This Halloween, forget the classic witches and fairies, caped crusaders and monsters.

With homemade Halloween costumes, you can strut around the neighborhood as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, as a hot air balloon, as a washing machine or as spoiled groceries.

So, there’s no need to spend money on costumes you’ll wear only once or twice. Most of the materials you’ll need for your simple, do-it-yourself Halloween costume are already in the house: cardboard boxes, pins, ribbon, paint, tape, hangars and sweat suits, to name a few.

The holiday is an opportunity to practice Cinderella magic, transforming your single-use prom, bridesmaid or dance recital outfit into say a Miss America get-up or any number of royalty options. Also try recycling worn or ill-fitting clothing otherwise donated to charity into a gypsy or nerd costume.

Here are a few other creative homemade Halloween costumes that can be assembled with little effort and expense.

Washing Machine


  • Cardboard box (18x18-inch square).
  • Packing tape
  • Box cutter
  • White contact paper
  • 9-inch paper plate
  • 2 round, clear plastic plates (12-inch)
  • 12-by-24-inch sheets of clear and blue cellophane
  • Silver duct tape
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • Hot-glue gun
  • 3 plastic bottle caps
  • Small, plastic lid
  • Black permanent marker
  • Small, empty detergent box
  • 5 safety pins
  • Assorted old clothing items
  1. Use packing tape to seal one end of the box. Cut the flaps off the other end with the box cutter. Save one flap.
  2. Cover the reserved flap and the outside of the box with the contact paper.
  3. Center and trace the paper plate onto the sealed end of the box and cut out the circle for the top of the washing machine. Create arch-shaped armholes on the box sides and cut those out too.
  4. For the door, center and trace one of the plastic plates to the front of the box. Cut a hole ½ inch smaller than the diameter of that circle.
  5. With the bottoms of the plates facing outward, sandwich crumpled cellophane between them. Seal the edges of the plates with duct tape.
  6. On each side of the circle cutout, attach Velcro to the box with corresponding pieces on each side of the plates. Stick the door on the washing machine
  7. Cover the exposed Velcro on the right side of the door, and on the left, cover the Velcro and the door so it creates a hinge.
  8. Attach the flap to the back of the box using the hot-glue gun.
  9. For the dial and knobs, tape 1 plastic bottle cap to the center of the plastic lid. Cover it, and the two other caps, with duct tape. Use the marker to duplicate a washing machine dial. Attach the caps and the dial to the flap with the hot-glue gun.
  10. Velcro or tape the empty detergent box to the top of the washing machine. You can also accessorize: creating a necklace out of socks, using boxer shorts for a hat or attaching other laundry.

Hot-Air Balloon 


  • Cardboard box (18x18-inch square)
  • Box cutter
  • 20 or more helium balloons
  • Ribbon for balloons (several lengths)
  • Light brown spray-paint
  • Brown paint (several shades)
  • Wood glue
  • Square dowels (four, 1 yard lengths of ½ inch diameter)
  • ½ inch foam pipe insulation (four, 20-inch lengths)
  • 2-inch-wide ribbon (two, 1 ½ yard lengths)
  • Black marker
  • 4 paper bags
  • Wadded paper or foam packing peanuts
  • Twine
  1. Cut off the top and bottom flaps of a box.
  2. Spray-paint the exterior light brown. Let dry.
  3. Trim four inches off the bottom of the box and set aside.
  4. Paint alternating checks of differing shades of brown on all sides of the box, duplicating the woven basket look. Let dry.
  5. Use wood glue to attach the dowels at least 8 inches deep from the inside corners of the box.
  6. Cut the four-inch piece you created earlier into the trim holding the balloons. Attach to top of dowels with wood glue.
  7. Using the four pieces of insulation, snip each end at a 45-degree angle. Slip the foam’s precut slits over the top edge of the basket and match up the angled ends so they fit flush against each other. Secure with wood glue. Let dry.
  8. Poke four holes below the foam trim, two centered in the front of the basket, about six inches apart, and two in the back. String the wide ribbon through the holes from front to back. Knot each piece of ribbon at the front and tie in a bow at the back.
  9. At the bottom of each of the box’s corners, punch small holes. Use a black marker to label the bags “SAND” and stuff with the paper or peanuts. Tie the bags closed with twine and knot the string through the holes.
  10. Tie the balloons with ribbons of varying lengths to the basket’s upper trim.

Bag of Gross-eeries


  • Large brown paper leaf bag
  • Craft knife
  • Large piece of corrugated cardboard
  • Double-sided foam tape
  • Double-sided clear tape
  • 1 ½-inch-wide black ribbon (2 yards)
  • White poster board (25x17-inch)
  • Stapler
  • Assorted clean, empty food containers (ie. cereal boxes, juice jugs, egg cartons)
  • Markers
  • Self-adhesive labels (or download printable Gross-eeries labels at
  • Rubber or plastic chicken, rat, cockroaches, bugs
  • Balloons
  • Stockings
  • String
  • Foam packing peanuts
  1. Cut the bottom off the leaf bag. If it’s labeled, turn the bag inside out first.
  2. Measure the bag’s top and cut a piece of cardboard to match its width, but 4 inches longer. Fold the cardboard along the width to create 2-inch flaps for what will be the front and back of the costume.
  3. Cut a hole in the middle of the cardboard piece big enough to fit through.
  4. Apply the double-sided foam tape to the flap backs so the cardboard will stick inside the top of the bag.
  5. Fold the ribbon in half and join the fold with the foam tape to the underside of the cardboard insert near the back of the bag.
  6. With the poster board positioned horizontally, join its ends and crease to shape into a 5x6-inch milk carton that that will fit over the wearer’s head. Cut an opening for the face in the front panel.
  7. Stick the joined edges of the created milk carton together with the clear tape. Pinch and fold the upper 1-inch of the new carton and staple its top closed.
  8. Decorate the empty food containers with hand-printed or downloadable labels from the FamilyFun page for such items as sour milk, surreal cereal, rotten eggs, and nasty nibbles. You can also make rotten sausage links by inflating balloons into a long stocking leg, tying knots between the links. For an added effect, affix foam packing peanut “maggots” or other plastic bugs.
  9. Fill the top of the bag with these products, along with other faux animals listed above, and tape them to the inner bag.
  10. Once the wearer is inside the finished costume, use foam tape to secure the loose ends of the ribbon to the inner front of the bag as shoulder straps.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich


  • 1 ½ inch foam (two, 22-inch squares)
  • 1 yard fuzzy peanut-butter brown fabric
  • Purple cellophane
  • Purple or blue tissue paper
  • Brown magic marker
  • Scissors
  • Purple shirt
  • Dark pants or fun tights
  • Spray adhesive
  • Hot glue or foam glue
  1. For the bread:
    • Use a bowl to trace rounded corners on the foam and free-hand the rest of the bread to create the two slices
    • Color around the edges of both pieces with magic marker for the crust.
  2. For the jelly:
    • Glue three large squares of tissue paper to the cellophane.
    • Leave enough room on the cellophane to fold it over and glue to the tissue paper so that no tissue paper is visible.
    • Crinkle the cellophane and tissue combination to resemble a jelly-like texture
    • Use the glue to attach the jelly to the outside edge of the bread, leave enough cellophane and tissue to allow the jelly to give the appearance of oozing over the top of one slice of bread.
  3. For the peanut butter:
    • Lay the brown fuzzy fabric right side up over the foam so the length is across the top edge of the bread.
    • To give the peanut butter shape, stuff tissue paper inside the fabric and roll the material around the tissue paper. Glue the fabric to itself with spray adhesive.
    • Fold the fabric edges under in folds and “clumps” along the top and side of the bread. Use spray adhesive to glue in place.
    • Cut any excess off the bottom edge of fabric, fold under and glue edge out of sight.
    • Cut holes for head and arms.
  4. For the finished sandwich
    • Spray adhesive on exposed foam on edges in between jelly.
    • Turn foam over and press onto peanut butter side.
    • Dress in purple shirt and dark pants or fun tights
    • Slip the sandwich over the wearer’s head.

For more homemade Halloween costume ideas: