through
the aisles and check out the old clothing, shoes, coats, and other accessories.
Be the Crazy Old Lady Who Lives Next Door and get really campy. Or be a Wacky
Professor and be completely scatterbrained! Be The Oldest Punk Rocker Alive (or
Grunge Rocker) and go for the safety pins and dog-collar look! Shop for clothing
styles that are either really over the top or totally out of fashion. Think of
any stereotyped character, and then find clothing and accessory items to suit
that character.

Got a Sewing


If you are handy
with needle, thread, patterns, and lengths of material, you can make real
costumes. You can buy patterns that are costume-specific—or you can cobble
together elements from several patterns to make costume items. Let’s say you
need a frock coat for a Rhett Butler (the 1800s) period costume. Find any man’s
jacket pattern that you can use for the “waist and up” portion of the jacket. On
newspaper draw a “dove’s tail” shape so that the blunt end of the “tail” is
one-half the width of the back of the jacket. Allow for seam allowance, and cut
two tails. When you cut out the jacket back, cut it off straight at the
waistline. Sew on the “tails” and voila! You have a frock coat!

No matter what type
of costume you want to make, if you can’t find an exact pattern for that, just
mentally break down the garment into segments. Now look for patterns that will
offer you that type of segment—or make your own pattern. Remember, it’s a
costume, the measurements don’t need to be exact!

Accessories Make

the Costume!

Don’t worry if you
can’t exactly come up with everything you need for “the perfect costume.” Most
costumes are just representations of the character you want to portray. You can
get away with a little less costume and a little more accessorizing. Just be
over the top! Wanna be The Crazy Lady Who Lives Next Door? Just wear clothing
pieces that don’t match, clash horribly (like plaids and florals) and then spray
your hair some really awful orange, get outrageous dangling earrings, wear ten
strands of fake pearl necklaces, two different shoes, and carry a dog leash with
no dog on it, etc.

If you can’t think
of what kind of costume to create, do it backward—shop the thrift shops for
accessories, and let them dictate what character you will create.

Get Some Mileage

Out of Prom Gowns, Bridesmaid Dresses, and Wedding Gowns!

Here’s your chance
to finally use that bridesmaid dress for something other than the one day that
you wore it! Wedding gowns make great Fairy Princess costumes—just add wings,
a magic wand, and white wig, and glittery makeup! Be a Wallflower! Put on your
Bridesmaid gown, and get a pair of old-fashioned gunky plastic rim glasses. Do
you hair in a really bad hairstyle, spray on way too much hairspray, get a
really tacky artificial flower that doesn’t match your gown—and you are an
instant Wallflower!

Now that you’ve got
some ideas, let your imagination run free! Halloween used to be fun and can
still be fun—even now that you are an adult! So enjoy it!

Jan K., The Proofer
is a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. Visit Jan’s Portal (
for more information about Jan’s free crafts, recipes, tutorials, other resource
sites, and free content articles, as well as Jan’s freelance proofreading
business services. Be sure to visit Mom’s Break (
for free printable crafts and projects.
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