Halloween costume madness
Halloween is sneaking up. Are you ready with an outfit that’ll win you best Halloween party costume? No need to drop big bucks at the costume store. Make your own, and have something original and creative that’s budget friendly, too.
As a former professional costume designer, Jessica Cruzan, who now sells handmade clothing and accessories online, says being crafty doesn’t mean needing a sewing machine. “The hot-glue gun is your friend,’’ she says.
She also believes in repurposing items when possible. For a butterfly costume, she took wire from a costume witch hat to shape the wings. Craft and hobby stores are helpful, but she also frequents hardware and auto supply stores. “Think of what you’re using a completely different way,’’ she says.
Westfield, N.J., mother Jennifer Lane creates her kids’ Halloween costumes each year, just as her mom did. “Simple is better,’’ she says. When making a Wonder Woman costume, she used duct tape (which comes in various colors and patterns) to cover the crown and boots. “You can use simple things that you might already have, and you can cover and repurpose them.’’
If you’re looking for some clever do-it-yourself costume ideas, here are some costumes to get you started.
“50 Shades of Grey’’: The novels may be adult-rated, but your costume need not be. Stop by your nearest paint supply store, and snag some paint chips in 50 shades of gray. Tape, glue or pin them to a T-shirt, and voila — you’ll be the talk of the party. Just don’t wear it to the kids’ school celebration. You don’t want to be that mom.
Pinterest Board: Are you known as the social media maven? If so, grab a lightweight bulletin board (one from your wall is just fine), attach a ribbon or rope to the back, and hang it around your neck. Don’t forget to actually pin photos and descriptions to the board.
“Minecraft’’: The hot video game these days is “Minecraft,’’ and the pixelated Steve head and body (and even the animals), can be made by hand. You’ll need a square box for Steve’s head, and either wear jeans and a turquoise T-shirt or use painted rectangular boxes over your limbs for the body. To make the pixelated head, you have a few options. The easiest is cutting felt squares in white and various brown shades and gluing them on the box. For the computer savvy, download and print the pattern online, again gluing it on the box. Cut a sword out of cardboard, and use markers or paint for color.
“Angry Birds’’: Still obsessed with catapulting birds on your phone? The simplest costume is taking two poster boards, drawing the front of the bird on one and the back on the other. Color it in, and hang the posters over your shoulders like a sandwich board. You can also sculpt a target structure out of lightweight wood. Leave a spot for your head, and rest the wooden platform on your shoulder. Don a yellow construction hat, and paint your face to look like the green pig. Bonus points for adding stuffed angry birds around the structure.
Minion: The cute minions from “Despicable Me’’ are great for adults and kids. Find a yellow knit hat, and top it with a pair of ski goggles, or make a single eyeglass with a Ball jar top attached to a black sweatband. Paint your face yellow, and poke black pipe cleaners through the hat for hair. Add a pair of blue overalls, and you’re done.
Dora and Diego: Lane says dressing her kids up as these popular preschool characters couldn’t have been easier. Dress them in clothes the same colors that the characters wear. For Diego, cut a simple, tan vest out of fabric. For hair, use a flat piece of brown foam, cutting out the shape of their hairstyles two-dimensionally, just like a cartoon, to frame their head.
Games and toys
Robot: One Halloween, Lane updated the classic robot design her mother made some 25 years ago. Lane spray-painted cardboard boxes with metallic silver for the body and head, adding dryer-vent tubing for the arms (attached with silver duct tape). Lane fashioned a curly antennae from kitchen tin foil. The pieces de resistance were individual battery-operated LED lights from Home Depot taped to the front of the costume. “It gave it the animation needed,’’ she says.
Lego: Bound to be a hit for any preteen kid (and even some adults). Use a rectangular cardboard box and plastic cups, such as Solo brand. For a hat, get an additional square box. After cutting out leg and arm holes in the box for the body, glue six cups open-side down onto the box (two or four for the hat). You may need to trim them first. Then, spray-paint the entire thing in your favorite Lego color, and wear clothing of the same color underneath.
Operation game: This interactive costume is a guaranteed conversation starter. You’ll need nude-colored or a solid-colored shirt and pants. For maximum effect, use a bodysuit. Cut out and color the Operation body parts from cardboard, attaching them to the outfit. Don’t forget the red clown nose for your face! Attach some string or a wire to a pair of kitchen tongs, and tuck the other end into your outfit.
Human tea bag: This simple costume won’t make you look like a dip. Get a white pillowcase (for kids) or a plain sheet (for adults), and seal the edges, leaving holes for the arms, legs and head. No sewing machine? No worries. Using sewing/craft tape from a craft or fabric store. Use the top of a tea box as your tea tag, attached with a thick string hanging out of the costume top.
Dirty-laundry bucket: A cheap and easy costume even the least creative person can handle. Get a plastic laundry basket, and cut out leg holes. Pull it up to the top of your legs and fill with clothes, hanging other clothing items from your head, your arms and the basket itself.
Cereal box: A cardboard box does wonders when spray-painted and decorated like your favorite morning meal. Cut holes for the arms, legs, and head. Spray-paint the box depending on your desired breakfast cereal. Sketch the design onto the box when the paint is dry, adding the details in permanent marker. Print out an enlarged nutrition fact sheet for the side, and don’t forget to glue actual cereal in the bowl on the front. Just give it enough time for the glue to dry.
People and animals
Tippi Hedren from “The Birds’’: Finally, a use for all those stuffed animals! Cruzan made an easy Hitchcock costume by getting a vintage dress from Goodwill and fake feathered birds from the craft store. Attach the birds to the dress in various places, mess up your hair, and you’re done.
Bat: If you’ve been hoarding broken, black umbrellas, this is the costume for you. Remove the handle and stem of the umbrella, and cut the fabric so only three wire spokes are on each side. The additional spokes can be used for bat ears. Sew the umbrella wings onto a black sweatshirt (hand-stitching is fine) from the outstretched arm to the torso. A hoodie works well if you’d like to add bat ears.
Jellyfish: Another umbrella costume, though this one should be clear or white — domed, if you can find one. Hang mesh fabric strips, ribbon and other lengths/widths of fabric trim to the umbrella edge. Dress in a solid white or light pastel color, and carry the umbrella.
Girl Scout: Borrow a vest or sash with badges, or make one using inexpensive material from the fabric store. Add a green or brown skirt and sneakers, and carry a box of Girl Scout cookies. You can double your investment and sell the box if it’s new.
Catch up with The Boston Globe for free.
Get The Globe's free newsletter, Today's Headlines, every morning.