Halloween Costume Ideas

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Costume-fail mom needs Halloween advice: a telescope?

Oct 2014

So, my son has decided that this year for Halloween, he wants to be a telescope. I am pretty resourceful and crafty in a lot of ways, but costume-making is the death of me...and...a TELESCOPE? I feel bad trying to push him to be something else - I love that he's always coming up with creative ideas (he's 4), but I just don't see pulling this off. Any ideas? Or anyone have a rocket ship, or other space-themed costume they're looking to sell off? And I thought making him into a hawk last year was hard... Cara

Ahh, I finally get to share my Halloween costume secret weapon: cardboard. And let me also say -- kudos to your kid for such a great idea!

I am not particularly crafty and do not sew but managed to assist my kids with a number of, if I say so myself, rather clever costumes. (Full disclosure: my creative children did most of the design and construction, but they were older than 4 at the time.) These were mostly built around cardboard boxes but occasionally constructed from other types of cardboard -- Kleenex box, Unicef box, Cheez Doodles bag, giant button.

Telescope strikes me as do-able and you can make it cool by making it actually fold up like a telescope: get some of those big but flexible sheets of white posterboard, roll it up into three telescoping tubes (smallest one to go around kid's body), cut slots for his arms. I would make it so when it's extended, there's a hole for his face (so he doesn't have to go around folded up all the time). You can make a tripod stand also out of cardboard and glue that onto the main part of the body.

I know, I know, easier said than done (and I'm not sure how I'd make it work to have it stay in position extended, but be able to fold up -- maybe a fold-in flap of cardboard?), but now you've got me all curious about how to make it work. And my kids have grown out of this. craft-impaired but costume-positive

I think I love your kid.

Here is a kid dressed as the Hubble telescope: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/59672763786428272/

Here is a full grown man dressed as same -- love that he has printouts, and the solar panels are a great touch: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithgarsee/sets/72157625164452173/detail/

I wonder if you could get a set of 3 hatboxes, the kind that go one inside the other, and fashion them so they make a tower that collapses when he crouches down inside them? Hello! Makers! Calling all makers!!


I'm totally inspired. amythek

Oh my goodness! I can help you. I worked at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics for 6 years and gave advice to hundreds of parents in similar predicaments to yours every Halloween season. My suggestions are below, and feel free to contact me by email if you have specific questions.

Since your kiddo is four, this is going to be relatively easy in terms of size and complexity. You can make the ''telescope'' part of the costume either (a) a hat or (b) something he wears on his body. To me, the more successful and easy-to-wear option would be (a) the hat route, so here goes:

Make sure kiddo has black pants and a black shirt (a turtleneck is great if he'll wear one). You can stripe it with reflective tape or silver tape if you want him to be more visible. His body will be the ''legs'' of the telescope. Give him a red reusable glow stick (or conventional glow stick) and a star finder chart (like this: http://www.amazon.com/Toysmith-Pocket-Star-Finder/dp/B002FBI8ZQ )to hang around his neck (astronomers use red lights on observing nights to cut down on light pollution).

For the ''telescope'' part - the hat, if you will. It would be a foam telescope model (very simple) that would fit over your child's head from side to side, and wouldn't be too much wider than his shoulders. You'll be building a white telescope ''tube'' and fake ''optics'' out of craft foam and cardboard, to be mounted onto a wide plastic headband that will firmly fit his head. This is where you'll likely need to email me, I can send you a sketch of the build-out on this. It should be pretty simple to put together, with common staples and adhesives you can find at craft stores like Michael's. If you're extra fancy, you can print out a Celestron (or other prominent brand) of telescope logo to glue onto the side for ''authenticity''.

There you go! Four-year-old walking telescope! Email me if you like this idea and want more details / a more complete suggested materials list. Hope this was helpful! As a side note, you can always visit Stonemountain & Daughter this time of year for help and other ideas, too. I no longer work in-store, but I know many of the talented staff there and everyone has lots of experience with making and sewing costumes. My only advice if you go that route is to go in for advice EARLY in the day and EARLY in the season - like now, or as soon as you can. You'll get the best advice and help the earlier you go. Dianna L

Oh man! this is so cool! Yes, I've lots of ideas for how to pull this off. Two options come to mind immediately, first his body can be a long telescope, or his head can be the telescope and his body and legs the stand. For the first option, you can use large diameter cardboard or rings with silver/white fabric connecting them to form the body of the telescope, his head would stick out the telescope eye piece and his legs out the other side (like a skirt). Just make the bottom wide enough that he can walk. For the second, make the telescope part his head and decide with him if he wants his head coming out of the end and the eyepiece going backwards, or if he wants the telescope on his head like those arrow headpieces. Have him wear all black (maybe with reflector tape) for his body and tell him he's the tripod! Good Luck!


My daughter has her heart set on being Ariel (from Disney's Little Mermaid) for Halloween. Does anyone know where I find an Ariel costume? I'm not adverse to making one, but I don't have the time to make anything too complicated. Ideas on where to purchase a pre-made costume or suggestions on where find the materials/pattern to make one are most welcome. Thanks.

I saw one at Target in El Cerrito last week, but there was only one. They might have more now. It was $29.99, and I don't know if it included the hair or not. Good luck. Burleola

The web might be a good place to start. You may wish to try one of the following The Disney Store at http//disney.store.go.com, ToysRUs at http//www.amazon.com, eToys at http//www.etoys.com, All of them sell Ariel costumes -- although they are a little pricey. Bernie

have you tried the Disney stores. There's one in Hilltop mall. They have beautiful costumes somewhat pricey but really well made. The Mulan costume we bought held up for years and was worn as dress-up throughout the year. Also sewing stores usually have patterns for popular costumes this time of year. I know have seen mermaid costumes in the mail order catalog's as well. good luck lynn

My niece was Ariel last Halloween...We found a pretty good ready-made costume for her at Toys-R-Us. I'm making my niece's costume this year. When we were searching for a pattern at JoAnne Fabrics in Emeryville, I know that I saw a pattern for a mermaid costume. I also noticed that JoAnne Fabrics also sells ready-made costumes. There may have been a mermaid/Ariel costume among those costumes. Good luck! Shannons

Try the Disneystore web site. There are a few Ariel costumes to choose from. We got the mermaid tail one last year and my daughter still uses it for dress up. JV

To the mom who was looking for an Ariel costume for her daughter, I was just at Target and saw some little mermaid costumes there. They were very cute, can't remember the price, but think it was reasonable. I was suprised, at what a large selection of Halloween costumes they had. Lynn


From: Jennifer

Years ago my stepson did the batman thing, and we dressed his dad as robin, and it was very funny and very fun for all to switch boss and junior roles. green tights, green leotard, a yellow belt (I still have it if you'd like it), sew on a quick Robin symbol, a yellow cape (we cut open a yellow silk-ish pillow case, pulled string through the hem, tied it around the neck, it's long gone now, alas), a green mask and you're really set (of course, that's the coloring for robin-of-yore, if you want an up-to-date robin, I suppose you need a costume of titanium metal or something, and I can't help you there....).

From: Deborah (9/98)

What we did for my son's Batman costume at about that age was buy black sweatpants and a black long-sleeved shirt and use yellow fabric paint to paint the bat symbol on the shirt. (you can also buy t-shirts w/ the batman symbol already on them). Then we bought a cape at (I think) one of those big Halloween superstores that pop up in vacant buildings. He of course wore the pants and shirt all the time as regular clothes afterwards, so the expense for those went in the clothes budget! And it looks like my 3 yr old daughter will be wearing the cape this year!

Bird of Prey

September 2002

Does anyone have good costume design ideas for a raptor/bird of prey? My 4.5 year-old son has set his heart on being a peregrine falcon, and I've looked all over the internet for costume ideas. I think if I just had a good suggestion for the wings (some kind of cape?) and the head, that I could manage the rest. I look forward to hearing the creative ideas that pour forth on this one! Jane F.

Have you tried FamilyFun.com? Do a search for ''bird costumes.'' They might have some ideas that you could adapt to a falcon. Helena

Ok, this is not hard. My daughter is this very minute making ''wings'' for a fairy, both upper and lower with a coat hanger for top and bottom covered with nylons and tied with wire at bottom. Then, take paper, maybe thick cardboard type, cut into feathers (appropriate colors and size of course) and secure with thick art wire or bead wire at top and bottom through nylon materail. Safety pin on shirtsleeves at top near shoulder and bottom. Next, make a beak with cardboard and put elastice around it to cover nose (with holes) and do up his face and eyes with makeup from the halloween store. Pants, bird colored with shoes from thrift town painted with yellow bird claws. Let me know what you think and by the way, this is all from my daughter being a artist all, all the time as we are home ed/unschoolers, she is the one who comes up with this stuff!!! She is 12. Lucinda

I happened to be browsing through Martha Stewart's Baby magazine in the checkout line today (really!), and there were pages of child costumes of various birds. None were a falcon, but there was a bald eagle and others. Perhaps a place to get some ideas. Claire

Dear Jane F.- My 8 year old son was a falcon last Halloween and I have a couple of ideas about it. It was fun building the costume, but it proved unwieldy to trick or treat in, largely because the wings were too long. We made the wings out of sheets of cardboard scavenged from a refrigerator box. At Michael's art supplies in Emeryville, we purchased feathers and glued them on to the wings. We carved a beak out of Styrofoam, and attached it to a plastic mask, painted and glued feathers to it. All these supplies can be purchased at Michael's. Happy flying. David F.

Looking for costume ideas, I just picked up the most recent Martha Stewart Baby magazine. While there is no falcon costume in the issue, there are costumes for owls and other birds. You could probably come up with a good wing design from what's featured in the article. Good luck. Julie

Just thought of another touch for your son's costume. Maybe a black stretchy knitted cap (street vendor in S.F. or Target?)I think the black hats are particular to falcons only, in captivity to block their eyes from distraction or something like that. Another version would be to wear the cap just over the eyes, eye holes cut out to see, and then you or your son could stitch a beak cut from posterboard or cardstock on the rim of the cap and the beak would fall just over his nose. My daughter chose to be a flamingo at age 2, she would not have left a beak on, so we sewed yellow eyes and a posterboard beak onto a pink feathery hat (EASY, I am not inclined to handyness) the beak was above her forehead but it worked, anyhow your son would probably wear a beak and want more realism at his age; Also posterboard talons or claws could be taped around regular shoes with clear mailing tape, just don't let the claws hang much past the toes of shoes because they will get bent up when walking. Happy Costuming. Chris


Sept 2005

My 7 year old daughter is in a dolphin phase right now and wants to be a Dolphin for Halloween. Usually I put together her costumes myself but this ones hard. Any suggestions on how to make a dolphin costume or where I can find one? Thanks, Dolphin's mama

I saw a few types of dolphin costumes on ebay the other day for under $20 (deliverd). Good luck. We are going as a talking Dinosaur! DiAnn

Hi - you can find dolphin costumes on eBay! I just got a dragon costume for my toddler, last year I got a frog costume for him, and the year before got a pumpkin. I just looked and there are several dolphin costumes up for auction. It's really easy and I've always had good experiences. Good luck! eBay lover

Try CostumeExpress.com. They have cute animal costumes including an orca and shark but I'm not sure about a dolphin. Happy Halloween

It's funny how little kids get obsessed about different topics...my son is on a Bob the Builder kick. OK, this is not a dolphin costume, but it looks very much like a cousin to the dolphin- it is an Orca costume that fits over your waist and has that same dolphin shape and look, but it is black and white rather than gray. You might look online and see what else they have, because they also have an orange clown-fish costume. The place I saw it is in the Birthday Express catalog, but they also have a website: www.BirthdayExpress.com and the name of the theme where the costume is is called ''Sea Life'' It also has birthday supplies that feature an orca and a dolphin. That might be fun for her birthday party! all the best with your search

hi - I did a dolphin costume last year for my 5 year old and we thought he looked great. I got a silvery unitard at a dance store, and cut out flippers and fins from stiff cardboard, painted them with glittery blue and green paint and pinned them on his legs and arms. We also had a few very little stuffed animals - the Rainbow fish, and two dolphins and safety-pinned them to him too. Good luck! karenlynnc

Motocycle Man

Oct 2003

Anyone have any suggestions for how to dress our son as a ''motorcycle man'' for Halloween? Any creative ideas out there? harlan

If by motorcyle man, you mean biker dude, I just saw directions for such a costume at the web site for Family Fun magazine, familyfun.com. All the costumes are make-it-yourself - and some are really great. go hogwild

Race Car Driver

My son has aspirations to be a race car driver for Halloween. Can anyone suggest where I can find racing related sew-on patches like Nascar or STP, etc? Also I need to find a helmet with a face shield or something close. All I have seen of the helmet variety are for bikes and more $$$ than I am willing shell out for limited use... Thanks! Rue

Check out small ads in the back of auto magazines, such as Road & Track. I've seen some there. Sharon

Try Thrift Town on San Pablo Dam Road in San Pablo. It's a large used everything store. They have clothes, costumes, dishes, chachkis, jewelry, all kinds of stuff for really cheap. Take I-80 To the San Pablo Dam Road ext, go right off of the exit and it's maybe a mile or two up. I think it's right after El Portal Road. June

For race related patches etc. I would try a local car parts shop. The chain stores probably won't be able to help you much but I've seen stickers and patches at privately owned specialty shops. I would also call Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma. They may have some stuff for sale or be able to refer you to shops that do. Jessica

Tiger Costume

I guess my sweet little 3 1/2 year old daughter is feeling ferocious this month, because she insists that she will dress as a Siberian Tiger for Halloween. Anyway, since this is one of those rare times I have some lead time to make something, does anyone have any ideas? Can you buy striped furry fabric? Should I start with footsy pajamas and sew my own stripes? Are there costume patterns available anywhere? Thanks. Diane

I suggest that you start your research with a trip to Poppy Fabrics, or a similar place. Poppy always has a wonderful selection of fabrics (furry, animal prints, etc). Leslie

Yes, there is a plethora of patterns out there for tiger costumes; check out the Simplicity pattern books at any fabric store. Poppy's is good but a bit pricy; for a selection of reasonably cheap and very furry striped fabrics, I would recommend Joann's fabric stores, either in Emeryville or right by the Hilltop shopping mall. One of my kids wanted a Tigger costume two years ago, and I had great fun making her costume even with my limited skills. Good luck. Laura

If you're willing to think small, here's what I did when my then-almost-4-yo child wanted to be a tiger for Hallowe'en:

Bought furry tiger-striped ears & tail from a costume shop (also came with bow tie which we didn't use).

Took a goldenrod hooded sweatshirt which we already had and drew black stripes with washable felt marker.

Black sweatpants -- voila! He was completely satisfied, even without face paint. Letitia

Several years ago my son wanted to be a tiger. I bought an inexpensive tiger mask and then got him orange sweats which I painted with black stripes with fabric paint. I made a tail out of orange fabric with stuffing and a wire hanger inside. He was very happy. Another year when he was a little older he was Garfield. We made a paper mache mask and I did the same thing, painting Garfield stripes on sweats. It was relatively easy and inexpensive and much more creative than a store bought costume. My son helped with the painting (he was older than 3 1/2 though). Have fun. June

I know you said you were thinking of making a costume, but thought I'd let you (and others) know I saw a cute Disney tiger (Tigger) plush costume in the Disney catalog. Infant $22, Child's $29, Adults $49. The child and adult costumes have sound saying Oh, hello, I'm Tigger and Well, I gotta go now. I got a lot of bouncin' to do. I have no idea if these prices are expensive or not. I don't have kids and didn't regularly dress up for Halloween as a youngster. Catalog says these costumes allows your child full vision. Don't know if you can order the costume via the Disney web site or at the stores. Also, not sure if a Siberian tiger is the orange/black tiger or not. Hana

General Advice about Making Costumes

I just bought a pattern for a lamb costume at Poppy Fabrics (Broadway between College and 51st St.) They also had patterns for a cat costume that could easily be made into a tiger by getting fake tiger fur. I can't remember if Poppy had fake tiger fur; if not, you could call Britex (I was just there and they had a lot of leopard fur, but I don't remember tiger...) or Joann's Fabrics. One caution: it'll will cost a lot more to make the costume than to buy one, if you could find it. The pattern alone was $12, and I think I just spent $40 or so on material and notions. Alysson

To the person who paid $12.00 for a costume pattern, I have to recommend buying your patterns at JoAnn's (in Emeryville at the Powell Street Plaza or by the Hilltop Mall) because all the big brands of patterns go on sale there very often, and the sale prices are usually as low one or two dollars. If you're not on their mailing list (which I don't recommend unless you sew a lot, because they send a lot of junk mail out with their flyers) you could call ahead to see what's on sale. JoAnn's is not my favorite fabric store, but for some things like patterns you just can't beat their prices. It can still cost a bit to make a costume once you buy the fabric and notions, but with the 3 costumes I've made for my son I don't think I've ever spent more than $20.00. Zina

Two places I frequent for costume material are Stone Mountain and Daughter (on Shattuck) and JoAnn's Fabric in Emeryville. I recently purchased tiger material from Stone Mountain and Daughter. It was a cotton (not the furry kind) which I used to make capes for my child's preschool. I added a hood with ears and lined it with black flannel. I'm sure you can find a Butterick or Simplicity pattern for a tiger costume at either place. There is an excellent book published by Singer on Halloween costumes which has a lion costume and can easily be adapted to a tiger costume.

The most often used costumes I have made for my kids seem to be the ones that have taken the least amount of time. A simple tail (a long stuffed rectangle hooked to a belt) with ears (stuffed triangles that fit on a headband) have had the most success. We add some face paint and voila!, we have a fox, snow leopard, or cheetah.

Keep in mind that the extra effort you put into making a full costume should be for your own pleasure and satisfaction. Last year my two boys (ages 2 and 4) chose to wear their batman and superman pajamas for halloween despite the collection of costumes I had made or collected through the year. I was amused but absolutely okay it. Happy sewing! Cynthia

Costumes For Adults

October 2002

Where is a good place to find adult costumes for Halloween? I tried Stagecraft Studios, but all their costumes are crammed together on hangars. Toby

For great Halloween costumes, go to Stop the Clock on Addison between Shattuck & Oxford in Berkeley. Not only do they have great stuff, they also give you personal attention, helping you to accessorize. They are the best Halloween store I've been to and I've been to them all. They have a lot of put it together yourself stuff and they also have packaged costumes. THEY ARE GREAT! Toby

Child's Wig

July 2003

Does anyone know where I can buy a child's wig for Halloween? I'm looking for a brown ''bob'' style wig for a 3 y.o. Our daughter has fine blonde hair and I''m too afraid to color it (even temporarily!). The wig is for a ''Dora the Explorer'' costume. We live in the east bay. Thanks! Lisa

Wow, are you getting started early! I'm impressed!

Last year my 4 y.o. wanted to be Cruella De Ville so I had to find a wig for her. I went to one of those big halloween superstores and they said the adult sizes worked on the kids because they were elastic.

The size turned out to be fine w/ a few bobby pins. The tricky part was finding the right style of wig. I bought a white spiky one, cut the hair a bit, and sprayed it black on one side with that temporary hair spray. It looked awesome, but the hair spray stuff does start to flake off after awhile.

You might consider, however, just spraying her hair w/ that temporary color if you can find it in brown.

I do recall we once received a catalog for children's costumes that was pretty elaborate and some of the costumes came w/ wigs. They might even make a Dora costume these days. You might be able to go online to find such children's costumes.

Good luck w/ your search. elisabeth


August 2003

Hi, my 4-year-old will speak Italian with me if, as a reward, I buy her angel wings. I saw some with straps, so they can be worn over a regular t-shirt. The big stores don't carry them. Do you know a toy store that does? Thank you very much. Laura

If you can wait a month or so, all the stores (Target, Longs, party stores, etc.) will start carrying costume stuff for Halloween, including inexpensive angel wings. You can also try Oriental Trading Company on-line. R.K.

I have some old ones from a Halloween costume that I am willing to give to your bellisima bambina. I got them at one of those temporary Haloween stores a few years back. E-mail me if you want them. Ciao, virginia

Mr. Mopps on Martin Luther King at Rose has wings. I think I've also seen them at the kids store at the top of Solano (on the South side of the street). Carol

I just saw some at pottery barn kids : I think it was wings, a ribbon crown and wand...fairy custome. it looked like it criss crossed over what you were wearing. goood luck. ann

orientaltrading.com has beautiful feather and marabou angel wings for $6.95. Ciao, Angelina! Rhea

Believe it or not, if you go to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, you will find the sweetest feathered angel wings for sale. They are in the gift shop adjacent to their ''Treasures of a Lost Art'' exhibition (medieval manuscripts), on the lower level. (And while you're there, I highly recommend the exhibition, for the kids, too! My 4 1/2-year-old daughter loved it.) The show closes on the 31st of this month, and I assume the wings will go away then, too. Lauren

Cotton and Company on College Avenue, Rockridge/Berkeley Border. Call first. Leslie

Check the Disney Store. I bought my neice a set of wings (I think they were Tinkerbelle wings... but they didn't have her image on the wings, just on the package) last year for her birthday that tied on over clothing. At the time they also had a tulle tutu (the long kind) which was not character specific which fit well over clothes too. Rose

Try Mr. Mopps on MLK near Rose Street. They have very cute wings for little ones and very reasonably priced. Candace Sultan

Last Halloween I got butterfly wings at Longs Drugs on 51st and Brodway. They also had white angel wings (the ones made of metal and pentyhose material and has two straps). I don't think they'll carry them again until next October, but it seems pretty easy to make it on your own. anon

Just bought a kit that comes with two nylon(?) wings that can be decorated by the buyer (you or your child). Supplies to decorate are included. About $15. k12mcc

Where to Buy Costumes

Septrmber 2002

In response to people inquiring about Halloween costumes I wanted to recommend Toy Go Round on Solano Ave. in Albany. They have a large selection of used (and some new) Halloween costumes in all sizes for as little as $5.00. You can also consign your old costumes there. Lori

August 2002

Any suggestions on where to buy Halloween costume for 8 month old girl? (Either stores or good websites??) Thanks

I just received the ''Lilly's Kids'' catalog, with a great selection of costumes, most under $25. 1-800-545-5426 or www.lillianvernon.com Also the Sweet Potatoes outlet on Solano sometimes has costumes. Melissa

A good website for your child's Halloween costume is www.babystyle.com Rahsaan

I have 2 little girls and have always found great Halloween costumes at the Sweet Potatoes website (think it is just www.sweetpotatoes.com). Didn't buy thru them last year, but the previous years they had them. VERY cute, but a bit pricey (I'm a sucker for darling Halloween costumes!). Hope this helps! Trish

Sweet Potatoes, on Solano (in Albany), has them, and the same store on 4th street probably has them, too. Solano is cheaper, though. Also, you might try some used toy stores (like Toy Go Round, on Solano). Mary

My mom made my son's costume last year (lucky boy!) but I've always admired the costumes in the Lillian Vernon catalog. (www.lillianvernon.com) Most are for older kids but there are several offerings in infant and toddler sizes (and some for adults). That's probably where I'll go if Granny doesn't come through this year! If you don't want to spend $30 on a one-time-use outfit, though, and you don't *have* to get a particular costume, check the local consignment shops. And eBay. Holly

Just today I was in the Sweet Potatoes Outlet store on Solano Ave. in Albany (a few blocks east of San Pablo Ave) and they were putting out some really cute costumes for $15. They have sizes starting at small infant. Kristen

Toy Go Round, on Solano Ave. in Albany, will have a large selection of used (and some new) costumes when it gets closer to Halloween. I think they put them out in mid-September. Lori Berlin

I saw some on sale at Talbot's Outlet in San Leandro a few weeks ago. anon

if you live in the berkeley area, the sweet potatoes outlet on solano often has really cute halloween costumes at bargain prices. my son wore an adorable dalmation outfit as a one year old. what i liked best about this costume was that it was made out of sweatshirt material, so it was very comfortable and warm at the same time. for his first halloween, grandma purchased him the cutest pumpkin outfit from target, which i am sure was a bargain as well. it was basically an orange footed sleeper that was accessorized with a pumpkin bib and hat. very fun as well. i've heard that costco already has their halloween line in, but they are usually bulky, polyester outfits. have fun! anonymous

I carry Halloween costumes for babies at my store, Waddle and Swaddle at Shattuck and Virginia. They are one piece with a hat or head piece of some kind. We have several styles and will have more before Hallowe Linda

The used kids' clothes stores usually have a few costumes.

AND I noticed that the Pleasant Hill Community Center (adjacent to Walnut Creek) is having a costume exchange on 10/3, but I don't know anything about it