Last Minute Halloween Costumes


Growing up in the mountains of upstate New York, I looked forward to everything fall. Falling leaves, brisk air, cider mills, apple picking, pumpkin patches and, of course, picking out my annual Halloween costume.

The Halloween costume was weeks in the making with everything from “design planning” to the construction of the costume itself. My step-mother spent weeks working on all of our costumes.

While I do make the majority of my children’s Halloween costumes, this working mama does not have the time to spend weeks on making them. Often, you can find me the morning of Halloween putting the finishing touches on a costume because with three kids, someone’s costume has got to be made last. This year has been no exception.

This year, the boys chose a grim reaper, a squid (yes, a squid), and a dragon. I also had a friend request that I make a devil costume for his daughter. So…four costumes this year.

October was cruising along and I thought I had everything under control.

As usual, the universe had different plans for me. I had completely forgotten about a Trunk-or-Treat until about noon on the day it was being held. This was not an “Ooops!” for me but a major “UH-OH!”

I went into full on panic mode. But about 5 minutes later, I realized that wasn’t helping me accomplish anything. So I adjusted my thinking and looked in the kids’ closets to see what I could transform into a costume.

In their closets…

I found string, cotton batting, felt, and rain boots.

What could I do with this?

I decided to think on it, and I headed to Wal-Mart to pick out some plain black sweat pants and sweat shirts. This would be the base of the costume, and I could put anything on it.

While I was there, I was able to pick out some other odds and ends that would create the look for the costumes. I was trying to stick to a budget and also make something in a time crunch.

These are the costumes I came up with:

Ryder: Squid

Total Cost: $15.71

Total Construction Time: 9 minutes

Items Needed: Black sweatshirt and sweatpants, inexpensive beanie hat, adult t-shirt (the same color as the hat), felt (1 black, 1 white), glue gun or tacky glue, scissors


Head: Two eyes will need to be attached to the beanie hat. To make the eyes, cut two large circles out of the white felt and two smaller circles out of the black felt (to do this, I used a China cup from my cabinet and a small glass). Glue the black felt on the white felt to create each eyeball. Once you have the eyes constructed, glue them in the placement you want on the hat. There are no rules. This is a squid and anything goes.

Body: In order to create the body, I took the adult sized t-shirt in the same color as the beanie hat and cut medium-sized fringe strips. I cut them all the way up to where the chest would be on an adult, and then I had the tentacles. Place over the sweat suit for a warm squid ready to conquer the Halloween ocean.

Ben: Rain Cloud

Raincloud Costume

Total Cost: $16.65

Total Construction Time: 46 minutes

Items Needed: Black sweatshirt and sweatpants, rain boots, white hat, cotton pillow stuffing, felt (2 blue), yarn (blue), glue gun or tacky glue, scissors, small piece of cardboard


Raindrops: The majority of the time required for this costume came from creating the raindrops. My suggestion is to make them uniform and symmetrical. Matching them up will be a lot easier. I probably could have reduced my time a good 10 to 15 minutes. Create a template of the raindrop on the small piece of cardboard. Use this template to trace directly onto the felt. For Ben’s size, I made 20 raindrops and only used 10 (another time reducer). Each piece of felt can comfortably fit 12 raindrops. Double up your felt and cut them out. Cut your blue yarn 10 to 12 times (depending on the number of raindrops used) and place that aside. Match up the raindrops. Place about a dime-sized dab of glue in the center of each raindrop and place the blue string in the center. Place the rain drop “lid” on top and repeat 10 to 12 times.

Rain Cloud: For the base of the rain cloud, I used a plain white hat (found in your local craft section). I attached the raindrops that I’d made with hot glue in random locations on the hat. I put them on the front, back, and sides. Once I had the raindrops attached, I set to work on attaching the actual cloud part. I thought it would be difficult, and it definitely seemed so at first, but it really wasn’t. I would put on a tab of hot glue and “moosh” the pillow filling into the glue. And it stayed! Hooray! I did this all over the hat until it was completely covered and you could no longer see the hat or where the strings were attached.

Accessories: Finishing out this look is the black sweat suit and some rain boots that Ben already had.

Homemade costumes don’t need to be time consuming or expensive. In less than an hour, I was able to create two costumes that each boy loved. Each boy got compliments wherever we went, and I’m sure they will remember this Halloween’s costumes for years to come.