Don't wait until the night before Halloween to start your costumes. Look at the people and things around you and ask yourself how "how can I recreate this?" Look at thrift stores and garage sales for costumes. Go ahead and buy the costume or piece of a costume if the price is right. You really can't go wrong spending 25 cents on a piece of costume.
Costumes can be very simple and still make a big impact. For example, instead of the usual witch robes, drag out your elegant black dress and add a witch hat with a veil of spider webbing stretched over your face. Cover the spider web with plastic spiders. For a man, a nice suit and tie and a funny mask makes a good simple costume. For a couple: get a REALLY big sweatshirt, both of you get in it and be Siamese twins! Some examples of costumes for kids are:
Sunflower -- For the body, use a white sleeper or sweatsuit. Paint the child's face yellow, adding black spots to simulate seeds if you like. Make a flower to fit on the child's head out of felt or glue sunflowers on a white hat.
Angel -- Again use a white sweatsuit or long white dress for the body. Make wings out of heavy white poster board and paint the edges gold. Attach tie straps to them that go around the shoulders. You can also shape a metal clothes hanger into a wing. Make two wings, hot glue fabric around them and add straps.
Pea Pod -- Cut two small foam balls in half with an electric knife or a knife with a serrated blade. (Note: Do this BEFORE attaching them to the child!) Wrap in green fabric and pin them to the front of a green sweatsuit. Make a hat out of two shades of green felt and a little brown felt for a stem.
Lion -- Buy a yellow hat or dye a white hat yellow. Buy long brown fake fur, yellow fake fur and a yellow sweatsuit. You can get fake fur at your favorite fabric store. Add brown fur to the top of the hat (for a mane), hot-glue yellow fur into a long tail, adding a poof of brown for the end. Pin the tail on the back of the costume. Make an oval of the fur for the child's tummy and use eyeliner for whiskers.
Dalmatian -- Pin black felt dots onto a pair of white sweats. Paint black polka dots on the child's face. Add more polka dots to a white hat, make some black felt ears and add black shoes to finish it.
I paint, therefore I am -- Glue a copy of a painting with a face on it on a piece of cardboard. (Ex. Mona Lisa). Cut out the face and then put their face in instead.
Race car stroller -- Decorate a stroller as a race car by adding fabric or paper racing stripes and a number. Add two flashlights for headlights, plus some reflector tape. If you want to get really creative, add a wind foil, a foil covered paper towel roller for an exhaust pipe or whatever else your clever mind conjures up. Cut a steering wheel out of cardboard for the child to hold. Your child can wear whatever clothes he wants. Just add an old helmet or baseball cap worn backwards.
Think of themes for all of the kids in the family
It can be fun for all the kids to dress up in costumes that complement each other. Some sample themes are super-heroes, vegetables, candy bars, rabbit family (or other animals) or cartoon characters (i.e. Mickey Mouse, Minnie and Donald Duck). They could also dress in pairs like a mouse and cheese, a plant and a watering can or doctor and patient. The sky's the limit. For a Christmas theme, one child could go as a present, another a Christmas tree, another Rudolph and the fourth as Santa.
Ideas for how to make the costumes
Rudolph -- Dye an old pair of sweats brown. Put a light brown felt tummy on the shirt, make a set of cardboard antlers and paint the child's nose red.
Present -- Wrap an old box that is big enough for the child to wear. Cut out the bottom of the box and make holes for the arms and head. The child can wear a turtleneck and stretch pants underneath it.
Christmas tree -- Cut two pieces of cardboard into the shape of a tree. Make two -- one for the front and one for the back. Hook them together with a piece of string over each shoulder. Paint the pieces green with latex paint and attach old tinsel and ornaments with hot glue. Make a star head piece by gluing glitter to a cardboard cutout or use a Christmas tree angel as a head piece.
Santa -- Trim a pair of red sweats with white fake fur and a large black felt belt. Make a beard with more fake fur, top off with a Santa hat and add a little "Ho, Ho, Ho" for good measure.
Of course if all else fails you could wrap the child head to toe in aluminum foil and send him as a burrito...
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