DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids and Babies

You could spend hundreds of dollars on an organic free-trade toxin-free biodegradable Halloween costume–or you could just make one yourself.  Do-it-yourself Halloween costumes (formerly called “last-minute Halloween costumes” or “lazy parents’ Halloween costumes”) may seem like the latest thing in green parenting, but really they’ve been around for years. 

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about a lovingly handmade Halloween costume that takes hours hunkered over the sewing machine.   I’m talking about ransacking the house for interesting odds and ends, putting them all on your child, and winding up with a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume that requires no raw materials.

Here are some ideas that I may or may not have tried on myself or my child:

  1. Hobo.  This is a DIY classic, and easy to pull off using Dad’s  beloved pilled sweaters and garish ties from 7th grade.  With a little ingenuity, “hobo baby” could also be accomplished with the contents of his or her own wardrobe.
  2. Ragamuffin.  Variation of hobo, above.
  3. Hippie.  Another classic.  “Hippie baby” would be especially funny if you could find some miniature John Lennon glasses to complete the look.  Try tie-dying some baby’s old white onesies using grape juice.  (Note: I have not actually tried this, but I am only partially kidding.)
  4. Swimming bear.  All you need for this ensemble is a bear hat and swimming suit, which can be pulled over several layers of warm clothing.  My cousin thought this one up herself in her younger years.
  5. Cold-weather bandit.  As you can see from the photo, you will need a parka, some patterned pants, a Zorro mask, and a cape.
  6. Robot.  Dress your child in gray clothes and affix a metal colander or sieve on his head.  Voila!
  7. Glad bag.  This same ingenious cousin who invented the “swimming bear” decided to masquerade as a garbage bag one year.   In this day and age, it may be better to go as a canvas bag instead.

More ideas: “George Washington” and . . . a big pumpkin with a small head?

As for Audrey, she’s thinking of being “Baby of the Eighties” or perhaps “Punk Rock Baby.”  I hope this list has inspired everyone to create a green Halloween costume that will be gentle on the planet and the pocketbook.   For more inspiring Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer

Please let us know if you have any creative DIY Halloween costume ideas to add to our list, and don’t forget to join us tomorrow evening for Thrifty Green Thursday!


  1. Susan Stewart says

    I’ll have to admit that “swimming bear” is a family classic!

  2. I’m very relieved they don’t call it Lazy Parents’ costumes anymore. We were on the cutting edge and didn’t even know it!

  3. Those pictures are classic – love them. My favorite was always the roller skating ghost . . . .

  4. this is so funny. i love!

  5. I love these pictures! I think your mom and my mom were on the same wavelength with costumes. We should SO get back to that. I can’t believe the money people spend on Halloween costumes now when all of ours were free!

  6. Oh, forgot to add – my son is going as a spider this year. Black pants and shirt, 2 pairs of black tube socks stuffed with newspapers and safety pinned to his sides. Black hat. My daughter and I are going as cave girls (who have a pet spider). We are just going to wrap ourselves up in some furry remnants we found at the fabric outlet and make bones out of bake-able clay.

  7. Swimming Bear! Ha! The best ideas always come from the kids themselves. i remember one year I went as a gypsy. I tied a bunch of scarves to a belt for a skirt.

  8. This made my laugh so hard that I had tears…I love it!

  9. I’m glad everyone is enjoying the photos. They are my little cousins! My sister and I had some interesting ones of our own. I remember one year I had grand plans of dressing as a computer. I wanted to make a monitor out of a cardboard box. In my imagination, I even had a printer with a button. When I pressed the button, a printout would read “trick or treat.” Unfortunately, I never made what I’m sure would have been a prize-winning costume. I probably ended up being an “old-fashioned lady” using my grandma’s old clothes.

    Alana, the roller-skating ghost is a great one! Somehow I never dressed up as a ghost in all my years of trick-or-treating!

    Eileen, I love the spider costume and the cave girls!

    Gina, the gypsy is another good one–variation of ragamuffin, hobo, etc. Maybe not very politically correct these days, though. Ah well.

    Nancy, you were never a “lazy mom;” always a “green mom on the cutting edge!”

    Keep the ideas coming!

  10. Well – there is a lot that could be done with a cardboard box and some scissors… think robot, train, car, solar water heating system….

  11. Great ideas!! I remember doing a lot of those as a child ;o)

  12. Um, did I just skim over/miss the classic, “pirate”? Some string and black construction paper for an eyepatch, one standard bandana, and ahoy matey, you got instant pirate!

  13. Whoa, Todd, sorry! I did forget the pirate, which is terrible considering pirates were my elementary school mascot! But you’re forgetting something, too. What about the ring from a jar lid as an earring? Oh, and a parrot would be good, too.

  14. Love the blog! Found it on Ask I have bookmarked it thank you for the good read.

  15. When my youngest was 2 I put a white hooded sweatshirt on him, w hood up cut a hole in middle bottomof white kitchen trash bag, & painted bunch of red blue & yellow dots & made him a loaf of wonder bread easy, & sooo cute. The next yr. I put him in overalls w red shirt underneath some black shoes & a lil face paint, he went as chuckie….lol he’s already a Ginger, so how could I not…….

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