Pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, that weird dessert that looks like dirt and worms but tastes like heaven — Halloween is genuinely one of the best times of the year. Even the least festive people somehow get into the Halloween spirit, and decorations, candy, ghouls, and ghosts transform homes, offices, and schools nationwide.
Like most holidays, there’s a bit of pressure that comes along with this revered celebration. Finding the perfect costume can quickly become a month-long adventure, and things never seem right when you go with a store-bought option. DIY costumes are a great way to infuse creativity into Halloween, and they tend to cost a lot less than prepackaged options.
One of the best parts of DIY costumes is that there’s always a story and a memory behind them. The costumes that your parents made for you always seem to stand out more than the ones we bought from the store. We remember deciding what we wanted and watching our parents spend hours ensuring our homemade look was perfect.
While DIY costumes are a great way to create a more cost-effective look, it can be hard to start brainstorming ideas. So here are our top five favorite last-minute DIY costume ideas.
Superheroes are timeless. Whether we’re 10 or 40, superheroes have a unique hold on our imaginations, and they also happen to make a great and easy DIY look. For most superheroes, all you need is a good leotard, some leggings, or spandex pants, and then you can make a cape and mask out of any fabric you have lying around the house. If you’re skilled with a sewing machine, you can sew decals or labels onto your costume to make it more authentic, but Sharpies and paint markers work just as well and give you the same effect.
Nothing says Halloween like a throwback to earlier fashion and style decades. Vintage looks are great for DIY ideas since you can often find almost everything you need for these looks on the racks of your local thrift store. If you’re going for the ’60s, look for flower-filled prints, bell bottoms, and many “peace and love” accessories. The ’70s were a bit more rock and roll, but you can keep some of the flower power and bell bottoms themes going, and the ’80s — well, that’s all about shoulder pads, colors, and boxy looks.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the thrift store, you can always make it at home or modify your existing clothes to fit your needs. With some creativity, you can create a costume using ordinary clothes you wear daily. Make a DIY headband to complete your ’60s and ’70s look, or throw on an old pair of Keds to evoke the ’80s.
Who doesn’t love sports? Athlete costumes are a great DIY option because you can create them from things you have lying around the house. If you have an old jersey of your favorite football, soccer, hockey, or basketball player, accessories the jersey with whatever uniform that athlete wears. For football, find some latex pants and put knee pads underneath for that football kit look. For basketball, throw on some shorts and sneakers; for soccer, go for a similar theme. Add some under-eye paint to any of these looks for the full feeling of the sport you’re going for.
Witches and skeletons are two of the more popular DIY looks for a reason. These looks are both relatively easy to achieve at home. You will likely have to buy a hat and some makeup for a witch, but other than that, you just need some black clothing, and you’re good to go.
If you’re going for a female witch, you can wear a black long-sleeved shirt and then take any skirt and cut it so it looks tattered and more fringe. Use a black shawl to enhance your witch look; if you can make or find a cape, even better. For a male witch, try cutting up some old loose-sitting black pants and throw on a tattered black shirt and hat to complete the look.
Skeletons are as easy as they come. You will want to get white and black face paint to create the skeleton illusion, but you only need tight-fitting black clothing. Once you have that, you can paint the skeleton’s bones onto your outfit (or use felt like I did for the boys one year), giving you a great skeleton look that works wonders at any Halloween party or event you attend.
If you don’t have time to sew up a cat costume, a simple version can be relatively easy to create at home. The core of your outfit is going to be a spandex leotard. To make the cat look complete, you can add a tail that’s easy to make using tinfoil covered in fabric, and then for ears, you can do the same thing.
If you don’t feel confident in your crafting ability, finding ears and a tail at any costume shop is usually straightforward. Use some face paint or even eyeliner for whiskers, and voila! You have a cat! Add a main and some face paint for a lion or tiger to get the stripes down, and you have the perfect DIY costume to impress your friends and family.
DIY costumes are a great and cost-effective way to get the perfect Halloween look. As a bonus, these costumes can quickly become bonding experiences among friends and loved ones as you all work together to create the ideal look. While store-bought costumes have their place, consider making something yourself this year. Trust us, you will end up thanking us for the suggestion!