Halloween DIY: Spooktacular Family Costume Ideas

The amount of money, time and effort that goes into Halloween sometimes makes my stomach churn.

  • Expensive, one-time-use costumes.
  • Racing home from work to get everyone a real meal before the sugar ensues.
  • Trick-or-treating on a school night. [Thank you, CR schools, for planning an in-service day on November 1 this year.]

If we’re not careful, the stress of Halloween can overshadow the fun of it. 

However, I love any and all reasons to celebrate. So, I jump on the Halloween bandwagon with glee. If only it was as easy as Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo to plan Halloween while staying conscious of time, money and waste. Well, Cinderella, put down your needle and thread and let me introduce you to your fairy Godmother! Here is a list of quick, cheap, easy ideas for family Halloween costumes. 

Theme

We are one of “those” families that embrace family costumes on Halloween. We start early so we can recycle old costumes or DIY something on the cheap. The theme is important if you are planning for the whole family. We have a “theme leader” every year (it’s on a rotating cycle) so our kids take ownership of Halloween, which takes a lot of the stress off us as parents. Our oldest started choosing the theme when she was 3. Every kid after that has been added to the mix when they turned 3. Some past themes include the following:

Wizard of Oz (inspired by sparkly red Christmas shoes), Harry Potter (old graduation robes worked great for this), Minions (overalls are back in style), Witchmonds (a play on our last name), Princess & the Pea (princess costumes were worn almost daily for a phase), Inside Out, Zoo Animals, a Bee and a Flower.

I love how the theme often reflected what our children were interested in that year. 

HarryPotter
Minions
Witchmonds
WizardOfOz
BoPeep
ZooAnimals

Planning

We choose a theme for the next year on Halloween night when we return from trick-or-treating. As we sit around the table sorting candy, we discuss all of the really cool costumes we saw. Everyone votes for what they think we should dress as and the theme leader chooses costumes for the next year. Since we decide so early, we can shop the discounts after Halloween. Then, we have an entire year to add to our costumes or find inexpensive accessories. Last year our youngest chose “The Incredibles.” I had planned on just making t-shirts for us all. However, since we decided so early, we purchased her costume after Halloween for 75% off. Over the course of the year, we found some awesome accessories that made our costumes even more fun. I found Mr. Incredible for my husband for $3 on consignment. I found cheap t-shirts for my oldest girls back in February. And we found long black gloves and masks for $0.50 each. Costumes last year for our family of 5 cost $16. 

Halloween DIY: Spooktacular Family Costume Ideas

Flexible costume design

As our children get older, my fear is that they will become “too cool” for our family tradition. Though I would love if they would indulge me at age 18 and we can still dress up as a family, I realize that at some point they will “age” out of our family fun. We have started becoming much more conscious of costumes that can be added to quickly. That way, if they decide to bring friends last minute, it is easy to include everyone. 

M&M’s

This year, my middle child decided we would dress up like M&M’s. I LOVED this idea. It is cheap, easy, and any friend that needs a group to trick-or-treat with can be added last minute. M&M’s or Skittles are the perfect last-minute costume for Halloween. We made costumes for our family of 5, plus 3 additional friends for $26. (Hobby Lobby has t-shirts for $2.79 and often has vinyl 50% off!). Plus, we can keep adding shirts if need be. My 11-year-old designed and created all of the costumes for our family and her friends that will be joining us. Since it was relatively inexpensive she is still contemplating perhaps making tutu’s for her friends to add to their costumes. 

Halloween does not need to be just one more stress on top of an already full plate. Plan early, involve your kids in the process and remember it is one night of fun. You don’t need to spend insane amounts of money for Instagram worthy costumes… it is about letting your kids express their creativity and having fun.

Are you a designer of disguises? Share your easy, last-minute costume ideas with us! Help another mama have a stress-free Halloween with your awesome ideas!

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Jaclyn is an Iowa native with roots in the Midwest, but a heart full of wanderlust. She loves to run, read and travel. She and her husband, Mark, have 3 daughters (13, 11, and 7) and an incredible baby boy in Heaven. She spends her days split quite evenly between teaching Spanish at Xavier High School and taxiing her girls around CR as they try to find their passions. She’s a firm believer that it’s not joy that makes us grateful, but rather gratitude that makes us joyful.