Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

By Laura Carlson

How can you whip up a howlingly clever costume in time for Halloween while keeping it all within your budget?

Retail stores in the United States expect that $75 per person will go toward Halloween costumes this year, according to National Retail Federation. That's a spooky statistic for families! Many people wait until it's almost bewitching hour to consider their children's costumes, and so online rush ordering is becoming a competitive business. Companies like Instacart, Postmates and WunWun advertise their ability to deliver "Halloween shop" costumes nearly up to the 11th hour.

If you're stumped for costume ideas and don't want to get caught in last-minute ordering, then Just Mommies aims to get your creative juices flowing – with DIY getups your kids will love. (Note: Prices are low estimates before taxes plus shipping from Walmart, Target and Michael’s, or Jo-Anne's. Prices vary by region and shop.)

Grapes (approx. $17 to $29)

Supplies: 20 or more purple balloons, headband, green felt squares, a neutral-colored outfit from your child's closet.

  1. Choose a neutral-colored sweatshirt and sweatpants from your child's wardrobe to be the grapevine.
  2. Pick up the following items at your local fabric store and other retail shop: a package of purple balloons. ($6 to $12.99)
  3. Also get a headband and some green felt squares ($4 + $6.99)
  4. Cut the green felt into a three large grape leaves (keep them together in one long piece – and attach them to the top of your child's sweatshirt hood with safety pins or stitch them on using thread & needle.)
  5. Inflate about 20 purple balloons.
  6. Attach the balloons to the front and sides of the "grapevine" (before your child gets into it) using thread and needle at the knot at the end of the balloons. Or use safety pins. ($2.89 + $1.79 to $3.89… most people have these on-hand)
  7. Your child should be able to sit down… if you leave the back of the "grapevine" clothes balloon-free.

Ladybug (approx. $21 to $26)

Supplies: 1-1/2 yards of bright red material or red oversized shirt, black pipe cleaners, red cloth headband, package of black felt squares.

  • Get 1-1/2 yards of bright red material (fabric price varies) to serve as the ladybug coat. ($5.97 for 1 yard of plush fabric at Walmart)
  • Pick out a bright red shirt from your child's wardrobe (or pick up one in your local Walmart or discount store
  • Pick up a package of black pipe cleaners, a red-cloth headband ($6 to $12.99) and a package of black felt squares ($6.99)
  • Cut the black felt into 3" or 4" circles
  • Use iron-on backing ($1.79) to attach the black felt circles to the red ladybug.
  • Attach the pipe cleaners ($1.99 - $3.29) with super-glue or bobby pins to a headband and voila! You have transformed your child into a ladybug.

Stick figure ($10 or less)

Supplies: white sweatshirt, white pants, white paper plate with elastic band, staples, thick black marker and black electrical tape.

  1. Using a black magic marker ($3.99 Staples), draw a "happy face" on the white paper plate (most families have plain paper plates on hand).
  2. On the same paper plate, make holes where you drew the eyes and punch a few more holes in the "smile" (for seeing and breathing space).
  3. Take an elastic band ($2.99 at Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts). Make sure it's large enough to reach around your child's head. Staple each end of the band to the paper plate; make sure it's tight enough stay on your child.
  4. Carefully pull the elastic band over the head and holding it at the back (while pulling the Happy-face over your child's face), guide the elastic band gently over the top of the ears to be sure that it holds in place.
  5. Have your child dress in all-white clothing. Then "draw" a stick figure body – using black electrical tape. ($2.39 Target)

LEGO® toy: ($14 or less)

{based on costume descriptions from dreamalittlebigger.com, from Allison Murray}

Supplies: Large cardboard box (approx. 18X18X24), "heavy duty glue" (don’t use hot glue!), X-acto knife, 2 cans of spray paint (white) or poster paper that can be stapled to the box, 2 cans of spray paint (red, yellow or blue), 6 small plastic bowls – (okay to use recycled plastic containers)

  • Take your box and be sure it’s held securely in place – by putting a heavy object like a filled paint can inside so it doesn't tip over…
  • Cut holes for the arms on either side.
  • Spread a lot of glue on the underside of the top box flaps. Fold them down to stick… and let the flaps dry shut.
  • Then cut out a hole that's big enough for the child's head to fit through.
  • Decide which side will be the front and which will be the rear… then
  • Space out the 6 small containers ("bowls") and draw an outline around the each one where you’ve placed them (before you glue them down)… to be sure they are spaced properly
  • Next, apply the glue to the rims of the bowls – being careful to keep the glue inside the bowls when attaching them to the box.
  • Spray it heavily with white spray paint (it serves as a primer coat). Or staple white poster paper to all sides.
  • Next, spray the "primed" or papered box with blue, red or yellow paint until it is smoothly covered. Let it air-dry.
  • If the box is fully dry, then place it over your child's head and arms and you've got a big LEGO toy!

Deviled Eggs (for twins): about $17.50 each costume!

Supplies: red felt squares, white baby caps, large (8" minimum) Styrofoam ball, white onesies, white socks, white leggings

If you have twins, you may already have the basics to get started on double-fun costumes: Most families have white onesies in their babies' wardrobes, so you'll just need to add a few more items:

- Red felt squares to cut into the "deviled" / "red horn" pieces to add to caps ($6.99)

- White caps (3-pack in Buy-Buy Baby $1.99)

- Large (8" minimum) yellow Styrofoam ball – for yolk ($15.99 in Michael’s – cut it in half so each child can have a half "yolk")

- Or, if you can only find a white Styrofoam ball, pick up a can of non-toxic yellow spray paint to color it.)

- White leggings ($5 each X 2 = $10 in Target)

- White socks that you already have in your bab'’s wardrobe – for the finishing touches!

Halloween is meant to be a time of year when the unexpected and delightful costumes are revealed. There's no time like the present to make your child's outfit enchanting, delightful or captivating... and to have fun creating it!