Is your 10-year-old still mulling over whether to be a princess or Black Widow of Avengers fame for Halloween this year? Or maybe your 6-year-old can’t decide if his perfect costume involves being an insect-sized superhero, something more classic like Batman, or a unique spin of his own making, like a space cowboy.
Halloween gives kids — hey, adults, too — a chance to dress up and have fun creating costumes to show off their interests (well, you might call it an obsession for those of you who have children constantly belting out every syllable of “Let it Go!” from “Frozen”).
While certain costumes remain popular year after year, there are definitely some newcomers made popular by this summer’s blockbusters. To help your little ghost or goblin come up with a great costume this year, here are a few ideas to get you started, along with cost-cutting tips so you still have enough money on hand to keep your candy bucket full for all those trick-or-treaters.
Age-by-age guide for costume ideas
Picking a theme or character is just one of many steps to finding the right costume for your child. Pamela Layton McMurtry knows that too well. As the mother of seven children, she’s had plenty of experience with planned-out costumes and last-minute improvisations. The author of “All the World’s a Stage: Costumes, Ideas and Shortcuts” shares some hints for a happy Halloween.
- Choose something warm so your little one stays cozy while going door to door with you.
- Use his or her stroller or wagon as part of the costume. “A stroller can be made to look like a Cabbage Patch Doll package with your child as the doll or a wagon can be the fighter jet and your child inside the pilot,” McMurtry says.
- Turn a pair of sweats or pajamas into a simple lion costume by gluing fringe to the hood.
- “Avoid scratchy outfits or those with netting,” McMurtry notes. They may look cute, but your preschooler will probably be complaining two minutes into trick-or-treating that her costume is itchy.
- Find a costume that fits over your child’s pajamas so it’s easy for him to put on and take off — that way he can go right to bed after he’s gathered his candy stash.
- Is there a wannabe Anna or Elsa in your house? Check around with friends and neighbors to see if they have a leftover costume from last year they’re willing to loan out.
- Go through your child’s closet with him for clothes he’s outgrown or doesn’t like anymore. Use them as the basis for his costume. “You don’t need to be able to sew,” McMurtry says. “You can glue felt shapes onto t-shirts to create all sorts of costumes.”
- For superhero extras like shields and hammers (yes, we’re talking about you, Avengers!), use poster paint, cardboard, and a little imagination to create the look you want.
- Have your costume do double duty. For example, purchase a new black skirt or pants for your child that makes the base for his or her witch or wizard getup. After Halloween, he or she can still get plenty of wear out of the clothes.
Tweens & Teens
- A great accessory can make a costume. Splurge at the store for a helmet, sword or other accessory to go along with your teen’s DIY costume.
- Go for a group costume. Encourage your child to coordinate his or her costume with friends. “My son and his friends went as different X-men characters one year,” McMurtry says. “Coordinating costumes can make it more fun for your teen and less expensive for you.” Examples include different candy bars, crayon colors, princesses, etc.
- Did your teen decide he really did want to go to the Halloween party in costume — 15 minutes before it starts? Grab your old high school letter jackets or work uniforms to create a quick costume.
Top Costumes for 2016
Ressa Tomkiewicz, Party City spokeswoman, shared a few insights on what you can expect for popular Halloween costume finds in October.
Q: What costumes are you stocking up on this year?
A: This Halloween, we anticipate our Marvel Superheroes, Spongebob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Frozen Fever collections will be the most popular amongst grade schoolers.
Q: What are some of the best-selling Halloween costumes year after year?
A: Throughout the years, Disney princesses and superheroes collections always seem to be a popular costume choice. More recently, we’ve also noticed a rising trend among our mix and match assortments, where shoppers are able to actually pair different pieces and accessories together to create their own, individualized costumes.
THE costume for 2016… Minions!
Minions, the little, lovable yellow creatures from the movie of the same name, are supposed to be one of the most popular costumes this year. The good news? Making your own minion costume is simple. These are just two DIY ways to create a Minion costume.
Sweatshirt + camp headlamp
“Start with a yellow hooded sweatshirt and a pair of overalls for the foundation of the costume,” explains Fred Hajjar, founder of TV Store Online. “An easy way to craft the Minions’ distinct eyes is to manipulate a headlamp—the same kind you use for camping—with painted cardboard and glue or clear tape.”
Denim overalls + Mason jars
Wear a long-sleeved yellow shirt under denim overalls as your outfit — and a stocking cap on your head. Then, create the Minion’s signature glasses by using canning jar lids strapped together, suggests Pamela Layton McMurtry, author of “All the World’s a Stage: Costumes, Ideas and Shortcuts.” Finish the look with work gloves purchased from a hardware store (use them post-Halloween to do your fall yard cleanup).
Trick Your Trick-or-Treaters with These 5 Fun Decorating Ideas
Besides your kids’ costumes, there are plenty of ways to dress up your house for the holidays. Your kids will want to get involved, too. Below, Terrance Zepke, author of “Happy Halloween!” and 27 other books, shares some of her favorites.
To begin, get your kids busy blowing up orange balloons — or get helium-filled ones from a party store. Next, have your kids make jack-o-lantern faces on the balloons using permanent, black markers. Place the balloons around your party room or on your porch.
Break out the scissors, craft foam, and tape for this craft. Cut circles out of green craft foam and make pupils on each one with black markers. Stick pairs of creepy eyes on tree trunks, bushes and windows.
Empty milk jugs, mayonnaise bottles, peanut butter jars, and other containers can be mixed and matched to create a cool luminary effect. Clean out all the containers and then let your kids paint them in colors like green, orange, and purple; then create faces using black markers. For Halloween, place tea candles or glow sticks inside to light.
Purchase a packet of masks from a party store or create your own in themes like pirates, zoo animals, monsters or other ideas and stick them throughout your house, porch or wherever your trick-or-treaters will see them.