We go the route of "use whatchya got" and "repurpose as much as possible" in our household. Since we try to live a pretty eco-friendly life, buying a one-time use costume seems like a waste of money and resources. (If you know your little one will get a lot of use out of that costume in their dress-up box, though, go for it!) Today, I'm sharing some of my tips for putting together a great DIY costume for little money, time, and waste!
Tip #1: Ask for your child's input first. This isn't possible with the wee ones (yay, Mommy and Daddy get cart blanche!), but it's best to get their opinion. We've actually asked our three-year-old for months what he'd like to be. Not too surprisingly, it hasn't really changed: he wants to be an old-school ghost. Not too creative, but he's excited about shouting "BOO!" and thinking that he's actually scaring people.If you know they've repeatedly said the same costume idea over and over, that's what you're aiming for. If they've changed their mind a million times, ask them for a final say, once and for all. And, don't be afraid to combine ideas that they can't seem to decide between. Who doesn't love a cool, creative idea like a princess clown? This is their time to be heard. Tip #2: Find some inspiration. Just because you're putting together a DIY costume doesn't mean it needs to look shoddy. (Although, there's nothing wrong with looking "homemade"!) I like to take a quick spin around Pinterest to see what ideas they have that may make the process easier. Seriously, knowing that a traditional "sheet" ghost costume will equate to lots of tripping up and down stairs and possible lack of vision, I was hoping they'd have some better ideas for me. And, guess what! My son's costume DOESN'T have to be a safety hazard. Whodathunk?
Plus, this gives you a chance to show your little ghoul an image of what their costume may look like. It definitely takes the "I didn't WANT it to look like THAT!!!" bickering to a minimum when the big day rolls around.Tip #3: Break it down. Analyze the costume. Sometimes it's just a simple, one-piece affair. Other times, there are several components to put together. Figure out whether or not you already have the items on-hand (whether in your child's wardrobe, your OWN wardrobe, or your dress-up box, if you have one). In our ghostly case, I'd like a black mask, a white cap (isn't that stinkin' adorable?!), some white layers, and black pants (or striped tights) and shoes. I try to take into account the fact that our weather can range from darn-near-snowing to just-need-a-light-jacket, so the more layers, the better. As far as what we have on-hand, we really only have the black sweatpants that would work fine (although I've also found the striped tights on sale, so it'll probably be a down-to-the-wire weather decision), but the rest of the stuff I'll need to figure out. No big! We've got this. Tip #4: What can serve double-duty? Anytime we buy anything, especially kid-related, we ask ourselves if it's a one- or multi-purpose item. In this case, I'd rather not use Thomas the Train sneakers to go with a ghost costume (we're nothing if not thorough in our theatre-loving family). So, since I like to have two comfy pairs of sneakers around, anyway, I'll use the excuse to find some cheap black sneakers on sale. I also know that a homemade felt black mask will get TONS of use in our dress-up box beyond its ghostly purpose, so I'm excited to put that together. The white hat will also find its way into the box, so the only thing that might not be multi-purpose will be the layers of white. But, then again, you never know what the little guy's imagination may come up with! Tip #5: Keep it thrifty! Next, it's time to hit up our local thrift shop! For us, that means Salvation Army and Goodwill. You could also put out a sweetly-worded request for the items out for your friends on Facebook; you never know what another family already has sitting around and can loan your way. Some of my favorite costumes as a child came from a family friend whose kids had gorgeous hand-sewn costumes in their dress-up box! (Hello, Laura Ingalls Wilder!)
When I hit up a thrift store for this costume, I'm looking for WHITE and, hopefully, over-sized. So, of course this means checking out the adult sections for a white shirt or sweatshirt to cut down to size. I also check out the rest of the store just in case I find something in, say, the bedding area (a sheet, curtain, or pillowcase, perhaps) that might help the costume out.Tip #6: Sew simple. In my case, I lucked out and found a ladies' long-sleeved white t-shirt that I'll hem the arms. It's not long enough to go past his knees, but I'm thinking a white pillowcase (with arm and head holes cut in) will work great. If I feel like grabbing gauze, I will, but it's not a "must". So, all the sewing I'll be doing is the arms (unless I cut them at a zig-zag and call it a day), and the rest is just cutting. Don't worry if you've never sewn before; Halloween costumes are GREAT practice, and often you can even get away with using a fabric glue or iron-on fabric tape to adhere things.