Our Favorite DIY Halloween Costumes of 2010

We asked our readers what their favorite DIY Halloween costume ideas were, and they delivered!  How will they outfit those trick-or-treaters this year?

Pair of dice. Cut head and arm holes in boxes. Paint them or wrap them in white paper, add some black dots. (Thanks, Brittany!)

The world. Use old boxes to make a sandwich board that fits over the shoulders. Paint it. Attach planets, the sun, and the moon made from cardboard scraps onto a headband. (Thank you, Lauren!)

Fairy. Scavenge around the house for materials! Lauren’s daughter will wear a tutu over a onesie and sweatpants. Felt will cover her shoes, transforming them into fairy shoes. Make a wand out of a stick, ribbons, and paint. Fashion wings out of hangers and old tights. The final touch? A crown made from fake flowers.

Baseball player. If your child refuses to wear a store-bought get-up, just use one of his outfits that can approximate a costume! Ali transformed her son into a baseball player by dressing him in a baseball jersey and sweat suit he already had in his closet.

These last three are from Eileen:

The Wind. Use strong hair gel to make your child look like he’s caught in a wind tunnel. Add silver and blue streaks and a cloud. Attach some fabric to wire to stream behind him.

Classic ghost. It doesn’t get simpler than this! Cut eye holes in a white sheet for a retro Halloween look. (Check out the detailed instructions over on Kaboose.)

Spider. Here are Eileen’s instructions: Black turtleneck, black sweatpants, 4 lengths of pipe insulation (very cheap at hardware store) either painted black or, in our case, wrapped in black velour. Make the pipe insulation the length of his arms and attach it (sewing will be the most secure but hot glue will work too) to the side seams of the shirt. string them together and to his wrists and elbows so that when he lifts his arms, 6 of the spider legs go up (number 7 and 8 are his legs). I attached some big eyes to a black ski cap. Finally, we looked at spider markings in a book we found in the library and we used bright green duct tape (reflective tape, even better) to make spider markings on the back and legs for visibility.

Need more ideas? Check out these vintage posts:

Family Halloween Costumes

DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids and Babies

Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes for Babies and Kids

More Fabulous DIY Maternity Halloween Costumes

My $1 Maternity Halloween Costume

The $2 Baby Pumpkin Halloween Costume

Happy costuming!

A Creepy, Crawly DIY Halloween Craft: Another Paper Spider in Its Web

Last year I dazzled you with my Paper Spider. (Not to brag or anything, but this easy Halloween craft was showcased on the French website Bulbinblue earlier this month!) What crafty goodness do I have in store for you this year? Another, different paper spider. A creepier, crawlier paper spider:

Here’s how you do it:

1. Fold a white, square piece of paper in half, making a triangle

2. Fold it in half again

3. Fold that in thirds

4. Cut the top off at an angle

5. Draw a web pattern as shown

6. Cut out the web

7. Fold a piece of black paper in half and cut out a spider

8. Unfold the web, hang it on the window, stick the spider on it, and shiver in fright!

The Easiest Halloween Craft in the World: A DIY Paper Jack-o-Lantern

1. Cut a pumpkin out of orange paper. (Go directly to How to Make a Paper Jack-o-Lantern if this step seems too daunting!)

2. Have your child draw a face on the pumpkin.

For more advanced Halloween crafts, check out some of our vintage posts:

How to Make a Paper Spider in Its Web (I’ll have a new version of this coming up soon!)
How to Make a Cardboard School Bus Costume out of a Wagon
How to Make Your Own Compostable Diaper out of a Pumpkin
How to Make a Paper Jack-o-Lantern

Valentine’s Day Ideas Brought to You by the Green Baby Guide

Have you been asking yourself lately, “What do Joy and Rebecca have to say about celebrating an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day?”?  Well, you’re in luck because today’s post highlights some of our fascinating thoughts on this very subject.

First, there’s Joy’s Valentine’s brownie recipe. Not only will it woo the health-conscious chocolate lover in your life, these treats are guaranteed to cost less than a foil-covered box of chocolates.

nutritious-brownies-made-with-wheat-germ

Would you like to celebrate without shelling out hundreds of dollars for tickets, dinners, and diamonds? Readers weigh in with cheap, green date ideas.

Finally we have a few ideas for homemade Valentines. Potato print valentines are perfect if you need to mass-produce some cards for a child’s class. In our last-minute eco-friendly valentines post, we discuss how to make Valentines out of organic materials . . . such as rocks. Or perhaps you would like to know how to make a paper heart valentine—we reveal our paper-cutting secrets. (Strange fact: That post happens to be our most popular post of all time!)

paper-hearts

Here’s to a happy Valentine’s Day!

DIY Fabric Gift Bags for Next Year’s Holidays

Are you still suffering flashbacks from wrapping, taping, and then cleaning up mounds of paper this year?  Even if you tried to go green by using recycled paper, wrapping everything and then cleaning up the holiday mess is labor intensive.  You may never have had have time to sew up a batch of gift bags before the holiday crush, but why not do it now?  Holiday fabric and ribbon are on sale and it will only take you about two hours to make bags that can wrap up all your gifts for years to come—with no waste and no yearly cost.  (My mom is still wrapping our gifts in festive bags that we’ve used for over thirty years!)  While you’re at it, whip up a few out of simple patterned fabric and have bags that can be used for birthdays, Valentines, and random surprises.

I am NOT a talented seamstress, but I’ll walk you through the steps so that you can stitch up some holiday bags yourself.  This one is made from ribbon we got for seventy-five percent off and fabric I had left over from my daughter’s curtains.

You’ll need:

  • Fabric (as much as you’d like to make small and large bags)
  • A sewing machine (Try to borrow one for an afternoon!)
  • Fabric Ribbon
  • Pins (optional)

fabric layout for homemade gift bagsFirst fold the fabric so that the outside pattern is facing inward.

Fabric gift bag directionsThen cut two six-inch pieces of holiday ribbon.  Lay the pieces on top of each other and sandwich them between the seam toward the top of the bag with the ribbon strings extending inward.

Rolled hem for homemade gift bagsSew a seam around the three sides of the bag, including the ribbon in the seam.  Then turn the bag inside out.  Finish off the bag by doing a rolled seam on the top edges to prevent fraying.  You’re done!

Finished homemade fabric gift bagIf you have time and skills you can applique patterns onto the bag front or stitch on decorative ribbons.  You can also use iron-on letters to personalize bags for each of your children. (My mom finally gave me mine after I’d had it for my entire childhood.)DIY finished fabric gift bags

The finished bags look really cute, pack up easily, and won’t cost you a dime for decades to come!  I hope you get a bit of time to make things easier on yourself next year.  If you’re swamped you can ask a crafty family member to whip you up a homemade set or buy a Wrapsacks set of gift bags on Amazon.  Have you found a way to avoid wrapping paper?  Please share!

Easy Homemade Holiday Napkin Rings

Homemade Napkin Rings for HolidayEven small tots can participate in the holiday preparations with this simple craft.  If you use cloth napkins instead of paper on a regular basis, you may want to dress them up a bit for the festivities.  This simple craft should be done within an hour and will help your little one contribute to the holiday table.  If you already have a few of your child’s paintings to use, you’ll be done in just minutes!

Materials needed:

  • Paper
  • Tempera or watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape
  • Ribbon

Technically, these aren’t napkin rings at all, but simply decorated wraps for your cloth napkins.  Pick out the colors that will accent your holiday table and then set your child lose on a blank canvas.  When the painting is dry, cut it into two inch strips.  Roll your cloth napkins up and use the painted strip as a ring.  Cut and tape it shut.  Then add a decorative ribbon on top.  Done!

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas; or, All-Natural Air Fresheners

Why waste money on plug-in devices that spray chemicals into the air when you can scent your house with natural ingredients? This time of year, I like to buy whole cloves in bulk from the grocery store to make a simple homemade air freshener. All I do is take a small saucepan, fill with a cup or two of water, then sprinkle in a small handful of cloves. Keep the pan on low heat and let the spicy smell waft into the room. Of course, this does expend a bit of energy. I’m working on a bicycle-powered version of this little trick. . . .
clove-studded orange in bowl

Do you have any homemade potpourris or air freshener ideas? Do let us know!

How to Make a Proper Paper Snowflake

Do your paper snowflakes come out looking like doilies? Do you wish you had the creativity, skill, and expertise to cut out a proper paper snowflake? Keep reading to learn how a prize-winning* snowflake cutter makes it happen.

snowflake1
1. Fold a square piece of paper in half.

snowflake2
2. Fold it in half again.

snowflake3
3. Fold it in thirds, so it looks like this:

snowflake4

snowflake5
4. Cut the top part off.

snowflake6
5. Cut out pieces to create your snowflake design. Note that there is very little paper left! Cut nice, skinny lines to create a delicate paper snowflake. Cutting out tiny shapes all over will result in a doilyesque snowflake.

snowflake7
The finished product!

snowflake8
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

*All right, so I never really won a snowflake prize.

Paper snowflakes make the perfect cheap DIY holiday decorations. They work for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

Seven Simple, Inexpensive Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

homemade thanksgiving centerpieces use natural itemsWhen the last piece of Halloween candy has been devoured and the sugar high is over, it’s time to look forward to the cozy festivities of Thanksgiving.  If you happen to be preparing the feast this year in addition to being pregnant or the mother of a little one, you may feel oppressive exhaustion just thinking of a centerpiece.

Fear not!  There are several gorgeous things to choose from which are probably laying in your front yard or in the park up the street.  On a brisk autumn walk you and your child can easily gather lovely items to display on Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.

Here are some of Mother Nature’s offerings that will make for an elegant display:

  1. Fall Leaves: Gather them now and press them between heavy books.  If possible, look for dramatic contrasting colors so that you have a vibrant display.
  2. Mini-pumpkins, gourds and squash: Your local farmers market probably has some beautiful offerings that can be elegantly arranged on your tabletop.  And many of these artistic masterpieces are edible!
  3. Acorns: My three year old son has begun hoarding acorns in his pockets whenever we go to the park.  I didn’t understand his obsession until I looked a bit closer.  These little gems are so elegant!  Sprinkle them across your table runner and then save them for next year.
  4. Candles: For just a buck or two you can enjoy the soft glow of candlelight.  It enhances the mood, makes the food look even more delicious, and totally fascinates the children.  Could it even lead to better table manners?  We can hope…
  5. Potted Plant: Contrasting the shiny green leaves of the plant with your other fall centerpiece items will make for a lovely display of colors.
  6. Pine cones: If you happen to live in a zone full of coniferous trees, gather up a variety of pine cones and display them in all their geometric brilliance.  Days before the event you’ll want to immerse them in a bucket of water with some rocks on top for an hour or so and then dry them.  Otherwise you may have insects exiting the cones and making an entrance during Thanksgiving dinner.  Yuck!
  7. Apples: The bright reds, greens and yellows of this seasonal fruit go perfectly with fall leaves and autumn gourds.  Pick up a pretty array at a farm stand and then sample them in the days after the feast when you’re hungry for something other than bread and potatoes.

Do you have other easy ideas for Thanksgiving centerpieces? Are you in charge of the cooking this year?  Do you have tricks to share with the rest of us? Do tell!

Last-minute DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Babies and Kids

While some of us have been lovingly hand-sewing Halloween costumes since Memorial Day, the rest of us are stuck sticking stainless steel colanders on our kids’ heads and making them trick-or-treat as “robots.” Last year we mentioned several DIY Halloween costumes—from the Cold Weather Bandit to the Glad Bag. (Yes, that’s right—we actually recommended dressing your kid as a garbage bag.)

What brilliant last-minute ideas were we able to come up with this year?

Baby burrito. Swaddle your baby in a white blanket, letting some lettuce or cabbage leaves peak out at the edges. Variations on this theme include baby spring rolls, baby eggrolls, or baby turkey wrap.  Here a doll is modeling this look, which took just one minute to create.

baby burrito halloween costume

Striped baby bug. If you can get your hands on some antennae—or make some out of pipe cleaners or something—then you can dress your baby in various striped garments for this look.

Gnome. Last year Audrey put on a brown tweed skirt and coat she had received as a gift. She wore striped tights and carried a tin watering can to collect her treats. I did need to sew a pointy green hat out of an old curtain, which took me about an hour or longer (because I am such a bad sewer), so this isn’t a completely last-minute costume option.

Charlie Brown. Is your baby bald? Do you have a yellow onesie and some brown shorts? Can you draw a passable zigzag pattern with a felt-tip marker? Then you can dress your baby as Charlie Brown.

Old Man. Again—is your baby bald? Do you have some baby-sized glasses, some sort of “old man” hat and maybe a sweater vest? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you might be able to dress your baby as an old man this year.

Alien. Dress your baby or child all in white and use a black eyeliner pencil to create huge alien-eyes.

Dick Cheney. One of our Green Baby Guide consultants came up with this one. “Another great costume idea for babies is the ‘Dick Cheney,’” he says.  “Dress them up in a little blue business suit and add a cheap pair of reading glasses and some white hair around the sides via cotton balls for a look that will delight Democrats and Republicans alike!”

Dick Cheney Halloween Costume Idea

ZZ Top. This costume idea brought to you from the mastermind behind the “Dick Cheney.” All you need is a set of twins, some fake beards, sunglasses, and grungy old hats.

zztop baby halloween costume

Baby Grecian. Another Green Baby Guide consultant suggested fashioning a toga out of a piece of fabric and crowning your baby with leaves. Brilliant!

Check this site out for baby costumes (including a baby muscle man and Sasquatch!) that require some actual crafting and sewing skills.

If worse comes to worst, you can always stick your baby in a cardboard box, bucket, or other baby-sized receptacle. What is this costume, exactly? “Baby in a box,” “baby in a bucket,” etc. All right, I’m clearly running out of inspiration. What are your best DIY Halloween costume ideas?

Making my own costumes out of household odds and ends works for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family!