"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

Halloween Costume Fun

The Halloween party season is a time of fun and fantasy, especially when it comes to costumes. Dressing up as some other person or character is often more fun than eating the candy that you get afterwards. Whether children are clamoring for the perfect disguise or parents are left to their own creativity, transforming ideas into reality is a yearly challenge.

Ready-to-wear costumes on popular themes are readily available, but putting together your own costume can make dressing up even more fun. If you prefer something original, your best bet is to visit local thrift shops and fabric stores. If you know how to sew - or at least are able to do a few basting stitches - you'll have a larger choice of costumes. Even non-sewers can find salvation using iron-on hem tape. Patterns are available for a multitude of costumes, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several days to complete, depending on how complicated they are.

If you don't have a lot of time or talent, concentrate on capes and masks. An old sheet, beach towel or other fabric can be cut to size for a cape. Depending on the color, decorations added, and other clothing worn, the cape can turn you into a butterfly, superhero, villain, royalty, Dracula, or something else. You can make swords and shields from cardboard. Masks can be made of cardboard or paper plates. Dixie's Krazy Kritters plates feature 24 colorful kritter faces - exotic animals to weird and wacky creatures - so these are great for kids masks and parties, too!

Halloween Teaching Tip

Halloween can be a frightening time for young children when they see all of the scary masks. Help your child understand there's always a person behind a mask by showing how one is made. Let your child watch you cut out holes for eyes, a nose, and mouth from a piece of construction paper. At each step, place the paper in front of your face and ask, "Who is under the mask? Do I change when I wear it?" Then let your children take turns trying on the mask.

Halloween as an Educational Activity

Rather than wearing costumes that focus on alien, scary or negative images, consider dressing up as something more interesting and educational. Do some research and try to be as authentic as you can. Turn it into a book report, biography report, history report, movie review, unit study, speech, or play - and maybe your Halloween costume will double as an extra credit assignment!

  • person from a different era (Viking, pioneer, cowboy, Indian, Roaring 20's, 1950's)
  • person from a different country (Scottish Highlander, Eskimo, Mexican Senorita)
  • famous person (Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Daniel Boone, Robin Hood)
  • rescue hero (firefighter, police officer, doctor, nurse, soldier, sailor, knight, superhero)
  • classic literary figure or adventure hero (Zorro, Musketeer, Huck Finn, pirate)
  • favorite storybook character (Little Red Riding Hood, Mary Poppins, Cinderella)
  • character from a movie or TV show (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spy Kids)
  • patriotic character (Minuteman, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Civil War soldier)
  • scientific person (Mad Scientist, Einstein, astronaut, explorer, Sherlock Holmes)
  • religious figure (Moses, Jesus, Wise Man, shepherd, monk, nun, Pilgrim, St. Patrick)

    Last-minute Costumes

    Are you in a hurry and have nothing to wear? Or maybe you don't you want to spend the money on costume materials that will be used only once? Here are some quick, creative ideas that take the "cost" out of costumes. Ideas for both children and adults are included.

  • Dress up as Mom or Dad - Search through your closet for some old clothing that you no longer use, that your child can wear to dress up like you. Let your child help in the selection. Choices could range from shirts, skirts, pants, evening wear, business suit, sports jacket, whatever. Don't forget to let them borrow some accessories such as jewelry, ties, belts, and perhaps a hat. (Mom and Dad can likewise dress up as their kids.)
  • Sports Uniforms - Does your child or an older brother or sister have a sports uniform in their closet? This would make it easy to go as a sports figure.
  • Farmer - Get out some old overalls, add a flannel shirt and straw hat, stuff your pockets with straw, and grab a rake or shovel.
  • Glamour Model - Get out your most elegant outfit and fancy shoes, such as the prom or bridesmaid dress that you would otherwise never wear to any other occasion. For a silly look, you can add funny-looking glasses, a boa around your neck, or a bow tie.
  • Thrift Store Bargains - Check thrift stores and yard sales for funky, fun, or weird clothing and accessories.

    Sweat Suit Creations

    Hooded sweat shirts and pants are perfect for Halloween costumes. They keep you warm on chilly autumn evenings, and can be turned into any number of imaginative outfits. Black is probably the most versatile color. For example, in a black sweat suit you can become a cat, spider, Spy Kid, evil villain, Zorro, or skeleton simply by adding some accessories and doing a little sewing. Even better, you can still use the sweat suit later after dismantling the costume. (Sweat suit substitutes: long sleeve Beefy-T's and pants or colored tights.)

    Cat - Get a brown, gray, or black sweat suit. Rope or fake fur can be used for a tail. Attach ears to a headband or create a face, with whiskers and ears, out of a paper plate. You can also make a lion out of a yellow sweat suit or a tiger out of an orange sweat suit. Attach strips of black tape for stripes.

    Spider - Get a black sweat suit, black gloves, and three old pairs of black socks. Stuff the socks with newspaper, polyester filler, or plastic bags. Sew three socks onto each side of the shirt - these, along with your arms, will be the spider's legs. Cut an hourglass shape out of red felt or paper and baste it to the center of the shirt.

    Ladybug - Get a black sweat suit and a red cape. Sew or paste big black dots on the red cape. Attach pipe cleaner antennas to a headband.

    Butterfly - Get a black, gray, or brown sweat suit and make a cape out of a colorful piece of striped or spotted fabric. Attach pipe cleaner antennas to a headband.

    Robin Hood - Get a green hooded sweat jacket, a green shirt and pants or tights to go with a green cape. Carry a toy bow and arrow over your shoulder.

    Skeleton - Cut "bones" out of white or reflective paper and baste them onto a black sweat suit. Create a skull mask out of a paper plate, using string to hold it on.

    Pig - Get a pink sweat suit. Make a nose and tail out of stiff paper or a paper plate, using string to hold it on. Be one of the Three Little Pigs, Wilbur from Charlotte's Web, or Babe.

    Halloween Year-Round

    It seems to me that every family should have a dress-up trunk. Kids like to play dress-up all year long, not just at Halloween. You can also save a lot of time and trouble at Halloween if you keep a supply of costumes and associated accessories on hand, like the trunk of treasures in Grandma's attic. You can use a cardboard box, large plastic storage container, old suitcase, or wooden toy chest. We got a big Contico Tuff Bin at Home Depot.

    Outfitting a costume trunk doesn't have to cost a lot. You probably already have some stuff around the house that you can use, like old hats, accessories, and clothes that are out of fashion. Every year you can add more to it, by stocking up on Halloween items at reduced prices after October 31. You can also visit thrift stores, yard sales, and second-hand shops for unique bargains and odd items. You can usually find fireman and policeman outfits in toy stores all year-round.

    By making up an adventure trunk for your little girl or boy, you open up a world of possibilities. Young imaginations will run wild with all of the possible combinations. It can be great fun on rainy days, at parties, and when friends come over to play. Boys love knights and armor, frontier and exploration, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, superheroes, Civil War, safari and camouflage themes. Girls love fairy tale princesses, tea parties, American Girls, Little House on the Prairie, Barbie fashions, Indian maidens, old-fashioned Victorian lace, beads and baubles.

    We've found that when we read an adventure book aloud or watch a movie, our boys like to play out the story immediately afterwards - fighting pirates or alien invaders, exploring the high seas, going on secret missions, posing as superheroes, etc. - so our costume trunk is always being used.

    Girl's Costume Trunk- Dance Costumes, Cheerleaders, Bridal, Hawaiian, tiaras, slippers, shiny beaded necklaces, glitter wand, white gloves, tea party items, grass skirts, leis, boas, scarves, fake fur stole, 1950's poodle skirts, scarves, fringed frontier tops, etc.

    Boy's Costume Trunk- Construction Worker, Sheriff, Cowboys, Pirates and pirate accessories (swords, hats, hooks, eye patches, etc.), sombreros, ponchos, bull-fighter costume with red cape, straw hat, bandanas, vest, black gloves, coonskin cap, engineer's hat, lab coat, safari hat, sailor hat, knight's cape, sword and shield.


    (Homemade costume ideas: costumes from the closet or second-hand store; costumes made from boxes; costumes for wheelchair users.)

    (They provide costumes and accessories for any occasion including: Halloween, Christmas, costume parties, school reports, conventions, plays and theater, and much more. They have thousands of costumes ranging from togas and gladiators of Ancient Rome to WWII civilian and military costumes, Victorian gentlemen to Elizabethan queens, Renaissance peasants to colonial merchants, Roaring Twenties flappers to Disco costumes from the Seventies, Western and Civil War, and many more. Buy or rent in person or over the Internet.)

    (Even more great costume ideas with photographs: Halloween costumes, seasonal costumes, fantasy costumes, superhero costumes, movie/TV costumes, infant costumes, animal costumes, nationality/cultural costumes, historical costumes. Colonial, Pilgrim, Medieval, Renaissance, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Arabian, Viking, Religious, Shakespeare, Dickens, Pirate, Wild West, 1950's, hippie, royalty, and much more. Parental discretion advised, however.)

    (Party supplies, costumes and accessories, jewelry, novelties, toys, crafts, and gift items for holidays and year-round fun. They have a large selection of luau and patriotic stuff, hats for every occasion, crowns and tiaras, bandanas, foam animal masks, plastic swords, Mardi Gras, wedding supplies, and much more. You can stock your costume trunk with an assortment of inexpensive items from OTC. They have quick shipping and friendly service.)

    See Also:

    Pride and Prejudice
    The English Regency
    History of Costume: Part 1
    History of Costume: Part 2


    These pages are a continuous work in progress.
    Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
    All rights reserved.

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