You Have Everything On Hand for These Creative Costume Ideas

These convenient last-minute costumes won't blow your budget or your time.

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Believe it or not, Halloween is right around the corner, and though the ghoulish holiday might look a bit different this year, there are still ways to celebrate in style. Whether you’re prepping for socially distanced trick-or-treating or a Zoom party (or just dressing up for the fun of it), there are tons of great costume ideas sitting around your home—you just don’t know it yet. 

We’ve rounded up DIY Halloween costumes for you and your family to make your own this year, using materials you likely already have (think: that cardboard box you keep meaning to throw out or the paper bags you’re no longer using for packed lunches). The best part? They’re simple enough to throw together last minute, so even if your plans change, you’ll be prepared. 

For Little Ones

Courtesy of Joyce Lee

Most kids are Halloween enthusiasts, so crafting a fun costume this year will help ease the disappointment of little to no trick-or-treating (and thus, less candy). Take inspiration from Joyce Lee, Madewell’s head of design, who made a superhero costume for her 5-year-old daughter, Poppy. All you need is a stray piece of fabric (check that junk closet you never clean out) and face paint (most drugstores carry brands for sensitive skin) and…voilà! You have a mini hero on your hands. For extra personality, use bold material to add patches to the cape, or even construction paper and glue if you’re pressed for time. 

Erin Jang, author of the recently released You, Me, We! activity book, took a different approach to making a crafty costume for her son. Using “scrappy grocery bags,” the pair simply cut out an eyehole and painted on feathers and a beak, and suddenly Jang’s little boy was a colorful toucan. An additional perk? This costume doesn’t even require matching pants, which makes it certified Zoom-friendly.

For Friends

Courtesy of Aww Sam

Just because bar nights and costume parties aren’t in full force this year doesn’t mean that you and your friends can’t still dress to the nines. Take a page out of DIY expert Sam Ushiro’s book and get to work on a costume much more complicated than it looks. Every material is one you most likely have on hand (and if not, you can make an easy swap or purchase from your local craft store). You can find the full project on Ushiro’s blog, but in short: Cardboard boxes become graham crackers, foam tubes and rectangles double as logs and chocolate, and construction paper transforms into flames. Before you know it, you and a friend are the s’mores-and-campfire combo your fall has been waiting for. 

Courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

If you’ve really left your costume to the last minute, worry not; all you need is poster board (or construction paper) for this Fantastic Mr. Fox remake. As seen on the blog A Beautiful Mess, use watercolors to paint your fox masks (or a different animal if you want to switch it up) and dress accordingly with what’s already in your closet.

For Families

Courtesy of Studio DIY

Nobody does family costumes quite like Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY. If you can’t pass up those baby’s-first-Halloween photo ops, try one of the blog’s (surprisingly) easy projects. For a rain and shine trio, grab some pillow stuffing, paint, and construction paper, and you’re halfway there. Once your rainbow is ready to go, attach it to a wagon or bicycle (or just hold it up for FaceTiming relatives) and your little one will be ready to shine. 

Courtesy of Avriel Epps-Darling

Erin Darling and Avriel Epps-Darling showcased the power of simple costumes by paying homage to their favorite artists. Baby Nemo donned a Dalí-esque suit and ’stache, while Epps-Darling replicated Van Gogh’s famous bandaged ear self-portrait. All it took for Darling to transform into Frida Kahlo was a floral headpiece, woven shawl, and a little extra eyebrow help. Check your closet for similar accessories to do the same, or choose your own historical and creative heroes. 

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