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5 Tips for Creating Awesome Halloween Costumes

I did a little math this week and came to an odd realization —

We have 2 kids and somehow over the past 17 years, I’ve helped them to create more than 50 costumes!

I know — there’s some crazy math there since Halloween only comes but once a year.

However, in the kid world, costumes aren’t only created at Halloween.  Sometimes one is needed for a play or fun day activity.

And on some years the school sends home a note letting you know that the costume your child chose that year won’t be accepted in the “themed” holiday parade they’ve decided to host in place of the normal party.

So in addition to cook, chauffeur, barber and chief planner, I can now also add “costume-maker” to my resume 😉



I’ll be honest, when the kids were younger, I would dread the coming of October.

My month would go something like this:

Oct 1st: Child looks at calendar & declares what they will be for Halloween.

Oct. 3rd: Mom starts to pull together items for said costume (because we usually create our own costumes and then add store-bought items to accessorize).

Oct. 8th: Child changes mind about costume.

Oct. 9th: Mom waits to see if new idea is going to stick.

Oct. 11th: Child goes back to original plan for costume.

You get the picture — and then we would usually end up running around at the last minute to pull together a costume or two!


But I will say with all this chaos and practice, the kids and I have gotten pretty good at creating some awesome ideas.

Here’s a few of the tips & tricks we’ve developed over the years:


Purple Princess Costume

The year it had to be a Purple Princess dress (handmade because there were no purple princess dresses anywhere that year)!


1.  Set a ‘Drop-Dead’ Date for Ideas

After the first few years of constant changes, I decided to tell the kids that by October 10th, they had to have a FINAL decision on what they wanted to be that year for ALL of their events/activities (sometimes school required a different costume than what they wanted to wear trick or treating).

No changing their minds after the 10th — if they had a better idea after that date, we could put it on the list for the following year.

I explained that it takes time to pull together an AWESOME costume and it’s always more fun if you have your costume ready early so it can be worn to other events and activities that we might attend.


2.  Share Your Idea with Friends

BECAUSE there is nothing worse than going to school and finding out that you are 1 of 4 Red Power Ranger red Power Rangers at your class party (true story!)

You might think this is counter-intuitive and that your child’s friends may decide to go as the same thing but we usually find that most kids like to be unique in their costume choices.

And it gives you a heads up if there will be others with similar ideas.  If you have a child who likes to stand-out, this will give them some time to make their look more unique.  Sometimes just adding an AWESOME accessory will make them feel like they are a totally different character. 

Which brings me to my next tip…


Creative costumes for kids

The year my peanut was sad because she dressed as Peter Pan & people thought she was Robin Hood.


3.  Add on Accessories! (but limit the number)

Accessories really can make the costume!  When my daughter wanted to be Dorothy, we made the costume but went all out and bought a pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Red Shoes (which she continued to wear until they were too small 😉

Limiting the number of items is a biggie — go with the “less is more” theme when it comes to add-ons.  For example, the year my daughter wanted to be a detective from one of her favorite books, she requested to carry a magnifying glass, notebook and pencil with her trick or treat bag. 

Let’s see – that’s four items that need to be carried in two hands.

First, it’s really hard for kids to juggle all those extra items without dropping them.  And second, the more items you add, the more likely something is to get left behind somewhere.

So we compromised — we choose ONE cool accessory that can be carried and any others need to be attached to the costume in some way. 

And when you can, have an item that does double-duty.  When my son went as Sid the Salesman (above), the sales case he carried was also used to collect his candy.  And when my daughter dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (it’s a Midwest thing), the basket she used to carry Toto was also used to collect candy.


Creative costumes

The year of the Rainbow Witch (because a regular witch is “too boring”) and my son’s “I’m doing it on my own” costume – can you tell what he is?!


4.  Have a Dress Rehersal

Pick a day during the week before Halloween and have the kids can wear their costume — either around the house or while you run errands (don’t worry, most people will think it’s adorable ;). 

This helps for a few reasons:

• You’ll have time to make adjustments if the costume is too long, too itchy, too hot, etc.

• The kids will have a chance to “get into character” — which is tons of fun for them!

• You can see if it’s possible to layer clothes UNDER their costume if the weather is cold (when I was a kid, there was nothing worse than wearing a jacket over your costume 🙁

• It will let them see how they look — this will allow them to make any minor changes before the big night.


5. Listen to the Kids for Details

Trust your child when they tell you about the ideas they have for their costume.  It’s their costume and most likely, they have some picture in their head about who or what they want to be. 

And yes, it may be a strange combination of things but that’s what dressing up is all about — being creative! 

So if they want to be a princess animal doctor or a Transformer that goes from pick-up truck to superhero, go with it!  Have them describe how they want to dress and act, make some suggestions for costume ideas and let them run with the idea.  


What tips do you have for creating AWESOME costumes for the family?



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